Discover how to send the now-playing data from your BSI Simian radio automation software, to your third party broadcast systems – such as your RDS Encoder, HD Radio, DAB and DAB+, Websites, Streaming Servers, and more.
To achieve this, we’re going to use MetaRadio. MetaRadio is software which acts as a connector for your radio station’s metadata. It enables you to send your now playing data to dozens of different systems, and also unlocks new opportunities for revenue and promotions by inserting commercial and non-commercial messages between your song data. While many automation systems can send data to some of these third party broadcast systems, MetaRadio aims to connect all your systems together and provide advanced features.
MetaRadio takes all the hard work out of connecting your metadata. There’s no need for custom scripting – MetaRadio does everything you need out of the box.
Sending song now-playing information to other broadcast systems has clear advantages for your listeners and also your station. Now Playing data enhances the listener experience by allowing them to discover new tracks, increases a station’s website traffic, and unlocks additional advertising opportunities.
BSI Simian was first released in 2001, and has been a popular choice of radio automation system for many years. In this article, we’ll be generating an XML file with the now playing data from Simian and using it to get data into MetaRadio and all your other destination systems.
In these instructions, we assume you are using BSI Simian Pro version 2.3 or greater. Please ensure your Simian software is up to date before proceeding.
Before we can connect our Radio Automation System, we need to download and install MetaRadio.
MetaRadio has a free trial available. You’ll need to tell us your name, email, and number of inputs you want to use. MetaRadio is licensed based on inputs:
- If you have one automation system with one channel, you only need one license – no matter how many places you want to send that data.
- If you have two data feeds from your automation system (such as a separate HD2 station), you’ll need two licenses.
- If you want to take data from an automation system, satellite system, or music fingerprinting system at different times of the day, you’ll also need multiple licenses.
When you sign up for the trial, we’ll email you a license key and an installer. Save these to your computer.
Where to install MetaRadio?
The next step is to work out where you want to install MetaRadio. MetaRadio runs on Windows. If you have a small station, you may want to install MetaRadio on the same PC as your Simian software – this is the easiest option.
If you have a larger station, you may want to install MetaRadio on a separate Utility PC in your rack room, or even a Virtual Machine. This option is good if you want to keep MetaRadio away from your announcers, or perhaps if you want to connect multiple systems or multiple studios into the one instance of MetaRadio.
If you install MetaRadio on a different PC, you’ll need to know a little bit about networking, so you can send data between your automation computer and your MetaRadio computer. Simian sends data via XML files, so you’d need to setup a Windows Network Share with a UNC path.
Make sure you pick a computer that’s:
- Always turned on and always connected to your network, and
- Has a network connection to your output systems too, such as your FM RDS encoder, HD Radio exciter, DAB or DAB+ headend system, and so on.
Completing the Installation
Once you’ve decided where to install MetaRadio, copy both the installer and license file over to that PC. Log in as an Administrator, and then run the installer.
The first step of the installation wizard is to supply the License File. Once you’ve done this, you can accept all the other default settings, and complete the wizard.
You’ve now installed MetaRadio, and you’re ready to start configuring it!
Open MetaRadio from your desktop shortcut. It will open a black window showing the status, and if this is your first time running MetaRadio, it’ll also open a web browser with the MetaRadio Configuration App. If you don’t see the configuration app, the status window shows you the address you need to go to in your web browser. Any modern web browser, such as Edge, Firefox or Chrome, will work fine.
By default, the MetaRadio configuration app is available by going to http://127.0.0.1:9606/
MetaRadio’s configuration interface lets you control all settings within MetaRadio.
- The left contains the menu with various options – including the Input and Output settings.
- The centre of the screen contains information about your system, including license details, and a summary of the inputs and outputs you have setup.
The options you see available will vary depending on the version you have installed, and the license options you have installed.
Now that we’ve installed MetaRadio, we can connect it to Simian.
MetaRadio allows you to send data from an Input (such as Simian Radio Automation), to any number of outputs. We need to configure the inputs first, and then our outputs second.
Select the “inputs” menu item on the left, and click “Add New System”. Scroll down through the list of systems and select “Simian (XML File)”.
Note: We also have the option to setup Simian with a TCP/IP Connection. This is achieved via the ‘Metadata’ options section in Simian. However, in our experience this method isn’t as reliable as the File method. This is why this article only shows the File connection method in detail.
