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12 CHR Music Format Clocks You Can Adjust & Apply Today [Download]

by Thomas Giger of www.radioiloveit.com

Wanna’ revamp your Top 40 radio format music-wise? These 12 Contemporary Hit Radio music scheduling format clocks may help you get going.

As a music director, you’re busy dealing with programming & music meetings, record labels, station events, and — last, but not least — your daily music scheduling duties, including at least an hour of manually tweaking a prescheduled log. You might be doing that for several stations in your cluster. One of your long-term goals may be to revisit your format clocks to optimise your music flow, but what if you can’t find the time? Use us as a resource! Below you’ll find 12 CHR music format clocks that you can download for free.

‘Have a recognisable rhythm & flow

This CHR format is focused on newer hit songs of less than 1 year of age in a 2:1 ratio compared to older hit songs of between 1 and 3 years of age (format & image: Thomas Giger)

Distinguish your music categories

In case you do have a few minutes :-), I’m happy to share which thoughts have led to these Top 40 radio format clocks for CHR music scheduling. First of all, you’d want to clearly define your song categories. I always stick to the essential ones, and make sure that every single category has one theme only. Our music format clock for Contemporary Hit Radio therefore includes the following music categories based on the typical hit song life cycle:

Categories for newer hit songs:

  • Current New: a new release with potential to become more familiar & popular
  • Current Secondary Up: a current hit that is becoming more familiar & popular
  • Current Power: a current hit that is very familiar & popular (and now at its peak)
  • Current Secondary Down: a current hit that is familiar, but becoming less popular

Categories for older hit songs:

  • Current Stay: a current hit that is very familiar & popular, but a bit older (up to 12 months)
  • Recurrent Power: a recent hit that is very familiar & popular, but a bit older (12-36 months)
  • Recurrent Secondary: a recent hit that is pretty familiar & popular, but a bit older (12-36 months)

Choose your format boundaries

You’ll notice there are no Golds, as I believe that a pure CHR station (for which I designed this format) should be playing 100% currents. I know, there are several Top 40 stations playing some classics, including very successful ones. I’ve been to LA last April, and heard Shakira’s Hips Don’t Lie (2006) and Justin Timberlake’s Rock Your Body (2003) on 102.7 KIIS FM with just a 33-minute separation. There’s basically nothing against adding spice, and throwback songs are one way of achieving it. But from a brand image point of view, I wonder whether a real CHR should play tracks that are 11 and 14 years old — even when they test well for the higher end of its (typically 18-34 year-old) target demographic.

Yes, a 34-year-old was 23 when Shakira topped the charts, and might have discovered that song while listening to KIIS back then (still being loyal to the station now). But someone who is 23 now might perceive it as an older song. Sure, it makes sense to reward the older end (with the greatest spending power) of your 18-34 demo. But on the other hand, also (Hot) ACs are playing Hips Don’t Lie. Shouldn’t a Top 40 play what listener expect — Top 40 — and nothing else? (Exceptions: tomorrow’s hits, and recurrents that sound & feel current. New songs add freshness; recurrents add (familiarity and) balance. When Dance and R&B dominate the charts, Pop and Rock recurrents make the variety.)

Deliver your format promise

A good music clock should have a recognisable rhythm & flow, representing your format proposition in a very short amount of time. Therefore, this format clock is based on 2 contemporary songs versus 1 older song, in a steady rhythm of ‘now, now, then; now, now, then’. The station’s music core consists of power & secondary currents, which are always tied together to support the station image for hit music. Because there is just 1 older song in between them, the station sounds very much like ‘now’. When tuning in during a music sweep, the listener will usually hear one of today’s hottest tracks within 10 minutes. Once an hour, a new song is featured on the position where normally a secondary current is being played. (Both are relatively new songs, and both are not at their popularity peak.)

To maintain your current hit image, reviewing all categories on a weekly basis (and cleaning them up on a monthly basis) is mandatory. When you do music research where you not only test power & secondary currents through weekly callouts or online panels, but also (a part of) your Stay Current and Recurrent library, then you’ll be able to do this well. It allows you to only keep songs in rotation that listeners really want to hear. When you want a strong image for current music; really want to be the (#1) Hit Music Station in the market, set an age limit for music you play (such as 3 years). Anything older would really have to test ‘through the roof’ for you to keep on spinning it. Below is a representation of Clock A:

Create an uneven rotation pattern

A power current category of 7 songs in combination with this clock creates a song rotation pattern across multiple days for a good song spread (format & image: Thomas Giger)

Ensure your music familiarity

To schedule weaker songs in between stronger tracks, a secondary current (or a new song; close to a secondary current in terms of age) is mostly followed by a power recurrent (or a stay current). The only ‘weak spot’ in this format might be that, maximum twice an hour, a secondary current is followed by a secondary recurrent. But that secondary current is always on the way up! A great new song (which is already a bit familiar) always sounds fresh and exciting, so listeners may be more likely to accept the (bit older-sounding) secondary recurrent, also because that is always followed by a power current. A secondary current on its way down is followed by a strong song in the form of a power recurrent. (Playing a secondary current on its way down and a recurrent back-to-back is not perfect, but should be no problem if the most often-played currents are rested for a few weeks before they’re moved to recurrents.)

Maintain your age balance

That we’ve chosen to separate secondary currents between those on their way up vs. down has other benefits as well. It allows us to keep secondary currents that are on their way up away from new currents (as both are new songs, even if there’s a difference in familiarity that justifies separate categories). Furthermore we can ensure that every hour includes a certain amount of say rising vs. falling stars in our contemporary hit repertoire. Otherwise, every hour could be sounding different; one hour might be full of relatively new songs, another of relatively old ones. This format makes sure that secondary currents on their way up vs. down are balanced with both categories alternately appearing twice an hour. (Same thing goes for power vs. secondary recurrents.)

Fill your categories strategically

This format clock is built for high rotation of limited numbers of A songs; common practice in competitive markets, and designed to hold 6 or more songs in Power Current. It allows songs to travel through every other category slot within the following hours, before being scheduled in the same category slot again. A category of 6 power currents would naturally rotate these songs through all 4 other positions before reappearing in the original place (6 hours later). However, 7 songs would be better, because then it takes 7 hours before all songs fall into the same slots. It will create an uneven rotation pattern that moves through several different dayparts & days, as 24 hours / 7 hours = 3.4 hours (uneven number).

‘Integrate with your main music formats’

Not hindered by a completely different morning show clock, your music scheduling software has a better chance of creating nice rotation patterns for your songs (format & image: Thomas Giger)

Format your morning show

Your breakfast show is obviously one of your key time slots, therefore they deserve to have their own set of clocks. You probably have much more spoken content (as well as longer commercial breaks) during those hours, and you may want to play only strong songs during morning show hours. We’ve created an alternate version of each of the 6 main format clocks, allowing you to showcase only familiar & popular songs in morning drive, based on the following:

Categories for newer hit songs:

  • Current Secondary Up (included for freshness)
  • Current Power
  • Current Secondary Down

Categories for older hit songs:

  • Current Stay
  • Recurrent Power

Follow your main structure

These morning show clocks fit the overall station format with contemporary vs. recent hit songs in their 2:1 ratio, and once again a recognisable rhythm & flow of ‘now; now; then, now; now; then’. The difference is that all categories within the morning show format clock are either a best-testing track — power current, power recurrent or stay current — or a secondary song that is at least familiar to some degree. These morning hot clocks include 2 secondary currents on their way up, which are still gaining familiarity but are great for freshness, and 1 secondary current on its way down, which is usually a very familiar one (as it’s either a former power current or a former secondary current that was on its way up).

