Creating custom stations thread

Discussion in 'Slacker Radio' started by out of control, Dec 19, 2008.

  1. The following is a tutorial from Slacker staff in the slacker forum - part 1

    Creating your own station, at least initially can be a very simple process. Only a few things are required to get started. For the purposes of this guide, we will use a station created using these steps.

    1. Once logged in to either the Slacker web site or the Software Player, click the "Create Station" button underneath the Heart/Ban buttons. This will bring up the Station Creator. The default tab for a new station will be "Add Artists".

    2. Begin by typing the name of an artist you would like to hear play on your station. This artist must be searchable (ie. Slacker staff have entered this artist into our database and have had other similar artists associated with them.) For our example station, our first artist will be Aerosmith. Once the artist name has been typed in, press the "Add" button to the right of the artist name. The artist name should then be listed in the "Artist playing on this station" list on the right of the Station Creator window.
    * If the artist is not found in our database, Slacker will suggest several artists that similarly match the name you typed in, and display them below the name you typed in. You will need to click either the artist name or the "Add>" button beside the artist name to add them into the station.

    3. Slacker will now display a list of artists related to the one you selected. (In our example station, Slacker listed Van Halen, Ted Nugent and AC/DC as the top artists related to Aerosmith.) At this point, there are several things you can do:
    a. You can type in another artist into the search bar to search another artist.
    b. You can browse through the list of names of related artists to add them to your station. Clicking on the "Add>" button will add the artist to the station. Clicking on the artist name will add them to the station and bring up a list of related artists to the one you clicked on. (In our example, we clicked the "Add>" button next to Van Halen, and then clicked on the name "AC/DC" to bring up their list of artists, which brought up Aerosmith, Great White, and Blue Oyster Cult as the top related artists.)
    c. You can click on the "Add 20>" button at the bottom of the search results to add the top 20 artists not already selected to the list. (For our example, we clicked the "Add 20>" to add 20 more artists.)

    NOTE: Any artist already added to the list will show up as yellow in the search results, and will not be included in the "Add 20>" selection. (Since we had already added Aerosmith, AC/DC, and Van Halen, Slacker added the next top 20 artists, #3-13 and #15-23.)

    NOTE: A station must contain at least 15 artists to reasonably be able to guarantee that the station will not play any other artists other than those listed in the station will not play. This is not an absolute guarantee, merely a common benchmark most station must meet. If less than 15 artists are added, Slacker will fill in at least that many with related artists.

    (At this point, you could continue customizing the station by selecting the tabs at the top to further customize the station. Since we will be talking about each of these tabs in turn, for the tutorial purposes, we will not.)

    The last thing absolutely needed to create your station is to click the "Save As.." button at the bottom of the Station Creator window. This will pop up a "Name Your Station" box, where you can give your station any name you want. (For our example, we're calling our station "Custom Station Tutorial 1" as we'll be making a few of them for each part of this tutorial.) Once you have named your station, click "Save" in the pop up window.

    Congratulations! Your custom station has now been created and is ready for listening. You can now listen to your station if you like.
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2008
  2. part 2 -

    After a station has been created, everything about it can be edited to further refine the music and artists you are hearing. The most basic way to change a station is to add or remove artists from the Artist list for the station. (In our example station, we've noticed that Judas Priest and The Cars were not added, and we also want to remove Rainbow and Angels from our list.)

    To edit an already created station, select the "Edit Station" option underneath the "Play" button on the station page. Likewise, if the station you want to edit is not currently selected, you will need to select it from the Station Listing to the left of the station information page. Once again, the Station Creator will open and again default to the "Add Artists" tab.

    NOTE: From this point inside the Station Creator, you can finish each edit with one of three selections: "Save" to overwrite your current copy of the station with the changes you've made, "Save As.." to keep the original station unedited and to save the new station under a different name, and "Cancel" to not save any of the changes made, and keep the original station before editing. In our examples, we'll be saving the station under a different name each time, but most times, you'll want to just click "Save" to keep only the most current version of your station including all your changes.

    To add artists, follow the same procedure from the initial station creation. (In our example, we typed in “Judas Priest†and added them to our list. We also typed in “The Cars†and they were also added.)

