Start Fresh with a New Rule Tree posted on February 15th, 2016
By Dave Tyler
What is the first thing you do when you move into a new (to you) house or apartment? You start making it your own by taking down that ugly wallpaper and putting on a nice coat of fresh paint. Maybe you replace the appliances to your liking. Your home has to be a place you are comfortable in. The same is true of your MusicMaster database!
If you have been a PD or MD for any length of time then chances are you have inherited a former PD/MD’s database or perhaps you had a consultant that did your music but no longer utilize them. That means that you adopted their philosophy and rules too. If everything is running fine and you don’t want to mess with it, well I get that. But if you look at your Rule Tree and it looks like this and you don’t know why, a fresh start may be just what you need.
Since you’ve taken over this database what has changed? Do you use “Research Scores”? Did the old MD have a rule that didn’t allow female artists to play back to back but you are okay with that? Did they not allow an 80s tune to play into a Current but you think that sounds great? Sometimes it can be both refreshing and liberating to just start over! With that said I always recommend that you make a backup of your data before making ANY major changes. I like to know that if I accidentally blow things up that I can at least get back to where I was.
Getting back to the basics with simple rules like Artist Keyword Separation, Minimum Rest, Hour Rotation and Dayparting gets you back in control of your rotations. When you create your rules you will understand what is happening to your categories and that ideal “sound” you have in your head can become a reality on the air. Of course the needs of different formats vary greatly and while a classical station can get away with a 30 day Minimum Rest a Flame Throwing CHR couldn’t fathom that. You know your format and what stripping things down means within the confines of your genre.
(A little easier on the eyes isn’t it?)
I know a lot of programmers that get a bunch of “Unscheduled” positions and then manually place songs in the schedule. Those songs getting placed in the log broke rules but they are overriding that result and putting a tune in any way. If you have a rule on a category that consistently is broken and is a headache, maybe it is time to reevaluate that settings of that rule. If you are programming a Hot AC, Hot Country or Top 40 station then you know how difficult it would be to get a two hour Artist Separation. If that 120 minute rule is an absolute to your philosophy then what song are you manually scheduling in when that position is left unscheduled? If it is almost always a song from that same category then relaxing that rule just a bit might relieve some stress, get you a lot less unscheduled positions while also getting the sound you want.
I look at Rules the same way I look at salt when cooking: I can always add more to get the flavor just right. Start with a light hand, using the most important rules and see how things schedule and sound. This way makes it easy to not only get that sound but if you hear or see something you don’t like it is an easier fix too.
Sometimes starting fresh is just what you need to get reenergized for another year in this great business! If you are not clear on why you have certain rules or what they do then by all means call me or one of the other support folks and we’ll explain in as much detail as you need.