Rotate your format clocks

Apart from rotating your songs, you want to rotate your clocks, which helps you create a consistent flow throughout several days and weeks. You’ll notice that morning show Clock AM (‘M’ for Morning’) is based on main Clock A; Clock BM on Clock B, and so forth. It will integrate your breakfast music format with your main music format. Listeners should feel an ongoing music flow from early mornings all the way through morning drive and office hours. And not hindered by a completely different morning show clock, your music scheduling software has a better chance of creating nice song rotation patterns over the course of multiple days. Here’s a representation of Clock AM:

This morning show format clock is based on the main station format clock, but adjusted to a greater amount of speech and a higher load of commercials (format & image: Thomas Giger)

… and here you can see (a part of) the clock grid that unites all 12 music formats in one flow:

It will take 6 weeks until the same clocks appear in the same hours (format & image: Thomas Giger)

Downloads:

 

31a8ca497da06282eb497b8005c82431Thomas Giger is a European radio broadcasting specialist and publisher of Radio))) ILOVEIT, based in the Netherlands, and serving the radio industry worldwide.

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Callout Research Tips Part 2: From Song List To Song Hooks

by Thomas Giger of www.radioiloveit.com

Callout research not only tells you how your target audience feels about your main individual songs, but also about (the dynamics between) your essential music clusters.

In our previous article in this series, we looked at setting up your callout research, including criteria to commission panel building or use live recruiting. Once you have your sample in place, you can create the music list and prepare the song hooks for (the next callout wave of) your music test. Radio music research expert Stephen Ryan explains how.

‘EVERY TESTED SONG MUST BE FAMILIAR’

Callout research participants should be able to recognise every song you’re testing, which is especially important when it’s a relatively new release (image: YouTube / Ed Sheeran)

MAXIMISE YOUR MUSIC ROTATIONS

Callout is focused on trending the life cycle of your Currents and Recurrents. Each wave allows you to put your tested songs in a new hierarchy so that your rotations are maximised, and you’ll give the best songs the highest exposure. While some fieldwork companies may mix CATI (Computer-Assisted Telephone Interviewing) and online methodology to get the sample for each wave, it is more likely that CATI will dominate. You can experiment with how many titles you are testing each time, but when rating song hooks played down a telephone line, respondents can typically tolerate around 30 titles in one session while retaining their full concentration.

LEAVE YOUR GOLDS OUT

When you have the luxury of 44 weeks of almost consecutive callout throughout a year, you may have an opportunity to occasionally test a few older Recurrents, maybe even some Golds. But you basically want to leave the older repertoire testing to an AMT (described in our series on Auditorium Music Testing) and prioritise your Currents & Recurrents for callout. This is especially true when you have 26 weeks of callout; one wave every alternative week, where every slot in that song list becomes even more precious.

WORK YOUR WAY DOWN

When designing your song list, start with all songs from your highest-rotating category, and work downwards from there. Begin with your Power Currents, followed by your Power Recurrents, and your Secondary Currents. Depending on how many slots are then still available, you can then include some songs from your Tertiary Currents and/or New Songs. Prior to testing them in callout, you want to play new releases for a couple of weeks first. Because while all songs on your test list will have varying degrees of familiarity to your audience, every tested song must be familiar (and that includes those new additions). There is a way to make sure that only familiar songs will be included in your music test results.

‘THE WAY A RADIO LISTENER CONSUMES A SONG IS QUITE DIFFERENT’

Radio exposure is still a major factor in building song familiarity (image: 123RF, Antonio Li Piani)

FILTER YOUR UNFAMILIARS OUT

As outlined before, you can use a 6-point scale to distinguish between Favourite, Like, Neutral, Burn, Negative and Unfamiliar. Instruct your participants to avoid rating a song they’re not familiar with and to select ‘Unfamiliar’ instead. Some research methods aim to predict the potential of a song that may be heard for the first time, but callout is not the place for this experimentation. If a song is tested too early, and there is a high Unfamiliar score (over 20-25%), it’s often accompanied by a high Negative rating. However, for a lot of songs, as the Unfamiliarity lowers, so does the negativity. If you took a view on the early ratings of such a song, it may be prematurely removed from the playlist.

FIND YOUR POTENTIALS INSTEAD

There’s a smarter way to see the potential of a new and still a bit unfamiliar song. When you’re using an index-based metric, such as a Pop (Popularity) score, you can calculate a PTL (Potential) score to predict what would happen to the Pop score if the Unfamiliarity score would reduce to zero. Take the existing Unfamiliarity score, and then apportion it pro-rata to the existing Favourite, Like, Neutral, Burn and Negative percentages. Potential is a helpful indicator, but the result can be distorted if a song has an Unfamiliar score that’s too high. So make sure that all tested songs (are all likely to) have an appropriate level of familiarity.

MONITOR YOUR ENTIRE MARKET

Building a song’s familiarity used to depend only on radio exposure. Within a New Song category, they would get a limited exposure for 3 weeks until the total number of plays reached around 60-70. The song would then be familiar enough to put it in callout. Today, we consider a song’s exposure on many different platforms, including streaming, download & online services. While it may shorten how much radio exposure a song requires to hit an appropriate familiarity level, it’s still important to add new songs and expose them to your specific audience prior to testing. While streaming service stats are a good indicator of a song’s potential, the way a radio listener consumes a song is quite different.

‘CAREFULLY CONSIDER THE ORDER’

Similar to music scheduling, you want to apply some sort of artist separation as well as genre, tempo & gender spread to your callout research music list (image: Ryan Research)

SPREAD YOUR COMPARABLE SONGS

Once you have constructed your list of songs, carefully consider the order in which they will be played during the test. Look at ordering your callout song list in the same way you would schedule a perfect music hour. Therefore, separate similar genres and tempos, and avoid playing too many male or female led songs in a row. In recent years, we have seen how the window between the release of a current song and the next song from a particular artist has dramatically shortened. At the time of writing, Ed Sheeran released two songs (described as two ‘A’ sides) simultaneously; Castle On The Hill, and Shape Of You, which have hit the number 1 and number 2 position in charts across many markets. Justin Bieber and Adele are examples of current artists who often have even more songs in high rotation at the same time. Therefore, you want your callout music list to have appropriate spaces in between.

PUT YOUR VARIETY FIRST

We should mention at this stage the issue of possible ‘list bias’ from using the same list order for every respondent, as people may give higher importance (or at least different importance) to elements that are higher versus lower in the list. In music testing, the concern is that songs heard at the start of the test could be viewed (or heard) differently than those toward the middle and end. To alleviate the concern, some may consider to randomise the order of songs played to each respondent. However, randomising will remove the ability to create a balanced and nicely spread list of songs.

