What are ClockWheels?
ClockWheels is a tool which lets you easily schedule events that contain similar elements that occur at the same time or in the same sequence. ClockWheels are like a template script for generating playlists and scheduling those playlists as events.
The term clock wheel (or format wheel) comes from terrestrial radio broadcasting, and refers to the cycle of when specific events happen during broadcasting. For example, the phrase "bottom of the hour" references the wheel of the clock and indicates that a track will be played at thirty minutes after the current hour, when the minute hand is pointing to the bottom of the wheel.
The actual track that will be played is not manually selected, but each line item is predefined so that the broadcaster is deciding what kind of track will be played and when. A quick Google Image Search shows some visual images of what a radio clock wheels looks like. This approach to music rotation ensures that new ("hot", "currents") songs are played at specific times of the day. It is also a convenient way to schedule ads, jingles, sweepers and shout-outs.
Our ClockWheels module lets you create long events without having to manually make a playlist. You pick the track Types and Categories you want to be included in the template of the ClockWheel, and then the system automatically fills the event according to your specifications. The ClockWheel let you schedule the same kind of event many times without having to make multiple playlists. It does the work for you, playing a different mix of tracks each time you schedule a variation of the template.
An important concept of ClockWheels is that they work like loops. Your ClockWheel could have 5 line items and you might schedule the ClockWheel for 2 hours. The Type or Category of these 5 tracks decides which tracks are picked in order to comprise the 2 hour event.
Gettting started with ClockWheels
First, you'll want to make sure that your uploaded files are assigned the correct Type or Category as described. Songs should be set to the Music type, and your Categories should reflect your genres of groupings of tracks. You might use a "Current" category to keep track of newer songs. You might organize your library by tagging the tracks with genres and thus have many categories such as Rock or Acoustic. No matter what your approach is, you'll want to make sure this is in place before making ClockWheels.
The ClockWheel module can be accessed from the main menu on the left side of your station dashboard:
This will take you to the main ClockWheel screen:
Create a new ClockWheel by first entering a name. Then, pick a color and click Add.
Clicking on the name of the new ClockWheel brings us to the editor screen:
In the first drop-down menu, you pick which Type or Category you want to add to the ClockWheel. After that, you pick one of the Selection Algorithms which helps to decide which tracks are chosen when you go to create an event. In this example below, we selected the Music Type and are about to pick the Selection Algorithm. Click Add to create a new line item once you've selected your preference here.
Here is a description of the Selection Algorithms:
- Random - Picks any track at random from your library within the selected Type, while following the AutoDJ Separation Rules.
- Least Recent Album - Picks any track at random from your library within the selected Type and from the album least recently played.
- Least Recent Artist - Picks any track at random from your library within the selected Type and from the least recently played artist.
- Least Recent Track - Picks any track at random from your library within the selected Type and from the least recently played tracks.
- Most Recent Album - Picks any track at random from your library within the selected Type and from the album most recently played.
- Most Recent Artist - Picks any track at random from your library within the selected Type and from the most recently played artist.
- Most Recent Track - Picks any track at random from your library within the selected Type and from the most recently played tracks.
Your Selection Algorithm for each track follows the Separation Rules in the AutoDJ Settings. This lets you have fine control over how often albums, artists and tracks can be picked to play by AutoDJ and ClockWheels.
Creating and Scheduling a ClockWheel
Once you have a few line items created in your ClockWheel, be sure to click Save ClockWheel, just as you would when making new Playlists. In this example, we have 5 line items in the ClockWheel. When scheduled as an event, the system will pick tracks at random and according to the algorithm and rules we've configured.
- Music tagged with the "90s" category from the least recently played album
- 60 second ad
- Music tagged with the "90s" category from the least recently played album
- 30 second ad
- Station ID at random
When this ClockWheel is scheduled as a 1 hour event, we see that the 5 line items are looped or repeated for each iteration of the ClockWheel. The event is now full of tracks which aligns with the pattern that we've programmed. Here are the first 3 loops:
To schedule a ClockWheel, go into the Schedule menu just as if you were going to schedule a Playlist. Give the event a title, date and duration. The drop-down menu for ClockWheels is below the Playlist menu.
When you click Save, the ClockWheel module will generate the event and you'll see a "spinner" to represent that the system is busy. It is calculating how to place the tracks according the track types, categories, selection algorithms and separation rules for the duration you've set the event for.
Don't forget to place your ad triggers!
If you are on a With Ads package, you need to schedule ad breaks in ClockWheels just as you do with regular Playlists. If you forget to schedule 4 minutes of ads for every hour of broadcasting, your station will be out of compliance and you will not accrue ad impressions. Note that Ads are a track Type, just as with Station ID's. They come in 3 lengths.
This ClockWheel is going to start with an ID, play 3 songs at random, followed by another ID and a 60 second ad.
When this ClockWheel is scheduled, we see the repeating pattern of an Ad being played every 3 songs, with ID's on either side to bumper the transition.
Scheduling ClockWheels as Recurring Events
ClockWheels are essentially playlist generators. This means that you can create recurring events from the playlists that they output, with one important difference. When you schedule a ClockWheel as a Recurring Event over several time slots, days or weeks then you will not see the Tracks tab at the top of the subsequent events. The track listing will be generated 12 to 24 hours before the recurring event is scheduled to start, and may remain blank until then.
Here is today's ClockWheel generated recurring event:
Here is the same ClockWheel generated recurring event which is going to play tomorrow:
The tracks for the following events will be picked 12 to 24 hours before the event is scheduled to play. This is done so that the pool of available tracks that the ClockWheel can select from is more accurate. ClockWheels and AutoDJ need to cooperate in calculating and forecasting which tracks can be played and when. Because of the added complexity that the Selection Algorithm rules in your ClockWheel add, it will wait until the event is closer before picking out which tracks best fit your desired outcome.
Please read more about troubleshooting ClockWheels and track rotation scenarios in the ClockWheel Tips and Advanced Techniques article.