Discover how to send the now-playing data from your RCS Zetta radio automation software, to all sorts of different third party 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.
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 MetaRadio Server – 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 connect multiple systems or Zetta servers into the one instance of MetaRadio, or just want to be able to isolate MetaRadio to its own PC.
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. Zetta sends now-playing data via TCP IP, so you’ll need to have a network connection between your Zetta Server and MetaRadio PC. Make sure your firewall is configured to allow connections on your chosen port.
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.
Zetta has a client-server design, and most stations will have their Sequencer and Player tasks running on a different PC to their Studio PC. For Zetta, you’ll probably want to install MetaRadio either on the server running your Zetta Audio Server, or alternatively on a Utility PC which may also be running other background services.
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 Zetta.
MetaRadio allows you to send data from an Input (such as RCS Zetta 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 “RCS Zetta”.
Enter a name for you station, and then enter a port number. This port number is where Zetta will connect.
Click Save, and then click “Apply & Restart” up the top to restart MetaRadio.
Configuring RCS Zetta Now Playing XML Data
Now, we need to jump into RCS Zetta and configure it to talk to MetaRadio. Zetta has a standard XML message format, which MetaRadio understands and uses. We use the ZettaLite XML format.
RCS Zetta supports a “Now Playing Export” (“Billboard” in earlier versions) output. This is configured in the Configuration > System settings menu, and runs in the Startup Manager on one of your Zetta Workstations.
Zetta sends XML data from a designated computer, to MetaRadio on any other networked computer. To achieve this, you must have a TCP Port opened in your firewall between Zetta and MetaRadio. MetaRadio automatically adds a Windows Firewall exception, so you will only need to add a firewall rule if your two computers are on different networks/subnets/VLANs.
To setup Zetta, follow this process:
- Open RCS Zetta on any workstation and login as an Administrator (e.g. ‘Supervisor’)
- Click “Configuration” > “System” in the top menu
- Open the “Now Playing Export” tab.
- Fill out the details as follows:
- Name: Enter any name (we recommend “MetaRadio” and your station’s name)
- Active: True
- Station: Select the radio station you wish to send to MetaRadio (if you have multiple stations, you’ll need to complete this process for each one)
- Computer: Select any workstation with network access to MetaRadio (must be running all the time)
- Format: Zetta Lite
- Output: (leave blank)
- Number of Items: Set this as the same number of Play Devices you have for this station
- Data Encoding: UTF8
- Device: TCP
- IP Address / Computer Name: Enter the name or IP Address of the computer running MetaRadio
- IP Port: Enter the Port Number we configured earlier in MetaRadio
- Connection Style: Close connection after each message
- Save your changes in Zetta
- Open the Statup Manager on the Zetta Workstation as selected in step 4-4, and check “Now Playing Export” is started.
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 Zetta.
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 Zetta Stations connect to one MetaRadio instance?
Yes. You can connect unlimited Zetta stations to the one MetaRadio instance on one PC. Here’s some things to keep in mind:
- In Zetta, create one Now Playing output per Zetta Station. Each Now Playing output will need to have a unique port number, and this port number needs to match what you configure in your MetaRadio input.
- You will need one MetaRadio license per Zetta 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.
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. You can do this in either Zetta or MetaRadio.
- In Zetta, you can edit your Now Playing output format to only output certain Asset Types (e.g. SONG).
- Alternatively, 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 Zetta 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 Zetta data.
What does “Zero items are currently playing” mean?
When a track is sent from Zetta 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 not receiving a TCP connection from Zetta. Please check your port numbers match, and there are no firewalls blocking your connection.