December 2018

Happy Holidays from MusicMaster!

Happy Holidays from all of us at MusicMaster! Looking back on 2018, we remember most the opportunties we had to connect with MusicMaster fans around the world - whether you came to train with us at a Genius Day, welcomed us into your stations, stopped by during a trade show, or just called to bounce an idea or question off of your MSC. Your ideas and challenges have continued to power our growth for the past 35 years, but what we most appreciate is your loyal partnership. It is what allows us to continue doing what we love - which really, is to help our fellow broadcasters do what they love. In the tree below, you can find just some of our memories from 2018. We look forward to sharing many more years with all of you, and wish you continued success in the New Year.

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Tracy Johnson: "Tips For Finding the Perfect Song-to-Song Segue"

In each newsletter, we present a guest article from one of our MusicMaster ProTeam consultants. This month, Tracy Johnson of Tracy Johnson Media Group talks about what goes into creating the perfect song segue, and how these differences can help your station stand apart from other media services.



On a music station, every single thing that happens is important. That’s particularly true for song segues. How songs fit together is critical to the listening experience. Paying attention to this detail can be a critical factor in creating a music brand against pure play streaming services.

MusicMaster and automation systems can make a station sound good because programmers can manage the tools to perfect the execution of the mechanics of a recorded presentation. Technology makes a station consistent and tight. In this regard, automation is far superior than relying on humans to push buttons.

But no matter how precisely each track is edited and transition points marked, technology can’t do it all. It takes human input to manage the software. When a programmer or music director fine-tunes their ear and pays attention to details in the music mix, it can make a station sound great.

Perfect Song Segues

There’s an art to great song segues and it’s quickly becoming a lost art. Every transition is a reflection of your show, station and brand. That alone should be motivation to improve in this area.

With that in mind, here are 7 tips that can help get you started turning this into a station strength.

1. Listen To Song Segues

It’s amazing how many air personalities pay little to no attention to the songs coming up. This happens in live shows and voice tracking. Preview upcoming segues in advance, especially if it’s a cold segue with no production or talk over between! They trust the software, and most of the time, that makes a station sound good. But the more it’s managed, the better it sounds.

If running a show live, it only takes a moment to preview, and it can be the difference between a smooth flow and train wreck. If it’s recorded, craft it in the automation system for each segue.

In San Diego, Magic 92.5 program director and afternoon personality R Dub understands the importance. That’s why he performs his afternoon show live each day, rather than voice-tracking or letting the automation take over. He takes the same care in his Slow Jams syndicated show.

And you can hear it in his performance.

2. Concentrate

Facebook, Twitter and email can wait. The music is an instrument for performance. Use it to your advantage and let that YouTube video wait until later.

Never allow studio distractions to interfere with an amazing transition on the air. Everything coming out of the speakers is part of your personal brand and station brand. Take it seriously. It’s not just a shift, it’s a show. Be involved in every element to make it the best show possible.

Think about perfect song segues. Which part of the song should be talked over and what should be leave alone? Some intros are a part of the essence of the song, and it would sound horrible to compete with a highly produced intro. As Sean Ross describes it in an excellent article on producing the musical flow of a station:

“THERE ARE SONGS THAT START HOT, IF ANNOUNCERS DON’T RUIN THEM. “SEXUAL HEALING” BY MARVIN GAYE IS A COLD INTRO. “(THAT’S THE WAY) I LIKE IT” BY KC & THE SUNSHINE BAND WORKS BEST AS A COLD INTRO. SO DOES “LET’S DANCE” BY DAVID BOWIE. BUT I OFTEN FIND THEM INPUT BY MUSIC SCHEDULING CLIENTS WITH INTRO TIMES, SO SOMEBODY INEVITABLY TRIES TO TALK UP A SONG WITH NO INTRO.”

3. Manage Audio Levels

Compensate and adjust levels to make up for low volumes of song fades, song intros and produced elements. Some songs are produced to start at a low volume. When running a loud sweeper over the intro, compensate by increasing the volume of the next song so the song can actually be heard under the sweeper.

