Last year, we announced that a new Composer was in development to improve overall efficiency and use of the tool. We are pleased to announce that Composer 2 is finalizing its pilot phase and will be available in beta for qualifying stations beginning in late April following an introduction webinar on April 16, 2013.
Composer is the tool hundreds of stations currently use to manage their program schedules and playlists. NPR Digital Services has been working on a full rebuild of Composer Basic/Pro to make it easier for stations to get their schedule and playlist data in to Composer, and on to their website.
If you haven't had a chance to see the new version yet, watch this quick video tour. It's less than 2 min, and has some good music to keep you entertained:
Why are we rebuilding Composer?
Thanks to new technology like smart phones, radio is going everywhere. Stations are increasingly aware that to leverage new digital platforms and to adapt for consumer's needs is driven by the quality of data available to feed into multiple platforms. Stations with better, more complete data about what's playing on their streams will be in a better position to engage digital listeners. Our primary goal for Composer 2 is to make creating schedules and playlists as simple and efficient as possible, while improving the overall quality of data around playlists.
How we approached the rebuild.
We worked with many stations to understand what was really needed to make schedule and playlist management quick and painless. We started by having conversations about how Composer Pro was working and where it could be improved. Once we had a sense of the pain points, we put together a prototype and brought it to stations to get their feedback. Here's a quick look at Jim Hill from KUNC testing out a prototype of Composer 2's song search:
Once we were happy with how our prototypes were performing in station user tests, we would build out a better looking and more scalable version of the feature that could be used in a real world situation.
Piloting with stations & responding to listener feedback.
After we had the basic parts of the application built, we looked for some brave souls to pilot the beta version of Composer 2. We were lucky to find a good mix of stations that were using different CMS platforms (Core Publisher, Wordpress, Drupal) and had different formats (news only, music, mix of everything).
In the beginning of the pilot, we were focused on making sure Composer 2 could display schedules and playlists on all those platforms and was easy for music hosts of all genres to enter their playlists. Soon however, the focus of the pilot turned to listeners. Pilot stations were getting feedback from listeners about how they wanted to interact with playlist data. Here's a great note from a listener of WYEP:
If I am in my car and want to know who was singing a great song, I usually write down the day and time. Please advise how I could search for something that was played on 2/14/13 for example at 930am?
Thank you so much.
The first version of the playlist widget we gave to music stations focused on showing the listener what was on right now, and what songs had just played. This email made it very clear that we were missing a way for listeners to search for a song that aired at a specific time, further in the past. To respond to this, we added a date/time picker to the playlist widget so listeners like Miriam can find the song they're looking for.
Please join our product introduction webinar on April 16 from 2-3pm ET for stations that are interested in learning more about upgrading to Composer 2.