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First Things First posted on August 28th, 2017
By Drew Bennett
I schedule music for a few stations in my spare time. I really am passionate about music scheduling and different formats offer different challenges. When I have the opportunity to work one-on-one with a radio station and their music log, I get to learn a lot of great nuances about the format. To me, it keeps me knowledgeable about the current music landscape and it allows to me relate to just about any programmer out there who is tasked with managing a brand and a list of songs.
Each format comes with its own set of issues, challenges and things to monitor but they’re all the same at their foundation. Each database schedules music against a 24 hour period or some chunk of the day. When you build a database, there’s a way of going about it that ensures a good product. It can be easy to jump around and find yourself out of order and lost in the process. Today, I am going to give you steps to take to build a music database from scratch.
Step 1: Decide what the cume of the station will be.
In other words, what music are you going to play and how much of it are you going to rotate? Decide how many songs you want to spin. There are many deciding factors that come into play here; your competition, your market, your market’s size, your format choice, your consultant’s ideas, etc. The main thing is that you come up with a list of music to import into your music scheduler. Once you’ve imported things, you’re ready for the most important step in the entire process.
Step 2: Decide on turnover values.
The turnover of your library and how perfect that is or not, will determine a lot once you begin to schedule logs. It can determine anything from how long it takes you to get a perfect log to what your listeners think about your station. If that sounds like a tall order, it is. Turnover is the most important thing to get right when you build a database. We won’t spend too much time on what it means to achieve perfect turnovers but know this: If your clocks aren’t naturally scheduling your music correctly, there isn’t a rule in the scheduler that will correct that for you and not cause problems elsewhere. Use your hourly category calls and the number of songs in your category to get a great turnover throughout the day and week. Stay consistent with your math.
Step 3: Apply rules that complement the turnover and create the spirit and the sound of the station.
Too often, this step happens before step 2 and that’s where a lot of problems arise. After you’ve come up with a great list of music and you’re naturally scheduling that with some solid clock math, it’s time to create the station’s sound with attribute rules. Decide the sonic needs at the station and create rules that meet those needs. Keep nothing in the rule tree that doesn’t need to be there. If you’re unsure of a rule and/or what it does for you, remove that rule. Come up with a rule tree that catches unacceptable choices and plays nice with your great turnover. You will find that, when done correctly, the log will schedule with ease and your editing time will diminish.
Step 4: Schedule a day to see how it goes. Schedule a week to analyze the library.
Once you have a library, a turnover for those songs and rules to mix them together, you need to schedule several days to see how things look. Schedule several days and look at some metrics. What’s the most played song? Who is the most played artist after seven days? Is that what you want? If it isn’t, revisit your inventory.
When you’ve completed these steps you’ll have an excellent database that is ready to go. Keep these steps in mind when you build new databases. Perform them in order and you’ll keep your databases in great shape every time. Do you have other tips you like to use when creating databases from scratch? I’d love to hear them. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.