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Stack’em and Count’em: Numbering Song Rotation Order posted on February 7th, 2022

Stack ‘em and Count ‘em

By Chris Malone

Several brilliant mainstream format programmers have reached out wanting to zero in on the rotation of their cream of the crop Power songs and fully understand the scheduling pattern of the standard card file method in MusicMaster. Little known fact, you can establish the desired slot position, trace the slot, and even visually see AutoBurn in real time by creating a text field that serves as a numbering system for your Power Currents.

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We can all agree this history graph reflects a mainstream, hyper turnover power category that looks spectacular inside the Turnover Analysis. To achieve such great rotation requires that a Power category bypass all category rules and have no specific category rules, so songs can plot in a natural order. Under Dataset, Schedule, Schedule Properties – you’ll also want a category like this to have a search depth of 1. The category order management (Dataset, Schedule, Schedule Order) should be switched to standard card file.

Now here’s where you zero in, you can create a numbering system that allows you to establish rotation position number for each song. It serves as a verification that the right things are happening as expected under the hood; furthermore, when a song is moved from Power Currents, a new song can replace that specific rotation position without disrupting the category’s natural turnover.

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In this example, I’ve created a simple text field called “Rotation”, the songs in the category are numbered 1-7. Keep in mind this is a simple text field. There’s nothing dynamic or rule related to this field other than it allows the user to create a numbering system for these songs and create a desired stack order in the standard card file of this category. Remember, any number entered in this field will ‘travel’ with the song to any other category until the number data from that field is physically deleted or modified by the user.

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When you go to Dataset, Schedule, Schedule Order for the Power Current category, I can add a field to include the ‘Rotation’ field and I can put these songs in the desired schedule order and let it rip. A common misconception is that the schedule order is your desired rotation order and that’s not the case. The schedule order simply shows what song is next in the standard card file to schedule.

In the example above, the song at rotation position #6 is next up to schedule, in my desired rotation stack order. When a song is moved out of the category at any given rotation position, the incoming song can replace that rotation position in your desired stack order to prevent in wobbles in rotation.

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You can even add this “Rotation” field to your schedule editor to follow along to ensure your Powers are rotating in the standard card file order you designed through out the scheduled day.

For more on category order management or how to create a text field in your database, please reach out to your MusicMaster Music Scheduling Consultant.

Music Maintenance in 3D posted on January 10th, 2022

Music Maintenance in 3D

By Chris Malone

When scheduling a music log, it’s easy for many music schedulers to think in a linear fashion. The familiar thought process is as follows: run the automatic schedule, edit music log, check for consistency and flow, then export the log before the Traffic Department starts screaming there’s no log to merge. It’s a very traditional mindset, but there’s another dimension to consider – how well are your artists rotating from day to day? How well balanced is your music library? What’s lurking in a hold category? Let’s look at these three areas.


When to Use Autoburn posted on June 8th, 2020

by Paul Ziino

Last week Marianne Burkett went over some of the things to consider when scheduling and looking at your rotations. Today, I’ll take a deeper dive into how you can use AutoBurn to assist with your rotations.

Imagine having perfect rotations all the time. Five songs in a category that is called for once per hour every hour of the broadcast week. You’d expect a nice rotation that looks like this.

But what happens if some hours don’t call for that category?

What can you do to fix this? The answer is Auto-Burn. In the Turnover Analysis grid, click the music note with the flame next to it.

This will open up the Auto-Burn editor which is a grid representing the 168 hours of the week. In each of those squares you can enter the number of songs you’d like to automatically burn when that hour is scheduled.

When the math works like five songs in a category playing one per hour, you can start by burning the number of missing plays in those hours where the category is not called for. This will help balance out the rotation. In our example we aren’t playing this A category in weekday morning drive nor on Saturday evenings. So we’ll burn one song in each of those hours.

When we click OK the AutoBurn screen will close and the Turnover Analysis will refresh showing you the new result of your AutoBurn adjustment.

We can still see there are hours where A is not called for, represented by the dashes in the grid. And we can see that despite the category not being used in those dashed hours, the rotation pattern is consistent.

Let’s take another stab at this. Same category of five songs. But some hours play two and others play one and a few have zero A category songs. We can see what hours contain plays of the category by clicking the music note for Format Clock Category Usage.

And it looks like this.

With no AutoBurn set up, we have a natural rotation that looks like this.

