Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Rock Radio - Final Look

How long have I been promising to look at the Real Radio XS output? And yet, I keep going back to the Rock Radio data. I think this will be the last visit... I hope.

Outside Rock Radio FM by DavidDMuir
Outside Rock Radio FM, a photo by 
DavidDMuir on Flickr.
Why are we back here again? Well, as I did the analysis on genres and broke it down by DJ (see What genres of music did Rock Radio play?) it occurred to me that Tom Russell is the link between the old and the new. Since I concluded that DJs had an influence on the output of Rock Radio, it occurred to me that one test of Real Radio XS would be if Tom could still make a difference to what was played. Now, there are differences beyond just a change of station of course. Most importantly, Tom has moved from drivetime to breakfast. That could well have an influence on what is played but it should still be instructive to compare what Tom played on Rock Radio with what he is playing now.

So, I promise this is the last time I look at the Rock Radio data before I start publishing stuff on the Real Radio XS... probably!

Going back to the first post on this topic (Rock Radio Playlist) I gave an overview of what was played. Here then is the same sort of analysis but broken down by show.

Over the thirteen shows, 427 tracks were played altogether. This breaks down as 205 tracks over the six breakfast shows and 222 tracks over the seven drivetime show. This means that on average, Billy played 34.2 tracks per show, or 8.5 tracks per hour. Over the same time period, Tom played 31.7 tracks per show, or 7.9 tracks per hour. I'm assuming there's a similar number of adverts in both shows and no significant difference in the length of the news and traffic reports etc. (although it feels like there is a bit more traffic news in the morning). If, however, the non-music sections are of similar length in the two shows, it appears that Tom played fewer tracks than Billy. There could be a few reasons for this: Tom talked more between tracks than Billy (not my impression); Tom played longer tracks (possible); or I'm just wrong and there was more non-music stuff in the drivetime slot (also possible). Having noted the difference, it is worth saying that it is only a difference of roughly two extra tracks per show. I know enough about statistics to know I should really check if this is a statistically significant difference or just down to random chance... but I know enough about my own limited understanding of statistics to know that I would have to spend more time than I am willing to give to it to work out how to check for statistical significance! All offers of help from statisticians will be gratefully received.

As for what they played, direct comparisons are tricky because I missed one of the breakfast shows. The headline figures though are that Billy played 124 different artists and 186 different tracks over the six shows while Tom played 129 different artists and 210 different tracks over his seven shows.  It is worth noting that although (allowing for the extra show) Billy and Tom played a similar number of different artist, Tom clearly played a much greater range of songs. This can also be deduced from the tables shown below.

These tables display repeated tracks. Presumably, the most repeated tracks were down to the station's playlist obliging the DJs to play them a certain number of times.

Artist (Billy) Song (Billy) Number of Plays
Mr Big Undertow 4
Sixx A.M.  Lies Of The Beautiful People  3
Whitesnake  Love Will Set You Free  3
Michael Monroe  78 2
Extreme  Get The Funk Out  2
Bad Company  Good Lovin' Gone Bad  2
Led Zeppelin  Houses Of The Holy  2
Guns N Roses  November Rain  2
Gary Moore  Out In The Fields  2
Kiss  Rock And Roll All Nite  2
Foo Fighters  Rope  2
Dr Feelgood  She Does It Right  2
Aerosmith  Toys In The Attic  2
Bob Seger & The Silver...  Turn The Page  2
Metallica  Turn The Page  2
Manowar  Warriors Of The World  2
Pink Floyd  Wish You Were Here  2

Artist (Tom) Song (Tom) Number of Plays
Mr Big Undertow 4
Michael Monroe  78 3
Ozzy Osbourne  Bark At The Moon  2
Ramones  Blitzkreig Bop  2
Saxon  Dallas 1pm  2
Bad Company  Feel Like Makin' Love  2
Sixx A.m.  Lies Of The Beautiful People  2
Whitesnake  Love Will Set You Free  2
Foo Fighters  Rope  2

Finally, the table of most played artists for each DJ is shown below - only artists played three or more times are displayed. Again, direct comparison is tricky because of the missing Breakfast show data.

Artist (Billy) Number of Plays
Artist (Tom) Number of Plays
Ac/dc 7
Ac/dc 7
Aerosmith 6
Aerosmith 5
Foo Fighters 5
Bad Company 5
Pink Floyd 5
Def Leppard 5
Deep Purple 4
Free 5
Def Leppard 4
Rolling Stones 5
Guns N Roses 4
Guns N Roses 4
Mr Big 4
Kiss 4
Who 4
Led Zeppelin 4
Bad Company 3
Michael Monroe 4
Free 3
Mr Big 4
Kiss 3
Queen 4
Led Zeppelin 3
Ramones 4
Metallica 3
Saxon 4
Sixx A.M. 3
Thin Lizzy 4
Steve Miller Band 3
Van Halen 4
T Rex 3
Deep Purple 3
Whitesnake 3
Foo Fighters 3

Foreigner 3

Jimi Hendrix 3

Joe Elliot 3

Journey 3

Ozzy Osbourne 3

Red Hot Chili Peppers 3

Surely there is no more to be milked from the Rock Radio data at this stage, so the next post will have to look at Real XS? Time will tell!

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Free Download Friday #122: Coheed And Cambria

I first became aware of Coheed And Cambria thanks to the now sadly missed Rock Radio and in particular, their Secret Session.

All together by DavidDMuir
All together, a photo by DavidDMuir on Flickr.
I loved Claudio Sanchez's voice and although they are described as Progressive Metal, they are closer to the Progressive end than the Metal end of that label - just the way I like it. And, as promised in my review of their Secret session, I soon went out and got one of their albums. Currently I have two: Year Of The Black Rainbow and In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3 but I fully intend to acquire more. In particular, they are working on a new album at the moment and, on the strength of the acoustic demo they are currently giving away on their website, I think that it will definitely be added to the wish list when it is released!