Ask yourself, “Does the volume of the song match the sweeper?” Or can you barely tell there is even a song a playing underneath? Conversely, some song segues will result in the sweeper or voice being buried if they’re not managed.

More from Ross:
“…A HOT INTRO OF A HOT SONG OFTEN DOESN’T SOUND AS HOT AS THE JINGLE OR STAGER THAT PRECEDES IT. IT’S A PROBLEM I’VE NOTICED IN A LOT OF FORMATS WITH TODAY’S SEARING IMAGING—MADE TO STAND UP TO TODAY’S “USE EVERY INCH OF AUDIO SPACE” TECHNOLOGY, BUT INEVITABLY LANDING BEFORE “WHEN I WAS YOUR MAN” OR THE QUIETEST SONG ON A RADIO STATION. AND ON FORMATS LIKE MAINSTREAM AC WHERE SONGS FROM THE ‘80S AND TODAY STILL PLAY TOGETHER, IT’S ALSO PARTICULARLY NOTICEABLE.”
This can be mitigated when loading a song into the system for the first time. But if the song starts low, increase the volume so it sounds great when it plays on the air. Don’t count on station processing to do it. And if it’s very weak or thin, find an entry point or edit the song so it starts with a stronger presence.



4. Air Dry Elements Over Intros - Always

If the produced element is “dry” (meaning no production), play it over the intro of the next song. Never stop the flow of music and forward momentum. Of course, some songs have a very short intro. Adjust for that by producing a custom version of the song, essentially adding an intro to a song that has none. This is an effective tactic that allows personalities more time to perform without stopping the music flow.

This is a disappearing trend, as station board work is not valued nearly as much these days. Produced elements are created to go between songs, not laid over the intros.

Ross again comments:
“THE PRODUCED DROP THAT IS CLEAN ENOUGH TO RUN OVER AN INTRO HAS DISAPPEARED, OFTEN REPLACED BY ONE THAT TRIGGERS A SONG TO START DURING THE LAST SECOND OR TWO OF THE STAGER. SOME SONGS (“GIRLS JUST WANT TO HAVE FUN” BEING ONE OF THEM) HIT PERFECTLY. OTHER INTROS GET STOMPED OR SOUND ABRUPTLY LOUD.”
Studies prove that when music flow stops, even for a moment, there’s a greater risk in losing listeners. The audience has been conditioned to expect a pause in momentum to signal commercials. Keep the music rolling. Start that next song, mixing the production over the intro.

5. Cold Endings

Never cut off a cold ending of a song. Ever. It sounds awful, and destroys the listening mood. Instead, find the exact right point of each song. That’ll vary depending on the song.

The transition point should be set in advance in the automation system. But many times it has not been set at the right segue point. There’s no one rule that guarantees a cold ending segue perfectly. But test it with other songs, and it’s pretty easy to find the right point. In fact, cold endings are the easiest to create perfect song segues.

6. Find the Fade

Every song that doesn’t end cold has a natural fade point. That’s the moment that the important part is “over” and the rest of the song fades out. At that point, get out.

The best time to transition is at the end of a music bar. Doing so will allow the next song to match more smoothly, which sounds great, especially if scheduling music using BPM. Most automation systems have tools that mark elements to a fraction of a second. Since it’s something that can be set in advance, there should be no excuse for a less than perfect song segues.

Hear the difference in well-produced stations like Contemporary Christian network K-LOVE. It’s one of the best sounding stations I’ve heard in some time. Listen to their music flow and how each song blends seamlessly together. Each segue is managed and crafted with care, including the produced elements. Program Director Randy Chase’s attention to detail pays off. Hearing the song on K-Love just sounds better than hearing it on other stations.

7. Talkovers

If talking over a segue, it’s important to mix the music behind the voice over. It’s usually best to start talking at the time the second song begins, or just a beat after it establishes. That is a fundamental “rule” that programmers often placed on personalities. It insures forward momentum and prevents music from stalling.

