->''But the problem with my particular oeuvre\\
Is that half my songs are five minutes and [[PainfulRhyme over]]\\
And the wisdom here at the Creator/{{BBC}}\\
Is that viewers switch off if you go past three''
-->-- '''Music/TimMinchin''', "Three-Minute Song"

There are certain songs that simply don't fit the radio medium very well. They may be too long, too artsy, too controversial, too dark, too political, or simply, regardless of quality or merit, are just too risky to fit on a playlist when the ''Billboard'' top 40 is so much easier. As a consequence, some acts get exposure that others cannot. For music, Radio Friendliness is the opposite of TrueArtIsIncomprehensible. Of course, no matter how much FanDumb a niche-artist's audience possesses, sometimes, their music is just too boring or too bad to be played on the radio.

See also MusicIsPolitics.

* Music/TomWaits is someone who, while highly regarded as an artist, does not get radio support.
* Music/DavidBowie suffered the same fate in the U.S. after he moved on from the pop-rock stylings of ''Music/LetsDance'' and its two successor albums at the end of TheEighties. He moved on to [[Main/NewSoundAlbum usually harder sounds]], and combined with his lyrical tendency towards dark and/or difficult subject matter rather than SillyLoveSongs, he's not welcome in the adult contemporary radio format that usually adopts older rockers and their new material (Sting, Elton John, The Eagles, etc.). Yet he's not embraced by modern rock radio either, possibly due to his age. In TheNewTens, ClassicRock radio largely neglects his work because so little of it "rocks" in the conventional sense; it's telling that the song of his that gets the most play is his collaboration with Music/{{Queen}}, "Under Pressure". (Stations that do "flashback" weekends featuring blocks of 1970s/80s tunes might throw in "Changes", "Young Americans", "Modern Love", and a few other numbers that charted when new.)
* Music/BillyJoel's song "The Entertainer" discusses length as a factor in radio friendliness, based on the earlier ExecutiveMeddling that shortened "Piano Man":
--> ''I am the entertainer,''
-->''I've come to do my show.''
-->''You've heard my latest record,''
-->''It's been on the radio.''
-->''It took me years to write it,''
-->''They were the best years of my life.''
-->''It was a beautiful song, but it ran too long.''
-->''If you're gonna have a hit, you gotta make it fit,''
-->''So they cut it down to 3:05.''
* A lot of Music/PinkFloyd songs get heavily edited for the radio. Also, don't expect to hear many of their songs outside "Money", "Another Brick in The Wall, Pt. II", "Comfortably Numb" or "Learning to Fly" on classic rock radio.
* Save for [[BlackSheepHit "Touch of Grey"]] or "Truckin'", don't expect to hear a lot of Music/TheGratefulDead on classic rock radio.
* {{Lampshaded}} by Music/{{Nirvana}}'s "Radio Friendly Unit Shifter" from ''Music/InUtero''. Ironically it was neither Radio Friendly nor a Unit Shifter[[note]]Unit Shifter is a music industry term for a song that sells albums[[/note]]. The song was originally titled "Four Month Media Blackout" to mockingly reflect the amount of time "Smells Like Teen Spirit" would play on the radio and MTV. When "Teen Spirit" lingered on for longer, the song was retitled "Nine Month Media Blackout." When it became clear the song would become a permanent fixture, the newer song would be retitled "Radio Friendly Unit Shifter."
* Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty, better known as Music/TheKLF, had a Number One hit in the UK as [[Series/DoctorWho The Timelords]] with a novelty record called "Doctorin' the Tardis", and were inspired to write a book about it, ''The Manual (How to Have a Number One the Easy Way)'', "a step by step guide to achieving a No.1 single with no money or musical skills". One part of the advice is listen to other tunes, and the one you're making, on the most basic equipment available. If it's [[EarWorm memorable]] on the crappiest car radio, you're onto a winner. The book was also prescient enough to anticipate home recording, saying "It's obvious that in a very short space of time [[JapanTakesOverTheWorld the Japanese]] will have delivered the technology and then brought the price of it down so that you can do the whole thing at home. Then you will be able to sod off all that crap about going into studios."