Enter a name for you station, and then enter a filename. This filename is where Simian will save its Now Playing XML file (which we’ll configure in the next section). In our example, we use the filename C:\NowPlaying\SimianData.xml.
Click Save, and then click “Apply & Restart” up the top to restart MetaRadio.
Configuring Simian Now Playing XML Data
Now, we need to jump into Simian and configure it to talk to MetaRadio.
Simian allows us to configure an XML output with our own template. We have a standard MetaRadio template you can use. When we complete this section of the setup, Simian will populate the following template with your now-playing details:
Before you can configure Simian, you must stop playback. This is a requirement of the Simian software.
Once you have stopped playback, go to Tools > Program Options.
In the HTML tab, we’re going to use one of the ‘Dynamic HTML’ sections to generate our XML file. Check the box next to ‘Dynamic HTML 1’.
You can then populate the Template Filename & Destination Filename fields.
The Template Filename is ‘C:\NowPlaying\SimianTemplate.xml‘. If you are installing MetaRadio on a separate PC to the one that runs Simian, you’ll need to copy this file across.
The Destination Filename in our example is C:\NowPlaying\SimianData.xml. This is the same filename we configured earlier in MetaRadio. If Simian is on a separate PC to MetaRadio, you will need to setup a network share to house this file.
Once you have configured your filenames, the settings should look like this:
You can now safely save your changes and re-start playback in Simian.
Testing Your Now Playing Data
Go back to MetaRadio. If your configuration is successful, the black MetaRadio window will say “Now Playing” with some track details every time a new track plays in Simian.
This means your configuration is done, and you can now move onto configuring your Outputs. An Output in MetaRadio is any destination system you want to send data to – a RDS Encoder, HD Radio System, Website, Digital Radio, Streaming Server, Mobile App, etc.
In the left menu of MetaRadio, click on “Outputs”. Find your station, and click “Add Output”. Now you can select your output system from the list, and configure its settings. Our website has instructions on configuring all the most popular systems, or contact our support team if you need assistance.
Support & Next Steps
Thanks for choosing MetaRadio to manage your now playing song data needs. Make sure you explore all the features, such as station scheduling, message scheduling, and all of our advanced output options. Please get in touch with us if you ever need assistance!
If you have any trouble with this process or it’s not working, please send the MetaRadio log files through to our support team. We’re here to help! You’ll find the support bundle file in MetaRadio’s dashboard.
Can I have multiple Simian Stations connect to one MetaRadio instance?
Yes. You can connect unlimited Simian stations to the one MetaRadio instance on one PC. You will need one MetaRadio license per Simian station. You can buy multiple licenses online. If you have purchased licenses separately and need them combined (so they can run one one PC), please email support your purchase receipts and we will make this change for you.
Each Simian system should write to a separate Destination file.
Can I exclude certain asset types from sending now-playing data?
Yes. You can exclude certain asset types (such as spots, sweepers, IDs, voice tracks, etc.) from being sent. In MetaRadio you can use the “Allowed Asset Types” setting to restrict your now-playing data to certain asset types. Or you can use the “Minimum Track Duration (Seconds)” setting to ignore all tracks under a certain length.
Can I disable Simian Now Playing data during certain times?
Yes. This is a common request for stations that take satellite programming during certain hours, or for stations which use Audio Fingerprinting to detect tracks not played via your automation system. MetaRadio allows you to create a schedule for your automation system input. In your Input Settings, look for the “Input Settings” section. Any day/time entries specified here will disable your Simian data.
What does “Zero items are currently playing” mean?
When a track is sent from Simian to MetaRadio, it checks a number of conditions before accepting the data and passing it onto your output systems. These settings include the configurable “Allowed Asset Types” and “Minimum Track Duration” settings. If these conditions are not met, MetaRadio will say “Zero items are currently playing”.
MetaRadio does not see my now-playing data and does not show any errors
The most common reason for this is MetaRadio is unable to find the XML file at the path specified. Use your Windows File Explorer to double check the Simian XML file has been written in the exact location you configured in MetaRadio.
What does “Could not parse XML” mean?
This occurs when your Simian system does not write XML to the file. Check to make sure you have correctly setup the XML template in Simian, and check to ensure the file saved by Simian is valid XML. If you need assistance, please contact our support team.