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MusicMaster Blog

TEMPO vs. MOOD posted on November 13th, 2017

By Jesus Rodriguez

Let’s talk about Attributes! Attributes are the codes you can give to a song to define its Gender, Genre, Era, etc.

Specifically let’s talk about Tempo and Mood attribute codes. As obvious as it may seem to what the difference is between these two, you would be surprised at how easily the lines are blurred. I get calls at times asking why so many slow songs are playing next to each other or sad songs playing next to a slow song. The common mistake is that many music schedulers use Tempo Slow as Sad rather than the speed of a song. For some reason the misconception is that if it’s a slow song it must be a sad song. So, in their head they hear a slow beat as they are coding and give a happy slow track a slow tempo code based on the assumption that if it’s slow it must be sad. However, not all slow songs are sad songs and this can also be the case with up-tempo dance songs that have a sad message about a break up for example. My best examples are urban records right now. There are many are in the 60-80 BPM range (Beats Per Minute) but they are not sad songs. Just listen to the lyrics or better yet go to a nightclub and see the crowd react to the hot new Drake record that is 71 BPM.

I notice that many music schedulers never consider also using Mood. Those same people are the first to say, “That station has a really bad tempo issue!” Maybe it’s never been a tempo issue at all but a mood issue.

Here is my solution to help your station flow better. Lets start using both Tempo and Mood attribute codes right away. If you don’t have one or either of these contact your Music Scheduling Consultant so we can add a field for it. You can create your attribute codes by going to Dataset, Library, Attributes.

First, get out of the mindset of assigning tempos based on feelings like sadness. If you have a hard time being disciplined and not letting your feelings get in the way of what you hear in your head when coding, download a free BPM counter app. This way you can get the actual speed of the song in beats per minute. We can’t change the Slow, Medium, or Fast tempo of the song so stick to what tempo truly is: a speed not a mood.

Now also code those songs based on Mood only! You have to get your mindset out of thinking speed and truly engage on the feeling the song gives you when it comes on the radio. For this example, we’ll keep it simple. Is the song Sad, Happy, or Exciting. When picking the mood of the song I like to think about how people react to the lyrics or rhythm while in their car or even at a nightclub. Is it going to make them drive off a cliff because it’s sad when they’ve had a terrible day? Is it a good listening, happy song for everyday leisure? Is it an exciting song I play at the club that packs the dance floor? I then code my mood accordingly based on feelings alone not tempo.

This is all great but how do we use these together if we’re no longer using Tempo to define both the speed and the way the song makes us feel? Well now that we have both Tempo and Mood defined on every song we can set up some basic rules to keep Tempo Slow songs from playing to close to each other or even back to back. We can do the same for Mood when it comes to sad songs or in reverse if we don’t want the station to be to uplifting.

Are we in agreement now that not all slow songs are sad? If so your stations mood will be better balanced because you can now have a Tempo Slow/Mood Exciting song like the new Drake that’s 71 BPM go right into an up-tempo song with sad lyrics to help pick up the pace rather than two slow tempo songs one of which you labeled as sad but was really happy back-to-back. When you play an actual sad song your mood rules can kick in to uplift the feelings of the listeners instead of back-to-back sad songs on a day they just got dumped by the person of their dreams.

Just remember that the next time someone says your station has a tempo issue, what may really be going on is a mood issue because it’s not being utilized. Ask them these same questions so you’ll have a better idea of what to adjust.

Call your Music Scheduling Consultant if you have any questions.