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    ARIA Popular Classical Music

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A Milestone Happily Reached and Passed

todayFebruary 5, 2024 52

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We started test streaming in mid-January, and now have music playing, all day every day.  That is a tremendous step forward and we’re delighted to have reached this point.  But this is only “the end of the beginning”.  There’s lots more still to do before we can claim to have achieved the world-class and “best of breed” popular classical music station that is our ultimate aim.

We need to “hear” as well as see on paper the flow of pieces of music and to get a sense of what additional “selection rules” we need to add to create a smoother overall sound and transition of pieces so they all fit together comfortably with no nasty surprising or jarring transitions between pieces, hence this early streaming.  As you might expect, what looks good on paper sometimes sounds very different in real life, and we’re uncovering a number of areas where we can improve on things.

You can now listen to the test music stream, but note that currently it has four limitations :

 

1.  First, no announcers.  Announcers are still a way out, because that’s when we will need to start spending an appreciable cost every month, and we don’t want to start that until we’re closer to being able to also seek revenue sources to balance out the costs. It is a delicate timing and balancing act – it is not appropriate to start promoting our station and building listeners until we have a polished presentation with good announcers, but we don’t want to start incurring the associated costs of this until we’re ready to start promoting and building our audience.

 

2.  A related second lack is not yet having any “station imaging”.  By this we mean short announcements identifying the station and to help transition from each music piece to each next music piece.  We’ll be working on creating some station imaging pieces over the next few weeks.

We commissioned a “real” classical music composer to develop a station theme tune more than a year ago.  Now that we’re starting to hear how our station sounds, we’re putting that alongside the piece of music he wrote in various forms and wondering if it all fits together as well as we’d hoped back then….

 

3.  A minor third area is that the information displayed for each song is basic, incomplete, and not always helpful.  We know how to tweak and improve this, but it requires two different pieces of our software to learn how to talk to each other properly.

Currently, each software developer is claiming it is the responsibility of the other developer to do this, which is very unhelpful!  We’ll get there, it just requires some persistence and some patience on our part.

 

4.  There’s a fourth limitation too.  We’ve been making a big thing, over the last many months, at building up a vast library of available music (currently the count of music tracks in the computer system is 51,055 pieces).  But now we have achieved this, we are moving to the next step in managing our music library – deciding which pieces (and which versions of those pieces) to feature in our regular-playing programs.

Currently we’ve just over 700 tracks in the list of actually playing songs (less than 1.5% of the total 50,000 pieces), and these tracks represent just over 350 different pieces of music (in most cases we are starting with two versions of each piece).  While that’s a good number for a popular music station, it is much less than optimum for a classical station.

These 700 pieces total about 70 hours of music, and some pieces play more often than others.  On average, each piece is playing once every two and a half days, and we’re trying to make sure that each time a piece plays, it is at a different time of day.  Even so, you may notice some songs repeating more frequently than they should.  This will improve as we add more pieces into the actively playing category, and tweak the frequency with which each piece should play.

 

Okay, so these are the four areas we still need much work to optimize.  But may we modestly also say that, even at this “alpha” testing phase, we feel we’re already offering a better service than many of the other, long-established classical services!

What do you think?  Are we headed in the right direction?  Please do now start listening to our music selections.  We’ve added a feedback form to that page so you can easily tell us any time you want to comment on a piece, or its transition to/from the other pieces, etc.  Your observations are much appreciated and help us to provide you with a better listening experience.

Written by: David Rowell

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