How do we fix this? This is where the AutoBurn Spreadsheet comes in handy. Click the AutoBurn icon, then check the box to “Display Burn Spreadsheet.” Note, the Burn Spreadsheet only works in categories with fewer than 26 songs, where AutoKick is not used, and Dayparting rules are not implemented.

When we look at this spreadsheet we are seeing where all the songs in the category are expected to plot based on the clock calls and number of songs in the category. In the upper left corner above 12A and to the left of the first day of the week is the letter A. Click here and it becomes a pulldown representing each song in the category. ABCDE for five songs in the category.

When you switch letters in that pulldown you will highlight the chosen letter in the grid. It defaults to the first song, A, in the category. In a perfect world we want to make sure we don’t repeat a song in the same hour during the week until all the others have plotted. Looking at the Midnight hour in the above graphic we see Mon plays the A, Tue is C, Wed is E, Thu is B, Fri is D, then A is repeated on Sat. So we’ve covered the entire list of songs in the Midnight hour. That’s great. We can also see at a quick glance that during the overnight hours A never plays in the same hour two days in a row. Nor does B, C, D, or E. Perfect overnight rotations.

Let’s scroll down later in the day and we’ll see Mon-Fri we have no song playing in the same hour in back to back days. That’s excellent!

But what we do see are songs stacking up between Fri/Sat, and between Sat/Sun. We’ll need to fix this. Let’s start by looking Friday to Saturday. We see in the 2pm hour the E stacks, and A stacks in the 3pm hour. That means we’ll want to AutoBurn in those hours to fix this rotation problem. Let’s burn two songs in the Sat 2pm hour to move the D and E out of that hour.

Now 2p and 3pm are ok, but we see the C playing in 5pm on Fri and Sat, and the E at 6pm both days. We’ll need to burn three more at 5pm on Sat to fix this.

So now we’ve fixed the problem of stacking between Friday and Saturday. But we have a new problem! Songs E and A are playing in back to back hours now at 4p and 5p on Saturday. What can we do to fix that problem? We’ll have to stagger our 3 burns so they don’t all happen at the same time. If instead we burn one song at 3p and two at 4p we get the desired result. No stacking between Fri and Sat, and no songs playing in back to back hours.

Now we have to clean up the stacking between Sat and Sun. Everything is looking okay until we get to Noon on Sun where we have song A stacking up, then B stacks in 1p, D in 3p, A again in 5p and B in 6p. AutoBurn to the rescue!

We’ll need to burn two songs at Noon on Sun to prevent stacking between Sat and Sun.

Click OK and MusicMaster will save those changes made to the AutoBurn spreadsheet and update your Turnover Analysis display.

Look at the bottom row of totals. Over two weeks the song is spread out pretty well all things considered. It doesn’t get many spins in the morning drive show since it’s only eligible to play there on weekends. We play two per hour during the week at Noon so the count is a little higher there. If we look at the total column on the right things are well balanced there.

AutoBurn can’t fix everything, but it can fix a lot of things. Just keep in mind when using AutoBurn that if your clocks change or your category count changes, your AutoBurns will likely need to change as well.

Need help with your rotations? Maybe you want to see if AutoBurn can help? Call your MusicMaster Scheduling Consultant. We’re happy to assist!

Cover Yourself: How to Protect Your Rotations Against Cover Songs posted on August 25th, 2019

By Brian Wheeler

Cover songs: Love ‘em or loathe them, they are a part of virtually every format. There’s even a Sirius/XM channel devoted completely to cover songs! But what do you do when you’ve got cover songs in your format and you need to prevent them from scheduling too close to each other, particularly when one is a current?

Lana Del Rey released “Doin’ Time”, a track originally recorded by Sublime. If you’re playing the Lana tune, there’s a fairly good chance you’ve got the original version in your gold category. Now that Lana will be marching up the charts with her version, how will you protect from these two versions of the same song?

The ideal protection to use is Title Keyword protection. Much like Artist Keyword protection, Title Keyword protection allows you to separate songs that are alike.

Apply the Title Keyword “Doin’ Time” to the title keyword field on each song, as shown:

Next, enforce the Title Keyword separation rules in your rule tree by dropping the Title Keyword Separation in your All Categories folder.

