Comparison of the Music Scheduling Software 2009

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					Comparison of the Music Scheduling Software 2009
                              Written by Keith Hill, Independent music scheduling consultant
                              and expert. Experience in Country, Classic Country, News Talk, Adult
                              Contemporary, Oldies and the 70s make Keith one of America’s most seasoned
                              programmers. He brings insights into the strategic strengths and weaknesses of
                              every station in your market.
                              Keith has an unparalleled knowledge of all music scheduling systems and
                              exceptional ability with Selector, MusicMaster and PowerGold. Stations consulted
                              by Keith Hill are consistent ratings winners.



Selector DOS (V 12)

Strengths

This is a fast and well thought out software package. It does the basics very well. The song card and rules allow
you to schedule most contemporary formats fairly well. It has a fairly robust set of scheduling capabilities such
as theme scheduling, twofer scheduling, rolling clocks, and scheduling off of a saved browse list. The concept of
easily adjusted proportional scheduling allows easy adjustment by programmers. Because of it has a large set of
accomplished users who are familiar with many of the essential basics of the interface. In that way it enjoys
loyalty much like Linus with a blanket he will not part with.

Weaknesses

Empirically it is DOS. It has a unsexy look and does not support the use of a mouse. It does not support cut and
paste. While it does have the concepts of unbreakable and breakable rules in almost every case there is only
one level of breakability afforded. Hence, it is not nearly as robust as the other products that now allow scaling
or multiple levels of preference. The log editor has a good set of tools but does not allow the user to see the
codes he or she wants in a user defined or user configured way.


Selector XV (V15 Windows)

Strengths

In many ways this software replicates much of the look and design of V12. The song card layout is similar. The
basic default log editor designs and functions are replicated. Selector XV does allow for browse and log editor
custom looks and field layouts. One nice feature that was added over V12 is the ability to see history or song
and artist integrated in one history window through the use of colors.
Weaknesses

Scheduling speed is not good. Also many functions like large browses and opening some screens take much
longer than even other windows programs. The nine levels or macros of artist separation (called images) while
powerful will elude most users. The very powerful feature of sweep rules that exists in V12 are not available in
XV. The energy rule which is a triple rule yields unexpected and less than intuitive results. Database entry is
different in different parts of the program. In many places you have to hit space bar even after giving focus to a
database field in order to make an entry in it. And Like V12 there is the concept of unbreakable and breakable
however, there is no notion of multiple levels of scalability of rules. Also like V12 you have to switch back and
forth between the linker and Selector software in order to manage non music elements. The song card has
many song fields and headers and can be renamed but there is no notion of truly user defined fields on the front
of the song card.




G Selector

Strengths

Even among the least savvy radio programmers this product will yield a fairly decent linear output. This program
worships at the altar of linear spread. Linear spread of artists, sound codes, energy or tempo codes etc.
Assuming the user does not ask for too many “bans” GSelector will generally yield a schedule that does not have
unscheduled positions.

Weaknesses

The rotational history of songs can be very erratic. Because of the goal based technology and bias towards linear
spread of codes and artists the rotational histories are often less than desirable. While the linear spread in the
log will look good the history of many titles are tortured and many times histories will reveal songs in the same
hours of a day part missing others. More often than desirable you will see histories that show a song playing in
the same hour offset by just one day or two, all the while missing any other hours in a daypart. Many users will
trip over the intended distinctions of Artist, Artist Group, Vocalist, and related Artists. And these distinctions can
easily compete with each other all with the users best of intentions. There is no concept of marking or tagging
songs and that would make managing the library easier. You will also note that without setting minimum
separations there is an unacceptable variance between the minimum rest and maximum rest of song plays. The
only minimum separation offered is for Artists. There is no concept of Minimum Separation for a category. That
would fight the Artist adjustments G Selector has. This yields unexpected and undesirable results. You will
notice tremendous variance among the spins of songs within a category over even a week. If you believe linear
spread is what drives time spent listening then this is the product or you. However, if you believe having
histories with offsets from an existing play drive time spent listening then you should use a different scheduling
product. I have seen some decent rotations but only on a database with no segue bans and no adjustments
made to it. The variance in min and max separations of individual songs will be wider than you will experience in
any other software package.
PowerGold for Windows

Strengths

PowerGold won the race to deliver the first windows music scheduling software to market. PowerGold wins the
speed award. It is the fastest scheduler. Most of it’s functions are fast. As a tool if someone is trained as to how
it works it is a good scheduler. It is stable. PowerGolds variable packets provide some unique flexibility.



