BoomBox v3.0.1 Release

BoomBox Version 3.0.1 is a maintenance release which repairs issues introduced in previous releases. This release also concludes the migration of playlist track management and integration into Cloud Services.

Important Information

In order to finalize migration to cloud services, all customers must log into BoomBox, navigate to the AutoDJ settings page and press the Save (floppy) button. Customers who do not perform this operation may experience data loss.

Change Log

  • Upgrade to ShoutCast Server v.2.5.5.733 which repairs runaway playlist issues introduced in v.2.5.5.700 as reported by Radionomy support. Playlist and DJ scheduling now works again as normal. This update also repairs Statistics collection.
  • Status and Statistics Collection repaired and timing adjusted to be more responsive.
  • DJ and Playlist creation issues repaired.
  • Introduction of Cloud File Service with Global Music Library Integration.
  • Introduction of Dynamic Playlist Generation for better accuracy during shuffle routines.
  • Introduced the ability to completely disable the AutoDJ.
  • Introduction of the Playlist Reload feature in order to repair playlists starting over after minor changes to the system.

Playlist Reload Feature

A ‘Reload Playlists’ button has been introduced which eliminates the need to restart the AutoDJ after making changes to a Playlist or DJ.

Cloud Services

Finder Feature Highlights
Major feature highlights of the new Cloud Services Finder App

The Cloud Service introduces three new components to BoomBox and integrates playlist track management into one interface greatly enhancing track management and allround ease of use. Although intuitive for most users, Finder has context sensitive help (tooltips) for each operation the will help until full documentation has been completed.

Cloud Watcher Service: watches the local file system for changes and notifies the autodj component if new files are added to a playlist regardless if uploaded through the finder interface or FTP.

Finder (a.k.a. File Manager): Is the integrated user interface which mimics file management much the same way the File Manager (Windows Systems) or Finder (MacOS systems) does. Music Tracks can be dragged and dropped directly from the local computer or the integrated Global Music Library into playlist folders for immediate playback (uploading multiple files will require playlist reload). Music Tracks can be also listened to (previewed) directly in Finder interface.

Global Music Library: The global music library consists of 60.000+ fully licensed for playlick music files sorted by Genre made available to customers at absolutely no extra cost in order to avoid any legal complications that may arise by uploading one’s own music files. Updated weekly, the total multi-lingual compilation of the Global Music Library is expected to reach 250.000 by the end of the calendar year. Customers who wish to provide music (such as Indie Artist) should contact support for more information.

Folder Structure: The Finder organizes your music library as follows: The main folder Playlists contains subfolders (appropriately named for each playlist) in which the music files reside designated for playback by the AutoDJ. The main folder Music is where all your previously uploaded music files reside. The main folder GML contains music files that you can copy to your playlists (in the main Playlists folder) for immediate playback by the AutoDJ.

Runaway Playlists Synopsis

The last version of the ShoutCast Server eliminated a crucial callback interface which (among other things) helped notify the autodj that data was received thus causing the autodj to ‘race’ through playlists and loop. The issue came to light after Radionomy support responded to our ticket request and advised immediate update of the server. Which was perform yesterday, prior to today’s release.

Music Files

All customers are encouraged to pre-process their music library before uploading. Please ensure that all music files are properly encoded, tagged and named in order to facilitate painless playback in the system. We no longer ‘clean’ music files for you as it slows the system down. Improperly named files may not be recognized by the AutoDJ, so it imperative for all customers to refer to the naming conventions below or by example the Global Music Library.

Shuffled Filename Example (Shuffle enabled in Playlist Settings):
Artist_Name_-_Track_Name.mp3

Sequential Filename Example (Shuffle disabled in Playlist Settings):
001_Artist_Name_-_Track_Name.mp3

 

Producer News for August 2017

Howdy, SoniXCast Producers! As we go into our 12th year, some new and exciting developments have occurred that I’m dying to share with you all. Check out the new roadmap for the remainder of 2017 and beyond:

SoniXFM.com

The streaming service aggregation services unit which provides yellow pages services (kind of like shoutcast.com or xiph.org does) to Sony, Samsung, Microsoft and Apple et al., will have its own dedicated team of software engineers starting immediately. I developed the initial prototype back in 2013 to entice commercial consumers and really haven’t done much on it since. Through cooperatives and partnerships, I envision SoniXFM.com will become the central platform for advertising and popularization of radio stations bringing together disparate services Producers are forced to maintain into one comprehensive platform.

Simply Stated: I hope SoniXFM.com will become the website listeners will go to listen to Internet Radio. And instead of maintaining a Nobex App, Homepage, Tune-In/Shoutcast page, keeping up relationships with advertisers and so on…, Producers will be able to do everything from their BoomBox control panel.

