Stream Your Music

David Holloway
7 January, 2008
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With the wide availability and affordability of broadband internet, every Mac user now has the potential to run their own radio station. All it takes is some very cheap software and your own music, or music you can legally broadcast. Here’s how:

  1. Download and install Nicecast (see Hotlinks). It will run on OS X 10.3.9 to 10.4.11 with a Leopard version on its way.
  2. Click on the Source button and select where you want your audio to come from – iTunes is the most likely source.
  3. Click on the Start Broadcast button and you’re on the air.

It sounds simple but there are a couple of catches. First, you may find the URL supplied by Nicecast doesn’t work when you test it. The most likely reason is your router’s firewall. Some instruction is given in the Nicecast help files but you’ll need to delve into your router’s instructions to ensure the correct ports are forwarded so people can access your audio stream. Second, the number of listeners that can tune in will be limited by the speed of your broadband connection and the quality of the stream you’re broadcasting. Quality settings in Nicecast can be adjusted to minimise bandwidth but this comes at the expense of the audio itself.

If you’d prefer not to use your Mac as the broadcast server, there are numerous streaming services that will allow you to upload your music direct to their servers and they then take care of the streaming. Live 365 is one of the most popular. A free trial is available and pricing starts at $9.95 US per month. The more expensive plans allow for multiple gigabytes of audio to be stored and more than a hundred listeners can be streaming your audio simultaneously. I know of people that cover their monthly fees by offering advertising and broadcasting in a particular musical niche though this opens up the possibility of you needing to pay royalties to cover the artists you are broadcasting. If it’s a non-commercial venture, the hosting fees usually include the royalty component – check the provider’s documentation for details.

If you have a couple of friends you want to impress with a broadcast the Nicecast and your own Mac should suffice. If you have greater aspirations then it’s never been easier to hit the airwaves. In future months I’ll show you how you can do live performance using streaming services and even combine it with video for the full experience.

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