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Using Schedule Ready Check: Hour Timing, Airplay Contracts and more posted on July 11th, 2022
Using Schedule Ready Check: Hour Timing, Airplay Contracts and more!
By Laurie Knapp
MusicMaster has several tools you can employ after the Scheduling process to ensure your logs meet your standards and are good to go. One you may be familiar with is Check the Log, which makes sure you aren’t sending out a log with any remaining unwanted rule violations. You can learn more about here (https://musicmaster.com/?p=8115).
Another tool, called Schedule Ready Check, will help you see if other important criteria have been met. For example, you can check for missing audio or loose traffic spots, ensure your Airplay Contracts are being met, and that your hours and days are timing out as you expect.
If you don’t already see the Ready Check button in your Schedule Calendar operations toolbar, you can add it. Right click the toolbar and select Customize.
Then, find Ready Check in the left-hand list of Operation Buttons and use the > arrow or drag it into the list on the right. You can place it anywhere in the list you’d like.
You can also right click on any day in your Schedule Calendar and select Perform Ready Check from the context menu.
When you launch Ready Check, you can see the various options available in the window below.
First, you’ll select a time period for the logs you wish to examine. By default, it will pick the day that was highlighted on the calendar when you opened Ready Check.
Then, use the check boxes to select the various criteria you want to look at. Let’s look at each in turn.
The first two options are helpful if you are looking to control hour or day timing. Your format clocks will predict the length of your hours based on average runtimes, but when songs are actually scheduled, you may find your hours are over or under time.
This can add up over time and cause time creep, so that things you’ve programmed to happen at certain times of day (like a top of hour news bulletin) may be off the mark. Of course, your automation system may be set up to correct for this by dropping or squeezing songs as needed. However, some users would prefer to take control in MusicMaster first, so they have a better idea of what’s happening with their log before it goes to air. That’s where Hour Timing comes in.
This can be done by adding a Time Marker element to the end of your format clock and specifying that you’d like it to fall within some window of time. In this example, I’m telling MusicMaster to try and keep this marker within 58:30 to 61:30, or a 90 second window on either side of the 60-minute mark. This gives me some wiggle room that I’m okay with.
Next, to make sure this actually happens, I need to apply the Clock Hour Timing rule. This is found in the Format Clock Rules folder. I’ll add it as an Unbreakable Rule in my All Categories folder and then Save changes to my rule tree.
Now, when MusicMaster is scheduling, it will lean towards songs that help satisfy the length of my hour, picking shorter or longer songs if needed. If the hour ends up too short, I’ll see rule violations as a warning. If the hour time is met or exceeded, MusicMaster may leave some remaining positions unscheduled.
Furthermore, when I’m editing the log, I’ll see a rule violation if I try to swap in a song that throws my hour timing off. If I filter the Replacement Songs (F9) window to display only perfect songs, or songs that don’t violate my Unbreakable Rules, I can be assured that all the choices will fit in time.
Just as with any other rule, some users might prefer to have very strict hour timing settings, while others may allow a little more wiggle room so that the natural rotation of their songs aren’t inadvertently skewed, with some songs being favored or overlooked. You can keep an eye on your spins using History Analysis and adjust as needed.
Looking back at Ready Check, I can use the first two options to make sure my hour timing is happening as expected.
I’ve set my first check to make sure that my hours are between -1:30 and +1:30 of an exact hour.
Since some hours may be more accurate than others, I want to make sure the whole day is coming out okay by using the second option. Here, I’ve asked MusicMaster to check whether each day is coming within 15 minutes under or over the 24-hour mark. You can select any values which are acceptable to you.
Moving on, the third option will warn me if there are any Unscheduled elements left in the log I might have missed. I have the option to “Ignore if the hour time is satisfied”. As mentioned above, you might expect MusicMaster to leave some elements unscheduled if you’ve already met your hour time. If you haven’t already deleted them from the log, you can tell Ready Check to ignore them.
The fourth option checks for missing audio files, or files that are not found in the path you specified in your Audio Filename field. You also have the option to ignore Non-Music, since you might not be concerned if a piece of imaging is missing and doesn’t play.
The fifth option checks for Loose Spots. This has to do with your Traffic Merge. When you run Traffic Merge, it will insert spots into the buckets of time you’ve specified as Traffic elements in your clock. Generally, this should happen as expected, because you’ve coordinated with your traffic software and accounted for appropriate start and end times in MusicMaster.
However, if a mistake happens and MusicMaster can’t fit a spot into the available buckets of time, that spot will be unscheduled and considered “loose”. MusicMaster keeps track of these loose spots, and when you run Ready Check, it will tell you if a spot from your Traffic Merge did not actually appear in your scheduled log.
Finally, Ready Check is used to ensure your Airplay Contracts are being met. Airplay Contracts are used if you need to control when and how often a certain song or promo should play. For example, maybe during the month leading up to the 4th of July, you need a certain concert promo to air at least three times every weekday within 5pm-10pm. That’s a lot to keep track of!
Fortunately, you can double check yourself by setting up Airplay Contracts.
In the library, right click on a song and select Airplay Contracts from the context menu. If the item already has a contract, it will be listed here and you can Edit it. You can also create one by selecting New.
In the settings, you can set the contract Start and End Date, or when this contract will be in effect.
Next, you’ll set the Daily Requirements, like the minimum plays you need in a certain time-period. You also have the option to select days of the week where you want this contract to be applied. What you’re essentially saying is that you want to be sure the Daily Requirements are met within this hour window and these days, and outside of them, you don’t really care what happens. Here’s my example for the Fourth of July promo described earlier.
It’s important to point out that Airplay Contracts are not a rule. They don’t actually force the song to play when and how you’ve specified. You’ll have to set that up yourself using your clocks and dayparting. Likewise, a song will not stop airing just because the Airplay Contract period ended. Instead, you’ll need to remove the song from active rotation yourself, or use an automated tool like AutoMove to transfer it to a holding category on a certain date.
Instead, Airplay Contracts work hand-in-hand with Ready Check to warn you if you haven’t met the criteria you intended to during that contract period. If so, you’ll see a warning in Ready Check that you’ve violated your Airplay Contract, with details on what was overlooked.
Now that I’ve checked all the criteria I want to test in Ready Check, I hit Begin to start the process. In a moment, the results appear in the right-side panel.
The results show that despite the best efforts of Hour Timing, there were two hours that were under timing and one that was over. However, my day is still timing out within 15 minutes of 24 hours, so no problems there.
I also accidentally left two positions unscheduled in the 6pm hour, have one audio file that’s missing, and neglected to play one of the two required Fourth of July promos during the specified time slot.
Armed with this information, I can make any changes I need to satisfy my standards. But just as with many things in MusicMaster, this will be up to my individual preferences and needs.
Contact your Music Scheduling Consultant if you have any questions.