Global Public Relay (GPR)

The global public relay initiative was started back in 2016 to address the hike in listenership coming from SoniXFM.com (currently at an average of 746,000 listener hits a day) and the influx of refugees coming from other stream hosting providers or through acquisition (currently at an average of 8,095 listener hits a day). The GPR is essentially a bunch of custom-built on-demand Icecast servers distributed globally that allow listeners to tune into any SoniXCast Station locally with minimal delay and buffering. The rollout is in full swing and Producers should note the following changes.

  1. More geographically located ip-addresses will show up in the shoutcast server connection log which cannot be helped due to the way the GPR works. We have a dedicated staff of network security specialists working to keep the nasty’s away, so there is no need for Producers to intervene and start blocking ip-addresses.
  2. The current tune-in links (stream.sonixcast.com and relay.sonixcast.com) will be retired in favor of shorter, easier to remember and more appropriate sonixfm.com tune-in links. Don’t panic! stream.sonixcast.com and relay.sonixcast.com will remain active forever! We will just recommend using the sonixfm.com tune-in links going forward.
  3. More listeners from more locations. I made adjustments to the search API to favor SoniXCast radio stations meaning, for example, that if an iTunes listener searches for a radio station by genre, a SoniXCast Station will more than likely be at the top of the list of results. SoniXCast producers will soon get a chunk of that 746K listeners a day coming in from sonixfm.com.

BoomBox 3.0

I’ve stopped development on BoomBox 2.5 (beta and release candidate) and will just be putting out patches and fixes for the remainder of August/September. Instead we’re going to focus on the release of BoomBox 3.0 and here’s why:

  1. We now have a team of developers and instead of forcing them figure out of my code, it will be faster to allow them to read through it at their own pace using the tools they are accustomed to on a project that doesn’t have to be maintained daily.
  2. Liquidsoap (replacement transcoder for the current Auto-DJ) requires a certain operating system (Ubuntu or Centos 7) which is different from the one we currently use (Centos 6.9). Over the next 6 weeks we will be setting up test instances and a focus group to evaluate BoomBox 3.0 for a period of time before going into widespread implementation. Volunteers are welcome and we will put out a call-for-action once preparations have been made.
  3. Shoutcast.com changed the way public radio stations are registered which is “hard-coded” into the server itself leaving us no choice but to continue using the shoutcast server until such time as Radionomy decides (if ever) to make the API available for 3rd party use. This really is of no consequence to producers as the SoniXCast Media Server already wraps the current services and acts as the main access point for listeners.
  4. We have too many stations per node. Over the past year we’ve acquired a bunch of stream hosting providers, lived through the third or fourth wave of Radionomy refugees, picked up a load of refugees from the SteamLicensing.com fiasco and now are in talks with Live365. In essence, we’ve gone from 300 shoutcast server instances at the beginning of the year to well over 2000 now and some of the older server clusters are at 60% capacity. Way too close to the top for this cowboy.
  5. We have to move your Radio Station anyways and not only because of capacity as mentioned above. BoomBox 3.0 will be on a totally different operating system running on a separate server cluster. That will mean radio stations will receive a new hostname and possibly a new port. Which highlights the reason why Producers should never publish the direct server link and use the clustered tune-in links (stream.sonixcast.com, relay.sonixcast.com or, preferably, the sonixfm.com links) instead.
  6. The Global Public Library has been a pain in my rear ever since I had to take it down for licensing reasons a few months back and now after spending all that time and money to get it compliant, along comes a partner that will not only provide the same licensed content and more, but offers syndicated news content and a full-fledged advertising network as well. Since I’m spread thinly enough as it is, I decided to work the partnership into BoomBox 3.0 and sonixfm.com instead. Stayed tuned for more on that.

Don’t Panic!

None of the planned changes will happen unannounced or tomorrow and migration will occur in a very structured manner. There is no need to make any immediate changes to your station. Once the rollout of the GPR is complete, we will begin a campaign to notify Producers to update their current tune-in links to the new sonixfm.com ones. Which will make migration easier for everybody. After BoomBox 3.0 is released (sometime in September), all new customers will be setup on it going forward and those who need or want the extended radio automation features migrated on request. Finally at the end of November, beginning December, when listenership is at its lowest, we will make the final push to migrate the remaining stations incrementally.

