Thursday, February 25, 2010

Why Switch?

By Marianne Burkett

You know what they say… “You are stuck in the 80’s”. Many of today’s Program Directors, VP’s and Consultants began their radio careers in the 80’s. During that decade a lot of changes took place. We moved from spinning vinyl on turntables to Carts and Cart Machines to Compact Discs and Compact Disc players that loved to skip. Then the 90’s came around and with the 90’s came Automation software. Can you imagine sitting in a studio to do a shift now – without music on a hard drive and automation software? It might be fun for a day, but so much to do! Stack the CD’s or Carts for your show and put them all back, stack the first hour for your replacement jock…clean the CD’s… so on and so forth. Technology is truly a wonderful thing.

The 80’s also brought us Music Scheduling Software. No longer did we need to keep a Card Catalog of songs in the studio and trust our staff to adhere to the “front to back rule”. While the 80’s did produce several great Music Scheduling software products, they were all programmed in DOS. One window at a time – save this, leave the window, go somewhere else, come back, make changes, shut the window, go to analysis, come back, make your change, save your change, shut the window…. you get it. It wears me out just thinking about it!

Please understand – MusicMaster for Windows was designed to make life easier for you. The transition from the old DOS way to the “new” MusicMaster for Windows way – takes very little effort. It’s simple. I like to tell my new clients during their first training session, that they might be a little uncomfortable for 2 weeks…that’s it! Your personal Music Scheduling Consultant will walk you through the differences in the software…online and at the comfort of your desk. We know you know how to program radio. We can show you – with little effort on your part, how you can save yourself a considerable amount of time everyday programming the station or stations you oversee using MusicMaster for Windows.

Drag and drop options, right click to delete, Edit/Undo… Copy/paste. You can’t do any of that in a DOS program. MusicMaster for Windows has so many mind blowing features – like the Rule Tree Wizard or the Artist Keyword Separation Wizard! Ask the Wizard what is wrong… and he will tell you exactly why you are getting unscheduled positions! Of course, you may have a female wizard, in which case “she” will advise you gently of changes you might want to make. \sarcasm

Always remember, making the decision to change is sometimes the hardest part. Here at MusicMaster, the team is dedicated to excellence, customer service and your continued success in radio programming.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Changing Automation Systems with MusicMaster

By Marianne Burkett

So, your VP, owner or General Manager has announced that you will soon be switching to a different Automation system. You may be excited or you may be anxious about the new system coming in. With the number of clients we have here at MusicMaster… we’ve seen many stations approach this in various ways. I feel confident that this blog can provide you with some insight and steps you can take to make the switch less complex and overwhelming.

The first thing you should do when you’re ready to start the project, is to Clone your Database. Continue using your original database to schedule music until the day of the flip – but make all your changes on the clone.

Rest assured, most of the Automation systems we see use an Automation number to identify each song in the database. The number one question to ask your Automation vendor is “Can we use the existing numbers”? Being able to use the same number certainly simplifies the process – but is not always possible.

If that’s not possible, you can use an empty field from your MusicMaster database for the new number. Go to (Dataset/Library/Fields) and find a text field you currently don’t use and rename it. If you don’t have an extra field, contact your Music Scheduling Consultant.

There are various ways to add the new numbers, but I feel the easiest way is to give the vendor a complete list of your library in Excel form, sorted by Artist and Title. If you are unsure of how to generate an Excel list of your library from MusicMaster – call your Scheduling Consultant to learn how to copy/paste to and from MusicMaster. Or you can always log in to Client Support area of our website and check out the training video “How to Copy/Paste to and from MusicMaster”. Then, the Vendor can add their numbers to that list and give it back to you. As long as the list is identical and sorted the same way you can simply copy/paste the new number into your new empty automation field. There is always the old fashioned way of manual entry – but that takes a bit of time!

Another thing to consider is what might be in your clocks between the songs. You may use “Lognotes” for Stopsets, Time Updates, Syncs and Directives, even non-music. Every Automation system uses different “syntax”. In MusicMaster – once you know how to write your new lognotes – you can simply use the Lognote Editor (Dataset/Clocks/Lognote Text) to change the way your lognotes are written.

Once you have your new automation numbers attached to your songs and your lognote syntax corrected, your Export Design will need to be adjusted as well. Again, call your Music Scheduling Consultant for help with the export. We probably already have the design set up, so it will just be a quick call to install that in your cloned database.

We don’t have a magic wand or “Easy Button” to get the project done, but we can certainly save you some time and alleviate the stress associated with the changes.