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MusicMaster Blog

The Biggest Loser posted on June 9th, 2014

By Marianne Burkett

I just spent about 2 hours with a client that had reached the end of his tolerance rope in regard to scheduling music.  He’s been working in the software for a few years – but rarely visited the rule tree, or did any kind of library analysis.  He recently inherited a new format to program and was spending over an hour a day laying down categories and ensuring the flow was correct for each 24 hour period of music. biggestloser1

As a Music Scheduling Consultant, I get these type of calls frequently – so do not fear calling the team at MusicMaster and asking for some objective ideas on how you too can be a “biggest loser”…in Time Spent Editing and the biggest winner in time spent efficiently while at the office!

First, let’s consider your workflow.  How do you schedule?  How many days in a row do you schedule and do you schedule all the categories at once or lay them down one by one?  There is no right or wrong way to approach this, but you likely prefer to do things in a time efficient manner.  So do you continue the struggle of the old-school hand scheduling? May I be so bold to suggest you bite the bullet and set aside some time to analyze what you’ve got, think about what you’d like the automatic scheduler to do for you and crack open the Rule Tree… to either purge it completely and start from scratch or clean up the wreckage of what is currently there?

We are here to help.  I particularly enjoy starting a rule tree from scratch.  Believe me, I’ve seen rule trees that would make your head spin right off your neck.   Some of them work pretty well, so if your rule tree is vast and works, my hat is off to you!  For me, I’d rather keep it moderately simple.  More rules do not always equal better sounding logs.  The correct coding rules and rotation rules used in conjunction with your active library, inevitably produce the best sounding logs.  For instance, if you’re looking at a library that has 31 percent slower songs and your rules say to keep the slower songs apart by 5 titles…you’ve got issues.  The rules really have to fit the contents of your library, or you are back to hand scheduling.  So gather your active categories into one “Category Group”.  Create the category group like this: Dataset/Library/Category Editor/Groups/New.  The new group will appear towards the bottom of your Info Bar.

Open up the new “Active” group then right click on the field you’d like to explore and go to Library Analysis.  In the sample below you’ll see the general “Energy” of this format is Medium, but it is pretty well balanced between Med Low to Medium High Energy.  I love balanced libraries because you don’t have to pull a bunny out of your hat to make it sound good.  biggestloser2While “balance” is nice, it’s not always the case.  Sometimes libraries are extremely lopsided and you’ll see big percentages of one code as compared to the others: biggestloser3You don’t want to just let this high percentage code run rampant in the scheduler with no rule control because it may cause trouble with the other codes.  I might suggest a Maximum in Sequence rule for that code.  Actually from the illustration above, I’d open the Rule Tree up and use Attribute Rule Maximum in Sequence of 5 or 6 for the Average code, Separate by 1 title for the Melancholy, Separate by 3 for Feelin’ Good, Separate by over an hour for Hopeless and perhaps by 90 minutes for Dancing!  Of course, that is also a subjective opinion and my own personal formula for coding distribution.  There.  I’ve shared my secret.  I compare music scheduling to throwing a paint filled balloon as hard as I can at a wall.  I want to spread everything out as far as it can go. Code clumping is a no-no in my world.

So my best advice is to look at your library on a regular basis.  See what you’ve got.  Have the percentages changed over time? (they always change over time)  What rules need to then be revised?  As for the blog today, I could write a book – but that might just put you to sleep.

If you have any questions about how to cut down on your time spent creating or editing logs, contact your Music Scheduling Consultant!