Torontocast.com

After having a long conversation with one of the owner’s (ex SoniXCast support tech and customer) and after running financial background checks, I’ve decided not to pursue the lawsuit against torontocast.com and have rescinded the cease and desist order. I do this for a few reasons:

  1. The entire action was driven by our attorneys who are rightfully watching out for the company’s interests. However, after talking to SOCAN, we were ensured that torontocast.com is not receiving the same conditions as we are and although they replicated our business model, they have to pay much more for licensing.
  2. You can’t get blood from stone. The owner’s are just hobbyists who decided to start their own operation on a penny budget. I can’t morally justify putting someone in the poorhouse or disrupting business for just being entrepreneurial.
  3. More importantly, the entire action didn’t fit well with my vision of transparency, cooperation and partnership in the industry. Retail stream hosting, although growing, makes up less than 5% of SoniXCast’s total business and we can surely afford to share.
  4. They were frustrated. They wanted certain features now or wanted to get their fingers into our systems. I couldn’t deliver those features at pace that was acceptable to them and nobody touches our systems without a non-disclosure agreement. Arguably, it was a dick move to spy on our setup and replicate it somewhere else, but I, myself, am genuinely flattered. The judgement into their character is just something you’ll have to make for yourself.

 

Synopsis DDNS issues SoniXCast.com

Like many other hosting providers, SoniXCast relies on 3rd party dynamic DNS (domain name system) to ensure that our website and applications are available worldwide.

Between 06/28/2017 and 07/01/2017 our previous DDNS provider (BuddyDNS) experienced catastrophic network issues and they have, to date, not resumed service. We have therefore retained the services of 2 other 3rd party providers (Amazon.com, Dynu.com) to provide DDNS services.

DNS is the mapping of domain names (i.e. sonixcast.com) to an internet protocol (IP) address which enables browsers and other applications to find SoniXCast services. Dynamic DNS a.k.a AnyCast DNS is a modern version of DNS which also helps route requests to the server more expediently.

Like yourselves and your listeners, SoniXCast relies heavily on DDNS internally to support our monitoring and load balanced systems. Whenever there is an issue with DDNS, then those systems can get out of sync and problems occur like missing statistics, inability to reach the control panel or website from some locations, problems uploading files, services restarting without apparent reason and so forth…

In addition, over the last 3 months, BuddyDNS has notified our network support team that our account had gone over quota (50 million hits a day) half way through the month and threatened with suspension. Our network team was evaluating other providers when the BuddyDNS network went down.

On average sonixcast.com and sonixfm.com receive 42.3 million hits per day according to our internal counters. The majority of which come from white-label partners Sony (12 million), Apple (4 million), Microsoft (8 million) and Samsung (6 million). The rest come from retail accounts, diverse 3rd party aggregators and internal services.

We are confident that the new DDNS providers have adequate load capacity to serve SoniXCast well into the future and we wish we would have reacted sooner. However, it is nearly impossible to predict growth and popularity of a cutting edge system where no precedence exists and the decision was made to err on the side of caution.

For that we apologize to all our customers and partners and thank you for your patience and understanding.

SoniXCast Licensing FAQ

Here at SoniXCast we try to take the headache out of broadcasting. Many who come on board have questions and concerns that we will try to answer here. However, if you need further clarification or have a special request, we beg you to contact our friendly support department and they will gladly help you any way they can.

Let’s start by going over what we do for you…

On paper, SoniXCast LLC is the legal owner of all internet radio stations hosted within our network in Canada which falls under the jurisdiction of the collection society SOCAN. We submit all the reports to SOCAN and make sure that they stay warm and fuzzy. This saves you the headache of dealing with the ever changing legal climate and ensures your station is properly registered and licensed at all times. In other words: You worry about broadcasting and we help keep you legal.

But there are some limitations and restrictions…

Our umbrella license with SOCAN, like any other license, is limited to the music streamed from our network only. It doesn’t protect you if you use a third party streaming service or share songs with others. Each country has its own laws when it comes to file sharing and they apply to wherever you currently prop your feet. The same applies to what you say during your broadcast. Local liability laws apply, meaning you could find yourself in front of an angry mob if you go off on a rant or play music that is not allowed or is offensive.

Remember that your radio station is hosted in Canada and is legally Canadian. You should state this in any public venue (on your website, in blogs, on social media, at concerts) otherwise your local royalty collection society might feel neglected and cause a legal mess for you. We don’t require that you say your radio is Canadian, but it would be a safe bet if anyone asks. Besides: Canada is a cool multi-lingual country where you can broadcast in any language you like (Wookies are Welcome!)

Play what you want…

If you can find it on iTunes, then you can play it! We, through our partnerships, have affiliate agreements with almost every collection society worldwide which covers the royalty collection of just about every song ever recorded. Creative Commons/Open Source licensing is also supported and we have a waiver system in place for unregistered titles. We also have automatic Creative Commons licensing in place for all speech content which goes into effect each time you re-broadcast. This is useful for syndication of your show, but additional licensing may be required for any music you include. We can help you with that too.