INVERT YOUR NEXT LIST

Across the thousands of callout waves we have processed, analysed and reported on, we have seen no real evidence that any form of list bias has become a significant issue. Remember, this is not an isolated AMT; a callout wave is one among many. If there is a concern, ensure that your song list for the next wave is in a different order (where it contains a significant number of the same songs). When your CATI system allows, you can use an inverted list, where 50% of the sample hears your test songs in the order from 1-30, and the other 50% hears them in the order from 30-1. This way, you’ll retain a good spread of artist, gender and tempo. If such a potential bias existed, you would see noticeable bouncing on the trends across multiple waves.

‘PEOPLE SUBLIMINALLY GET USED TO THE AVERAGE DURATION’

Therefore, keep your song hooks short, and their duration consistent (image: Ryan Research)

MAKE YOUR HOOKS RECOGNISABLE

Having designed the list of songs, you now need to prepare the respective hooks. The format required (wav, mp3, ogg, etc.) will depend on the requirements of your fieldwork company’s CATI system. At times, you may simply be required to provide them in wav quality, and they will convert them accordingly on receipt. From the preparation point of view, the main thing is to let every hook truly represent the song, and base the hook on the song’s most recognisable part(usually the chorus). Selecting the best part of the song really comes down to your expertise and skill.

GIVE YOUR SONGS TIME

The most difficult ones are often Dance songs, which are primarily instrumental and/or have elongated chorus sections that are difficult to capture in a short sequence. You may have to test specific songs over a longer period of time. In a number of radio markets, Manuel Riva & Eneli’s Mhm Mhm, which you could describe as a ‘catchy’ track, retained a high Unfamiliar score for some time, despite a consistent exposure (both on air and across streaming services). It took more time than usual for the hook to sink into people’s minds as representing a song that they recognise.

KEEP YOUR HOOKS SHORT

If you are happy with the hooks, just make sure they are not unnecessarily long. Most hooks can be edited down to 7 to 9 seconds. Keep in mind that when you are testing 30 songs, and each hook is 9 seconds in duration, the result will be about 270 seconds (or 4.5 minutes) of audio. Take that to 12 seconds each, and you’ll get to 6 minutes — without gaps in between to take the respondents answer. In addition, keep all song hooks to a consistent duration. As people go through the test, they’ll get into a rhythm, and subliminally get used to the average duration of each hook. If they have listened to a series of hooks with an average length of 9 seconds, and are suddenly presented with a hook that is 14 seconds long, they may feel there is a deliberate emphasis on that particular hook (and view it differently).

‘CONSIDER ADDING MUSIC CLUSTER TESTING’

It’s good to spot shifts in popularity of (relations between) music genres (image: 123RF / joris484)

REHEARSE YOUR SURVEY UPFRONT

Once your music list and song hooks are prepared and sent over to the fieldwork company, there is one more important thing to get into the habit of doing. Prior to the launch of every callout wave, get the fieldwork company to call you and go through the survey. It allows you to check that the song list and song hooks are in matching sort order, and to hear how the song hooks are sounding when they’re played from the CATI system down a telephone line. While they will be in mono, and not exactly in the best audio quality, check if they’re loud enough and not unnecessarily distorted. Distortion may occur when you forward a wav version which the fieldwork company then converts to another format.

BLIND YOUR CALLOUT RESEARCH

Every callout survey should be a blind test regarding two elements. The first, as mentioned in previous articles in this music research series, is that each panellist used should not be aware of why they’ve been selected other than ‘we are interested in your view on songs as a radio listener’. The second is that the interviewer should give or infer no information about title or artist. Respondent should simply listen to the hooks, and give their response.

TRACK YOUR GENRE POPULARITY

Finally, consider adding music genre / music cluster testing. Looking at music styles there defining your format lets you notice any changes in your overall music appeal, as well as any changes in (dynamics between) the popularity of certain music genres. However, you’ll also get some of these insights from testing your individual songs. When many songs in a particular genre start to show less potential, then the overall exposure of that style may need a review. If you intend to test genres, do so prior to testing individual songs (and clearly explain that you want them to judge the overall style; not the individual fragments). Then, prior to testing the individual hooks, explain that now they should focus on rating each song one by one. To keep YOU hooked: the next article in this series on callout research is going to cover the interpretation and analysis of the results you’ll get from each callout wave!

31a8ca497da06282eb497b8005c82431Thomas Giger is a European radio broadcasting specialist and publisher of Radio))) ILOVEIT, based in the Netherlands, and serving the radio industry worldwide.

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Super Song Segues: Creating & Maintaining ‘Forward Flow’ In Music Logs

by Thomas Giger of www.radioiloveit.com

Great music radio has great music flow. How to both sound amazing and increase TSL? That’s where super song segues come into play!

A segue — from the Italian segue [se:ɡwe], which means ‘follows’ — is what Wikipedia calls ‘a smooth transition from one topic or section to the next’. Segues are obviously important in a PPM world, where you want to keep things flowing and avoid sudden changes or perceived breaks (plus consider attention spans; presell what’s coming, go there quickly, and make it worthwhile). Some ideas to optimise music scheduling for more forward momentum and longer Time Spent Listening on your music radio station.

Pleasing the majority of your audience most of the time

Hitting a home run every second song will keep your music core hooked (image: Thomas Giger)

Consider your music clusters

Before covering gender, tempo, energy & mood in music transitions, let’s look at the all-important genre factor, as music flow is partly achieved through music variety. One of the benefits of radio, compared to music collections and streaming services, is the surprise factor, leading to curiosity and anticipation (contributing to forward momentum). Variety is also key to satisfy every music cluster (taste group) of your target audience within any given segment of 10 minutes; the average listening occasion time in many markets. In any case, you want to reflect your station’s entire music format in less than any random 20 minutes (again, 10 is ideal), keeping in mind that longer commercial breaks will be like pushing a reset button. After a long stopset, you basically start all over with a mostly new batch of listeners.

Assist your scheduling software

If you’re an AC station, and a mapping study tells you that one half of your target audience is into Pop, and that the second half consists of equal amounts of Rock and Dance fans (for the sake of an easy example), then you’ll probably build a music library based on 50% Pop, 25% Pop-Rock, and 25% Pop-Dance. You’ll probably avoid heavy Rock or extreme Dance songs, keeping your Pop music core happy with mainly Pop-leaning Rock and Dance, while giving Rock and Dance fans some of what they want as well. However, building a library where you not only include the right (good-testing) songs, but also have the right genre percentage in each song category (also based on how many slots for each category you have in your format clocks) is one thing. Scheduling those songs in the right order is another.

Improve your genre sequence

When your music strategy is playing 50% Pop, 25% Pop-Rock and 25% Pop-Dance, you may not only want to hear that 2:1:1 ratio in each hour as a whole and, as explained, in a given 10-minute segment — or, in this case, a given 15-minute music segment as you need 4 songs (of about 3.5 minutes each) to reflect a complete 2:1:1 format. You also want to play those 4 titles in a certain sequence, pleasing the majority of your audience most of the time. Instead of:

PopPop — Pop-Rock — Pop-Dance

you obviously want a strategic music genre flow like:

Pop — Pop-Rock — Pop — Pop-Dance

to please your music core at least every second song, no matter when they tune in, keeping that essential part of your audience hooked for as long as possible to boost your Time Spent Listening and (with frequent tune-in appointments) grow your ratings. But there’s a paradox.

