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    ARIA Popular Classical Music

I’m not sure how many more months I can use alliteration in these monthly posts.  But here’s an update to you for May complete with alliterative title.  🙂

Programming Enhancements

We still don’t have our new music scheduling system in place.  Recognizing that this project is taking longer than we ever expected, and further recognizing that it will be a unknown further amount of time before it is up and running, we spent some time this month making tweaks to the current music scheduling using the present system.

As a result, you might notice some changes to the music we’re playing.  The biggest change is probably our cutting back on the number of vocal pieces.  Conventional wisdom has always said that classical music programming should have very few vocal pieces – a strange suggestion because popular music almost completely involves singers in almost every song.

We had thought it possible to allow a reasonable number of musical pieces with singers in our programming.  But we discovered this month, after helpful feedback from a listener, that we’d made a logical error in how this worked, with the result being we had many more vocal tracks playing than we’d intended.  So we’ve tweaked that, with the result being less than half as many vocal pieces now playing.  As always, we try and match our music to your preferences, so please continue to let us know what you do and don’t like.  Apparently, sometimes, conventional wisdom is indeed correct!

There is a second change as well that is probably not so apparent.  We’ve added some more pieces of music to our play lists, meaning you’ll hear some new pieces, and there’ll be more spacing between each time a piece plays.  I really like some of the new additions to our play lists, and hope you will too.  Amazingly, even though we have over 50,000 pieces of music in the system, some of the new pieces we wish to add are not already in the system and we’re having to buy in some additional music.

We continue to make more subtle tweaks and fixes, too.  For example, I was puzzled one day when doing an announcing shift, and saw two Tchaikovsky pieces playing with only two other pieces of music between them.  In theory, there should be more space between pieces of music from each composer.  I couldn’t see how or why that had happened at the time, but was busy working the announcing shift.  Only subsequently did I discover that one of the two pieces showed the composer as Tchaikosvky.  Maybe you immediately spotted the spelling mistake, but it took me a while to see it.  That has now been corrected!

We’re also trying to trim back the silent space at the end of many pieces of music.  We don’t want to have the start of one piece of music overlapping the end of the previous piece, absolutely not.  But we don’t want 10 second silences, either, and some of the pieces we’ve been playing do have gaps of that length.  So whenever we find one of those, we cut most of the silence off the end.  Small little tweaks like this are not individually noticeable, but give an overall more consistent and “polished” feel to the music presentation.

Live Presenter Hours Extended

There’s one other change we’ve done in May.  As mentioned in our April newsletter, we have now added two more hours of live presenting each day.  Our live schedule is now 7am – midday and then 7am – midnight, US Eastern time, or 4am – 9am and 4pm – 9pm Pacific time.

We had an unusual report from a listener, who says that when he listens to the stream on his phone, it repeats.  He’ll hear about a ten minute segment of the programming, and then the same about-ten-minutes repeats, and repeats, and repeats!  We’ve done some research at our end and as best we can tell, the challenge is not anything we’re doing.  But that’s not to say that he isn’t experiencing what he is reporting, so clearly something, somewhere, is wrong.  Our thinking is it might be a combination of phone make/model/operating system version/browser/player.  If you also experience this (or any other problem!) please do let us know so we can keep pursuing this elusive bug.

One more thing.  A small marker on the road to success, perhaps.  On Wednesday 29 May, I made my 2,500th announcement on ARIA.  We number all announcements and save them for a short while in case we need to do any checking or troubleshooting, and I noticed during the Wednesday morning show that the 2,500th recording had just been saved.  I’m looking forward to the next 2,500 and – dare I hope – the next 25,000!

Presenters Wanted

Talking about extending our live presentation hours, would you be interested in presenting our music too?  You can work hours to suit, and you can do it from home with little more than a computer, a microphone, a set of headphones, and an inexpensive mixer.  While the pay is not great, we’re hoping to find people who are eager to participate more “for love than for money”!

If this sounds like it could be you, please get in touch.

Looking Ahead

What do we have planned for June?  Maybe we’ll finally get the new scheduling system deployed?  There’s an entire new layer of music analysis and selection logic that we are waiting to add and implement, and are holding off until the new system is working, rather than having to do it twice.  We think it will enhance the overall listening experience still further.

We’re also hoping for improvements to our AI news service to make it more fact filled and with less nonsensical commentary, and are introducing a new mini-feature each day as soon as we’ve collated sufficient information to support it – a “This Day in Music History” quick mention of things that have happened on each day in the past.

One last comment.  We are now starting to appear in some of the many directories of classical music streaming services.  I had a look at our visitor statistics, and see we’ve had people from 53 different countries tuning in over the last six weeks.  Okay, some countries have only had one listener and for a very short time (for example, Mozambique and Réunion), and the US still represents 85% of all listeners, but it is wonderful to see ARIA spreading all over the world.  As always, you can help by telling your friends – wherever in the world they are – about ARIA and encouraging them to listen, too.

Written by: David Rowell

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