Friday, July 29, 2011

Emergency Preparedness

By Marianne Burkett

In the light of the unusually severe weather we’ve experienced this summer, I thought it a good time to discuss being prepared to “cut and run” with your stations database, your dongle and a copy of the MusicMaster software application safely tucked away.

This isn’t just about flooding, snow emergencies, hurricanes, tornados, fires and earthquakes. It can also encompass something as simple as a rolling brownout, sudden power outages, hard-drive meltdown, illness or worse!

A Short, Mostly True Story:

The rain was relentless and the rivers were spilling over their banks. Homes were being engulfed in water all through the city. The radio station, seemingly impervious to other bad weather situations in the past, was locked up for the weekend. The staff headed home to save their properties and help those in trouble. Then, the unthinkable happened. The river crested on Sunday and completely flooded the radio station. Every desk, every computer, every laptop, the studios – EVERYTHING destroyed in the blink of an eye.

On Monday I received a call from the Program Director. He explained what had happened. I asked the simple question: Do you have a backup with you? He did not have a backup, it was at the station. He did however have an old laptop at his home, with an old backup stored on it. It was a very old backup… five years old! I explained what type of things would need to be done in MusicMaster, including Library Synchronization and rebuilding Categories, Clocks and Coding and… I worked with him on the project. The Program Director also re-named old export files to recent dates, so something was on the air until his work was completed on the database. The station was re-built and life is back to normal in the River City.

I certainly don’t mean to alarm you, but I would suggest doing a “Standard” backup to your hard drive, or server on a daily basis, in addition to performing a “Custom” flash drive backup on a daily basis. Along with backing up the database – save a copy of the MusicMaster software application on a flash drive. This way, in the event of an emergency, you can run the software and restore your backup onto your home computer or laptop and still generate logs.

Performing backups:

Tools/Backup/Perform a Standard Backup. The backup file will be created and be stored to whatever location your MusicMaster icon is pointed to. To find that, right click on your MusicMaster icon, go to Properties and look at the path. In the example below you’ll see my icon is pointed to N:\MMdata

Performing a Custom Backup
It’s as simple as performing a Standard Backup! You’ll need to create the backup profile before you can perform the Custom Backup. First, you’ll need to find out what letter your flash drive is. Plug in your flash drive, go to “My Computer” or “Computer” and take a look at what drive letter is assigned to the flash drive. In the example below, my flash drive letter happens to be “E”. Then, go to Tools/Backup “Create.”

Under Additional Files, consider adding in any files you need for reconciliation or traffic processes (the .DEF files). These will then be included in your backup for safekeeping.

Click OK and you’ll be all set to perform a Custom Backup every single day.

You can create multiple Custom backup profiles as well.

Another safety net is to email yourself a backup on a daily basis. Cyber-space is a wonderful thing.

I’ve also discovered the joys of using a new free service called Dropbox, to store my backup in “the cloud”.

You may think I’m a bit paranoid in doing all these backups every single day I do work in MusicMaster. So what? I’d rather be a bit paranoid and careful, than lose even one day of work to some kind of natural or unnatural disaster.

Another thing of not is that you can access all versions of the MusicMaster software application from our support center.

Of course, if you have any questions at all – feel free to contact your Music Scheduling Consultant. We are always here to help.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Alternate Categories

By Paul Ziino

Once set up, Alternate Categories within MusicMaster can offer a lot of options to music programmers.  The basic concept is that in some dayparts you want a song to rotate in one category, but in other dayparts it should rotate in a different category.  However you want MusicMaster to count plays in both categories for that song’s play history.

Step One: Cloning songs

In order to copy a song from A and add it to B, find the song in category A, right-click on it, then select Copy/Selected Song then select the category to copy it to (B).

Step Two: Sharing History

You’ll need a Keyword Single field in which to place a unique identifier for the song—typically its automation number.  If your data is lacking an unused Keyword Single field, contact your MusicMaster Scheduling Consultant and ask them to add one for you.  You can label this field as “History Link”.  Make sure to note the field ID assigned to the History Link field in Dataset/Library/Fields.

Now go to Tools/Options/Additional Properties.  Under the History Header, indicate the History Link field ID in the Primary Rest Field, and set Primary Rest Rules to 1.  This tells MM to use the History Link field when determining song rest.  Then click Apply and OK.

Step Three: Adding the History Link and Dayparting the songs

Now that you’ve copied the song into its alternate category and set up the Primary Rest Field and Rules, you’ll need to add the History Link to the two copies of the song.  This should be the same on all copies that you wish to share a history.  As stated earlier, this is commonly the Automation ID for that song. 

Once the link is in place on all copies, it’s time to set the Dayparting restrictions on them.  For this example, we want the copy in A to play from 6am-6:59pm and the B copy to play from 7pm-5:59am, seven days a week.  Double-click in the Dayparting field for the first song and create the restriction.  Then repeat the process for each additional song.

Restriction for song in A

 Restriction for song in B

You are now ready to schedule your logs.

Step four: viewing combined histories

After you have scheduled music, open the F6 history graph for one of your linked songs.  By default MusicMaster displays all scheduled spins of that song within the active history.  But you can use the dropdown at the right of the song line to switch from the Song view to any keyword history, packet history, and even move history.  And since the History Link is a keyword field, you can see a combined history of all songs sharing that History Link!  Furthermore, you can click the icon to “Highlight plays by the active song” to add boxes to the display for spins of this copy as opposed to other copies of the song.

History graph of song in A

How long should I keep the copy?

That really depends on your situation.  Remember, if you delete a song from MusicMaster, its history will disappear.  So we would suggest that if you no longer wish to play the copy that you remove the Automation code from it and then put the song into an unscheduled rest category, while leaving the History Link in place.

Why Use Alternate Categories or History Links?
There are a couple reasons you might use Alternate Categories or History Linking in MusicMaster.  One reason—you schedule a song in Heavy during the day, but at night you want it to schedule in Light.  A second reason—you have a special show that uses its own music categories, and you want this song to appear in both regular rotation and the special show’s rotation as well.  A third reason—you have 2 or more versions of the same song, and you want MusicMaster to treat them equally, so you’d add the same history link to each version.  And you may come up with more reasons, too.