Unbreakable rules are perfect to separate edgy sounds

Especially a mass-appeal format needs music variety and music balance (image: Thomas Giger)

Streamline your station sound

While variety creates flow, it also contradicts flow. Especially when you program a broad, mainstream format such as AC or Top 40, you’ll sometimes have to play two less compatible records back to back, like transitioning from a soft & slow ending Pop song to a powerful & uptempo starting Rock or Dance track. Unless you have a jock talk (or other break) in between two very different songs, you can use (PPM-friendly) station imaging to make good segues. I’m not talking about classic transition jingles (long sung themes with a break in the middle, where they’re morphing from like Rock to Dance, and/or from like slow to fast) necessarily. It is possible, when these jingles are well produced (and correctly used), but if you want to use sung imaging to connect two songs, you’re usually better off with short versions like Shotgun IDs, or (partly sung) power intros a.k.a. branded intros. Non-musical elements, like sweepers, are great as well.

Match your songs & imaging

You can produce multiple versions of every sweeper, using a Beats per Minute grid (such as a click track in Pro Tools) to put your voiceover parts rhythmically on the beat before adding impacts & whooshes to glue everything together (and muting your click track before rending your audio file). Once you’ve added your sweepers to a Sweeper category in your music scheduling database, and tagged both your sweepers and your songs with a BPM number, you can define rules in your music scheduling software to mix & match songs and sweepers. Add your jingles to a Jingle category, treating them like songs (as jingles are musical elements) with codes for genre and tempo. Define these codes for both the intro and outro of your jingles, so you can create perfect transitions. When you’ve conscientiously entered song and imaging intro & outro times in your scheduling software — and carefully entered start & end cues for all songs and imaging in your automation software — you can, after some testing and fine-tuning, enjoy a great song-to-imaging-to-music flow.

Code your database efficiently

Before you start (re)coding your songs, ideally done by one and the same person for consistency reasons, you want decide which sound definitions really matter to you(r audience). For most music formats, relevant sound codes are:

  • Genre: defined by music style (Pop, Rock, Dance, etc.)
  • Gender: defined by lead vocals (male, female, or mixed)
  • Energy: defined on a scale (e.g. level 1 is very low, level 5 is very high)
  • Tempo: defined on a scale (e.g. level 1 is very slow, level 5 is very fast)
  • Mood: defined on a scale (e.g. level 1 is very sad, level 5 is very happy)
  • Daypart: defined in a calendar (showing days & hours where it can play)

Your music scheduling rules (based on chosen sound codes) could be set to ‘breakable’ first, maybe except for your (usually unbreakable) Daypart rule, and then switched to ‘unbreakable’ one by one (for rules that make a difference). Unbreakable rules are perfect to separate music genres that not appeal to the majority of your audience. If you’re an AC station with a Pop core, you may want to avoid two Rock or Dance songs back to back, or more than two level-1 or level-5 songs in a row (or a sudden jump from a level-1 to a level-5 song without a level-3 song in between). But it would be acceptable (yet not perfect) to play two Pop songs, or two level-3 songs, after another. You can tweak your sound code matrix by scheduling test logs, and making necessary adjustments.

This station’s energy, tempo & mood sounds pretty good

However, many level 2 or level 3 songs could have been better spread across the hour, considering the fact that some of them have been scheduled close to each other, while there are many level 4 or level 5 songs in a row (image: Thomas Giger)

Rethink your scheduling rules

Above, you see a random hour on a major-market AC station, so we have a nice case to analyse song segues from a sound code perspective. Therefore, I have left rotation-based categories such as Currents, Recurrents and Golds, as well as station imaging, out of this analysis. Looking at the ‘Genre’ column above, the station’s main music clusters seem to be Pop and Dance in a ratio of almost 2:1 (9 songs versus 5 songs). Seems like there’re no real Rock or Urban on the playlist; no surprise for Adult Contemporary formats. But considering how these Pop and Dance songs are positioned, this station could define rules to achieve an even better genre flow throughout the hour, as we not only see 3 Dance-alike songs back to back, but also 6 Pop-based songs in a row! Even if Pop is likely the station’s music core, and even if there are many sub genres within Pop (as we see in the third column) to create variety, an even better music flow could be:

PopPop — Dance — PopPop — Dance

which you could theoretically achieve by defining a rule like ‘maximum 2 Pop’ and ‘maximum 1 Dance’ in a row, adding a rule that Dance has to be followed by Pop. If that would cause scheduling conflicts or affect song rotations, you could set it to ‘maximum 3 Pop’ in a row, and, as a last resort, accept ‘maximum 2 Dance’ in a row (as an unbreakable rule).

Balance your (re)current songs

Of course, as Currents and Recurrents have higher turnovers than Golds (especially when they’re powers), they have to play at certain positions to maintain excellent rotation patterns, but you can use your secondary Recurrents and Golds to balance your genre exposure. The side effect is automatic ‘platooning’ of your back catalogue if your front catalogue is influenced by music trends. If today’s music cycle is Pop, many of your Currents & Recurrents will be Pop-based, thus you’ll rely more on Dance- and Rock-sounding songs in your Gold categories, causing your Pop-sounding Golds to play less often. Solution? Leave your Power Gold category as it is, so you’re still playing the best-testing Golds. Rebuild your Secondary Gold library by testing some Dance- and Rock-feeling classics to qualify for your Secondary Gold segment, making that category appear a few times an hour (close to your Power Currents and Power Recurrents). Important is that your Power Golds are still playing as often as they should.

Tweak your music gradually

Four females and four males back to back (see ‘Gender’ column) can be solved by tightening your gender separation rule. First, make small, step-by-step adjustments, like taking it from ‘maximum 4’ to ‘maximum 3’ males or females in a row. Run a couple of test logs. If it works, you can try ‘maximum 2’, as long as your rotation patterns remain intact. The music mix is powerful, upbeat and positive (with average levels of 3.9, 3.6 and 3.6, so basically 4, 4 and 4). Within this context, it does feel a bit off to start with a ‘3-3-2’ song after the Top of the Hour. The ‘Mood’ rules could be adjusted, so that lower-level songs are more embedded within higher-level songs (of which we’ve seen eight in a row in that hour). A good rule is to always follow a low-level (1 or 2) song with a higher-level (3 or 4) song, like this station seems to be doing well. Music scheduling is also ‘mood management’. All of these factors combined could give you a better sound, and a longer TSL. Have fun optimising your music flow, and creating super song segues!

31a8ca497da06282eb497b8005c82431Thomas Giger is a European radio broadcasting specialist and publisher of Radio))) ILOVEIT, based in the Netherlands, and serving the radio industry worldwide.

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From Europe with Love: 10 Ways We Achieve Music Variety Despite Genre Quotas

by Thomas Giger of www.radioiloveit.com

Achieving quotas can be a serious challenge for radio stations. Luckily, there are many ways we use our music quota rules for maximum advantage.

