October 2018

MusicMaster 7.0.2 Now Available

In case you missed it last month, MusicMaster Version 7 is here! If you've already started using Version 7, you can now go to Help > Check For Updates to get the very latest improvements. If you haven't started using Version 7 yet, don't wait! You'll want to get your hands on the many new time-saving features, customization options, and the peformance boosting Virtual Search Depth. To learn more about what's new, watch the walkthrough video here, or read about the new features on our Version 7 page.

Version 7 Feature Walkthrough

Visit Version 7 Page

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Tracy Johnson: "Sorting the Music Test"

In each newsletter, we present a guest article from one of our MusicMaster ProTeam consultants. This month, Tracy Johnson of Tracy Johnson Media Group shares strategy on sorting the music library to fit the station's vision and win the most listener appeal. He also provides a Target Era Calculator you can download and use to find your station's ideal music essence.

It’s great to have music research that provides a map of what titles to play, but when it comes time to sort music into categories, it takes more than a spreadsheet with numbers. Programmers must have a strategic focus to make the music sort work for the station.

How can a programmer determine the depth of the library? Should it be deep or shallow? And should the primary focus be on narrowly defined genres or open them up to be wide? What is the best way to stretch music’s appeal and improve the chance of capturing more fans?

These are common – and difficult – questions for programmers. It’s not as simple as targeting broad demographics defined by the ratings services, such as 18-49 year old adults or, for some, 25-54 year old women. Within every demographic are thousands of nuances. That’s why stations must have a station vision. Without one, even the best tactical research (music test) can damage the brand.

Library Terms

First, let’s define a few simple terms that will help in the discussion of how to sort music:

Deep refers to a long music list, usually from fewer genres of music. With a deep playlist, individual song popularity is compromised as long as songs complement the image or essence desired. A deep list is usually a strategy for niche format with a smaller, passionate fan base.

Shallow refers to a short music list, skimming only the most popular songs. Shallow music lists draw from a broader range of music genres, seeking the titles that appeal to the broadest audience. It leads to a wider demographic appeal, but with a lower percentage of fans.

Narrow and Wide are references to the range of music genres the library spans. A narrow approach relies on very few music types. A wide approach spans a broad spectrum of music styles.

In determining the proper music library, a Deep and Wide approach is a recipe for disaster. So is Shallow and Narrow. The reasons should be obvious. The decision is between Deep/Narrow or Shallow/Wide. The art is determining how extreme the music is in those quadrants.

How to Sort Music Into Categories

Either approach (Narrow/Deep or Wide/Shallow) can attract listeners beyond the core demographic target. A winning station can shift on the spectrum at a given time, based on available music, the competitive market and other factors.

But every station should remain true to its musical essence, the essential specific target demographic that is defended at all costs. In other words, your station is should be either Shallow/Wide or Deep/Narrow. The fundamental question is to what degree.

The first criteria in sorting music is usually to identify the ratio of gold in the library.

Gold Library: Find the Sweet Spot

There are many factors to determine the proper mix of currents vs. recurrent vs. gold. That’s a strategic decision, and a topic for a different article. But let’s dig into finding which songs are most likely to complement the brand.

Let’s say the essential core target demographic of the station is 25-34 year old women. That sounds like a very narrow target, but even that narrow demographic has a broad range.


In 2018, a 25 year old was someone who was born in 1993: Their musical sweet spot (ages 15-21) is from 2008-2012

In 2018 a 34 year old was born in 1984 Their musical sweet spot (ages 15-21) is from 1998-2002.

The range of music forming the tastes for this very focused target demo ranges from 1998-2012. 14 years! That’s broad, isn’t it? Playing songs from all of those years in a deep library, and it’s almost certain there will be unfamiliar titles to virtually all listeners.

And think of all the various trends music passed through in those years. Even a narrow demographic target has a wildly diverse range of music decisions. A wide library is going to sound schizophrenic.

Find The Common Ground

How can a program director appeal to them? By defining the common ground and further narrowing the target demographic.

First, shrink the demographic years to the center. Instead of 25-34, make it a five year range from the middle. That is 27-31. That makes the narrow target era birth years 1987 – 1991. Now the range of years for the gold library is more manageable. It’s from 2000 – 2009.

