I'm thinking about broadcasting.

I thinking about music licensing royalty rates for internet radio stations, and internet radio station funding.

I'm coming to believe that I will never actually be able to participate in a real radio station, because the FCC sucks and won't let us have any more, even though we only get like two stations up here.

I'm planning out a streaming video station for original and public domain content, eventually, but a real internet radio station appeals.

Like, I could make a more interesting radio station than radio paradise or whatever. I could record 30 or 40 bumpers and build a few dozen hours of playlists comprising a mix of 60s garage and psych, jazz, blues, and all the weird indie shit I've been rocking for the last decade.

I'm positive folks would enjoy listening to it.

I don't have time to do it Right, but I could cheat a little with computers.

It can't be That expensive.

So the question:

Do I talk to ASCAP, BMI, or sound exchange? Or all three?

Several folks suggested live365 which looks like a good option.

Their pricing model is fair, they have a method to opt out of advertisements, and if you choose not to do that it's only 4 minutes of ads per hour.

The base package is limited to 1500 total listener hours per month, but if we're exceeding that I should be able to sell enough ads directly to bump us up to the next level.

I can guarantee an audience from the coffee shop, as this would supplement/replace the stations we use now.

I might be able to convince a few other businesses in town to make us their shop radio as well.

5 shops at 10 hours/day puts us at the limit of the first package, but it also puts our music and advertisements in the ears of ~500 - 1000 people (in a very concentrated geographic area) every day, which means we could probably sell an ad or two to bounce up to the next level.

I need to hear some of their default ads to decide if I'm willing to put up with them or if I'll pay the extra fee to avoid them.

(And if I'm going to avoid them, I gotta figure out how we'll fund keeping the station on the air.)

(I mean, I gotta figure that out either way. Even with their ads, it's not a Free service.)

Cool. So tomorrow I'll put together a few dozen hours' worth of content, record ten bumpers, and buy a month's subscription.

I'll load up the content, schedule a few programs, and find out what the experience is like as a listener.

If I don't hate it, I'll put a little more effort in to the curation, record some better bumpers, and register a domain name.

Can anyone comment on the owners of the .fm tld?

It's like, Micronesia or something, right? Any reasons I shouldn't register a .fm domain?

Alright. Domain is registered. I've signed up for a month of live365. I'm building my library and playlists. I might start broadcasting later today.

@ajroach42 at least it is relatively easy to convert one into the other and back again, should opportunities arise and/or disappear, and if listenership of the internet station keeps the station at or below the statutory minimum royalty rate levels it'll be a long time before the royalty cost exceeds the cost of buying a license and transmitter in my experience.

@ajroach42 (and, of course, equally easy to hoist the jolly roger on either setup, with wildly different possible outcomes and probability curves)

@djsundog @ajroach42

There's also a surprising amount of Creative Commons music out there. Stuff that you never need to pay royalty on, or stuff you only need to pay royalty on if you're making a profit from it.

There are artists who are happy to give away their music because without listeners they can't find the fans willing to buy their stuff.

IIRC, if you want commercial music, using Spotify to stream podcasts gives you rights to all the music on Spotify.

@djsundog @ajroach42

The weird old commercial stuff is hard, though. It's still covered by the RIAA people willing to put the smack down on illegal activities, even if nobody is available to make money off of it at all anymore.

@ajroach42 @djsundog

I hate Spotify. I only mention it because it simplifies (and likely reduces) licensing costs.

8 years is just old enough for lots of obscure bands to have never used it, though.


The FCC's a lot more flexible with super low-power stations.

Think, like, the stuff that drive-ins use these days. You used to find such things for home and yard use. Connect it to your stereo and listen to your music while you mow the lawn.

If you want something that works in your store and your parking lot -- that should be possible.

It would depend upon why you want a real radio station. Is it to get the signal to cool old devices? Because that's doable.

@yam655 @ajroach42 I thought that there was some kind of low-power FM broadcast license you could get, I think for a community radio station. Not sure if you looked into that already.

@ajroach42 @ToroidalCore @yam655 I think LPFM is effectively dead. You can broadcast on an unused frequency under part 15 with an approved transmitter, but you’re limited to an effective range of about 200 ft. Still might but l be interesting in combination with the Internet station for listening near the hackerspace or coffee shop.

@ajroach42 @ToroidalCore @yam655 Personally I like the idea of pirate radio over Tor. Preferably with some kind of multicast thingy that can be tunneled.

@freakazoid @ajroach42 @ToroidalCore

Whether it is still effectively possible or not, an LPFM station is nonviable without actual nonprofit status according to:

The limit there was ~3.5 miles, but for small communities, that can actually cover the whole area.

I think the 200 ft stuff is more in-line with what I was thinking. It's only really interesting for some use-cases, and less-so if there's already AM coverage.

@yam655 I have an AM transmitter that covers my building.

I want a station to highlight the stuff I love for people that don't know them.


We recorded bumpers for Would be happy to make some for you when this goes live.

Also happy to share whatever of my troupe's recorded content would be of interest.

@ajroach42 I was the IT guy for an internet-based university radio station for a couple of years, and once you get it rolling it's not too bad to maintain.

I wrote a robot DJ even, to cover times when nobody was live, and it built dynamic playlists to an even hour to not conflict with timeslots and used speech synthesis to backannounce tracks.

Some of the work I'm proudest of. Shame the uni just abruptly pulled our funding and the whole situation evaporated pretty much overnight.

@ajroach42 I still have the code (R2DJ, heh) but I looked at it again recently and there's not much value in there. It's all Python 2 and from when I was still learning, and very much tied to parsing an iTunes library folder that we ripped all the CDs to.