‘Make the best of existing music quota’

Music quota are beneficial for a few mass-appeal stars (photo: Columbia, images: Wikipedia)

Music quota are beneficial for a few mass-appeal stars (photo: Columbia, images: Wikipedia)

Know your format regulations

Maintaining cultural heritage; ensuring format variety; supporting record companies; protecting public radio / restricting commercial radio… whatever the motive may be, you must face the music as a radio broadcaster. Canadian content requirements for Canadian music on radio stations dictate that 35% of the music aired each week must be Canadian content. For commercial stations, that rule applies to the hours between 6am and 6pm, Monday through Friday. Even CBC / Radio Canada has to play 50% locally Cancon. In addition, 65% of the popular music on all Canadian French-language stations has to be in that language. Commercial stations are ‘getting away’ with 55% of that between 6am and 6pm on weekdays.


Influence market developments collectively

france-country-borders-and-french-flag-colors-01France has a less complex rule: 40% of all music has to be in French language, half of which has to be made by new artists. A collective radio industry push for more workable guidelines finally seems to be gaining traction. Politicians are willing to reduce legal quota for French songs to 35% (or to 15% for stations that specialize in foreign music), but all stations have to air more new music.

Implement music quota creatively

While music quota are beneficial for artists and labels that specialize in that particular genre, they can be a challenge for current-intensive formats like CHR when there is not enough suitable new music available. While the music industry and governments accuse radio of playing the same few (best-testing) songs over and over, the radio industry maintains that listeners want to hear those power songs again and again, and don’t want (too many) unfamiliar songs. There are 10 creative things you can do as a PD / MD to make the best of existing music quota.

‘Wait with alternate versions until the original work has become very familiar’

Listeners usually accept those after the original got a lot of airplay (image: Parlophone, Atlantic)

Listeners usually accept those after the original got a lot of airplay (image: Parlophone, Atlantic)

  1. Connect your quota titles

When an artist or a band has a new album or (comes to your radio market for a concert as part of) a new tour, it’s your opportunity for a studio interview, live showcase or music feature. You can air an interview (or short highlights from the complete conversation that you can put on your website), and spice it up by playing related songs before and after. The interview (clip) is kind of the mortar in between the music bricks; it’s a legitimate reason to play several tracks by the same artist back to back. If your music quota is measured in minutes per hour instead of songs per hour, then you can further benefit from this concept. How?

  1. Enhance your quota songs

plus-signs-in-orange-and-blue-circles-01You can get instrumental versions from record companies, or edit song intros into music beds, and run these underneath the interview. In addition, you can create talk-over beds for jocks, made from instrumental parts of popular quota-matching songs edited together, or use hooks from these songs in your music promos and format explainers. That’s a lot more quota minutes!

  1. Widen your music library

Assuming you want to reach your music quota by playing best-testing songs a lot, find additional versions to (sometimes) use instead of the official single edit. Playing an acoustic version of dance remix helps you create (a perception of) music variety despite high rotations. For stations with new music quota, remixes are great. I know of a Rhythmic CHR with an obligation to play lots of new music that plays (also self-produced) remixes of current hit songs, which officially makes them ‘new releases’, even if they’re originating from an existing song. In general, you want to wait with alternate versions until the original work has become very familiar by having received a lot of airplay in your market.

‘Let songs support your music quota’

One way is to produce special radio versions containing local language parts (image: Warner)

One way is to produce special radio versions containing local language parts (image: Warner)

  1. Shorten your non-quota songs

When music quota is defined as number of songs per hour instead of number of minutes an hour, you can edit (secondary) non-quota songs into a shorter version by shortening long intros or instrumental breaks, or (worst-case scenario) take out 1 phrase plus 1 chorus, unless it’s a song of which many people know the lyrics by heart, or a pop classic that’s considered to be a holy grail. It allows you to play one or two extra (primary) quota songs an hour, while maintaining your music format (like also playing lots of international hits) and meeting your listener expectations. But what if your legislators are smart, and have defined music quota percentages based on number of minutes rather than number of songs? Then this editing tactic will help you anyway :-).

  1. Stretch your quota songs

pro-tools-music-editing-looping-instrumental-song-parts-02You can edit (primary) quota songs into a longer version by looping instrumental parts and repeating hook & chorus parts. A simple 1-minute extended version per (primary) quota song could add up to several extra quota minutes an hour. When you do it artistically, the artists and labels should be okay with it, as they’ll receive more song exposure.

  1. Localize your power categories

Building and maintaining a good relationship with the local music scene can be good for you. Collaborate with local artists and labels to produce covers of international hits to let songs support your music quota. If local artists usually sing in English and like (more) airplay on your station, request that they produce a special radio version (exclusively for your station) with the right amount of local language parts so it will match the music quota criteria. I recently heard a French version of Keep My Cool by Madcon. The Norwegian group reproduced their English language song with French vocal inserts (covering over 50% of its duration in order to be recognized as a ‘French’ song) for exactly that reason.

‘A diffused music promise can weaken listener expectations’

Better than this is choosing one language ratio, and sticking to it all day long (images: Wikipedia)

Better than this is choosing one language ratio, and sticking to it all day long (images: Wikipedia)

  1. Support your local talent

You can scout new talent at your own station events (like outdoor music shows) to support local music. Work together with recording studios to local artists’ homemade demos into ready-to-air music productions, giving them media exposure and giving you new material. Another benefit: many people are still going to radio to discover new music (and expect radio to curate new music), so your (Top 40) station may benefit from getting the image for discovering and building new talent. Do you want to take things to a top level? Launch your radio company’s own record label as an additional income stream, like UK-based Global is doing.

  1. Merge your non-quota songs

pro-tools-music-editing-cross-fading-instrumental-song-parts-04You can sell multiple international songs as one item. Some CHR stations in Canada are running a ‘Six Pack’ where they play 6 English songs back to back, but mixed together — which, according to the letter of the law, counts as just 1 English track. This way, they have to play fewer French songs to make the station’s music quota that day.

  1. Maintain your format consistency

You probably want to make your morning show and drive time show as attractive as possible, and that usually means playing less (domestic) quota hit songs than (international) non-quota hit songs during those hours. However, I’ve heard of a Top 40 station in France that on Saturday & Sunday mornings, when most people are sleeping, goes 100% French so they can play much less of it during more audience-intensive hours. But you risk is diluting your music promise. For programming strategy as well as brand management reasons, you want to have a relatively consistent music mix, so your listeners will know what to expect because they’re getting what they expect — any day, any time. Also on Sunday morning at 7:01. Successful programming is consistent programming.

‘Find a win-win compromise’

Suggesting workable alternatives to government officials can be worthwhile (image: Thomas Giger)

Suggesting workable alternatives to government officials can be worthwhile (image: Thomas Giger)

  1. Get your quota elsewhere

In some countries, broadcasters can (collectively) negotiate with media regulators to lower your quota percentage. You could even propose launching a sub brand, where you will play (the majority of) local music. For example, if your license includes an obligation to spin 40% music in the local language, you can first propose to play 20% on the main channel and as much as 60% on the secondary channel; an average of 40%. Or suggest dividing music quota over different distribution channels of your main brand, like 20% on FM & DAB, and the requested 40% on your web stream by (only there) replacing (4 x 3-minute / 3 x 4-minute / 2 x 6-minute) stop sets of ads & promos with quota music. Find a win-win that will make politicians still look good, while serving your strategy much better.