That should prevent the gold version from scheduling too closely to the new version. Don’t worry if you’re bypassing your current categories from the All Category rules. If your gold is scheduling after your currents, The Lana Del Rey version will plot in your schedule as you’d expect, and the gold version will have to steer clear of any current plays. Perfect!

As far as the separation time is concerned, that is up to you. Something to take into consideration is your average listener’s actual listening time. If your station is focused toward cume, a big separation time may not be necessary since your listeners tend to check in and out throughout the day. Adjust your separation times accordingly. This can be applied to the individual Title Keyword under Dataset, Library, Keywords. Make sure to select the Title Keywords in the dropdown menu and apply a separation time by typing in your desired separation.

You should be all set! Incidentally, this is also how you would best protect against the several versions of all the Christmas tunes you’ll be playing later this year. Is it too soon to be thinking about that? Probably. Let’s enjoy the summer first.

If you have any questions, reach out to your Music Scheduling Consultant.


What is “Hour Exposure?” posted on July 1st, 2019

By Paul Ziino

Head to Dataset/Analysis/Turnover Analysis. Once it loads in the upper half of the screen you’ll see all your categories and a number of columns. You can add and subtract columns by right-clicking in that upper half and checking additional columns. The column we’re discussing today is “Hour Exposure.”

Hour Exposure is the percent of hours a song from that category will play in before repeating in an hour. The highest number you will see is 95.83% which indicates a song is predicted to play in all hours before repeating in one of them. The lower the percent, the fewer the hours the song will hit before repeating in an hour.

If you have a category that doesn’t play 24/7 its Hour Exposure percent will drop. If category X only plays from 6pm-6am, that eliminates 50% of the hours, so the highest score you’ll see is 45.83%. If the category is only played in 6 hours of the 24 hour broadcast day, the highest hour exposure possible will be 20.83%.

When we are using Turnover Analysis to look at predicted rotations, we’re looking to maximize the Hour Exposure, without causing stacking in the predicted play rotation. Looking at Category A we have a 45.83% hour exposure. We do see some stacking in the predicted play history.

If we adjust the slot count up and down we can see how this will change not only the Hour Exposure, but also the predicted rotation.

In this example, not only is the Hour Exposure lower, but the predicted rotation is pretty rotten, too.

Following is an example where we get that stairstep but still have a low Hour Exposure. That’s because the rotation is predicted to hit the same six hours over and over.

Add three more songs to the category and your Hour Exposure jumps to the perfect 95.83%.

As always, if you have any questions, please follow up with your MusicMaster Scheduling Consultant.

MusicMaster Rules: What’s behind your Exclusion Mask? posted on July 21st, 2014

By Marianne Burkett

There are all types of rules available to you in the MusicMaster Rule Tree to keep songs from playing in or around the same hour they last played. In working with so many clients, I’ve come to find many who are daring enough to use the Day or Play Exclusion Mask rules, but have them set up strangely. So, I will explain to the best of my ability how to set them up properly.

Let me start with the Day Exclusion Mask. What does it do and what rules can it replace? (more…)

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Filling in the Holes with Optimum Radial Spread posted on April 14th, 2014

By Paul Ziino

Take a look at this History Graph.

fillinginholes1The rotations look pretty bad.  Now compare that with this History Graph.

fillinginholes2What a huge improvement!  So now the question is, “what changed?”


Basic Rotation Rules posted on March 25th, 2013

By Marianne Burkett

Of all the calls that come my way on a weekly basis, one of the top 5 is “Rotations” and how to improve them.  Rotations are a sensitive subject. Program Directors worry about them constantly.  Even the slightest changes in your library or clocks can throw your rotations off… so you need to install the correct rules to stop that from happening. (more…)

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Rules Reality Check posted on December 3rd, 2012

By Marianne Burkett

The majority of calls I receive during any given week, tend to pertain to poor rotations or too many unscheduled positions after running the automatic scheduler.  Typically, the results are due to rules that don’t really fit the categories, coding or categories with excessively high minimum rest settings.  You may also have rules that conflict with one another.

What should you do?   Of course, you can always call me or your Music Scheduling Consultant to help shed some light on your problems, but if you’d like to roll up your sleeves… here are the steps I personally take each and every time someone calls me for help. (more…)

Rules for Good Rotations posted on December 16th, 2011

By Marianne Burkett

I have many clients who call and ask why their song rotations aren’t what they want.  In most cases it is simply because the wrong rule is being used.  So, which rules should you use? (more…)

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