In another era of radio, it was called “crush-and-roll”, the art of establishing the first note on the next song to establish forward momentum, with talent coming in immediately after. It’s an old programming principle, and it’s kind of a lost art.

When a music sweep is interrupted with talk over the back end of the trailing song, the impact of the next song’s first note is often lost. Forward momentum is a valid programming “rule” in place for a good reason.

However, it should not be so stringent that it can never be broken. Great air personalities can often knit the songs together while injecting their personality on the trail of the previous song.



Conclusion

Radio is challenged more and more from streaming music solutions like Apple Music, Spotify and Amazon. That makes it more critical than ever to stand out by curating content with detail and care.

That applies to what personalities say, of course. But it extends to promotions, produced elements and song-to-song music flow. Perfect song segues can make a huge difference in how the station sounds.

Becoming proficient in these areas can make a meaningful difference in the sound of your station



Want more advice like this? Read more about Tracy and his services on our ProTeam page or on Tracy's website: TJohnsonMediaGroup.com. Or contact Tracy directly at (858) 472-3546 or Tracy@TJohnsonMediaGroup.com.


  Quick Tip

These Are Not Trivial Improvements

The Trivia function has a few new improvements to make its use even easier for you. First, the Trivia Editor now allows you to see and edit trivia lines for song and any keywords attached to the song in the same editing window. We also adjusted the icon so it will be green if the song has any trivia, song or keyword. We've seen all sorts of uses for Trivia, from promoting upcoming concerts to noting the artist is from the local area to including the lyrics of the entire song. There's really no wrong way to use trivia. Having all that information at your fingertips is great. You can now search Trivia as well. You'll find an option for "Trivia Contains" when you filter on song and keyword fields making it really easy to find all those songs that contain "Happy New Year!"


New From the MM Blog
Customize the Look of Your Clocks in Version 7

by Marianne Burkett - As I’m digging deeper into Version 7, I’m seeing things I’ve always dreamed of as a programmer. First go to Tools/Options/Display Colors and set up this feature that has been in the program for some time. You can select colors you’d like to see for various elements in the clocks. In the capture below, I made Stopsets Deep Red and Lognotes Pale Yellow.

When building clocks, I love our “Pie” view. If you color your categories with various colors, it makes it simple to distribute the categories evenly through the clock. In Version 7, with a quick visit to Tools/Options/Additional Properties you can put the number “1” in “PieClockLabels” in the Clocks Section, and you get category code and element information in the pie view as well.


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Replacement Song Options

by Paul Ziino - You are in the Schedule Editor, you double-click (or press F9 or K) on a position to replace that song but often don’t like the options presented. Now you click the binoculars icon to open a new query within that replacement list, check some additional categories, and OK.

Wouldn’t it be nice if MusicMaster could just load that full list of categories each time you wish to do a replacement?

Go to Tools/Options, and under Schedule Editor Options click Replacement Song Options. The first search mode that appears is for Replacement Song Search (F9). By default, it is set to “Use category of currently scheduled song or element.” But you have four other options to choose from. You can have it look at all categories with or without uncategorized, the category list from the clock element, or the one I’m suggesting, “Specific Category List (Below).”


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Brandon Young

Alpha Media KYKX-FM - Longview, TX

Brandon Young -AKA- "Shotgun" Jackson is the Programming and Content Director for Alpha Media's KYKX 105.7 in Longview, TX. He can also be heard Monday through Saturday on the PM Drive. Brandon shares, "Let me start by saying that I am absolutely honored to endorse MusicMaster Scheduling software. My relationship with MusicMaster began many years ago and has been amazing every step of the way! I have managed many stations and air talent across America, which makes you a busy guy. Believe me, you constantly look for ways to work more efficiently and my secret is MusicMaster! No music scheduling software or program gives you more customization abilities, yet does it with little effort and most importantly TIME. With MusicMaster you get complete peace of mind. I can schedule with very little to no intervention needed from me. MusicMaster is also very flexible for special programming events, times or needs. I love it so much I'm probably going to pop the question soon."

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