The more narrow the focus, the more narrow the range. It’s easy to tighten the range even further. To get to the quintessential core, consider 2003-2007 as the center.

This is where I’d focus the “essence” of the station. Evaluate each song through this essence filter. The further from the essence, the greater the risk. Therefore, the better those songs must test. Make sure songs outside this range fit the sound of the station perfectly.

Note: This doesn’t mean a station should actually play more songs from these years (though it could, depending on format and strategy). What it means is that the styles of music that defined pop culture in those years are the most appealing to your target. Those tastes tend to stay with us throughout our lives.

That sounds like a lot of math, doesn’t it? Fortunately, there’s a tool that does the math for you.

Download the Target Era Calculator. Enter a few numbers (year and target demographic ranges) and the calculator does the rest for you. It’s a great tool that will save time and headache.

Choosing Songs

Now it’s time to find songs that fit the library. When choosing library tracks and special programming, focus on the years that have the greatest appeal.

Expect songs from those years to test better. And any song from before the earliest range (2003 in our example) and after the latest (2008) should pass through a tighter filter.

Demand a higher test score from fringe years outside the quintessential core era to make it on your station. The further away from the center, the tighter the screen for airplay.

There are other considerations:

If you’re more concerned about appealing to a peripheral demographic (the older end of the 25-34 target), slant the model in that direction. Or, better yet, use specialty programming and weekend features to boost appeal without compromising the tightly focused target.

Strength of current music available in the format should have a direct impact on recurrent and gold selection. In a cycle with stronger current music, it’s okay to rely less on the library. Conversely, when new music is weaker, it becomes more important.

Music genre fit is important. When the sound and texture of the gold library is compatible with current music, it’s okay to play more older songs. When the styles don’t match, there are fewer songs to choose from. As a result, the library will be less dependable.

If your station is a narrow/deep format (usually in a niche), more unfamiliar titles is acceptable. In fact, it can be an advantage to fans of the format. But it’s even more important that those unfamiliar songs are a perfect genre and texture fit.

Finally, don’t set it and forget it. Revisit the target demo every year. Adjust your model by rerunning the Target Era Calculator to reflect the new, current reality.

This will keep the station fresh, and help avoid unintended demographic aging.


Having a clearly defined focus will set a tone for every department internally, and be much easier for listeners to know how to use the station. Listeners will know what the station stands for, and how to use it.

And in the process, something magical will happen. Other demographics will find start using the station more often because they, too, will understand what it’s for.

Want more advice like this? Read more about Tracy and his services on our ProTeam page or on Tracy's website: TJohnsonMediaGroup.com. Or contact Tracy directly at (858) 472-3546 or Tracy@TJohnsonMediaGroup.com.

  Quick Tip

Filling Unscheduled Positions

It happens to the best of us. Sometimes the music lines up in a way that causes an unscheduled position or two (or many more). While you can use Jump to Next Failure icon to find these, it doesn't focus exclusively on unscheduled positions. There is now an icon in the Schedule Editor to take you directly to the unscheduled positions. Hover over this icon and it will say "Fill unscheduled positions manually." When used, it automatically moves you to each unscheduled position. It will give you up to the 10 best replacement songs. Press the number of the song or select it with your mouse. Once filled, it moves on to the next one. Skip a position if you'd like or work through them all until you get a message indicating they're all filled.

New From the MM Blog
Virtual Search Depth

by Paul Ziino - The Automatic Scheduler relies on settings in Dataset/Schedule/Schedule Properties to know how far to dig into a category before leaving the position unscheduled. This setting is listed as “depth.” The number here can be a whole number or a percentage. Setting it at 5 means MusicMaster will look at the first five songs in the stack to find a song to play. Setting at 5% tells MusicMaster to look at the first five percent of the items in that category—so if you have 500 songs MusicMaster will look 25 deep to find one to play. If no song in the available search depth works based on the rules set for that position, it is left unscheduled.

