OK. You want to start your own radio station. You’ve chosen your target audience, you know what your station goals are and now you need to sort out what music to play.
After an appeal for music, and everyone on staff giving you their entire music collections, you end up with a hard drive with 15,000 songs. Great. What next?
1: You are not going to play them all…so erase that thought immediately.
2: Decide the styles of music or range of artists that will attract and maintain your target listener.
3: Write down your music selection criteria, so you and your team can all understand it.
4: Set up Category Folders. There are many ways this can be done. Here is one suggestion.
•DO NOT PLAY – not for air play on your station. However, do not delete them.
•SEASONAL MUSIC – Christmas songs, sporting songs, Easter songs…
•MUSIC LIBRARY – for songs that are acceptable to your audience and station goals
5: Start listening! Get a dedicated team of people, and start sorting through the songs, according to the criteria you have already laid down. It will take time, so start this process well before you want to start broadcasting. As your people listen to each song, they move it into one of the category folders above. Note: If in doubt, leave it out!
6: Divide your music library folder into active and inactive.
The active music library is for all the best songs. These are to be played on the radio, and the size is typically between 600 and 1000 songs.
The inactive music library may be larger than the active library. This is for songs for future airplay and songs for special music shows or request programmes.
Songs can be introduced by moving them from the inactive to the active music library. At the same time, songs that are getting tired can be rested by moving them back to the inactive music library.
If you have many songs by the same artist, keep a limited number in the active playlist at any one time (say ten). Keep the rest in inactive, and swap them around regularly to keep the sound fresh.
7: Get new music. Even though you’ve done all this work, you need to be actively seeking out new songs that fit your audience and station criteria.
You could have a category folder for new release songs. This could be 20 songs or so, that are played more frequently than the rest of the active library. Keep this small library at the same size, so incoming songs displace previous new songs, which are moved into the active library, and eventually into inactive.
8: Listen! There is only one way to truly judge all your hard work…listen to it. You and your team need to be listening as much as you can, and identifying any songs that don’t fit or simply aren’t good enough.
This is why a test season for your station is a great idea. Before your start date, start streaming unpublicised on the Internet. Use this as a time to train up your radio hosts, and to make changes to your music library.