New Pricing

We are happy to announce new CentovaCast Pricing!

With the recent release of the SoniXCast/CentovaCast hybrid architecture, we were able to sink costs immensely and are passing the savings on to you! New sign-ups can save up to 20% over competitors and existing customers could save up to 30%!

What Happened?

As stated in our initial release announcement for CentovaCast, our dedicated development team has been customizing CentovaCast to work with the SoniXCast/AnyCastIP™ architecture and were able to complete the new CentovaCast Cluster ahead of schedule.

What are the benefits?

The new CentovaCast Cluster not only takes advantage of our failover virtual machine architecture guaranteeing uptimes of better than 99.9%, but ip-failover feature ensures that the ip-address follows the virtual machine as it is spun up on different hardware and our new 8.6 petabyte direct access storage (DAS) ensures rock-solid data protection, security and near limitless storage for music and videos.

Since the architecture applied to the CentovaCast Cluster is the same we provide to our Professional customers, Hobbyists and Webcasters now benefit from the cutting edge technology and (more importantly) the huge cost savings.

What about Pricing?

We offer two, globally licensed, programs designed (and appropriately named) to fit the needs of Hobbyists and Webcasters…

Hobbyist Program

Small businesses that wish to provide custom content, station operators who are just starting out or Musicians who wish to showcase their music, do not need the AutoDJ or concurrent listener features offered with other programs. Available with the ShoutCast or Icecast server option, the Hobbyist programs is optimized for price, stability and ease of use. Pricing starts at: $3.95/month (icecast/ices, 96Kbps), $4.95/month (shoutcast/shoutcast, 96Kbps) for maximum 100 listeners and 2 mount points.

Webcaster Program

Geared towards semi-professional station operators or those who wish to broadcast video, the Webcaster program is optimized for for medium to large listener bases. Like the Hobbyist program, both ShoutCast and Icecast streaming server options are available and pricing starts at: $5.95/month (icecast/liquidsoap, 96Kbps), $6.95/month (shoutcast/liquidsoap, 96Kbps) for unlimited (999) listeners and unlimited mount points.

CentovaCast Features

  • Easy web-based stream configuration
  • AutoDJ support with powerful playlist scheduler
  • Drag-and-drop AJAX media library – demo
  • Comprehensive statistics and royalty reports – demo
  • Automatic stream monitoring/restarting
  • Feature-rich, automatic station home pages – demo
  • Much, much more — take the tour!

ShoutCast versus Icecast

As far as listening quality and performance are concerned, there isn’t much difference between the two. All modern html5 and flash players support each equally and both offer the mount point feature. However, ShoutCast offers more specialized features like ShoutCast CDN, integrated popularization tools and station management on the popular shoutcast.com website. Whereas Icecast is more compatible and stable with more seamless handover between Live and AutoDJ source clients.

Upgrade/Downgrade Options

Current customers cannot upgrade to the new CentovaCast Cluster, however our support team will work with you in upgrading your current package. Simply contact support from the customer area.

It is possible to upgrade or downgrade Hobbyist and Webcaster packages within minutes. Simply login to the customer area, navigate to your service and select the Upgrade/Downgrade option.

Whats Next?

The development continues… Next will be integration of the CentovaCast Cluster in our Global Relay Network which will add to broadcast quality and worldwide saturation and then there will be the integration into the SoniXFM.com popularization platform which will make stations available on (among others) the Smart-TV’s, Google Play, iTunes and Amazon and much more. Watch for the announcements.

BoomBox 3.0

We are Happy to announce the release of BoomBox 3.0

BoomBox 3.0 is here and better than ever. Over 6 months in the making, BoomBox 3.0 is full featured, battle tested and sports a new faster and more robust infrastructure and interface.

As some of you may know, there have been challenges keeping up with growth and occasional service interruption due to high loads. Whitelabel partners have experienced higher than usual response times using the search API and all around system and network management has become untenable for the support team.

Migration

Over the next 3 months (September through November 2017) all accounts will be migrated over to BoomBox 3.0 (current version is 2.4). However, clients will be presented with the option to migrate at their own pace at a time and date of their choosing. Clients will be presented with the option to migrate whenever they log into BoomBox and an easy to use Wizard will step them through the process.