31a8ca497da06282eb497b8005c82431Thomas Giger is a European radio broadcasting specialist and publisher of Radio))) ILOVEIT, based in the Netherlands, and serving the radio industry worldwide.

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How To Make Your TOP 40 Radio Station A Massive Hit

Rolling format clocks for less predictive positions and maintaining genre balance for more satisfied audiences matters in scheduling music for Top 40 radio stations.

Music scheduling for Contemporary Hit Radio (CHR) formats causes an interesting challenge: how to create enough variety despite a limited playlist? Consultant Robert Johansson likes to use various clock grids for better song rotations, and look at demographic clusters (not just main scores) in music research to create mass-appeal song sequences.

“THE KICK IS A GOOD FUNCTION”

Can I Kick It?, A Tribe Called Quest, single cover

(Power current) song rotation patterns can improve by kicking one or more songs at midnight (image: JIVE Records)

CREATE FORMAT CLOCK VARIANTS

Having a small music playlist and still creating a good music flow seems like quite a challenge.

“The fact that you might spin the most-played song 140 times a week now is adding to that”, Johansson confirms. As rotations have increased, so we can’t apply the same scheduling rules as we did a few years ago, he prefers to use several different clocks for better music scheduling. “When you’re playing 5 ‘A songs’, you need to create variety in where they are positioned, and what kind of songs they’re surrounded with.” He likes the Rolling Clock feature (included in one of the bigger music scheduling programs) to create a lot of different clock variants in a heartbeat. For a particular station, he defined about 50 different format clocks for its daytime programming alone.

radio music programming, format clock grid, song categories, spreadsheetDESIGN FORMATS IN SPREADSHEETS

It’s important to keep an overview of all clocks, and practical to create them in a spreadsheet first. “So we know in which quarter hours we expose certain songs, how we are going to have a good flow from day to day, and whenever we’re going to use kicks.” Kicks are commands that tell your music scheduling software to drop a certain amount of songs at a certain time (like midnight) to achieve a better day-to-day rotation.

APPLY THE EVEN-ODD RULE

So if you play 1 song an hour from your ‘A’ list, you can now have 4 songs in this category — as you no longer necessarily need 5 or 7 songs to let them naturally rotate through different quarters, hours and dayparts?

“It’s better to have a number of songs that creates a natural flow, but the Kick is a good function that can help you. Because you don’t know if you really always have 5 songs that are going to fit in this high-rotation category.” Another client of Robert Johansson has different sets of format clocks to choose from, depending on how many songs are to be included in their power current category: 4 or 5. “Then don’t have to say: we must find 5 ‘A’ songs. If you just have 4 ‘A’ songs, it’s good to have a different set of clocks to switch to.” He adds that having two different clock grids (one for 4, and one for 5 ‘A’ songs) is sufficient.

“THERE IS NOT AS MUCH PASSION IN SONG NUMBER 7 AS IN NUMBER 1, 2 OR 3”

numbers, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, red color, decreasing intensity

High-rotation (power current) music categories ideally exist of 4 or 5 best-testing songs (image: Thomas Giger)

ENSURE GOOD QUARTER-HOUR ROTATIONS

Why wouldn’t you make a third clock grid for say 6 ‘A’ songs?

“Whether you play 4 or 6 ‘A’ songs is huge difference. And if you’re going to play 6 songs in ‘A’ and play 3 each hour, you’ll end up in a rotation pattern where songs tend to play in the same quarter hour. But if you play 4 ‘A’ songs each hour, like 1 every 15 minutes, and you have 5 songs in that category, songs usually do not appear in the same quarter hour.” Johansson likes to create rotation patterns that schedule songs in as many different quarters within an hour as possible before they return to the same quarter hour slot.

radio music research, callout test results, 20-34 year-old audience demographicUSE PASSION AS CRITERIUM

What do you think of playing 7 songs in ‘A’ when you play 4 of them an hour? Or is that too much to create a feeling of passion?

“Whenever I see callout results, the index scores usually drop off after 5 songs. Sometimes it’s 4, sometimes 5 or possibly 6. Usually, if you have 7 songs, there is not as much passion in song number 7 as in number 1, 2 or 3 coming out of your callout research.”

OPTIMIZE YOUR ‘A’ LIST

In his opinion, it matters what kind of rotation you’re using for your power currents (‘A’ list songs). For example, having 7 hit songs in ‘A’ and playing 2 each hour (rotation of 3.5 hours) or 3 each hour (rotation of about 2.5 hours) is okay. “But if you end up playing ‘A’ songs around 1.5 hour in separation, then I would not play as many as 7 in that rotation.” Robert Johansson advises to limit music categories of songs with a high exposure (like 140 spins a week) to 4 or 5 songs. (It will ensure that every ‘A’ list song really is a power current — a current hit for which your target listeners are feeling a strong passion.)

NOW 105 IN NORFOLK: 142 SPINS

Love Yourself, Justin Bieber, single cover

This American Top 40 station played Justin Bieber’s Love Yourself every 71 minutes (image: Def Jam Recordings)

TAILOR CLOCKS FOR MORNINGS

Coming back to the mentioned 50 format clock variants, how do you go about implementing those?

Johansson explains that some of these format clocks are specifically designed for certain dayparts. For example, a station could use 7 clocks per 6-hour daypart, and rotate them through this daypart. If a certain clock plays in the ‘noon hour’ on Monday, it plays again in the ‘1 PM hour’ on Tuesday. It’s common to use a dedicated set of hot clocks for morning shows (as they feature more talk breaks compared to middays). Some programmers use alternate clock grids for afternoons, evenings and weekends, too. “A station could have a more uptempo or more current feeling during evenings as compared to daytime. It depends on what the station wants to achieve, but it’s common to feature more new music in the afternoon than in midday.”

radio programming, 4 dayparts, morning, midday, afternoon, late afternoon, 6 AM to 9 AM, 9 AM to 12 PM (noon), 12 PM (noon) to 3 PM, 3 PM to 6 PMKEEP PRIME-TIME PLAYLISTS FAMILIAR

A radio station’s overall music format and playlist balance should be reflected in every program clock, although some categories can be dayparted, like those for brand-new music. Many stationsdon’t play unfamiliar new releases in morning drive, and add new music slots to late afternoon, evening, night & overnight clocks. This ensures a familiar-based music output during ratings-driving morning show and 9-5 office work hours.

STAY WITHIN REASONABLE ROTATIONS

Robert Johansson notes that when he started in radio 20 years ago, a rotation of 50 plays a week (every 3 hours and 20 minutes) was considered to be a lot. Just a few years ago, 100 spins a week (every 1 hour and 40 minutes) was still exceptional for power currents. Boy, have things changed! Mediabase airplay data from January 26 till February 1, 2016 reveal that format icons KIIS-FM Los Angeles and Z100 New York play ‘A list’ songs around 110 to 120 times a week(every 1 hour and 25 to 30 minutes, thus appearing in every sixth quarter hour on average). Another iHeartRadio Top 40 outlet, Now 105 in Norfolk, holds the rotation record for that week with 142 spins for Justin Bieber’s Love Yourself, therefore repeating it once every 1 hour and 11 minutes (thus in every fifth quarter hour) on average.

