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It has been 19 months since Broadcast Data Systems (BDS) has had it's information used to compile the national airplay charts in Canada's music trade magazine The Record, yet there are many independent artists and record labels that don't know what BDS is or how it works.

BDS was started in 1980 in the United States. It was the brainchild of a country music writer who spent 25,000 producing and promoting a single in Florida. When making his tracking calls to a number of stations, he was told by music directors that they loved the song and were playing it in a solid rotation. However, not one copy of his album had sold. He found this somewhat odd and after doing some checking, he discovered that the stations were not telling the truth. The artist hooked up with a former defense industry scientist and came up with an idea to track radio stations electronically. The company was eventually purchased by
the parent company of Billboard magazine.

The technology used by BDS is a patented system that was originally developed by the US Army to detect enemy submarines and smart bombs. Here's how it works. When a song is released, it is sent to us for encoding. Songs are first encoded into the system's computer, which in turn creates a digital "fingerprint" that is downloaded to BDS monitor sites. These monitors are locked into a station's frequency and are listening 24 hours a day, seven days a week. When a song is broadcast on one of the monitored stations, the computer searches its "fingerprint" library and notes the exact time and date the station aired the song.

BDS is currently detecting over 1.5 million songs per week at radio. The pattern bank is updated daily and the day's detection history is transmitted from the remote monitor sites to a central operation facility in Kansas City, Missouri.
Overnight, BDS processes the detection data collected from all its field monitors and electronically redistributes it to customer's computers in easy to read
reports first thing in the morning.

In Canada, airplay information is gathered through monitors stationed in Vancouver (incl. Victoria), Calgary, Edmonton, Regina, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Toronto, Hamilton, London, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, Halifax and Fredericton/Saint John. Monitor expansion will occur in early 1999.

When a song is released, it is extremely important that it is sent to BDS, otherwise the computer won't recognize the song when it is played on the air.
BDS accepts DAT, CD, CD single, 12" Vinyl, LP, Cassette and video, and should be sent to:
BDS, 8100 NW 101st Terrace, Kansas City, MO, USA, 64153, Attn. Lana Goodman.

Along with the media, a note should be sent, letting them know what track is the single going to radio and to what format it should be loaded to. There are four formats available:

  • Canadian Rock
  • Canadian Country
  • Canadian Top 40
  • Canadian AC

    Or US Formats.

    Please make sure that Canadian is listed. For any other information, please contact BDS in Canada.
    Paul Tuch is the Canadian representative for BDS and can be reached at 378 Handley Cres., Newmarket, Ont. L3Y 4T4. Phone: 905-853-6657, Fax: 905-853-6403, E-mail:



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