Friday, February 21, 2014

Music Flow and TSL

Programmers seem to always be searching for more TSL from the audience.   Over the years we've developed the music sweeps, billboards, appointment listening, contesting, at work listening tactics, and placing the spot breaks in a variety of slots in the hour.

One area that stands out and is often not explored in the TSL dialog is the Music Flow.  Where are the best slots in the clocks to play the biggest hits, where is the most opportune time to intro new songs, what's the best place to 'stretch out' the playlist a little.   How should the flow move between the variance in tempo, music type/style, and era?  How do we balance the long term rotations over days and weeks against the mix in this quarter hour?

It's a very careful balancing act to keep all the 'music balls'  in the air and balanced.  Working with PDs and Music Directors on their music scheduling set up you see all kinds of approaches.   The real issues here is one of math.  In the end we are nearly always looking to have the most popular - biggest hits in whatever format we are working in on the air most of the time.  After all that's how you 'play the best music.'  We also need room to introduce new music, express an edge to the mix so we keep the super P1 fans engaged and we also need to make sure to cover the range of styles and tempos.

Then on top of all that we have to respect the long range rotation patterns.  We have to make sure that the songs are getting rotations that are in line with their importance.  Another concern is not playing songs in the same hours day after day.  Of course we also have to respect artists reputation - no one wants to just be playing the same artist we just played a half hour ago.

The more rules and restrictions we put on the songs the less they play.   If we had tons of titles in each category that all had a wide variety of styles and tempos along with a big selection of different artists it would be no problem.   But, for most formats we have to work with a much tighter system.

Some set ups end up with not a lot of rules and they try to 'make it up in the editing.'   Others just let it rip and hope that the log comes together hitting all the goals.  Finding the balance here takes careful analysis.  Some people can really edit a log and may do well with just a few rules.  Others may struggle trying to keep all the elements in balance and we see bad flows, weird rotation patterns, and other areas that can hurt your TSL due to the music flow.

Getting the music flow as balanced as possible takes a very careful and well thought out plan.   Before you head into spring make sure you've taken an objective look at your system and setup.  It could be more important as that big contest you're lobbying for.  

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