… a lot of what I post here seems to be music related but from time to time every instrument needs a little tuning.
For the past year or so I’ve managed to post regularly updated playlists for both Spotify and YouTube, under the standard heading “Ready To Rock”. Those posts really started when I became frustrated with YouTube randomly shuffling the carefully arranged playlists that I started building and maintaining back in 2011. That led me to add Spotify to my listening routine, with the playlists posted here as much a way for me to see how it might fit into my musical life as anything else.
As things turned out, Spotify fit pretty well. Roughly 90% or more of my weekly Top 40 songs are available there, around 60% or more of the stuff that hasn’t (or won’t) hit the charts but is on my larger playlist is there as well.
But at some point I suppose there’s some discussion due of how these playlists are determined in the first place, of the differences between the content of my Spotify & my YouTube, etc and so forth. This stuff doesn’t just magically happen with the help of the Playlist Fairy y’know.
As I explained it on my (currently on hiatus) podcasts the core of the playlists comes the best of today’s hard rock and heavy metal “minus all the lame lightweight crap”.
Every week, I look at the radio airplay charts for Active Rock, (Mainstream) Rock, as well as the Active Rock – Canada chart and the Alternative chart. Recently I’ve added an online Christian Rock chart to the mix as well as (shockingly) pulling one track from the Adult Rock chart. There’s also one unofficial chart, a private polling of rock stations in mostly smaller markets (best I can figure) that helps me spot songs that are trending upward.
All that info goes into a spreadsheet (my way of organizing virtually anything & everything), it’s weighted based on my genre preferences, every lame thing that sucks is removed … and what comes out is what you see as my Spotify Top 40. Beyond what songs are eligible/ineligible, there’s no personal preference other than the way I weigh the chart data. I could have chosen various methods to come up with something manageable like a 40 song playlist, that happens to be the route I chose.
On my YouTube playlist, there’s a lot more depth & variety. The first 50-55 songs are determined the same way. After that it’s an alternating mix of new songs (that haven’t hit a chart yet) and “recurrents”. That’s a common radio way of saying “songs that have fallen off the charts officially but you aren’t finished with them yet & they aren’t ready to be consigned to the infrequently played “Gold” rotation”. And yes, those recurrents are subject to a spreadsheet process of their own as well.
New-but-uncharted songs? Those are largely driven by the calendar. Give or take songs that hit the YouTube playlist stick around for about 90 days. In rock today, if a song is going to chart then it’s going to do so fairly quickly. Anything that takes longer than 60 days is unusual, anything officially released as a single (with the intention of getting radio airplay) that makes the charts 61-90 days are fairly rare, longer than would be virtually none. Hence the roughly 90 day window.
The time-consuming part, but also one of the most rewarding parts, is finding the new music that gets into the category at all. See, as a hobbyist, nobody is sending me press releases or official information, I have to dig for it. I’ve got a regular set of websites I hit multiple times a week to see what they’ve mentioned, social media is very helpful, even recommendations on YouTube produce some leads.
For every song you eventually see included, there’s 1-2 songs that never get there. I listen to just about any & every viable candidate I come across — my radio friends will recognize music review sessions and “Drop/Add Day” — those are either added before I post the updates, noted for future reference or dismissed for plain old suckage. It’s that process, plus the awkward mechanics of shuffling everything around, that often pushes my blog posts back beyond my Wednesday target. On a typical week, I’ll spend about 1-3 hours listening to new tracks (or re-listening to ones I was on the fence about), another 4-6 hours shuffling things into their new proper order. I can’t even guess how many hours I spend digging things out in the first place, that’s a perpetual process really.
A couple of things I figure people may have wondered about at some point would be “Why under 200 songs?” and “What are those silly animated videos?” Under 200 is my paranoia about ever having YouTube randomly scramble these carefully ordered lists, that seems to be the threshold where problems have happened in the past. The quick little videos are essentially placeholders, included to help me navigate songs up & down the lists.
The other likely glaring question is “Why on Earth do you do this?” Mostly because I enjoy it.
One of the few things from my radio days that I actually miss is the aforementioned “Drop/Add day” (when music directors typically figured out what you will/won’t hear in the coming week). My process roughly simulates that. I also do it because it’s the only way I’ll ever find or hear an awful lot of the best songs that are out there today. For me, traditional rock radio is a non-entity, there’s isn’t an actually rocking station that I can hear reliably in my location. Satellite is better, but their airplay choices can be curious even on the best channels. Whether it’s the best-selling hard rock out there or a Southern Rock group from Portugal or talented kids from Slovenia, if you’re kicking ass with great tunes then I want to hear it.
And who knows, maybe I’ll hit the lottery or there’s somebody out there with lots of money who shares my musical tastes. If I ever find myself with a chance to run an ass-kicking online station, I can have it up & running as quick as the music servers can be loaded. Just call me, we’ll talk about compensation.