ANSWERS TO THE QUESTION
“Why are so few Christian radio stations broadcasting on the internet?”
If you already pay ASCAP, SESAC, and BMI copyright fees, there are no additional fees with these organizations. As part of the recent industry agreement on behalf of composers and lyricists, internet streaming fees have been incorporated into the base fee structure for each. You simply have to inform each organization of your intent to simulcast your over-the-air broadcast.
On the other hand, The RIAA sought to protect the artists who performed the music of the composers and lyricists which were not covered previously for internet broadcasts. Therefore, the Library of Congress created an agency call SoundExchange.Com to collect and distribute digital medium copyright fees for performing artists.
Under the Other Programming category using the more common (2) Aggregate Tuning Hour Option, a commercial broadcaster would use about 43,000 Aggregate Tuning Hours (Minimum Fee Equivalent) before the .0117 ($500/.0117) rate for music would apply.
A new to the internet commercial webcaster would be doing quite well to experience more than the 43,000 Aggregate Tuning Hours. A new to the net commercial webcaster having more than 3500 listener hours each month during the first year would more than likely be a top rated station in a small market or a Christian radio station located in a metro-market. In any event, the excess of the additional fee is not required until the station exceeds the annual minimum equivalent.
We suggest each broadcast organization thoroughly familiarize themselves with the SoundExchange.com rules. Go to: http://www.soundexchange.com
One of the first concepts to understand regarding broadcasting on the internet is “low-tech”.
BRM uses the Windows Media System. So, Microsoft designed the internet encoding system to be inexpensive and easy for broadcasters to adopt. You will need a fairly fast Personal Computer with at least a 333 MHz processor, a good quality audio sound card, and the free Windows Media Encoder download.
BRM has chosen the Windows Media System as the media system being of the lowest common denominator. In short, the Windows Media Player is the most widely distributed, easiest to use media player in the world. Since the WMP version 9 and subsequent version 10 releases, the audio quality of the codec and the general quality of the overall internet has increased to provide a superior audio experience in comparison to other streaming media systems. On a non-scientific basis, BRM has determined WMS as the lowest cost of content delivery system.
Let us start by stating what you should not try to use in delivering your encoded broadcast to the media servers. You should not use a dial-up ISP or a wireless broadband ISP connection to the internet. The dial-up bandwidth is too low and the stream cuts off when there is no mouse or key-board activity. The current bandwidth for up and down loading on wireless broadband is too little and the very nature of wireless broadband currently makes it too unstable to support a continuous broadcast stream.
You should use an always on DSL, Cable Modem, ISDN, or T-1 internet connection all of these should have adequate upload throughput except DSL if you want to use higher bandwidths or multiple streams. You should use a static IP address or use a Dynamic address forwarding service (see equipment requirements on BRM website).
FAST and STABLE should be the two words that best describe the qualities to look for in an ISP. You cannot control the quality of the connect each listener may use, but you can control the quality of the stream that feeds the media server. You can obtain DSL service from $15 to $30 per month.
Although there are a few radio stations streaming on the internet that do not have their own website, these few radio stations have decided to use a hosting service that merely lists their streaming station customers on a rather large list of stations. The stations in question must reference the hosting service site in order to get potential listeners to their streaming radio program.
By having a station hosted website, each station can promote their streaming broadcast by referencing their own station website. The station’s website would then have a link to either a launch page or directly to the URL of the media server. It is recommended a launch page be used to increase the listener awareness of station sponsors, concerts, events, etc.
We call the station’s website, launch page, and remote player the media server interface. In short, the link between the PC, Laptop, or Mobile Device and your internet listener is the interface.
Bandwidth is the currency of the internet. You may think of bandwidth as the electrical current powering your broadcast on the internet. Bandwidth, like electrical current, is measured and purchased mainly based upon user consumption. The more listeners a station acquires on the internet the more bandwidth is consumed.
The higher the bit rate of the stream the more bandwidth is consumed per second. A 16Kbps stream (Kilobytes per second) uses half as much bandwidth per month as a 32Kbps stream. A 32Kbps stream will sound more full and rich, but will usually cost more to provide. Some providers limit the number of concurrent listeners or possibly they will limit the number of listener hours to an included number and any hours over that threshold there is an extra charge.
Barnabas Road Media does not follow the commonly accepted practice of “pay as you consume” for developing internet streaming radio stations. Instead, we offer a non-restrictive streaming media package for developing radio stations called the Zero G Product Portfolio. There are no limits to the number of simultaneous listeners nor are there any caps to your listener hours.
BRM does not use the “virtual multicast routing” technology that uses the bandwidth of your unsuspecting listeners to cut the providers bandwidth expense. We don’t believe it proper to commandeer your listener’s unused bandwidth to forward your broadcast on to the next link in the internet broadcast chain. Although this practice may be entirely legal with adequate disclosure being given to a station’s listeners, we don’t believe adequate and obvious disclosure is the current practice. In fact, over the last few years, the general infrastructure of the internet has improved so dramatically that no difference in broadcast quality can be detected by the naked ear between VMR and a standard internet Unicast technologies.