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Rule Tree Basics – The use of “Rule Groups” posted on February 8th, 2021

Rule Tree Basics – The use of “Rule Groups”

By Joe Knapp

What is a Rule Group and why should you use it?

I refer to Rule Groups as boxes you can put some rules into.

Rule Groups give you the ability to use Dayparting or a Format Clock list to control when those rules apply, select which Categories will respect those rules and even let you apply a Filter to select which songs must test those rules.

You can put Rule Group “boxes” anywhere in your Rule Tree. They’re often used in the “All Categories” folder, but you can also use them in specific Category folders too.

Simply put, Rule Groups make it easier to organize and adjust rules.

When you open the Rule Tree, on top right-hand side is a Folder called: Special Rule Tree Items. Open the folder and you will see Rule Group inside. Grab the Rule Group with your mouse and drag that across to the “All Categories” folder, or to a specific Category folder on the left-hand side of the screen. Once you let go, the Rule Group Properties box will open automatically. Once you’ve added a Rule Group, you can right-click on it at any time to review or modify these Properties.

The six areas of the Rule Group you can adjust are highlighted below.

Let’s go over each of these and what it can do for you:

  • Description: is just a name you give the Rule Group. Try to use a name that helps you remember the reason you want the rules included in this group, such as “Morning Drive Rules” or “Tempo Segue for Female Vocals.”
  • Availability. This allows you to decide when the rules in this Rule Group are tested. Typically, programmers like to keep the rules engaged while using the auto scheduler and while editing. Some just want rules to apply only while auto-scheduling, others only while manually editing the logs. There is even a setting called “Rules in this group are never tested”. You can use this to “shut off” all the rules in this Rule Group without deleting them. This allows you to activate them again later.
  • Time Restrictions. This allows you to “daypart” your rules. If you wanted a specialty show to sound a bit different than your normal programming, you can isolate different times of day and apply different rules to any location within the week. Remember that the Daypart codes you apply to Rule Groups may also be applied to songs. If you change a Daypart code, those changes will affect any song or Rule Group that uses that code. Consider naming any daypart for a Rule Group with something that makes it clear it’s used in the Rule Group, so you don’t accidentally change it and affect your rules.

What about the drop-down box in the Time Restrictions settings? That box says “Test against plays in any time period” by default. But what if you want to set up Hour Rotation rules that ignore weekday plays on weekends, and vice-versa? The option to “Ignore plays outside this time period” lets you do that. Put your weekend Hour Rotation rules in a Rule Group, daypart the Rule Group to only test on weekends, then set it to ignore plays outside the dayparted hours. MusicMaster will pretend the weekdays don’t even exist when testing these Hour Rotation rules on the weekend. You should also create a second Rule Group that is set up the same way but dayparted to only apply during the weekdays. The Hour Rotation rules you put in there will ignore plays that occurred on the weekend. There’s another option to “Ignore failures outside this time period.” Use this option when you want MusicMaster to see the plays outside the dayparted hours but ignore any failures against them. This is handy for special shows you might schedule on weekends where you only want MusicMaster to test the rules within the special show itself.

  • Group Mode. Most people use “Test rules as if they are not in a rule group” because it allows them to see which individual rule failed in a Recap Report. “Rule Group fails when any included rule fails” causes the entire Rule Group to fail if any rule you’ve put in that group fails. MusicMaster doesn’t bother to test the rest of the rules in that group once it finds one rule that fails. When using this mode, you’ll see that the entire Rule Group failed in the Recap Report.

The most interesting option is “Rule Group fails when all included rules fail.” This one let’s you do some things that would be virtually impossible in any other system. For example, let’s say you don’t want two Slow Tempo songs that are both sung by Female vocalists to play back-to-back. It is alright, though, to play two Female vocalists back-to-back if one of them is not Slow. You’d put just two rules in the Rule Group to handle this special case. One would prevent two Slow songs from playing back-to-back and the other would prevent two Female songs from playing back-to-back. Both rules would have to fail before the Rule Group fails. If only one of them fails, the entire Rule Group passes.

  • Clock Restrictions: You can use this if you’d rather just type in the Format Clock letter codes instead of using a Daypart code in the Time Restrictions section. For example, if you have a Sunday Morning Jazz show for four hours and you’re just using one or two clocks, typing in the Clock Codes separated by a comma would achieve the same exact thing as Dayparting the Rule Group. But, if you later move that show’s Clocks to different hours, the Rule Group will automatically follow that show to the new time period.
  • Song Restrictions: This setting allows you to select a Filter and/or a list of Categories that would apply to this Rule Group. In my example screen shot, you’ll see the name of this Rule Group is Recurrent-Gold, so I’ve just selected those Categories and a fill category to adhere to the rules in this group. Note: If you have bypassed any Category using the All Category bypass option in the Rule Tree, that designation will supersede any settings here. In other words, if you bypass Category A, even if you include Category A on the category list here, it still will not be tested.

The Filter option is very powerful. It allows you to apply rules only to certain types of songs. For example, you might apply a special separation rule to songs with an Instrumental Sound Code if they also happen to be coded with a Jazz sound code.

How many Rule Groups can you have? As many as you like!

If you have any questions about Rule Groups, or would like to know more about the MusicMaster Rule Tree, contact your Music Scheduling Consultant, refer to the “Help” section of the software, or stop by our website and click on the “Learn” button.