Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Mimicking a Radio Station

(By Chris McGinty (AccordingToWhim.com)

One day in the future, I will have to write a whole piece on how radio destroyed itself by being bought up by big corporations (although, they would have been destroyed by the internet soon enough), but today I’d like to talk about something that radio stations do that is effective; playing things over and over until people like it. This doesn’t mean that everyone will like it, but everyone has genres of choice. This is music that a high percentage of their listening time is spent on.

What radio stations do right is that they focus on a genre or two that are similar enough to get the listeners invested, and then they play the fuck out of anything that is new, sometimes playing a song every two hours. People don’t listen to radio for hours at a time for the most part, and often switch stations when they do, so if they want you to hear a song, your likelihood of hearing it goes up the more they play it.

I believe that your mood at the time of first hearing a song is different than when you hear it later. That can go different ways for a song where you like it more, like it less, or notice no real change. The more you become familiar with a song the more you typically like it. This isn’t always the case, but it does happen. The repetition just allows your mood to catch up.

When I’m having trouble getting into an album that I recognize as good, I’ll create a mix tape… sorry, modern day. I’ll create a CD or mp3 playlist and include tracks from the album. This way I hear the separate tracks a little at a time. Later when I listen to the album, the tracks I’m familiar with offset the tracks I don’t know. Soon, I’ll be familiar with the whole album, and if it was something I would normally like, I’ll like it a lot more than when I was first lukewarm to it.

The website Pandora uses this basic thought process. You seed the station with songs or artists you like, and it picks similar songs and artists, and when you like something, it repeats it more often. But I don’t have Pandora everywhere, so I came up with something more complicated and tedious, because it’s what I do. Create a playlist or an mp3 directory on your mp3 player and include about 24 hours worth of music. That’s about 360 songs if the songs average four minutes.

Make most of the songs play one time, usually songs that you’re familiar with already, and then include a number of songs, say 12, that play once every four hours. Then include, say 9, that play once every six hours. Then include, say 3, that play once every twelve hours. If you’re making an mp3 folder to shuffle, just make sure to have multiple copies of other songs. These can either be songs that you wish to become more familiar with, or songs you wish to hear a lot at the moment.

Anyway, without bitching about how the You Tube playlist feature went from being workable to crappy since I first started this playlist, here is a playlist I’m working on that mimics a radio station. If you’re not into alternative music (at least what I consider to be alternative) you might not be into this playlist, but give it a try. The point of it is not to listen from the start every time, but to pick a different starting point each time. You’ll hear some of the “emphasis tracks” of the playlist almost every time you listen for a couple of hours. I tried to avoid videos with ads, but a few got through by not showing the ad when I first chose it. Sorry about that.

Virtual Station April 2013

Also, in case you didn’t know, we’re starting our Kickstarter for our board game “Rise of the Rockstar” in less than a month (May 17, 2013). If you’re a fan of Kickstarter projects, and especially board games with a rock ‘n’ roll theme, keep checking back with us.

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