Weaknesses

The layout is clean but the song card is unsexy and cannot be customized. In the log editor the diagnostic
window listing closet play of Artist and song takes too much screen real estate. They have made some odd color
choices for the history window. There is no way to see Artist and Title history combined in one display. Perhaps
the greatest difficulty that PowerGold has is it’s point system. It is very powerful and allows some very good
scaling capabilities. However, most users will not want to engage in the amount of intervention in set up and
adjustments required to make it work well. In some ways it is a Ferrari but one that requires a tune up and tire
rotation every day in order to drive it correctly. My sense of it is most users will trip over the points system. The
points combined with scaling will elude most users. Perhaps rather than allowing a point ceiling of 1000 points
they should have limited to 100. I have seen many users set even artist sep to 100 points but not know the
general ceiling was set above that. The default and general threshold provided from conversions from their DOS
program is 255 points. Again, 100 points might be more intuitive for most users. While PowerGold allows for
rules through time period or dayparts it is too limited in its ability to prevent undesirable play offsets. There is
no concept or ability to prevent plays that are offset for more than one play back. What about two, three and
four plays back? The analysis tools are not very robust. As mature as this program is it lacks a basic analysis tool
to quickly see a sorted list of Artist separations for a day.
Another problem with PowerGold is the likely hood that a typical user will trip over setting up artist separation
correctly. Many users will imagine that the display text for artist will provide artist separation. That is not the
case. The real artist sep is under the hood. Even when artist sep is set with a time separation it will not work
unless a policy check mark is checked. If there is just one policy shouldn’t that be defaulted on if there is just
one policy? I have seen many programmers using PowerGold trip on artist separation. PowerGold’s help is
under documented. Nowhere is it documented that Special Artist Separations only work if the global artist
separation is turned on. Ongoing development of this product continues. However, Dave Ferraro the creator of
PowerGold had a radio background. Now the product is in the hands on folks who do not have radio experience.
This is a concern moving forward with this product.



MMWIN , MusicMaster For Windows

Strengths

This is a terrific music scheduling software package. It is difficult to have a software package with loaded with
bells and whistles that will not be used by everyone but still is laid out in a simple easy to navigate way and
uncluttered. MMWIN has packed more power and features than any other program all under six icons and a top
row of navigational pull downs of six items. MMWIN is thee most customizable of all the software packages.
Even the song card can be truncated to just the fields you use. The rules sets are very powerful. Scalability of
rules exits without the clutter and mind twist of PowerGold’s point system. The optimum goal rules work well.
However, combined with other rotational rules to prevent offsets that are too close you can get some terrific
rotations. Rules are in an intuitive tree. The clock mass changer is a WOW feature that will save users lots of
time. The clock grid copier will save hours and hours of work in creating grids for specialty programming and
Christmas programming. The log editor is customizable with multiple highlights. The instant analysis provides a
dashboard snapshot that programmers will love. The navigational tools in the log editor are good. Under the
hood you can set different keys to provide different searches. MMWIN has some features that are WOW. The
keyword separation wizard is a tool that help you dramatically improve and manage Artist sep. The program
supports cut and paste. It is easy to use excel to create a list of adds with codes and then paste into MMWIN.

Weaknesses

Scheduler Speed is perhaps the programs biggest issue. Also because of the robustly powerful rules in the log
editor searching for a replacement song can take a few seconds. MMWIN has the same problem every program
has with log print set up. If you want a printed log and you wish to customize that print it will be frustrating and
require some trial and error. Perhaps the easiest way to print a log is to set a log editor view that you like and do
the quick print. The interactive log scheduling does not yet support juggling or editing the log while solving the
unscheduled position. You cannot hide non musical elements or see highlights in the vicinity viewer.




Conclusion


                    SCHEDULER RULES          LOG EDITOR ARTIST SEP          INTERFACE     LEARNING       OVERALL
                                                                                          CURVE
SELECTOR V12        A-             A-        B              A-              A-            B              2nd place
SELECTOR XV         A-             A         A              A-              A             C              3rd place
G SELECTOR          C-             D         B+             A+              B-            C              5th place
POWERGOLD           B              C         B              B               C             C              4th place
MMWIN               A+             A+        A+             A+              A             A              1st place

				
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