Tuesday, February 15, 2011

WHY SO DOWN? 7 Tips for Scheduling Music in a Down Tempo Cycle

Every year has music cycles where the currents are be too “something” – too fast/slow, male/female, poppy/twangy, etc.

We’re now in a cycle of down-tempo current music. More than half our currents are down-tempo and we’ve been ballad-heavy since at least the first of the year.

Still, there’s no reason for your station to take a tempo hit. There are plenty of good testing tempo songs to play. You may just need to tweak your scheduling system a bit.

If you’re looking for tempo, start with the class of 2010.

Albright & O’Malley’s Top 20 of 2010 was evenly split with 10 ballads and 10 songs that had a medium tempo or better. Looking at the top 1/3 of our testers of the year there’s more tempo; 57% were medium or up-tempo songs.

Additionally, more than 60% of the top 50 in Mediabase’s 2010 Country Year-End Chart had tempo.

2/3 of A&O’s top Recurrents today are medium or up-tempo.

Looking at the millennial era, the last time ballads out-numbered tempo songs in the top 1/3 was 2001.

Checking even wider, the tempo composition of the Top 25 songs in A&O’s 1st Quarter Gold Sort (all eras) is 10 slow, 9 medium and 6 fast titles.

If you’re playing these eras and still having trouble getting sufficient tempo, here are a few places in your scheduling system to check:

• Search depth: Gold categories can handle a deep search; just set your minimum separation to avoid tighter play than you wish

• “Tandem” rules: set one tight (like Tempo as a segue rule with minimal restrictions) and one looser (like Energy as a sweep rule)

• “Archaic” rules: these are rules that were valid at one time but not now may be unnecessarily keeping otherwise playable songs from scheduling.

• Review clocks and eliminate any over-scheduled categories.

• Suspend Clock Energy or Opener if you’re using either to make more songs available around the hour

• Temporarily suspend play of your lightest, slowest gold

• Run an audit/post-scheduling analysis to see if there are other rules that could temporarily be relaxed until the cycle shifts (make a note of these so you can revisit them later).

Regularly making tweaks to your system to accommodate changing music cycles is a natural part of the scheduling process. “Set it and forget it” will leave you with too many unscheduled positions or worse – a mix that’s not what it should be.

Have a question, need a hand with coding, rules or other scheduling issues, or want to share your ideas?

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