“THE BEST-TESTING SONG MIGHT NOT ALWAYS BE THE BEST ONE FOR YOUR STATION”

radio music programming, format clock hour, song categories, music genres, male versus female (or both) audience segments

Your music flow should include enough variety to stay interesting for every target segment

BALANCE YOUR MUSIC FLOW

Music directors want to expose ‘passion’ songs, but they might want to avoid ‘burn’ increase. So where do we find an equilibrium of satisfying listeners without irritating them?

“When you look into music research, you can really see how different people think about songs sometime. There is a huge diversity in music taste. It’s a lot about deciding: who is your target; who are you playing the music for?” Johansson advises to create a balanced song sequence to keep every segment of your target audience tuned in, which goes for CHR / Top 40 as well as any format for that matter. “If you play one song which is just for a part of your target, it’s okay, but if you play two of those songs back to back, which is not good, people are out. See how different clusters rate the songs. Not just look at the main score, but also at which part of the audience is driving the score. So the best-testing song might not always be the best one for your station in this regard.”

christmas-music-scheduling-holiday-music-categories-christmas-format-clock-christmas-tree-background-01[1]

Clockin’ Around The Christmas Tree: Holiday Music Scheduling Tips

by Thomas Giger of www.radioiloveit.com

It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas :-). Time to double-check your holiday library coding & categories, and fine-tune your Christmas format rotations & clocks.

If your station is like most, you’ll launch your holiday music format somewhere between (American) Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve. Assuming you already know which songs you’re going to play, we’ll focus on how to give every Christmas song the right exposure, and share some ChristSTmas music format clocks which you may be able to use.

INCLUDE ENOUGH MUSIC VARIETY

Uptempo songs on your Christmas music playlist help you balance your flow (image: Columbia Records)

Uptempo songs on your Christmas playlist can balance your music flow (image: Columbia Records)

CHECK YOUR SOUND CODES

You probably have coded your songs when you added them, but you may have done this a few months ago. It could be good to go over every song once again with fresh ears (and actually listen to it) so you can make sure that each and every title is perfectly coded according to essential criteria. These may include:

  • Gender: male, female or duet (in terms of lead vocals)
  • Sound: defined by genre (Contemporary, Traditional, Religious as well as Pop, Rock, Soul, etc.)
  • Mood: defined by level (like 1 for very sad, 5 for very happy)
  • Energy: defined by level (like 1 for very low, 5 for very high)
  • Tempo: defined by level (like 1 for very slow, 5 for very fast)
  • Daypart: defined by days & hours (when it can be played)

If you don’t play 100% Christmas music (yet), then your set of sound codes for Christmas music should be the same as the one for non-Christmas music, in order to make your scheduling rules work for every possible combination (e.g. a Christmas song followed by a non-Christmas song).

SET YOUR SCHEDULING RULES

Essential sound codes are the ones you’ll use to separate similar-sounding songs apart from song, artist & title separation. Just make every scheduling rule match your song exposure and library content (or vice versa). For example: when you’re playing 100% Christmas music and 70% of your Christmas library includes songs with female lead vocals, you may want to make your gender separation rule breakable instead of unbreakable (or take off some female / add some male lead vocal songs).

KEEP YOUR LIBRARY DIVERSE

Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You is obviously a contemporary-sounding song with (after the intro) pretty high mood, energy & tempo levels. Songs like these are great to include. They let you balance the character of the average Christmas song. You can play All I Want… anytime you want (maybe except from dinner time on Christmas Eve, when you might want to play background music, depending on your station format and image). White Christmas could be classified as a traditional song, and Drummer Boy as a religious song. A modern interpretation (like Justin Bieber’s cover) may be an exception. Bieber’s voice is very recognizable, and could give a traditional-religious standard a contemporary feel. After coding your songs with your rules in mind, analyze your Christmas playlist again. Does it include enough music variety for easy music scheduling? For example, does your library include enough songs from all genders, sounds, moods, energies, tempos and dayparts?

APPEAL TO MULTIPLE LISTENER GENERATIONS

Playing modern interpretations of timeless classics can update your Christmas format (image: Island Records)

Playing modern interpretations of timeless classics can update your format (image: Island Records)

DEFINE YOUR MUSIC CATEGORIES

Especially when you have a broad target audience which will appeal to multiple listener generations, you may want to split your music library into a younger and older part. If your target demo is 20-49, you can address 20-34 and 35-49 year-olds equally by creating 2 categories:

  • X – Recent Christmas: songs from 1990-2016, mostly familiar to younger listeners
  • Y – Classic Christmas: songs from before 1990, mostly familiar to older listeners

Of course, holiday music is a unique category because many of the most-played songs are (or have their origin in) older works. Winter Wonderland was composed in 1934 but everyone knows it because it’s been re-recorded about 200 times (!) and because it’s being played year after year. But even if younger people will know many of the Christmas Classics, you can use the X and Y categories alternately to achieve a good era balance (when that is what you want).

REGULATE YOUR SONG ROTATIONS

You already divide your Currents, Recurrents and Golds into power and secondary categories, so why not assign your Christmas songs to high-rotation and low-rotation categories as well? When you choose to separate Christmas Recent and Christmas Classics as seen above, you could then split those into 2 levels:

  • X1 – Recent Christmas Power: most popular recent Christmas songs from 1990-2016
  • X2 – Recent Christmas Secondary: additional recent Christmas songs from 1990-2016
  • Y1 – Classic Christmas Power: most popular classic Christmas songs from before 1990
  • Y2 – Classic Christmas Secondary: additional classic Christmas songs from before 1990

Check every category to make sure that you have enough songs in each one to create a good rotation pattern. And, in any case, you want to have more songs in your level 2 (secondary) categories than in your level 1 (power) categories, so even if you’ll position your level 1 and level 2 songs in your format clock equally, your most popular / best testing songs will appear more often.

CREATE YOUR FORMAT CLOCKS

When you choose to increase your holiday music percentage gradually (over the course of a couple of weeks leading up to Christmas Eve), the following 5 format clocks may give you inspiration for your holiday music scheduling. If you flip to a 100% Christmas format all at once, the final clock will be interesting for you. I’ve designed the clocks for a fictitious Modern AC station, serving a 20-49 audience (with an emphasis on 20-34) by playing a mix of Currents, Recurrents & Golds. (Talk & stopset positions are not included in order to focus on the songs.) The music categories are:

  • N = New
  • C = Current
  • R = Recurrent
  • G = Gold
  • X = Recent Christmas (level 1 for Power, level 2 for Secondary)
  • Y = Classic Christmas (level 1 for Power, level 2 for Secondary)

and this is how the main format clock looks like:

Music format clock for a Modern AC with the best mix of yesterday & today (format: Thomas Giger)

Music format clock for a Modern AC with the best mix of yesterday & today (format: Thomas Giger)