    You can also click on any artist already in your "Artists playing on this station" list to bring up their related artists. (In our example, we clicked on Led Zeppelin to bring up their related artists, and selected the "Add 20>" button to add 20 more artists that were similar to Led Zeppelin.)

    To remove artists from the list, click the "X" button next to the artist name. Removing an artist from the list will also immediately ban the artist. This is changeable, and will be discussed later. Finally, press Save to accept your changes, or Cancel to reject them.

    (In our example, we clicked the "X" next to Rainbows and Angels in order to remove them from the Artist list. We then saved our station to accept the changes.)
  3. part 3 -

    NOTE: The numbers derived for each setting is based off of this custom station. Your own numbers may vary depending on the number of artists in your station, the artists available in our catalog and whether the station is being played online or on the Portable Player. These are meant only to give a general idea of the results to expect but are no means set-in-stone figures.

    At this point in station creation, we’ve only added artists and told Slacker around what artists to base the station around. However, there are several “sliders†available to customize the station further, to either expand or limit the amount of songs Slacker can pull for the station. We’ll go over these options individually and what effect they have on the end listening experience.

    First, edit your station. Again you’ll start on the “Add Artists†tab. This time, click on the “Fine Tune†tab. This will display the Fine Tune Settings window. Depending on the station, you will have either between 3 to 5 sliders available to change how Slacker chooses the tracks for your station.

    * Artist Discovery
    This option tells Slacker whether or not artists not chosen on the station should play and, if so, how much. This uses the same list that was pulled when you search for artists to find similar artists. This option has four settings:
    o Off: Selecting off will disable Artist Discovery, only playing the artists listed to play on the station. This will remain off unless Slacker runs out of available music on your station to play. This is based off regulations and licensing rules stating what artists/songs can be played and how often. (For more information on these regulations, you can read this post.)
    o Some: Selecting this option will allow a minimum amount of artists not included on the station’s Artist List. This means approx 1-3 songs out of every 10-15 will be artists not listed, on average.
    o More: Selecting this option will allow a moderate amount of artists not included on the station’s Artist List. This means approx 4-8 songs out of every 10-15 will be artists not listed, on average.
    o Max: Selecting this option will play mostly artists not included on the station’s Artist List. This means approx 9-14 songs out of every 10-15 will be artists not listed, on average.

    * Popularity (Song) (Updated)
    This option tells Slacker how popular the tracks should be. The popularity of the track is based the amount of airplay the song received, its charting position, and also Slacker’s own DJs rating. This selection is ignored by any hearted songs. This option has five settings:
    o Auto: This settings plays a mix from all popularity levels, though heavily weighted to play popular songs. This means that most of the songs you hear will still be the most popular, but each group will be pulled from.
    o Hits: This setting the station play all the songs you know, and none of the ones you don't. This selection will only play Hits and some Familiar song, but no Unfamiliar or Fringe.
    o Familiar: This setting allows a more even mix of well-known songs, still playing all the hits but delving a bit deeper into an artist's catalog. This selection will an even mix of both Hits and Familiar songs with an occasional Unfamiliar song thrown in.
    o Unfamiliar: This setting causes music from all four popularity levels to play in an completely even mix. This results in pulling from all popularity levels equally. This means that you will hear songs from the hits all the way to the most fringe songs. (From my research, this setting usually results in the most available tracks for a station to be able to be played and makes you less likely to hear repeats.)
    o Fringe: This settings weights the station to play all the deeper cuts of the artists, excluding the most popular songs. This means you'll hear mostly Unfamiliar and Fringe songs with the occasional Familiar song thrown in.

    * Favorites (Updated)
    This option tells Slacker how much of the playlist should be made up of Favorite songs. This option has been changed to include favorites in their own bucket, played independently of all other station settings. How often favorites play do depend on there being enough favorite songs to fill up the station correctly. This option has four settings:
    o Auto: This setting will give your favorite songs a slightly preferential status. On average, you should hear a favorite song about once every 3-6 songs.
    o Minimum: This settings gives favorite songs no preferential status. This allows all favorite ratings to be negated and will play your station as if there were no favorite songs.
    o More: This setting will give your favorite songs high preferential status. This usually means you'll get a favorite songs every 2-5 songs.
    o Maximum: This setting will give you favorite songs extreme preferential status. This usually results in hear multiple favorite songs in a row before hearing a non-favorite. If there are enough favorite songs on a station, you will hear these songs almost exclusively.