In the past, many programmers would use 100% depths to allow MusicMaster to look through every song in the category before giving up. This meant that a lot of songs were being tested even though we know they likely violate Minimum Rest rules. As such, this meant the auto-scheduling process would take longer than necessary. Now in Version 7 we introduce “Virtual Search Depths.” To use the Virtual setting, in the depth column of Schedule Properties, type the letter V or click the edit helper button.

Continue Reading

MusicMaster Dataset Identification

by Jerry Butler - In a time when many program directors are programming multiple stations, it can be really frustrating to find you have made changes in one database, when intending to make those changes in a different database. MusicMaster gives you the ability to customize multiple settings throughout the software for a different feel and look for each database. Many programmers have cloned databases to create a new station. This works great, but copies everything including your categories and category colors over to the new database, making it difficult to tell them apart. A very easy way to customize each database is by using a station logo or sweeper when you open the database. Here is how you can set up these features.

Continue Reading

MusicMaster Sports, Game Day Scheduling!

by Jesus Rodriguez - I am writing this blog at about the same time as the NFL is kicking off the season. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to plan ahead for every game your station airs? Well the NFL and about every sport from the NBA, NHL, MLB, NCAA, and even down to the high school level all have prescheduled dates that are announced to the public way ahead of the season getting started. Let’s use that information so that we can also plan ahead for our stations scheduling. This doesn’t just pertain to sports stations because believe or not some of the biggest sports teams use music stations to broadcast the local games. In my past life I had the honor of being the official DJ of the Dallas Cowboys. I got to host and do my mix show before every game from the tailgate grounds. My show was followed by the pregame show with our companies play-by-play team and ultimately a few hours of football. We broadcasted from our channel to other stations across the globe because let’s face it everyone outside of the U.S. loves America’s team (Cowboy fan jab lol).

Assuming that you’re still with me and reading this blog, I have some cool ways you can plan ahead for broadcasting sporting events. If you stopped reading after realizing a Dallas Cowboy fan might be teaching you something cool then good luck with your Giants and Eagles this year!

Continue Reading

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MusicMaster in the Hawkeye State

This month, MusicMaster VP of Business Relations Shane Finch had the pleasure of visiting with MusicMaster stations across the state of Iowa. Along the way, he toured some fantastic facilities and met with users who shared their different programming styles and experiences with MusicMaster.

One notable stop was to Marshalltown, where our friends at Trending Media are still feeling the effects of July's F3 tornado strike. Despite these setbacks, the station continues to be a positive influence in helping the community rebuild. We all wish them the best!

JD Justice (Ops Manager) and Kyle Martin (PD) from Trending Media stations in Marshalltown

Dennis Green (GM), Bob Stewart (PD) and Laura Carson (Office Manager) from Kirkwood Community College/KCCK (Cedar Rapids)

Hollis Monroe, Music Producer and Host at KCCK-FM

Jeff Winfield and Mary Quass from NRG Media in Cedar Rapids

Rajan Monroe (Music/Production Dir) at Positive Impact Media/Pulse 101.7 (Des Moines)

Shane with Scott Allen (Ops Mgr) and Tim White (PD) of the Des Moines Saga Communications group

Doug Davis

Program Director, The Michael Baisden Show

This month we recognize Doug Davis, Program Director for the Michael Baisden Show. Doug is an award-winning radio veteran, with credentials that include Marconi Station of the Year, BRE Radio Station of the Year, NAACP Professional Service of the Year Award, and countless others. In February of 2017, his love of radio and community found a perfect new home at Michael Baisden show. In its ten-year history, the show has been heard in more than 100 markets across the country, with more than seven million listeners tuning in each week to hear Michael's empowering and interactive brand of radio, with its four hours of engaging content, soulful music and daily thought-provoking discussions.

Doug shares: "MusicMaster has surpassed my expectations! I started using MusicMaster over a year ago and hands down, it is the best music programming software out today. The customer service staff is more than superior. Hats off to Geo (George Cook) of K104-FM, Ben Burnside and Mike Love. It was tough crossing me over, but Geo's reputation along with Mike and Ben's encouragement is what made me come out of my comfort zone and help me make the decision to switch to MusicMaster. And thank God I did!! It is a fast-paced world today and MusicMaster has the tools to make my job a whole lot easier."

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