5 Steps to get music right: Step 4

Get background Music Right

Step 4 – Building a database and playlists

The database is optional but of more importance when your library expands and if you have multiple sites. The level of detail you put in the database depends on how sophisticated you want your music program to be.

You will need details about the song and then the playlist it might belong to. Another level of detail, particularly if you’re a background music supplier is channel. Think of channel as a radio station or a search term you might enter into your favourite music platform when searching for a playlist; Club Sounds, Easy Listening, Chillout, Smooth Sound are all examples of Channels. These names are quite evocative and they capture a moment or an occasion. They are very effective descriptions when trying to communicate the sound and feel of the music in words.

At a bare minimum, the song metadata or tags should include Artist, Title, Year of Release,  Genre,  BPM and Rating. It’s easy to have dozens of tags depending on how accurately you want to express the sound track. So sub-genre, key, vocal type, artist country of origin and lyrics are some others. Lyrics are good to include for thematic programs. For Valentine’s Day you might search for songs that contain the word love or heart, that are sung by a female in a major key. Its also useful to know the date the song was added to the database and correspondingly updated on your player.

You can build the database in a number of database apps, Excel and Access come to mind. And there are music-centric programs too. Do a bit of online research and see what solution best fits your situation. And a word of caution,    it can get clunky when you’re trying to reconcile what is on the player versus what is in the database. A bespoke database is the best solution for professional music programmers. From the music brief you will have specific guidelines for the music style by day of week and time of day. A playlist is group of songs that plays at a particular point in time. When grouping songs for the playlist consider duration required and an acceptable level of repetition.     Most apps will tell you the duration of the playlist.     If you’ve got a 4-hour playlist in an 8-hour slot and you value full time staff motivation, then you’ll get staff complaints. But don’t panic. It wasn’t that long ago that CD’s were the format and retailers would play one or two CD’s which translates to 2 ½ hours of music on repeat.

The database that you’re using should be used to generate the playlist. And if you’re updating music for existing playlists, that “date-added” tag you put onto the song will make life a lot easier. And a last piece of advice. Chances are you have an existing library but it’s not very organised. There are some really good tools out there that can analyse your audio files. Check out Beatunes, there’s a link in the description. This program will color code similar songs and tell you the key and BPM. Furthermore, it will also create a recommended playlist from a single song.

If you have any questions, get in touch. We’re here to help.

This is a good tool for building playlists and a database

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