    * Year
    This option tells Slacker what portion of an artist’s career you would like music to be pulled from. This is based on year of track release. This setting is highly dependant on the amount of albums the artist has released. This option has five settings:
    o Auto: This setting will play tracks spanning the entirety of an artist’s career, and will pick on a weighted system, with newer tracks receiving slight preferential status to older tracks. However, all albums can be accessed through this.
    o Classic: This setting will only play the beginning albums from an artist, usually between the first and second album. This setting will also not play any album not included as being in the early career.
    o Older: This setting will only play the beginning through mid-career albums from an artist, usually between the first and fourth album. This setting will also not play any album not included in early/mid career of the artist.
    o Recent: This setting will only play the mid-career through current albums, usually ranging from the fourth-most recent album to the most current album. This setting will also not play any album not included in the mid/current career.
    o Current: This setting will only play the most current albums of an artist’s career, usually the 2 most recent albums. This setting will also not play any album not included in the most recent career.

    * DJ
    This option (at this time) only appears on Today’s Hits, but is will eventually be present on all Slacker radio stations. This slider only has two options: On and Off. On will allow both DJs and station identifications to play approx. twice an hour each. Off disables both DJs and station identification. This option is only available to Premium Radio subscribers.

    Some of these settings work well together, while others do not. You have to experiment some to get the exact sound you want out of your individual stations. However, these explanations should give a starting point to understand how they affect what you will hear, and can let you plan accordingly.

    Keep in mind that these stations may sound different between the online version and the Portable version. Through testing, we’ve found that changing both the Popularity and Year settings off the “Auto†setting can cause the station to be too limited in its available library, causing the station to shut down. Also note that changes made to a station’s settings will not automatically be reflected on the Portable version. Once a change is made to the station’s settings, any new music the Portable downloads for that station will conform to the new settings, but all music currently on the Portable for that station will conform to the previous settings. You can also “force†the station to update with the current settings by removing the station completely from your Portable and then reading the station back, which will then load all music for the station based on the current settings.

    (For our example station, we have Artist Discovery set to “Someâ€, Popularity set to “Autoâ€, Favorites set to “Moreâ€, and Year set to “Olderâ€. This was done to hear the earlier careers of the artists in the station, to play songs we like frequently, and still inject new artists in to hear new music.)

    Once your settings have been changed, click the Save button at the bottom to accept your changes.
  4. part 4 -

    *NOTE: Request Radio is available to both Basic and Premium Radio subscribers only, though Basic listeners are limited to the amount of songs they can favorite through Request Radio, while Premium subscribers are not limited.

    Request Radio is a new feature that allows you to rate songs before they are heard, allowing you to customize further the songs your station can pull from. Since favorited songs are not influenced by any of the station’s Fine Tune settings (with the exception of Favorites), you can use Request Radio to pick music that would normally be outside the range of the station’s settings.

    To access Request Radio, click the “Edit Station†button on the station’s page. Once again, you’ll default to the “Add Artists†tab. Click on the “Request Songs†tab to enter Request Radio.

    The Request Radio window will look similar to the Add Artists window, with a search bar, “Go†button, and a Related Artists listing below it. Entering an artist into Request Radio works exactly the same as searching to add them to the station. However, in place of the “Artists playing on this station†window, you will see a Song Listing window.

    Type any artist name into the search box and click the “Go†button. This artist does not have to previously added to the station to be searchable. Also, if the artist name isn’t found in our database, a list of artists with similarly spelled names will appear for you to select.