Migration means the hostnames will change, so it is imperative that customers make use of the relay and redirect settings on the BoomBox dashboard to ensure that listeners can find their station after the migration has completed.

Value Added Services and Features

Invariably the question will arise “What about Liquidsoap or the Global Music Library?” Both, along with other projects have been extricated from BoomBox and will be offered separately as value added services or features. This means there will be some service plan and price restructuring over the next months. We are still evaluating development costs and will announce each feature/service release and price separately.

Classic Licensing/Hosting Plans

Current (Classic) plans will retain current pricing, and will be limited to basic Shoutcast server and SoniXCast Transcoder services. These plans are geared towards hobbyists requiring minimal licensing and basic Auto-DJ features.

Professional Licensing/Hosting Plans

Professional plans, priced differently than classic plans, will bundle value added services (like APM or CML as described below) to provide more complex event scheduling and programming management features for stations desiring such operations.

Advanced Program Management (a.k.a. Liquidsoap)

The development of the APM feature required a separate development team and different operating system and as such, stations that desire APM must be provisioned differently.

Cloud Music Library (previously known as the Global Music Library)

Because of it’s dependence on the APM project, the CML will be offered in conjunction with professional plans or as an add-on feature for classic plans.

SoniXFM.Com (Radio Aggregation Services)

Recent interest from current and requirements from new joint venture partners has spurred development of the sonixfm.com website. All development resources not currently allocated to support have been re-assigned to this project slated for release in December 2017.

For the Techies

More technical savvy customers like to interrogate our methods and reasoning from time to time which sometimes leads useful revelations and we welcome the discussion (although we could all do without the breast thumping and the non-conducive ranting). Therefore, we present this high level overview of the changes to the systems and network:

Current BoomBox infrastructure relies on the use of classic dedicated servers using hardware methods to failover the IP-address to a different backup server upon failure. Despite assurances from the provider, this method has proven to be severely lacking. Particularly under heavy listener tune-in and search API loads. Often switches would fail or become bogged down (and thus crash) trying to switch from one server to another leading to service outage.

The new infrastructure makes use of virtual server instances which are redundant across 3 geographically diverse datacenters and are switched by a dedicated and self managed load balancer. On August 16th 2017 we tested the failover infrastructure by funneling 4 million requests per second while simultaneously shutting down 2 of the 3 instances without losing a single ping request. We also performed a load test sending a burst of 40 million requests (3 times our current load) and achieved a maximum average load of 77% across all instances.

For Customers

So what the heck does this mean for me?

Sometime between now and December 2017, when you log into BoomBox, you will be presented with a popup informing you that your account is eligible for upgrade. That means our support team has done the work of replicating and testing your station on the new infrastructure and only the final options must be set and the station switched over.

YOUR RELAY AND REDIRECT LINKS WILL REMAIN THE SAME AFTER MIGRATION.

New customers will be eventually provisioned on the new platform, but, for now, will also have to endure migration at a later date.

Customers have the option click “click away” the popup and plan when to migrate, but will be “annoyed” every time they log in and will be forcefully migrated if ignored for too long. That is a call our support team will make depending on time and resources.

Why All The Fuss?

We are growing too gosh darned quick for the current infrastructure to keep up. In August alone we had over 8 million hits (12 million in July) and that with 5 (we have a total of 30) server clusters disconnected from the search API.

Network hardware is coughing and sputtering under the load and our support team is spending more time arguing with marginally responsive and exceedingly difficult datacenter support technicians than helping customers.

The new infrastructure is ours alone to manage and maintain. We own it (like google owns theirs) and there is no more dorking around with some egocentric 3rd level support lacky.

Beep, Beep, Connecting…

 

One of the most common support tickets we have are those concerning connecting to our servers. Especially when we setup new ones. Well there is an easy explanation for that and here are some self help things you can do…

Understand first that the Internet is made up of hardware numbering in the millions.  They all run different types of software at differing versions. Needless to say communication (as in real life) is not always perfect and there can be times when you can’t get to a website or your favorite cute kitten video. Everybody has experienced it and it can be frustrating. Well, the same can happen to us. We try to stay cutting edge, but that doesn’t help if a downstream server or router is from 1980 and just doesn’t understand what we’re trying to say. So, sometimes these things happen.

