Broadcasting, Getting Started, Playlist, Guide

Creating a Daily Playlist

Music scheduling software, such a Live365’s AutoDJ, are great tools when it comes to automating content for your station. It helps fill in any gaps in your station’s schedule, keeping your playlists DMCA compliant. However, music scheduling software only does most of the job. Creating a great daily playlist requires human touch, ensuring playlists are broader and more diverse.

When it comes to creating daily playlists for your station, balance, superstars, and simplicity are the three main keys.

As mentioned in a previous blog post in this series, a balance of styles, eras, tempos, and textures will draw an audience in. Playing all sad, slow songs will get old fast, while constant upbeat and energetic songs might get to be a bit too much.

Every hour of programming, commonly referred to as Rotation Clocks, should be balanced. You don’t want to fall into the habit of playing one very specific category. Although a variety is important, consistency is also necessary. How strange would it be to listen to Metal in the morning, Country in the afternoon, and Gospel at night all on one station?

Who are the most important artists or bands your station plays? Make a list of the top 10 or so. Play those artists and bands frequently! A good idea is to not go any longer than 15 minutes without playing at least one of them.

Update that top 10 list a few times a year since trends change. This is especially important for contemporary music. Oldies lists may remain static for much longer.

When it comes to rules/codes, use only what you really need. Simplicity is key! The more codes you try to follow, the worse your rotations will sound. You need just enough codes to follow to ensure nothing bad happens (such as a bored audience or being noncompliant with U.S. copyright laws). Below are a few examples of important codes you definitely want to include.

Examples of important codes and criteria:

Artist separation - Setting up a rule to limit how many times an artist or band is repeated in a given time period is important to provide a variety for listeners. It’s especially important for internet radio stations now that specific copyright laws are in effect in the U.S., in which they must comply with the “sound recording performance complement,” which prohibits a Webcaster from transmitting within any given three hour period:

    A. more than three different songs from the same album if more than two such songs are transmitted consecutively or

    B. four different songs by the same artist (or four different songs from the same compilation) if more than three such songs are transmitted consecutively.

Vertical and horizontal song rotation - Predictable patter ns are the biggest complaint heard from audiences, not repetition. Make sure you don’t play the same pattern of songs every single day around the same exact time.
Tempo - Most stations won’t want to play too many down tempo songs in a row. On the other hand, a few stations will want to control tempo in the other direction and avoid playing too many fast tempo songs together.
Music style - Top 40 stations categorize and separate Pop from Rock from Hip-Hop in order to achieve a great mix and variety in their playlists. Oldies stations take a similar but slightly different approach, categorizing Motown, British Invasion, and Bubblegum Pop. Classic and Jazz stations will have codes or categories for different styles of classic and/or jazz.

Next week, we will wrap up this series on the principles of programming music radio. Tips for consistently coding a music library is next!

Previous posts in this series include: Music Selection and Playlist Creation, Playlist Rotation, Categorizing a Music Library, and Rotation Clocks.

Review the DMCA Performance Complement.

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Article image: hitesh choudhary via Pexels.

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About Sarah Osborne

  • Pennsylvania