* Of course the length rule isn't always true; if a DJ at a rock station needs to buy some time for other matters (such as taking a rest, grabbing some food, or [[PottyEmergency doing some business]]), they'll often put on "[[Music/LedZeppelin Stairway to Heaven]]" (7:55), "[[Creator/DonMcLean American Pie]]" (8:33; also the longest single to ever be a number-one hit in the U.S.), or "[[Music/LynyrdSkynyrd Free Bird]]" (9:08). "Free Bird", however, sometimes gets cut short just as the singing stops, and the [[EpicRocking guitar solo that comprises the last third of the song]] starts.
** You might also hear the seven-plus-minute version of "[[Music/TheBeatles Hey Jude]]" from time to time, or the similarly-lengthy "Macarthur Park".'
** And a song you'll almost certainly hear on Classic Rock stations on Thanksgiving is "Music/AlicesRestaurant", which runs 18:34.
* Despite being quite popular and having a massive cult fanbase, you will never hear Music/{{Radiohead}} on the radio (except "Creep" from ''Music/PabloHoney'' and maybe "Fake Plastic Trees" from ''Music/TheBends'', "Karma Police", or "Paranoid Android" from ''Music/OKComputer'' if the six-minutes-and-change running time doesn't put it out of the running).
** JJJ in Australia used to play them a lot and still plays their new material for a while when it comes out.
** Averted with "Reckoner," which gets played on the radio quite often.
* During the TurnOfTheMillennium HipHop singles became ''heavily'' regulated thanks to a combination of ExecutiveMeddling and MusicIsPolitics.
* Music/TimMinchin has an unusually clean, three-minute long song written especially for pre-{{watershed}} TV appearances (which make similar stipulations), and which [[HowIWroteThisArticleArticle is all about the reasons he needs to write a clean three-minute song]].
* SeanPaul recorded a song called "We Be Burnin'," which is [[TheStoner a song about marijuana and why he thinks it should be legalized.]] Since MoralGuardians and {{Media Watchdog}}s would freak out (marijuana use and legalization is controversial, plus the whole ThinkOfTheChildren thing), he was forced to record an alternate version of the song that could be played on the radio without ''too'' much controversy, which is just about [[InDaClub partying.]]
* Muisc/ToadTheWetSprocket "Walk On The Ocean" suffered from this due to formatting - it lacked the usual instrumental "intro" and "outro" with the singing starting ''immediately'' at the start of the track, and the track ending ''immediately'' when the lyrics stopped meaning the DJ would have to time the transitions carefully to avoid either talking/playing another song over the lyrics, or DeadAir.
* BBC Radio 2 DJ Richard Allinson had a regular feature on his show called ''Oh no, not ALL of it!'' where he would play a listener-requested long track in its entirety - the longer the better. Things like Music/TheMoodyBlues' ''Legend of a Mind'', at 8:45, were considered too '''short''' to qualify.
* However, the first incarnation of music retrospective show ''Sounds of the Seventies'' foundered in that it was only given half an hour's airtime. Then-presenter Steve Harley demonstrated that one long prog-rock track could quite easily occupy the entire show. [[note]]It is thought this was his way of pressuring for more time; the current incarnation of the show, presented by Johnny Walker, is allocated two hours.[[/note]]
* [[SubvertedTrope Subverted]] in the case of Music/{{Queen}}'s "Bohemian Rhapsody" from ''Music/ANightAtTheOpera'', a mini-RockOpera released as a single uncut at 5:55, which the band knew would be a hard sell. It became a hit when Freddie Mercury ''begged'' his friend, DJ KennyEverett not to play it, [[TemptingFate knowing full well Kenny (who loved the song) would do so anyway]]. Kenny would always "excuse" his plays of the song by muttering, "[[BlatantLies Oops, hand slipped]]!" and the like.