Monday, February 25, 2008

Geometric INSIGHT: Ten Most Common Music Scheduling Mistakes

1) MISMATCH Between Music Library and Music Strategy

Very simply, are you playing the right songs?

The right strategy and the wrong songs will not help you achieve your goals. Review each song in rotation and determine how it contributes to the strategy, then recode the library, and run the analysis tools to check against your desired goal.

2) BAD MATHematical Rotations

Proper turnover ratios are critical to the efficient scheduling of your categories. The wrong turnover will make it more difficult to schedule songs, or even worse, songs will play in the same daypart or hour day after day. Avoid having the same or similar turnover for multiple categories or your rotation patterns will become predicable. For instance: a 6 song category played 1 time every hour will naturally be played every 6 hours, with a risk of having the song play at 0600, 1200, 1800 & 2400 every day. What does the computer know about the music?

3) Lack of CONSISTENT Coding

In so many cases, stations have multiple people entering the songs and determining the sound coding. When a computer receives inconsistent parameters and values, the result will probably be the same. Review the coding of your entire library at least once a year, and more often on contemporary-based stations. This must be done by one person or a small group all at once. The best way to do this is to set up a list of typical songs that describe each code used by the station and use this as a guide.

4) IMPROPER Rules and Parameters

Rethink which rules really matter to your station.

Prioritize, and don’t use more rules than needed. The rules used must be in sync with the coding of the library. Be careful determining which rules are breakable and which are unbreakable. Too many unbreakable rules will give you a false sense of security, while really working against the natural flow of your station. One typical problem is Artist Separation. A separation of 2½ hours with a category turning over in 5 hours will keep other songs by that same artist from ever playing. If variety is your claim, make sure to have rules which deal with type, style, era and tempo activated, and leave others turned off.

5) Building Clocks That Don't Communicate What’s REALLY Important for The Station

To satisfy the listeners you need to create clocks that make sure you’re never far away from the songs that are most important for your listeners. If you are playing “spice” songs or new unfamiliar music, play them between your truly strong songs. For instance, if you’re a CHR station, make sure to play your new cuts next to your “important songs” like Power Currents or Power Recurrents.

6) Not Using MULTIPLE Clocks to avoid having songs play in the same clock position every time they get played

With a better match between the number of songs in each category and the number of different clocks, there can be a flow where the songs get exposed in different positions within the hour. With a setup of 5, 7 and 9 currents you can be very successful with 4 different sets of music sweeps where these current songs can appear in both first, second, third and fourth quarter hour.

7) Improper Sound Code/Type/Category BALANCE

Poor balance can make a station sound inconsistent.

Five songs from type A in 1 hour and none in the next hour can communicate two different types of stations. An even exposure of all your played sounds is the way to go. This is especially important for your edgier sounds. The solution is primarily in category setup and secondarily in your rules settings. By making sure to set up rules for your truly “edgy” sounds, you can control their distribution more easily. With too many rules for core sounds, you will unnecessarily make it harder for your music scheduler to work well.What does your music say about your station?

8) INCONSISTENT Categories

Each category must communicate one general theme. In many databases, there are big problems with categories communicating too many things. In this case, the station is less likely to deliver the desired balance in each quarter hour. A power category with too many songs, for instance, risks not being able to communicate passion. Are all songs in the category really Power songs? If a category consists of both very new songs and former Power songs, it is performing two different functions for the listener. Depending on the way these songs fall, the balance from hour to hour can be uneven when it comes to familiarity and strength.

9) Uneven EXPOSURE

Poorly designed categories and clocks often result in some songs in a category receiving a lot of exposure, while others in the same category receive very little. If an average secondary song receives more airplay than many powers because the computer finds it easier to schedule, you need to either fix the categories or the rule settings. This also happens more often if you experience too many unscheduled positions.

10) Bad VERTICAL and HORIZONTAL Separation

Many stations make an effort to use rules to keep titles well separated. If a category is out of balance, and the rules are too strict, you can end up scheduling the same songs at the same time day after day or every second or third day. The scheduling software cannot perform miracles. If the natural rotation of a category is exactly 2 days, there is only so much it can do to correct this problem. If your rules are too rigorous (and without a clear hierarchy) the scheduler must compromise somewhere to the detriment of your strategy and your TSL. Rethink how listeners are using the station; If the average midday listener is not listening in the evening, then a 1day/1 daypart separation is more effective than a 2 day rotation for your station.

A special thanks to Robert Johansson at!

If you want to find out more ways to improve your music scheduling, please send your questions to

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