Understanding Web Addresses (URL’s)

Without getting too technical: each stream server has a street address called in industry jargon a hostname. That equates to your home mailing address. Lesser known is the ip-address which you could equate to the postal or zip code assigned by your local postal service. Most web browsers accept both and will go somewhere with them, however in our industry we have one more qualifying part and that is called the port. That you could equate to your house number in your mailing address.

Hostname’s rely on a registry service call DNS (domain name system) which couples a human readable hostname with an ip-address. Simply stated: When your computer connects to the Internet, it automatically connects to a local DNS server to get the latest “street” addresses of places you can visit with your web browser. There are millions of DNS servers out there with different versions and now you understand where the breakdown can occur.

One last thing to confuse you with. Web browsers use what’s called a URL (Uniform Resource Locator) which is fancy for the web address you enter into your web browser. It’s made up of parts like your street address that have to be accurately written out in order for you browser to work correctly. So for example to get to a typical stream server you would write: (http://cabhs30.sonixcast.com:9000). Broken down into their constituent pieces, that would equate as follows:

http:// <- protocol: (can be either http:// or https://) we always use http:// for our stream servers
cabhs30.sonixcast.com <- hostname: human readable alias for 192.99.62.212
9000 <- port: separated from the hostname by a semicolon

Boring! I still can’t get to my Stuff:

webpagetest-cabhs30Well the first thing you should do is see if your server is available for everybody else. Many computer users have a local firewall which may block access to certain ports or as explained aboveor maybe DNS has not replicated to your system. We recommend the use of webpagetest.org to test because they use actual browsers to look up websites and they have loads of locations you can test from. The base URL for our servers is always just the hostname, so you would enter “cabhs30.sonixcast.com” into the webpagetest.org page and after a few seconds you should get something like the picture here:

The only relevant statistic is the “First Byte Time” which equates to how fast the web server responds. It should be rated between A and C and should never go beyond C. Now try the url to your stream server which includes the main port as assigned in boombox (http://cabhs30.sonixcast.com:9000). It can also be found in the customer area at https://www.sonixcast.com. If the “First Byte Time” is classified A through D than your server is online and available for everyone. Just not for you if you can’t get to it meaning one of two things: A) the port is being blocked by you local firewall or B) DNS has not been replicated to your computer.

Diagnosing my access

The quickest way is to start backwards. Open a browser and copy “http://cabhs30.sonixcast.com” (without the parenthesis of course) into the web address field. If you get a timeout or error connection message, this usually means a DNS problem. The easiest way to fix this is to shutdown your computer, unplug your router (if you have one), plug your router back in, start your computer and then try “http://cabhs30.sonixcast.com” again. If it works try your stream server by adding a semicolon and your main port to the web address and hit enter (i.e.: http://cabhs30.sonixcast.com:9000). If you see your stream server page, everything is fixed and you can broadcast. If not try the ip-address (i.e.: http://192.99.62.212:9000) and if that works, the DNS at your provider is not updating and you either have to contact them or consider using a public DNS on your computer. We recommend using Google Public DNS as they are the fastest and easiest to setup. Here a how-to: Google Public DNS.

For techies: Windows users can save the PC restart by type “ipconfig /flushdns” in the process above, however you should restart your router first.

If the above doesn’t work for you, see if you have a firewall installed on your computer and turn it off or suspend it. Try the address again and if it works, then you need to allow outgoing port access or setup unlimited outgoing access for your browser. I’m sorry this section is not very verbose, but there are so many firewall types out there that I would be writing how-to’s until next year.

If all else Fails

Our firewall generally does not block you willy-nilly, however it will block you if you do something malicious (like try to hack in) or if you enter your ftp or control panel password incorrectly three (3) times in a row. In the later instance it only blocks you for 30 minutes and then you can try again. But if you just can’t figure it out visit this website http://whatsmyip.net/, copy the entire number after “Your IP Address is” and paste it into a support ticket along with your main port number and send it off. Our team will then help you figure it out.

 

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