frustrated-computer-user

 

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.

 

copyright-music-internet-laws

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

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