Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Setting up reconciliation in MusicMaster with your automation system

By Aaron Taylor

You likely already have (or had used in the past) some method to keep track of what songs were actually aired on your station that weren’t initially accounted for when you scheduled the music logs.

For most people, this involved asking your air staff to mark or note the printed music log for their shift with the songs that they didn’t have time to play, added to an hour, or perhaps moved to a different place in the hour or their shift. Then, it was likely up to the Music Director (or an assistant) to take all these various paper logs after a time and reconcile the additions, changes, and deletions that the air staff made to their shifts by hand back into the scheduling software. This was oftentimes a very tedious process, but a necessary one in advance of generating the next run of schedules. That way, an accurate accounting of what actually aired was used, and any songs that were added “by request” were accounted for in rotations, or those not aired were available for consideration again for the next scheduling run. Of course, a downside to this method was that it left the accurate and honest “accounting” of what was added, deleted or moved up in the shift to the person on the air.

MusicMaster for Windows makes it SO EASY to run this process whenever you wish. The program runs an easy to understand report each time you execute this process to review what exactly was added, deleted, or changed in the schedule dates you choose to reconcile.

It is likely that your automation system is already generating what we’ll call an “as run” report on a daily basis. You’ll want to consult the documentation on your system, the technical support department for your hardware, (or your MusicMaster Scheduling consultant) to help you identify where these files are being generated and their filename format. We’ll use these daily ACTUAL aired logs from your play out system to compare what was scheduled in the MusicMaster database log for the date(s) in question.

Once located, we’ll request that you send us a sample or two of some past dates, along with a backup of your MusicMaster database. Additionally, (if you know it) we’ll request that you tell us the “path” on your network or machine that MusicMaster will look to each time you decide to reconcile a day. We can help you locate this path as well if needed (as part of a call/GoToMeeting session with your Music Scheduling Consultant.)

Chances are, we’ve seen an “as run” file before from the vendor of your automation system, and we’ll be able to quickly configure what we call a Reconciliation Definition file (we call them “defs” for short) that will work perfectly with your individual MusicMaster database. Shortly thereafter, you’ll receive a “turnkey” .def file from us that is ready to plug into your MusicMaster directory and reconcile some dates!

It is important to make certain you’ve made a verifiable database backup in advance of testing out the reconciliation process for the first time (let your MSC know right away if you are not clear on this step!) That way, once the process is run and you have a chance to put a keen eye to the report that is generated for your test date, if you notice any discrepancies or items you have questions about, you can “put things back to the way that they were” (before you ran reconciliation) and we can work together and discuss the issues that come up, or make any additional tweaks that may be needed to your database or the provided definition file.

To access your reconciliation definition file inside your MusicMaster database, Go to DATASET-SCHEDULER-RECONCILE. From the window that appears, select the date you want to reconcile. The first time you run this, we would suggest you select just a one day time period, so you can be certain the process has run correctly.

A few notes on the process and the report that is generated. MusicMaster will only match to items that exist in both the automation system file and your MMWIN database (typically automation file numbers are used for a match) so it will not add anything to your MusicMaster database that wasn’t already there as part of the reconciliation process. Additionally, it will not be able to account for any information that is part of your MusicMaster database via log notes. It is a good idea to wait until the end of the current broadcast day to reconcile that days “as run” file. Here is a small sample of what you might see:

In this example, a song is added and one is removed from the midnight hour. The 1AM hour had no changes. Again, your MusicMaster consultant will be able to help you interpret what you are seeing in the report that is generated, as well as assist you in addressing any special circumstances that may require either changes in your database or in the definition file for your specific circumstances. You can save the report using the icon on the toolbar if you wish to review it at a later time.

Once set up, you’ll have an accurate way to know what has and hasn’t played. That means any report you run, whether for yourself or for some governmental agency, will be an accurate reflection of what really happened on your station.

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