Tag Archives: muisc logs

Music Meetings … Time & MATH!

Music Meetings … Time & MATH!

(Alternate Title)  It’s Summer Let’s Go Surfing USA!

I often dust off old stories.  Way back in the 80s at KHEY AM & FM in El Paso my music director was John Hunter.  John was smarter than me.  He had a ear for music.  John was good at picking hit records.

As I recall our weekly routine,  Monday was a clean up from the weekend day.

Tuesday was air check day.  Air checks with each full time talent.  We also reviewed their production.

Wednesday was Music day.  In the morning we listened to new music.  new singles, album cuts and various things we had found.

We reviewed charts, we did our own call out. At night we had young folks dial out and play hook tapes and fill in Scantron forms.  I’d run the forms and crunch the numbers.

We’d make our music moves and adds.  Then we put them into the music scheduling software.  If I remember correctly the computer had an intel i386 processor.

John and I made our changes, made our adds, and got everything ready to schedule.  Then we’d hit schedule to schedule a week of music.  We’d then leave for a nice lunch.  Our favorite place was Kiki’s right there on Piedras street not far from the station.  We took our time because if we came back to soon the computer would still be scheduling.

When we finally made it back it was time to review the log and fill unscheduled positions.

Then we took music calls from 2 till 4pm.  The record folks had their own number to reach us.  They didn’t have to go through the receptionist.  We had a phone jack and phone right there in the music room.  At 2pm we plugged in the phone and it started ringing.  At 4pm we wrapped up our last call and unplugged the phone.

Sure we’d call back folks who called the general number and left a message but they were not our priority.  We had a good relationship with our regional record folks.  At Christmas John and I used to thank them listing all the things they had done for us during the year.  Then we told them they each had “3 gimmes.”  Three times during the year we would add or make a rotation change to help them out.  And we kept score.  We had one rep used all three in January alone!

By the way Friday was promo day.  Liners, promos, promotions, imaging, production and paperwork for whatever promotions were going on.  Weekends tended to have a promotion or theme and that was checked for perfection before execution.

My least favorite was early in the week there was a managers meeting.  They droned on because there were a couple of folks who were part of our management team that liked to vent. After I complained about it our GM did put a different department head in charge of each weekly meeting.  When it was my turn I did stand up meetings and brought a stopwatch.  If the business manager wanted to vent I have the topic 5 minutes.

My key point is that music got it’s own full day of attention.

The decisions were thoughtful.  Songs were actually listened to and evaluated.

John and I knew that we had to establish new songs.  Place them in clocks where they could be pre sold.  We created and ran imaging pieces for new artists and songs. Then we always looked at the number of weeks we had played the songs in C rotation and the number of plays they had.  We had set minimums before a song could advance to B.  The same with a minimum number of weeks and plays in B before we would consider a possible move up to A.

Combined with research and we posted up book after up book.

I’m not going to reveal the metrics here. I’m just seeding your brain with the thought that there are measurable data points from which to make music decisions.  Yes, there is art and feeling that it part of it too.  The great news is that Musicmaster can create some wonderful reports I used to do by hand.  Oh, I can now schedule a week of music in just a few minutes. That Kiki’s lunch today would be a working lunch today!

If you move a song up too fast you drive the “unfamiliarity” of your music.  That will hurt your ratings.  If you are too slow you risk-playing songs longer than your audience wants to hear them.  There is a sweet spot between familiar and burn that is much like riding a wave while surfing.  If you’re too early or late it can mean wipeout or loss of momentum.

If you don’t know the music metrics (and there really are minimum spins/weeks that really work to build ratings.)

Call Keith Hill 253-453-8888

Get Your Music Right!     

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To Day-part or Not To Day-part That is Today’s Question

Some programmers are big fans of dayparting and have lots of them and on lots of songs.  There are good thoughtful reasons.  Long songs can be tough in mornings. Sometimes an extreme edge of the format can more safely be exposed at night.  There are CHR and HOT HOT AC stations that are more adult by day and more youthful in appeal at night.  Then there can be the question, “do you really want that 35 year old mom driving back from parent teacher night unhappy with here favorite radio station because its clearly different at night?”

Then there is dayparting without a daypart on the song card itself.  It’s dayparted because the clocks only call for that category at night.  A recent facebook discussion I had went like this:


Chris  Thanks. Are you a fan of dayparting?

