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Understanding Playlist Categories

Understanding playlist categories is crucial to effective use of SAM.
Categories will make managing and using your music easy and fast - but first you must fully understand their use. Please read the following guide carefully and make sure you understand the concepts discussed in each section before moving to the next.

Note: When we type Special->Weighted rotation->Power hit  we mean you need to locate the Special category,
then find the child category  Weighted rotation  and then finally the  Power hit category. 

Why use categories?

You can have just one big list in SAM. Just create a single category under SAM and dump all your files into it. But while you are at it, you might as well roll the rock in front of the cave door - dinosaurs might get in.

There is a reason we group things in life - so we have to think less (and do less)!

Not all songs are the same, nor do they have the same function. There are normal music tracks, but then there are Promos, Advertisements, Station ID's, News, Live shows, Interviews and so on.

We can go a step further to say that songs that seem to have the same function are in some ways not the same. Lets take some normal music files as an example. On a station we would think about them as all the songs the listeners really want to hear - so it seems like we can group them under the collective name of "Music listeners want to hear".

But, if we look closely, some music is more popular than others. Some songs are new; while others are so old that the copyright has expired! Suddenly, it seems we can create more "containers" - "Popular music", "New music", "Oldies".

Now let's take a look at just the "Popular music" container. We realize we can make even more containers such as "Popular music - Europe", and "Popular music - USA" because we realize musical tastes vary across the world.

We can probably keep on adding categories until the end of time - because for each "container" you will be able to find other "parameters" to split the category into even smaller "containers".

So it would seem that just the nature of music beckons for it to be sorted into logical groups or categories. "But sorting music into categories seems like a lot of work. I'm a certified lazy person - can SAM help?"

Yes - this is what makes SAM so powerful! SAM will automatically sort your music into categories - and for the few categories you have to sort manually, it is as simple as dragging & dropping files into the right category!



What is a playlist category? - A category is a "container" that labels a collection of songs. Before anybody goes "Huh?", lets make the declaration simpler - because it's really a lot simpler than the former sounds.

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- A category is a list of songs identified by a name.

Those of you that are used to applications like WinAmp can think of a category as an .m3u or .pls playlist file - but instead of keeping the list of songs in a file, it is kept in an internal database inside SAM4.


How categories are used in SAM

The following is only a quick overview on how SAM4 uses categories.

As any professional station programmer will tell you - playing random songs will not satisfy a listener. A radio station needs a format - some template that guides how and when certain types of music must get played. A typical station must also play station ID's to let the listener know to which station they are listening, run promos to market upcoming events or shows, and then, of course, advertisements because stations can not survive on love forever.

So, a typical station format will look like this:

  • 1 Play a music file
  • 2 Play a music file
  • 3 Run station ID
  • 4 Run promo
  • 5 Play a music file
  • 6 Run Advertisement
  • 7 Run Advertisement
  • 8 Repeat above

Therefore, in steps 1, 2 and 5 we need to pull a song out of the "Music" category. Then for step 3 we need a "Station ID" category and for Step 4 a "Promo" category. Finally, we need an "Advertisement" category. As you can see from the description above, SAM needs to know how to choose songs from the media library to play. In other words, in what format should the music be played.

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Things you should know


This section contains important snippets of information in order to properly utilize SAM4.
· Keep your songs in a static location
Before using SAM4; logically organize the complete music library on your hard disk. Use a directory structure like c:\music\"artist"\"album"\*.mp3. Once songs are added to the SAM4 media library, do not move the songs or SAM4 will have invalid songs and will not know where to find them.

· Any song that gets played is automatically added to the media library
Any song that gets played on SAM4 gets automatically added to the media library. This includes songs directly added to the queue or songs inserted via a PAL script. These songs then show up under the Content->Music->Music (All) category.

· Deleting a song from a category does not delete the song from the media library When removing/deleting a song from a specific category the song will STILL be in the media library. To completely remove a song, select the Remove from ALL command.

· Some changes are not instantly reflected on the SAM4 display
For example, changing the artist name of a song inside the song information editor will apply the changes, but will not immediately be visible. Refresh the list of songs in order to make the changes visible. The general rule to live by - "When in doubt, hit refresh." SAM4 caches song information in order to speed up display and control, and changes to the song data will not be immediately updated inside the cached information.

· Save the song information directly in the file tag after major changes
Each time, after making changes to the song information, click the Save tag button to store the information directly inside the song file.
This can prevent a lot of headaches later down the road in case:
a) Your media library database gets corrupted and you have to rebuild it
b) You move your files and re-add them to SAM
c) You want to use the same song on other stations
d) You accidentally delete songs from the media library and need to re-add them.

· Keep your media library consistent
In general, try not to move songs around on your hard drive and do not directly delete songs from your hard drive. So how do you move or delete a song?

a) Moving a song
Move the song to the new location. Search for the song inside SAM, then open up the Song information editor, and click on the browse button located next to the filename. Browse to the new location of the song. The filename will be updated to point to the new location and all song information and statistical information will still be intact.

b) Deleting a song
Deleting songs is a bit easier. Find the songs to delete using the song search, and then use the Delete physical file function to delete the song file(s) from the hard disk.

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Tips:


If retaining the song information and song statistics are not important to you, simply move the songs to the desired new location and then write a short PAL script to rescan both the old directory and new directory. That way, the old invalid entries will be deleted from the media library and the new files will be added to the media library.

Another tip for moving files: Create a custom category called "Moved" and then drag your songs into the "Moved" category directly from explorer BEFORE you move the files. This will give a list of all songs moved and you can use the song information editor quickly to update the new location of each moved song without needing to go search for each one.

Same tips can be used for songs you want to delete. A PAL script that rescans the directories will detect deleted songs and remove them from the media library.

Also, dragging songs you want to delete into a custom "DeleteUs" category will provide you with a complete list of songs you need to delete. Then simply select all the songs in this list and use the Delete physical file command to delete them all in one shot.

Drag & Drop management
Make sure you understand categories - drag & drop management can either be a helping friend or the ghost that keeps moving songs into strange places.

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