Those hits never used to be hits. It took radio play to become a hit. I’m a huge Led Zeppelin fan and as much as I love Stairway, Black Dog, Whole Lotta Love, etc. I just sometimes get so sick of hearing them. Some of my favourite Zep songs are Hots On For Nowhere, South Bound Saurez, The Rover, etc. There has to be a reason why radio stations don’t play the lesser known songs. If they started playing them then they’d become popular. It really ticks me off hearing Another Brick in the Wall every 4 hours, or Zeppelin’s greatest hits everyday, or Back in Back lmao.
Radio stations usually have to pay every time they play a song, or pay for a certain amount of playtime, but also have to pay an initial licensing fee to be able to play the songs at all, so to limit costs they only purchase a small number of song licenses.
People in general want to hear the most popular songs, and want some consistency in their music, so the same songs tend to get played across several stations, and tend to get repeated a lot.
Good music alone isn't what makes a hit, branding and contracts is what makes a hit.