    (For our example station, we typed in “Aerosmith.â€)

    In the Song Listing window, you will now see a list of songs by this artist currently in our database. The songs will have three aspects to them: Heart Status, Song Title, and Popularity. These songs will initially be sorted by Popularity, beginning with the most popular song. This list, however, can be sorted by any of the categories by clicking on their heading. The sort order can be reversed by clicking on the same header. Once songs are hearted, you can click the “Request†header to sort the songs by songs already hearted and songs not yet hearted, but there must be at least one song with a filled heart icon for this sorting to work.

    (For our example, we changed the sorting to Song Title by clicking on “Songs by Aerosmithâ€, and then clicked “Songs by Aerosmith†to reverse the sort order.)

    To favorite the song, click on the Heart icon next to the song title. You can also click on a filled heart icon to remove it.

    (For our example, we scrolled down and clicked the Heart icon next to the songs “Pink,†“Love in an Elevator,†and “Falling in Love (is Hard on the Knees).â€)

    Hearts are remembered tentatively during this point, so you don’t have to click Save each time you search for an artist. You can search for an artist, heart songs by them, and then search for another artist, heart songs by the second artist, and Slacker will remember the songs you have hearted so far. Artists currently not listed on a station’s Artist List will be added automatically if you heart a song from them. Be aware that all these changes are only saved temporarily and will not be applied and kept if the station is not saved at the end.

    (For our example, we then searched for the artist “Styx†(currently not added to our station), and hearted the song “Come Sail Away.†Styx was then automatically added to the Artist List.)

    The other portion of song control is listed under “Edit Ratings†which is the tab for seeing currently hearted/banned songs and banned artists. To reach the Edit Ratings window, click the “Edit Ratings†tab at the top.

    On the left side of the Edit Ratings window, you will see a listing of songs which will have either a yellow heart (signifying a favorited song) or a yellow ban (signifying a banned song). To the right will be a listing of banned artists, each with a yellow ban symbol in front of their name.

    (In our example, our favorited/banned song list is empty (we still haven’t saved those songs we hearted through Request Radio), but we do see two banned artists, Angels and Rainbow, from when we removed them earlier. In order to view all songs, we saved our station, and then clicked “Edit Station†and then the “Edit Ratings†tab. Our hearted songs from Request Radio now appear, displayed on the left side.)

    To hear the station after hearting songs through Request Radio, click here.

    Any song rating can be changed, by either clicking on the opposite icon (clicking the heart on a banned song to change it from banned to favorited, and visa versa) or clicking on the lit icon to remove its rated status (clicking on the heart on a favorited song will remove its favorited status, but will not ban the song.)

    On the same token, clicking on the Ban icon next to an artist name, will remove the ban of that artist. You can also click on the Ban icon again to reban the artist.

    (For our example, we changed the rating of “Come Sail Away†from favorited to banned by clicking on the Ban icon next to the song. We also removed the rated status of “Falling in Love†by clicking on the Heart icon, which turned both icons white (versus yellow). We also unbanned Angels by clicking on the Ban icon next to the artist name, turning that Ban icon white (versus yellow).)

    Finally, press Save to accept your changes, or Cancel to reject them.

    Now available with plus radio
  5. part 5 -

    Once a station has been fully customized, you may want to change the way the station looks on the web or Software Player when someone listens to it. Likewise, you may also want to share your station with your friends, co-workers, or otherwise. Slacker offers a couple of options to help put the finising touches on your personalized custom station to make it truly yours.

    Once again, click on the “Edit Station†button. Once again, you’ll be brought to the “Add Artists†tab. Click on the “Publish†tab to enter the Publish/Sharing window.

    The first option you have in station look customization is the station picture used. On the left side of the Publish window, you will see a list of the artists currently playing on this station. This can be used to select which artist picture the station displays. By default, this picture will show the top artist alphabetically. You can click on any of these artists to display their picture and to select it for viewing.

    Likewise, you can also upload your own picture to make the station completely unique. This picture must be either in JPEG or GIF format. There is no file size requirement (as Slacker will resample the picture to fit its own format) you will usually want to keep the picture roughly at a 4:3 or 3:4 ratio to make sure it will fit nicely, or you may risk you picture being cropped automatically to fit.

