Everyday I’m Shufflin’ posted on July 24th, 2023
by Dave Tyler
I get a call about once per week where a programmer is asking if it is possible to “Shuffle” the schedule order of a category. The answer is a big YES. To keep it simple before taking a deeper dive, to do a basic “Full Shuffle” go to Dataset/Schedule/Schedule Order and click on the “Arrange Songs In This Category” icon. You can also right click anywhere in the Info Bar and choose Schedule Order as well.
The next box that pops up defaults to the “Full Shuffle”. The Full Shuffle is simply a random shuffle of the category. Sometimes folks will choose this when they begin to sense a predictable pattern of a category and just want to freshen up the order. You can choose a single category or multiple categories.
It is important to note that if you are a song history buff and love looking at your rotations and histories and seeing that nice wave of a song moving through hours and quarter hours, that a shuffle will disrupt that pattern briefly upon the next scheduling session because the order has changed and therefore the pattern has changed. It will plane out again as you continue to schedule.
A full shuffle is kind of a generic shuffle just to mix things up, but MusicMaster offers many more options when it comes to how or what you shuffle. Clicking on the dropdown menu, you get these incredible options.
A quick look in the robust MusicMaster “Help Section” defines what each of these does.
For more information on how to use our great Help section check out this blog post: https://musicmaster.com/?p=8397
One of my favorite shuffle options is the “Optimize By Field”. If you have a new library and are adding a bunch of songs by a single artist, or perhaps your format has a huge amount of “Featured” artists on songs and it is a challenge to schedule because of this, then this is a pretty amazing feature. Using the example above, if I “Optimize by Field” and choose “Artist Keywords” it will separate all the songs by each artist as far apart from each other in the schedule order as mathematically possible. So, if you’re a Classic Rock station and just added 50 Rolling Stones songs to a category, then this will separate them from each other to make scheduling easier. My other example was featured artists on songs. Just about every format from Latin to R&B, Country to CHR is inundated with featured artists. When Optimizing by Artist Keyword, MusicMaster tries to optimize all of the artists on the song. Just plain cool! Now of course if you add 50 Rolling Stones songs, they are not going to schedule back to back even if they are in that order in the Schedule Order because of Artists Separation rules and others. But by shuffling this way, it makes the process easier from the start because the order is more natural and comfortable. Speaking of the difficulties of featured artists, here is a link to a blog with some cool ideas and solutions to deal with this: https://musicmaster.com/?p=7733
Another question I get a lot is “How often should I shuffle?”. There is not really a black and white answer to this. You don’t need to shuffle ever, but you may want to shuffle for a variety of reasons, many of which we discussed above. If you add a bunch of new music or feel like you are hearing the same songs scheduled near each in a similar order, then you may choose to shuffle. It really comes down to your philosophy and there is no wrong answer. The only thing to keep in mind is the shuffle does change the schedule order, which is what you want, but you can expect it to affect your history pattern initially. So if you see the hiccup in the pattern, it is nothing to be alarmed by.
Shuffling is just one more way MusicMaster helps you control and tailor the sound of your radio station.