The UnConsultant nope. It’s like a tire with a flat spot. I’m more of a fan of playing only songs I can play all the time.

Chris  Agree. So why do stations, in the beginning, play certain new songs only at night? A numbers thing?

The UnConsultant There are a couple of reasons. Some feel the “unfamiliar music” is the least safe thing to do. So they try to build slow familiarity … much like putting your toe in the water first. Secondly, it’s a perversion that comes from the strong efforts to promote new music on the radio. The value of an “add” on the charts is very high. They don’t care at first if the song is only spun at night or overnight, it’s an add, and that’s what they care about. They don’t have to work so hard to get us to play Blake Shelton, Luke Bryan or Florida George Line. But Alex Kolobielski & His Jug Band, well that’s where the heavy lifting is done. The Music Row and Indicator Charts are further devices that are part of the process. They celebrate the “add”… in time they want plays, but most of the promotion is for an add. Hence, radios response is a category that plays Mid-5am or 8p-4am. And yes a category that only appears in those hours is the equivalent of dayparting.

I spend so much of my time trying to get songs to rotate evenly through hours and departs that the idea of skipping one intentionally is something I generally try to avoid.  It makes me ask, “do I really need this song?”  How does it test?  Will it be missed?  Is there an expectation that we will play this song?

I get accused of being “old school”  (or is it old skool?)  I’ll take that accusation as a badge of honor.  There are many old platitudes in radio, “more platter, less chatter” and regards music decisions like this, “when in doubt, leave it out!”

Agree?  Disagree?  Email UnConsult@aol.com to argue discuss or proclaim me wrong.

I help stations make good decisions so ratings go UP!

Keith Hill 252-453-8888

on Facebook at        The UnConsultant




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Artist Separation – uh, Wrong Question!

Artist Separation – uh Wrong Question!

I’m often asked about artist separation. Many times a program director will ask me, “How far we can get the same core artists apart from each other. In Hot AC, in Country, in Classic Hits and Classic Rock…?”

It used to be in country stations any of your jocks mornings, midday or afternoon jocks would bring the log into the PD office and point out if there were two songs by the same artists in an hour. “Look at this Garth Brooks at 9:01 and again at 9:54!”

Horrors! That will cause tune out. Not!

The truth is you should push like artists apart. Spread them throughout your schedule. And if you have lesser non core/ non star artists yes they should be much further apart.

One tool in MusicMaster I love is the artist separation analysis. Look at this screen shot.

Yes there are 10 Blake Shelton’s on the day and once they were just 50 minutes apart. However on average those 10 songs are 1:52 minutes apart. The average listener has to listen 1:52 minutes to hear a Blake Shelton this on day this station.

Now, those 4 Tim McGraw’s … I might find that instance of 56 minutes separation and juggle it a little further apart. I teach my music programmers that in these reports there is a “zone of improvement.” The things that I can see that do call for some touch up when the engine of the music scheduling software has done its paint by number. And that “paint by number” is all done with the settings that I have given it.

The real question is … “how is your core artist density?”

Take for example this Classic Hits station where there #1 Core artist is the Eagles.

There are 11 plays of Eagles records on this station in one day. Once 1:42 apart. The longest without an Eagles is 2:36 minutes. That happens overnight between sometime in the 1 am hour and the 4am hour. Otherwise its steady Eagles about every 2 hours. 2:03 on average. Good thing. I told this PD if I could go more than a single hour 5a to midnight without a play of the Eagles I knew he hadn’t check the log. He has.

It’s this care in making sure your core artists are there at regular intervals that help build tsl / atse.

In some formats you want artist every hour. I have a country station in a competitive battle in the south where our top 5 core artists (Kenny Chesney, Jason Aldean, Blake Shelton, Keith Urban, Luke Bryan) need to be represented every hour as often as we can.

Here is a day with 19 Kenny Chesney songs. On average every 1:15. Once 45 minutes apart and I see that happened in the 11pm hour. We could use one in 1am or 2am. (and that gap might be part of what I call the zone of improvement.)

What’s the right artist separation on your station? Wrong question! The question is what’s the right artist density on your key core superstar artists? The Mt. Rushmore faces of your station and format. They need to be there.

Now channeling being the Merrill Lynch of music scheduling. You have artist density questions? We have answers. Keith Hill 252-453-8888

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