    To upload your own picture, click the “Upload†button underneath the current picture. (You must have the latest version of Java installed on your computer in order for this program to work properly.) Once the application is loaded, the artist list will be replaced with a picture loading program. Click the “Browse†button to open an “Open File†dialog. Locate a compatible picture on your hard drive and click the “Upload†button once it is selected to upload the picture to Slacker. Your picture will now display above the “Upload†button as it will appear on your station page.

    (For our example, we clicked on Upload, then selected a picture of a wrench, and clicked Upload to add the picture to the station.)

    The second option for station look customization is the Station Description, located on the right side of the Publish window. By default, this will read a listing of the first few artists listed on your station’s Artist List. You can type any description you want into this box, up to 500 characters. (That includes spaces.) A counter at the top of the window will count how many characters you have used so far so you can keep track.

    Once you have finished editing your station’s look and description, click “Save†to accept the changes or “Cancel†to abandon the changes.

    (For our example, we typed in the description, “This station was made by the Slacker staff to help educate our listeners how to make their own custom stations. Feel free to make your own!†which ended up being 139 characters long. To make sure our changes were saved before we share the station, we clicked the Save button to commit those changes.)

    To listen and see the station with the changes made to the picture and description, click here.


    Finally, we’ve worked pretty hard on this station, and we want to share it with friends, family, and co-workers so they can enjoy it too. To send your station out to other people, we’ll want to share the station. This can be done either from the “Share Station†button on the “Publish†tab under the “Edit Station†option, or can be easily accessed from the “Share Station†button on the main station page.

    Once in the Share Station window, you can choose to share your station several ways, either by e-mail, MySpace, or any text-based link (such as a web page or instant message window.)

    To share your station via e-mail, just fill in the blanks appropriately with the recipient’s e-mail address, you own name and e-mail address, and an optional short message to them and then click the “Send†button at the bottom to send the e-mail link to your station.

    To share your station via MySpace, click the “Add to MySpace†button at the bottom of the page. From the MySpace Sharing page, select either the short or tall version of the MySpace player, then copy the code written to the right of the picture and paste it into your MySpace page. Once the player has been added to your MySpace page, click the “Done†button to return to the main station page.

    To share your station via a text link, copy the entire text written in the “Copy Station Link†and paste it into any instant message client, web page, or other text-based message system to give people a clickable link that will take them directly to the station. If you are using this method, click “Cancel†to return to the main station page once you have copied the station’s link text.

    Parts 1 - 5 copied over from Slacker staff in slacker forum.
  6. In regards to fine tuning the year. RomeE posted this in Slacker forum.......

    So, this is all kind of complicated.. I'll give one example and you can expand upon that.

    If you are making a decade station, you might want to pick by years.
    If you are making a large station to cover many artists, then you might want to pick a 10 year span. Or maybe you only want the newer stuff from artist A, but the older stuff from Artist B.

    So the problem we have is trying to make it customizable, without making that obsolete on some stations completely. It might not be the best system, but it's the one we are currently able to us.

    We'll pass this along though, because it's always possible as we grow, and add more features, that they can keep this in mind and maybe put the ground work for something like this into the system.
  7. So post your comments, and questions, tips for one another........
  8. jeddeth

    jeddeth Member

    This is a great tutorial! Thanks for all your hard work.

    I am having one issue with my new G1. I've created a custom station, and taken a few that others on this board have created. On my web player these new stations appear on my list of stations on my portable, but no matter how many times I refresh my device (over wifi), they don't get added to the actual radio.

    Is there something more you need to do to get the radio to recognize that it needs to add / change stations in addition to refreshing the ones already on it?

  9. Yes. Make sure you "save" it on the portable list before syncing. If you have already done this. Are you trying to refresh a lot of stations at once on the device ? If so refresh only a couple at a time. See if that makes a difference.
  10. jeddeth

    jeddeth Member

    I did hit save, but I have a theory that maybe because I already have 13 stations on the device and they are all fresh... there is no memory left for making changes and additions?

    To test this theory, I'm going to play through a few of the stations for a few hours and see if everything updates properly the next time I refresh. It's going to mean listening to a lot of music today - I think I can handle that. haha
  11. snakester

    snakester Member

    This'll be helpful. I'm working on a "clone" of Faction, but with all of the older punk (as a result of losing the Punk channel) taken out. Don't get me wrong, I like original punk, but it doesn't fit the format of the station.

