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Need a music automation program? StationPlaylist gets high fives

We’ve got an interesting discussion going on our reader forum about the best automation/music library software for Low Power FM and indie radio stations. The winner, so far, is Station Playlist, a software package that comes out of New Zealand.

“We’ve been using StationPlaylist Studio, Creator and Streamer for almost 4 years at Crescent Hill Radio,” writes Kathy W. “Our entire music database is local music. Once I’ve tagged the music by one of 8 genres I have created, I can create templates for each hour of the day. This program is awesome, I highly recommend it. Great support, and after 4 years I still haven’t tapped into everything it can do.”

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Ditto, says johnthebru:

“Stationplaylist is a reliable automation program with a fast learning process. At manoradio we only use it when no one is live in the studio, it runs non stop so all someone has to do is monitor and pot it up. It has great capabilities that could work as a more than entry level automation program. A read of the yahoo group will show you how programmers are using it in many, many ways. The response to problems is very fast and if you buy the highest level tier you can lock out the ability for people to mess with the details of the setup something I would recommend.

I have no connection with the company or any interest other than that of a happy camper.

I actually looked at other automation programs and selected stationplaylist. Hope this helps.”

Full disclosure, I’ve got no connection to StationPlaylist, either. In fact I never heard of it until Journogal asked for advice on a good playlist automation package. I very much enjoyed her list of requirements for her LPFM startup.

“This is what we plan to do to date—and this is subject to change, obviously,” Journogal wrote:

“1) All our music will be digitized as time allows to .wav or FLAC files so the fidelity will be as close to the source material as it can be. We’ll probably have volunteers get their feet wet with this task, which is essential but time-consuming, especially with vinyl that has to be digitized in real time. We’ll invest in lots of storage – mass quantities of storage, as the Coneheads would say; possibly on a separate RAID drive or server – to house this music. The database we use must allow this library to be tagged and searchable by artist, era, genre, album title, song title, song length, etc.

2) Right now we’re planning for one studio, but we have contingency plans for two if things work out. Both will be connected via Ethernet to the music library for use by show hosts, and to automate the station when no live talent is scheduled. These computers will be accessible by Internet to the Station and Programming Managers via password so that they can tweak things without having to come into the station, but there will be no browser and regular Internet access on these computers. We’ll have dedicated computers in the office area of the studio for volunteers to use, and one in each studio to be used only for browsing and answering emails. This is to keep the music database and its software safe from viruses and casual hackers.

3) A third computer will be in the main office/CD and vinyl library area (with headphones but no speakers), also connected to this digitized library, and serve as a “listening post” for show hosts to audition music for their shows. A printer will be on the same desk so hosts can generate printed lists of their planned shows to take home or into the studio with them, or for reporting purposes to fulfill licensing obligations.

4) The listening area will also have a turntable and CD player so volunteers can either rip music into the station library from their own collections, or pull physical CDs and vinyl that has not yet been digitized and audition those directly on the equipment for airplay.

5) We want the software to allow program scripting and scheduling.

6) Whatever automation software we choose should also allow us to import sweepers, spots, underwriting mentions and station IDs and add them to the mix, or better yet, record them and then add them without having to go to a separate recording and editing program.

7) We want to be able to put live playlists (or a link to live playlists) on our website.

8) Integrated streaming support would be nice.

9) We want to record shows for airchecks and archival purposes and to download to the website as podcasts.

10) We want the software to support the greatest range of audio formats possible, including but not restricted to .wav, FLAC, AAC, AIFF, Mp3, etc.

And, finally,

11) We don’t want the software to require an advanced degree in Computer Science to configure, learn and operate.”

To which Brian Seim responded: “If you like scripting, Station Playlist is inexpensive but has very nice features. For budget minded outfits, it may be worth some research.”

I hate to interrupt this lovefest, but surely there must be some other playlist software package worth considering. If you know about it, please add your voice to our forum page. And thanks!


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3 Responses to Need a music automation program? StationPlaylist gets high fives

  1. Sharon Mahoney January 28, 2014 at 3:36 pm #

    Journogal here. Yes, please weigh in with other choices! I need all the help I can get!

    I also haunt the forum at radio-talk.net (great resource, too, BTW) and they have separate sub-boards for some of the major programs–ZaraStudio, Raduga, SPL, Digital Jukebox, SAM Broadcaster–but maybe, because I’m not an engineer and a lot of the folks on that board are, there aren’t a whole lot of specifics spelled out about why one program is better than another. (The comments are like the ones here: “nice features.” “It’s free.” “I use it for a lot of things it was never intended to.” Grrrr. Tell me how and why, dammit!)

    The hands-down favorite there is Zara Radio, since the free version seems to be very versatile for cash-strapped stations. Anyone out there feel the same way about ZaraStudio? What about Jazler RadioStar? OtsAV? RCS NextGen? NextKast? Rivendell? I know Rivendell requires a custom card to take advantage of all its features and ensure reliable operation, but is free software worth the extra hardware expense?

    I’m SO CONFUSED…

  2. Tom Worster January 30, 2014 at 5:32 am #

    +1 for the response of StationPlaylist to support request.

    When we asked how to configure StationPlaylist Studio so it sends metadata to Spinitron, they added Spinitron as a destination for the Now Playing Metadata Output to the next release.

    This is a great company to deal with.

  3. Bill DeFelice February 21, 2015 at 7:37 am #

    I wrote the original review of StationPlaylist back in 2007 for broadcaster trade publication Radio World. Having become disillusioned with the DOS-based automation system I had been using at the time I was seeking a reliable alternative and was fortunate enough to discover StationPlaylist.

    Ross and his crew are very responsive to adding features and providing support for the software. Three different versions accommodate everybody from web streaming to broadcast radio. In fact, some of my HobbyBroadcaster.net forum members use it to power both their Part 15 radio stations in addition to their online streams. It’s easy enough that I was able to teach high school students how to operate the system to keep their station operating smoothly.

    BTW: The link for the Radio World review is locate at http://www.radioworld.com/article/stationplaylist-marries-studio-creator/17921

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