Friday, February 18, 2011

Three Important Lessons in Caring for Your MusicMaster Database

by Marianne Burkett

Clients contact me for all types of reasons. Let's take a look at three different scenarios.

Scenario A:

The Program is not  responding normally to commands.  You stroll to your desk on Monday morning and try to open the database and get this message:

The very first thing to do when you see this message is to check your Windows Task Manager.  If you’re uncertain about how to open the Task Manager you can press “Control-Alt-Delete” simultaneously and it will come up. You can also right click on any gray space on your Task Bar and you’ll find it on the menu that pops up there.  Once you have the Task Manager open, check the Applications tab and see which programs are running.  You may see MusicMaster running twice.

Simply close both instances using the Task Manager.  If you network your data, make sure nobody else in your network is accessing the database. If need be, check the task manager of each workstation capable of opening the database. After you are certain nobody else is accessing the database, reopen MusicMaster and run Tools/Purge. If that does not clear up your errors, contact your Music Scheduling Consultant.

Scenario B:

Closing MusicMaster improperly during a scheduling session.   If for some reason, you’re in the        middle of a scheduling session, running the auto scheduler or editing logs and you experience a sudden power outage or your computer freezes up and you have to reboot. This can cause errors in the database.   In most of these cases, you’ll need to call your Music Scheduling consultant right away or restore your most recent backup. This is why I always stress the importance of doing daily backups of the database.  Tools-Backup-Create a Standard Backup. Only attempt backups when the database is being accessed by one user!

Scenario C:

Database is bloated and sluggish.   There is no politically correct way to put this, but if you don’t Automatically Purge your log history, your database will grow like someone on the “All Fast Food Diet.” The larger it gets, the slower it performs. Check your default settings at Dataset-Schedule-Purge History and make sure it is set to “Automatically Purge.”  By default, we set it at 90 days and 8 song histories.

It’s really up to you.  As you increase the number of days (these are logs you can access via the Schedule Editor), your database will become larger. Purging log histories simply means your song histories are archived. You don’t lose your histories!

I do not recommend having less that 20 days of active logs.  When running your history purge, do NOT interrupt the software. It may look like it’s not working, but be patient and allow the purge to process. Once the purge is completed the utility will disappear. At that point, run Tools-Purge to get the database down to its optimum size.

Understanding how to care for your databases, doing daily backups and taking proper care of your Windows system overall health will yield trouble-free Music scheduling. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact the Support Team at MusicMaster.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Ideal Turnovers

By Drew Bennett

Let’s say you have the rare opportunity to totally overhaul your database. You’ve been thinking about new clocks and rotations and you want to get started on bringing better rotations to your station.

When it comes to scheduling music, clocks are ‘where the magic happens.’ If you have great clocks that encourage a natural rotation of your category, your rules can be there as a safety net and not as a fix. Your goal should be to achieve perfect rotation at the clock level. Many times, clocks aren’t giving you the rotation you need. Rules that prevent eye-sores, like harmonics and stacking, are there to fix a problem that really needs to be addressed in the clocks themselves (and not necessarily the Rule Tree.)

When you begin the process of building clocks that achieve these perfect rotations you are looking for, MusicMaster has a simple but very effective tool to help you create great clocks. It’s called the Turnover Calculator and you will find it in Analysis.

When you get to Analysis, look at the middle of the screen on the right and you should see a group of icons. The Turnover Calculator has been circled in the example above.

Let’s say you have a category of 27 songs and would like to come up with clocks that achieve perfect rotation for the category. How many times should you call for the category in an hour? The Turnover Calculator will help you find that out.

In the example above, we entered the number, 27, in the Slot Count field because that is the number of records we have in the category. To find out basic turnover information for that category, and to see how our songs will rotate through the day, we will enter the average number of times we plan to call for the category in a clock. In this case, we entered 2 in the Average Per Hour field. Now, we can click the Calculate button to the right of the Average Turnover field and find out what the average turnover will be for the category. MusicMaster will show a graphical representation of the rotation of the category at the bottom of the Turnover Calculator. In the example above, our 27 songs are rotating perfectly as long as we call for the category twice per hour. Those values can be changed and tweaked until perfect rotations are achieved.

Once you are armed with the number of songs you have in a category the Turnover Calculator is there for you to determine how many times you need to call for the category in a clock and throughout the day on the Assignment Grid.

When you have perfect rotations to begin with, your rules become a safety net and you can focus on creating rules that develop the spirit and the sound of your radio station as opposed to applying rules that fix imperfect rotations at the clock level.

The Turnover Calculator is a simple piece of the software but it will prove to be invaluable in your quest to rotate your songs the best way possible.