1. REPLACE YOUR OLDEST CATEGORIES

The above Modern AC format clock is built around a ‘Recurrent-Current-Gold-Current, Recurrent-Current-Gold-New’ category sequence. It could run on any day outside of holidays. This will be the master clock for the Christmas variants. You can replace Power/Secondary Gold positions by Power/Secondary Christmas slots, which is a nice fit, as most Christmas standards are basically Gold songs. It also keeps you sounding fresh as you’re still playing currents, recurrents and new music, thus maintaining your overall listener expectations for your station and format. You could introduce your holiday music subtlety, like 1 or 2 songs an hour. We’ve already moved a step ahead with the below clock, designed for 25% Christmas music = 1 out of 4 songs:

Music format clock for 25% Christmas / 4 songs an hour (format: Thomas Giger)

Christmas music format clock for 25% Christmas / 4 songs an hour (format: Thomas Giger)

2. REPLACE YOUR MIDDLE CATEGORIES

A few weeks after introducing Christmas music, you may want to increase the hourly percentage of holiday music. We can achieve a level of 50% Christmas if we replace the Recurrent positions from the master clock by X slots, and turn the Christmas positions from the 25% clock into Y slots. To bring back 2 of the 4 lost Recurrent positions, we can replace the 2 positions for New songs from the 25% clock by Recurrent slots, based on 1) the fact that people generically prefer familiar music over unfamiliar music, and 2) the idea that holidays are inherently connected to honouring traditions and enjoying famil(iarit)y. And thanks to 6 positions for current songs, our Modern AC remains sounding contemporary:

Music format clock for 50% Christmas / 8 songs an hour (format: Thomas Giger)

Christmas music program clock for 50% Christmas / 8 songs an hour (format: Thomas Giger)

3. REPLACE YOUR YOUNGEST CATEGORIES

A few days before Christmas, you may want to play 75% holiday music, which calls for another format clock variant. You can now replace some of your Current positions by Christmas slots. Because most of your holiday songs will no longer be separated by normal songs, it becomes extra important to create a good category sequence in terms of Recent versus Classic Christmas. You may want to re-assign the X and Y categories, like in the example format clock below. You’ll notice that each hour includes 8 recent and only 4 classic Christmas songs (meeting listener expectations for a Modern AC station), plus 2 Currents and 2 Recurrents for additional freshness:

BP / Clock Music format clock for 75% Christmas / 12 songs an hour (format: Thomas Giger)

Christmas music hot clock for 75% Christmas / 12 songs an hour (format: Thomas Giger)

OPTIMIZE YOUR SONG ROTATIONS

If you don’t flip your format to ‘all-Christmas’ as early as mid November, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are usually a good reason to play 100% holiday hits. Our format clock for all-Christmas music scheduling includes 8 recent as well as 8 classic songs, as holidays are celebrated in a family circle (so it makes sense to tailor our station towards a broad cume for top ratings). Adjust the ration according to your brand image, (usual) station format, target audience and market position. You also want the right balance in terms of Power vs. Secondary Christmas. The below format includes an equal amount of powers and secondaries, but because your power categories are smaller than your secondary categories, you can let your best songs turn around faster. Note that there’s a power song scheduled after the ‘top of hour’ and ‘top of half hour’ where, after a stopset, you may jingle back into the music:

Music format clock for 100% Christmas / 16 songs an hour (format: Thomas Giger)

Holiday music format clock for 100% Christmas / 16 songs an hour (format: Thomas Giger)

ROTATE YOUR ROLLING CLOCKS

When you want to keep your music format recognisable without using the same clock endlessly, you can rotate your format clock 1 or 2 positions to the right (or left), and voilà… you’ve just created another version of this week’s format clock. When you have 5 of these sub clocks, you can rotate them through a 24-hour day. Beginning each day at midnight with another clock from the day before, it will take until day #6 in your week grid until the exact same clock appears in the exact same hour. The 100% Christmas format clock above would only allow for 4 variants, as it includes only 4 different music categories (X1, X2, Y1, Y2), but 4 clocks will do the trick as well. Simply skipping the first clock that would normally appear at midnight will achieve the same.

Merry Christmas & Happy Programming to you!

31a8ca497da06282eb497b8005c82431Thomas Giger is a European radio broadcasting specialist and publisher of Radio))) ILOVEIT, based in the Netherlands, and serving the radio industry worldwide.

musicReasearch

Understand Music Research

Being a great music programmer is not just about making your scheduling software ‘sing’. You also need the ability to interpret research in order to fully understand what your listeners want to hear on your station. Examining the variety of data and information freely available from other sources and media will only take you so far. When you want to up the ratings and steal listening from your competitors you need data and analysis specifically tailored to your station. A consultant will assist you to analyze data from music tests or, if budgets demand, you can try to analyse the results yourself. There’s a lot to interpret and you need to be able to identify the key results which will match and enhance your specific station’s format.

In this third article from Ryan Media and Research in the UK, leading radio consultant Stephen Ryan suggests ‘Not One Size Fits All’. Ryan takes a look at how to collate data and how to make sense of it. With tips on how to schedule your core songs while making good use of more difficult material, this excellent third article will help you to better understand music research in order to maximize your strategic planning.

This article is reproduced with thanks to Ryan Media and Research Ltd, and Radio ILOVEIT. Don’t forget, to get the most out of Powergold 12 there are over thirty excellent articles on the subject of Music Scheduling on their site.

Learn how to think and schedule like a pro! Just click ‘Archive’ on the Radio ILOVEIT toolbar (look for it top right).

context

Context Is King

We’ve received some great feedback on our new ‘Snapshot’ and ‘Peek’ features found in the latest version of Powergold 12.

If you’ve yet to update or grab your free demo, here’s just some of the reasons why these two great features may work for you.

Snapshot. As the name suggest, think of ‘snapshots’ as a photograph. It’s the complete state of your music log at a certain moment in time.

A snapshot is a small file containing every item of detail from a schedule log.

A snapshot can be created manually or automatically. In automatic mode we provide settings that help you capture your log at the optimum moment.

With a snapshot you can ‘peek’ and compare selected days in the scheduler. Let’s say you have a special Saturday morning sequence. Now you can load up last Saturday and compare as you build your current Saturday programming! This is much more than single song history play…it’s all songs, all items available in a compact, ‘at a glance’ sequence, helping you to build a better log. Enjoy true song ‘context’ in the Schedule Editor screen.

Snapshots are convenient too! Here’s just some of the reasons you’ll want to try this great feature:

Side by side scheduling!

Drag and drop from one a previous day into the current day!

Undo multiple positions!

Copy an hour, many hours or a whole day from one schedule to another in seconds!

Store years of music logs in one small folder!

Call now and ask for your demo +1-800-870-0033 or see our Contact Us page for details of your local support rep.

timing

Timing Is Everything

One step on from our posting on making more appointments to listen is to actually reach those appointments on time. We all know that getting to the travel news two minutes late on morning drive can ruin somebody’s day, right? You want to respect the music too so fading a song is definitely out. So why do most music scheduling programs make it a mind twist to figure out sweep timing? Does replacing a scheduled song to get to that all important news junction on time really require a calculator? If you’re looking for new scheduling software for your station then we’ve got the features you need. Powergold 12 delivers on years of user feature requests from many of the biggest and best stations in the world. And we’d like to share them with you.

Call us now and ask how ‘Time Indicator Commands’ will help change your working day…getting your listeners to work happy and content. And on time…

Contact Powergold Sales at 1-800-870-0033 or find your local rep on our Contact Us page.