Adult album alternative (also triple-A, AAA, or adult alternative) is a radio format. A spinoff from the album-oriented rock format, its roots trace to the 1960s and 1970s from the earlier freeform and progressive formats.
The format has a broader, more diverse playlist than most other formats. Musical selection tends to be on the fringe of mainstream pop and rock as well as many other music genres such as indie rock, Americana, pop rock, alternative rock, alternative country, jazz, folk, new wave, world music, jam band and blues. The musical selections tend to avoid hard rock and rap music. Music selection also includes tracks from albums that are not singles, which leads to the enhanced and larger playlist. Some AAA outlets focus more on classic rock artists, folk and blues while others focus on more contemporary artists and modern/indie rock.
AAA artists take influence from post-new wave British bands such as The Smiths and The Cure, anthemic post-punk inspired sounds of U2, acoustic alternative folk rock (Indigo Girls, Jeff Buckley, Sarah McLachlan, Sheryl Crow), and alternative rock (Counting Crows, Tori Amos, Fiona Apple, Dave Matthews Band, R.E.M.). The music played has gained significant exposure for artists who are considered more "organic" and songwriting oriented than traditional Top 40 or pop artists. Playlists may also include artists who are popular on public radio stations or as touring acts, but whose music does not otherwise appear on other rock-formatted stations, such as Phish.
Some of the songs that first air on the Triple-A format have later found additional popularity on the Adult Top 40, modern rock, or adult contemporary charts months after their initial Triple-A chart runs. The format is often seen as a "test market" for emerging artists.
The format has gone off and on in the Los Angeles radio market. The format still exists in Chicago, Denver, Portland, Austin, and Dallas.
On July 10, 2008 Billboard began a Triple-A chart (using information from sister-publication Radio and Records, a news magazine devoted to the radio and the music industries that has since ceased publication). Rival Mediabase 24/7 also compiles a Triple A chart. As of mid-2009, Radio and Records publications and accompanying charts were discontinued. As of 2010, Billboard publishes Triple A charts in the magazine and for its premium members on its website. Mediabase also publishes Triple A charts on a daily basis.
Additional Triple-A charts are published by CMJ and FMQB. FMQB also produces the annual Triple A Conference in Boulder, Colorado, USA, an event that grew out of the Gavin Report's Triple A Summit, first held in 1993. FMQB took over production of the event, rebranding it as the Triple A Conference, after the closing of Radio & Records in 2009.
At the end of 2019, FMQB closed and all Triple A services were absorbed by Jack Barton Entertainment, LLC (JBE), helmed by Jack Barton, former VP/Triple A at FMQB. JBE has rebranded the Boulder convention as the Triple A SummitFest and continues to publish weekly Triple A charts, including a Non-Commercial album chart, as well as a weekly newsletter (JBE Triple A Report) covering Triple A radio and the music it plays.
- Active rock, a format that, similar to adult album alternative, features classic rock and contemporary rock, but with an emphasis on hard rock
- Adult Alternative Songs, also known as Triple A, a record chart published by Billboard
- Adult contemporary music (radio format), a format with a much more pop-oriented playlist, that is much softer and not too adventurous
- Album-oriented rock (FM radio format)
- List of adult alternative artists
- List of soft rock artists and songs