    I'm really starting to love Slacker, almost more than my XM. Scary, seeing as I'm one of the most die hard satrad fans out there. But the control it gives me is amazing.
  12. DAB

    DAB Mod Emeritus

    Well who has been a more dedicated fan than me in terms of sat radio, but I know exactly where you are coming from. I listen to SQ on both I am not that picky SQ wise and the fact is Slacker blows sat radio out of the water. Then their is variety and customization of music of which sat radio simply can't match.

    I've got customized stations that play what I want to hear, not what some programmer or DJ thinks I might want to hear. I can add a twist to it if I want, I can make it more hits based, a combination of hits based and fringe or just really deep with fring. It can be current or classic or somewhere in between. I can kick in some discovery or I can just listen to all the artist I select. I can have my favorites play more often or less often. The list goes on and on.

    Last night I was listening to Doctor Radio on my XpressRC (which is a great tuner by the way) and I switched to a music channel for a few minutes. Well Nickelback came on I was reaching for the ban button. I freaking HATE Nickelback and I realized on my Slacker I never hear Nickelback because I have them banned on all my station, just like Bruce Springsteen. Try that with Sat Radio.

    I do wish they would add more DJ's to the service, but even that can be turned off for those that don't like them. I bet many that have sat radio wish they could do that too. LOL
  13. snakester

    snakester Member

    So true. I'm actually having a little bit of trouble fine tuning the station I'm working on because I can't get it to play as thinly as the actually sat radio channel... that's never a good thing:eek:

    It's actually making me want to have two separate versions of ths station: one that stays exactly to the formula that Faction uses and one with a bit more exploration. Amazing... I don't really have the $200 bucks, but the slacker player is getting more and more appealing.

    Sometimes I get the feeling I'm the only person in the history of the universe that acutally likes nickelback lol.
  14. snakester

    snakester Member

    My first complaint about creating stations on Slacker (and a really minor one in all honesty). When you get really in depth and start using heart/ban to really get into it (Like i'm doing with my Faction clone to keep it at least someone close to the station's original playlist) banning songs USES UP YOUR SKIPS. So I'll work on it for a while, run out of skips, and have to listen to another one of my stations while they "recharge". It's getting a little old.
  15. DoublEE

    DoublEE Active Member

    I found this annoying as well. Spend the $3.99, at least for a few months until you can fine-tune your stations.
  16. DAB

    DAB Mod Emeritus

    The only problem is that they are only doing annual subs which breaks down to $3.99 per month, so you end up spending $47.88 which will give you unlimited skips and song search adds for a full yea with no ads.

    Well worth it in my opinion!
  17. snakester

    snakester Member

    That would work, but I'm trying to hold off until I get my slacker portable ;)
  18. I would like to hear your faction clone. Please share it at some point. You see I'm a bit of a slacker when it comes to creating the stations. I have retrieved some great ones from the sharing your stations thread between DRC and slacker forums. I don't mind the fine tuning part, but creating is a little much for a slacker :hhh::hhh:
  19. snakester

    snakester Member

    it's still very much a work in progress. Right now, it's playing a little deep and skewing a bit old on some of the artists like Motorhead and Metallica as compared to the real channel.

    The current artist list was taken directly from Faction off of an auto record on my XMp3, with me adding as I get more auto recordings. Not a single artist on the current playlist is not on Faction, and I'm up to around 60-65.

    I'd be glad to share what I've got so far if someone could enlighten me as to how to do so.
  20. jeddeth

    jeddeth Member

    I'm still having issues with two stations. I got them both off of the "share your slacker stations" thread on this board.

    The Fred Essentials Collection


    Left Of Center Replacement

    In the web player I can add them to my player no problem, but no matter how many times I refresh the portable, or change their placement in the stations order list, or delete other stations to make extra room, they just don't get added to my G1.

    Does anyone have any idea why this might be? Could it be because you are required to have a premium subscription to use other people's stations? I just don't get it and it's so frustrating!


Share This Page