Rip out the bits that were very situation-specific and there's not a lot left. I've been thinking pretty hard about doing it all again though. Would totally get involved with a project like that.

@ajroach42 only just occurred to me that "two years professional experience running an internet radio station" is something I have on my CV that not many other people do, haha.

@mike @ajroach42 Can I join the club? I'm currently caretaking a non-profit streaming station with a lot of listeners around the world (stats are difficult to make meaningful, but the aggregate-hours-per-day seems best, we're around 400).

@mike @ajroach42 Most fun contribution is a newsreader, that takes text from a public website, runs TTS over it (with a whole load of markup and translation first), times the result and packs it up with filler to meet the scheduled 2:00 timeslot

@yojimbo @mike that's super cool. I was planning on making someone actually read the news.

@ajroach42 @mike We have about 10 news items per week max, and play the news on the hour every hour, choosing randomly from the set of available articles. As a new item is released, we create the package, quality check it and then upload, taking an old one out of rotation.

The station scheduling software is the commercial service, but for the FLOSS version look for the fork libretime, being used by a couple of other friends; I'll tag @drh as another streaming radio geek ...

@yojimbo @ajroach42 @drh I have had my eye on air/libre-time for a while. The one thing that bugged me about it last time I looked was the inability for anyone to get their stream established slightly BEFORE it went live in their slot, so you were kind of racing against dead air with no chance to connection test beforehand.

Of course, I haven't fired it up for a few years now, that may have changed.

@mike @yojimbo @ajroach42 I think you can get around that if you just connect using the master stream although I've only done that on Airtime.Pro and not Libretime. I must say that I am super happy with Libretime for my personal station that I currently run.

@drh @mike @ajroach42 So part of the original question was 'where do you get commercially licensed music from?'

My station avoids it - we use only public licensed tracks, and have explicit broadcasting deals with individual artists for everything. A few years ago (before my time) we were using a service that provided licensed music, but they weren't bothering to actually get the licenses and we got copyright-complained off the air.

Jamendo I think promises to be a source of music that is also publicly licensed, but I haven't spent much time there. We did look for something that would allow third parties to restream our station in their own Twitch streams, but that isn't in our current agreements and no-one else seems to offer it either.

@yojimbo @drh @mike when I was running a label a few years back we considered going this route. The problem was, even if we put 100% of what we released out there, we still only had about 10 hours of original content.

If we expanded out and included every track from every band we had worked with up to that point, the number grew to, like, 16 hours.

@yojimbo @drh @mike That just didn't feel like enough content to keep things from getting instantly stale.

If we had kept that incarnation of things going, network effects would have pushed us over the tipping point, but we didn't so they didn't.

@ajroach42 @drh @mike For a cafe space, I feel like a mix of well-known music is a safe option, but that way we never end up not playing 80s songs again and again forever, leaving so little time/space for new artists.

There are so many commercial stations still playing "music from the 70s, 80s, and today" ... and 'today' is now a 30 year period at least!

It's nice for a cafe that has a personality to play music that fits that vibe, sometimes that's an explicit theme and sometimes it's just what the owner personally likes.

@yojimbo @drh @mike We've been using Radio Paradise which is occasionally wonderful but is frankly the most eclectic radio station I've ever listened to.

Like, too weird for my tastes sometimes.

@yojimbo @drh @mike So the idea here is to replace that with something over which our employees get some input, something support by the community, in which the community gets a say.

It'll be a fun experiment.

@ajroach42 @drh @mike Some of the stations are great; I especially like Secret Agent

@yojimbo @ajroach42 oh man that was next on my to-do list when they pulled our funding! Always was pretty frustrated that I never got to incorporate news and weather!

@ajroach42 see my live365 toot - you have to deal with all three, plus others for canada and uk and europe and and - it's far easier to outsource it for a flat monthly fee unless you're expecting to scale huge fast, at which point you hire staff that file the reports ;)

@thegibson looks like they start at $70, so that's one reason.

But I think it's the only tld that makes sense for what I'm doing so I guess I'll go for it anyway.

@ajroach42 Looks like Micronesia owns their own domain, it's not colonial, so should be fine.

@ajroach42 might just want to check how their support is. Have had some issues owning a .it domain while not knowing Italian or living in a European timezone

@ajroach42 Meh, not the worst? Afaict the US has colonized FSM hard since WWII for military access to east Asia. They're technically independent since the 80s but to me it looks vaguely like struggling to escape puppet status. That wouldn't be relevant except that their in-country telecom conveniently outsources its .fm registry to a private San Francisco company with strong notes of slimy tech entrepreneur. Still, there's worse.

@ajroach42 is listening from foreign countries allowed? (sometimes that depends on your licensing agreement and/or price point for the streaming service)

@vfrmedia Officially: US, Canada, and UK are allowed.

It looks like they might have *light* technical measures in place to prevent other places from listening, but I dunno what that'll look like in practice.

@ajroach42 I'd totally listen to this at work. I'm excited!

@TaxDan dan, what I need is for you to get on the horn with every local musician you still talk to, to get their work featured on our station. I will need them to provide written permission, I believe an email should be sufficient.

Brabant and Jon Williams were here yesterday, and I'm confident that I will be able to secure everything they've ever done, I have Brett Schieber's stuff, golden shrines, Eli Pop, modern nomad, and I can talk to Amy for the boy girlfriends, and Janna for oat milk.

@TaxDan of course, I need honesty again and like Mike. And what else?

@TaxDan I'm positive that I'm forgetting people. Krista! But I'm so far removed from that scene I can't even really suss out who else.

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