Pioneering online radio service Shoutcast relaunched Wednesday with a new hosted plan that offers webcasters a way to stream online radio at no cost, and even monetize their streams through advertising. Shoutcast was acquired by French online radio startup Radionomy in January. As part of the relaunch, Radionomy also pledged to continue to support the Shoutcast server software.
Shoutcast was originally created in 1999 by Nullsoft, which is better known as maker of the pioneering MP3 player software Winamp. Since then, it has been based on servers run by individual webcasters that use Shoutcast’s protocol to distribute their programming to listeners. Shoutcast syndicates all of its programming on its website as well as through a directory that is available via other audio applications, including iTunes (S AAPL) as well as the original Winamp player. AOL acquired Nullsoft and its Winamp and Shoutcast products in 1999, and didn’t do much to change, or advance, Shoutcast’s technology.
Radionomy’s now-launched hosted service puts a cloud spin on that model, allowing broadcasters to reach an audience without the need to run their own Shoutcast server. The service is available for free to broadcasters, and doesn’t put any limit on concurrent listeners. However, broadcasters need to meet a minimum threshold of 500 listening hours per day.
Radionomy monetizes these hosted streams with server-side ad injection, which is provided by TargetSpot, the ad network that merged with Radionomy late last year. Radionomy’s website states that it will run two 2-minute ad spots every hour, and that broadcasters will have the right to run other ads as well. Radionomy will keep between 40 and 60 percent of the ad revenue, depending on the audience size. Alternatively, broadcasters can still use their own Shoutcast server and syndicate their streams through Shoutcast.
The idea of such a hosted radio service isn’t new: Live365 started to offer hosted broadcasting back in 1999, but was forced to put a variety of restrictions on broadcasters in the following years to control costs, and is now charging broadcasters based on the size of their audience. Radionomy itself has been offering hosted webcasting for some time as well, but the still-popular Shoutcast brand, combined with its syndication through various apps, could potentially help the company and its broadcasters reach a much bigger audience.