The track is called Sentry The Defiant and you can get it by visiting their website and filling in an email address in a widget at the bottom right-hand corner. There is also a video of Claudio playing the track that runs on the site which you can watch as you wait for the download.

I think the stripped back nature of the demo, just Claudio singing and playing the guitar, shows off the quality of his vocals and strength of the song. It will be interesting to hear what it's like once the whole band has got to work on it. For example, one of the tracks I most enjoyed from their acoustic set was Here We Are Juggernaut. At first, when I got the album, I kept thinking how I liked the acoustic version better but eventually the album track snuck up on me and I began to appreciate both as different versions of a great track.

So what do think? Classic Coheed And Cambria?

Monday, 13 February 2012

What genres of music did Rock Radio play?

In my last post about Rock Radio (What did Rock Radio play? An explanation) I tried to justify how I allocated each of the bands played by Rock Radio over a seven day period to a particular musical genre. You may or may not have been convinced by the method I adopted but it at least gives an indication of the range of styles played.

The reason I wanted to do this was because the range of music played was one of the regular discussion points about the Rock Radio output. Discussion (i.e. complaints) usually focused on one of three questions:
  1. Why do they never/always play [band X]?
  2. When they play [band Y], why is it always/never [track Z]?
  3. Why do they play so much/so little [type G] music?
I tried to address the first two questions ages ago when I wrote the Rock Radio Playlist post (although I may say a bit more about that topic before moving onto look at the Real XS output). This post though will focus on question 3 by looking at the genres of the music played over the seven day period when I collected the data.

So without further ado, here's a graph:

As you may be able to see if you have particularly good eyesight, even allowing for the occasional dodgy classification of a track, the dominant musical forms on Rock Radio were Hard Rock (33%) and Rock (23%) with Heavy Metal some way behind with 11% of the plays. The complete table of genres is:

Times Played
Hard rock
Heavy metal
Alternative rock
Punk rock
Glam rock
Progressive rock
Psychedelic rock
Roots rock
Funk rock
Alternative metal

This more or less matches my experience of listening to Rock Radio. I always said I was reasonably relaxed about what they played. Obviously, they should have played more Rush, but in general I liked what I heard. I liked hearing stuff I wouldn't normally listen to and they introduced me to bands that I might have otherwise missed: AirbourneApocalyptica, and Black Stone Cherry to name but three. Of course there was stuff I didn't like but in general there was more that was rocking than was shocking (to borrow from Tom Russell).

But to get back to the numbers above, for a station calling itself Rock Radio, I think that's not a bad balance of styles; especially since I was looking at the Breakfast and Drivetime shows which will inevitably aim to appeal to a more general Rock listening audience than one of the speciallist shows such as the Metal Hammer show. I might liked to have seen a bit less Punk and a bit more Prog but otherwise I can't really complain. What do you think? Unbalanced or about right?

Before I leave this analysis of styles, I think it is worth putting the output from Billy Rankin beside Tom Russell's output. I think it shows that individual DJs were able to shape what was played, at least to an extent.

Tom played a bit more Heavy Metal than Billy and Billy favoured Blues and Prog a bit more than Tom. Again, this reflects my memory of the DJs output and probably explains why I preferred Billy over Tom. (Not that I dislike Tom you understand!)

So bottom line as far as I'm concerned is:

  • The output from Rock Radio was not unreasonable for a rock station
  • DJs make a difference
But what does the data say to you?

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Free Download Friday #121: More from Mr Bonamassa

I've been sitting on this one for a while but it looks like it may still be active.

Go to Joe Bonamassa's Travellin' South page, give him a "Like" on facebook and then (hopefully) download Travellin' South from his Had To Cry Today album. This is an album from a few years ago (2004 I think) and it probably leans towards the Rock end of the Blues-Rock  for which Mr Bonamassais is so rightly famous. As a track, Travellin' South drives along like a freight train. It starts at a pace that says, "I'm stopping for nobody!" and by the time you get to the solo about halfway in you are kind of hoping it will just keep going. There's sections where the solo is largely percussive but once you've got the groove, Joe goes soaring off and you go South with him. Outstanding! And despite clocking in at 3:51, it feels far too short.

The reason I'm not sure if it is still available is that getting the download is a three stage process. First you go to the Travellin' South Download page. Second, you click a button to register a facebook "Like". Then, a download button becomes active. When I did this a few weeks ago (I already have the album but I did it to check it worked) I got the download no problem. But, when I try it now, I can't click the Like button. I hope this is because I've already clicked it and so can't click a second time. The trouble is, I don't know if the Download button still works. Let me know how you get on.

In case the download button is broken, here's another Joe Bonamassa download that might work for you but (so far) hasn't worked for me. Once again, it is from the Joe Bonamassa website but once again, it gets a bit complicated. From the front page of the website, there is still a link to the free download from Dust Bowl which I shared in Free Music Friday #89: Dust Bowl. However, from an email I got from Mr Bonamassa himself (he sends them to me personally you understand) I got a link to a similar download page but this one is advertising the upcoming release of the Beacon Theatre: Live From New York DVD and the page promises a free download from the DVD in exchange for an email address. Well, I gave them my email address but unless I'm missing something, as yet they haven't sent me a download link.

I'll keep checking my mailbox and I'll tell you if something eventually comes through. Let me know how you get on.

Update:  Used a different link, this one from YouTube, and this time I the download page straight away - didn't have to wait for an emailed link. I've updated the link above, so hopefully, you'll get it too.

Sorry, if neither of these work for you but Joe Bonamassa is so awesome that I decided I couldn't put off sharing any longer.