Is SoniXCast legal everywhere?

Yup! Since SoniXCast owns the radio station and it is located in Canada, it falls under the jurisdiction of the collection agency SOCAN which has affiliate agreements with collection agencies in every country. There are no Canadian laws to restrict in which country our broadcast can be heard and we know of no country currently blocking our broadcasts, so SoniXCast can be heard everywhere! SOCAN is pretty good with their record keeping and they put out regular annual reports. Want to see if the collection society in your country is a partner? Check it out here: http://www.socanannualreport.ca/overview/

Can I advertise my radio any way I like?

Yup! Pretty much. The only recommendations are that you make it understood that your radio is hosted in Canada. It wouldn’t hurt to put the SOCAN logo on your website, just to let everyone know you are properly licensed and it would make us super happy if you would put our logo on your site :-). You might also want to check into our affiliate program.

Are there any song restrictions?

Nope. Some countries have music blacklists (Germany for example). Titles that are not allowed over the local airwaves. That doesn’t apply to us. We generally don’t care what you play as long as you understand that if you anger the local citizens, they might come after you with pitchforks. There are no song repetition restrictions either. If you want to setup a stream repeating the word “Duh” all day long, you can do that. Perfect for Musicians who want to showcase their music non-stop.

Can I make money with my radio?

Yup! Knock yourself out. We are only concerned with the music you play. But keep in mind that some local collection societies may require you pay additional fees or that you register if you make radio your business. And you have to pay your local taxes on any income that you make. Best is to contact our legal department before you go hog wild.

What is AnyCastIP?

AnyCastIP is our patented network which sits on top of the Internet and ensures that your broadcast is heard with the same audio/video quality regardless of where the listener is located on this earth (or in space). Developed together with Sony in 2006, AnyCastIP uses variable bitrate (vbr), compression and existing media routing technologies to convert media streams for optimized delivery to cell phones, computers, set-top boxes, gaming consoles…essentially anything that connects to the internet and can playback media streams. In 2011 Samsung, Microsoft, General Motors (Bose), Roku and Rock-Ola began using white label implementations of AnyCastIP, so if you listen to the radio in your car, on your Xbox or Playstation, chances are you’re listening through AnyCastIP.

Do I need a Dial-up Stream?

No. AnyCastIP compresses and distributes the output of your stream server to 24 globally located network nodes simultaneously at variable bitrates (vbr). Listeners connect to the nearest node and receive audio data optimized for their connection. Variable, read ahead buffering ensures that the stream starts with little or no delay and media optimized routing ensures quick ping backs to your stream queue. Way to technical? Essentially AnyCastIP ensures your stream sounds the same regardless of where you are on the world and regardless of connection speed. So, no Dial-up stream needed.

What is SoniXFM.com?

SoniXFM is a radio directory service developed by request from partners Microsoft, Sony and Samsung. It sports a modern browser interface and has many built-in features for radio broadcasters including seamless social networking integration, integration with 3rd party aggregators like iTunes, Tunein or Dirble, Radio Station profile webpages much like facebook with vanity domain support. And the list goes on… Currently in alpha, a working proof of concept was released in 2014 and we hope to have a beta version completed by August 2016.

What is ShoutBox/BoomBox?

These are our homegrown stream server control panels. ShoutBox, obviously, for managing ShoutCast servers only, BoomBox replaces ShoutBox with additional support for IceCast, Flash Media Servers like Wowza and Windows Media Servers. Both support stream Server and Transcoder (Auto-DJ) management, User (DJ) management and scheduling, full featured music library management, playlist management and scheduling and, of course, AnyCastIP. BoomBox is currently in beta and you can follow development at: http://boombox.sonixcast.com/

How is SoniXCast better than other Stream Hosters?

Well I wouldn’t say we’re better, just better informed. We, like every other Hoster, are limited by the Software (ShoutCast, IceCast WMS, Wowza), Hardware and Network we use. We’ve been in business since 2006 and have watched the legal climate change quite a bit, so we made it our job to understand the legalities of broadcasting.

We are a family business. Not some vulture capital funded corporation geared towards over marketing a mediocre product. Which has its advantages and disadvantages. What we have most is experience. We’ve seen pink elephants dance and pigs grow wings and fly. There is hardly a technical or legal problem we haven’t banged our heads on the table about. More importantly, we understand that each customer is individual and each radio different. We encourage feedback and that you talk to us. It will help keep you from shooting yourself in head in the ever changing legal climate of broadcasting.

Click here to read the full list of affiliate partnership agreements we have with other nations and collection societies: SOCAN Affiliattion Agreements List