Deeper Into Music turns 10 next month. Well, sorta.
As long as I can remember I’ve wanted to DJ. Before I was in first grade, I used to play DJ with a child’s close ‘n’ play as a kid, making up patter as I would shuffle through a small selection of my mom’s 45s of Ricky Nelson and Elvis and Skeeter Davis. In the 1980s I worked for a handful of commercial stations, playing music from corporate playlists. It was broadcasting, but it often wasn’t much fun. (I’ve worked in public radio since 1987 and while it’s broadcasting and really fun, it really is a different breed of broadcasting, close but not the same, although it has provided much more freedom of expression than what I had in my commercial days.)
So when the folks at WinAmp made available a free server that just about anyone could set up, I was ecstatic. I could really be the one-man radio station I dreamed about as a kid. A thrill, indeed. All you needed was a computer, an Internet connection and some willpower to learn how to put it all together.
I had been experimenting with SHOUTcasting since the first software was released in 1999 setting up a small SHOUT server that could stream to no more than 5 people at a time. It ran on a Windows ME machine in my home office in central North Carlina and I had would fire it up maybe once or twice a month for an hour or so to entertain any friend (usually only one) that I could convince to tune in for a bit. I had a small DSL upstream and if more than 3 people connected the streams would buffer like crazy. Difficult listening at best. This, however, would lead to greater and better things.
Around November 2000 I created “That 60s and 70s Station” which was the precursor to Deeper Into Music. I joined Live365, a service that provides broadcast licenses to small webcasters so that they can stream copyrighted music legally online. Initially, Live365 was enough. I could have 25 listeners who would tune in to my playist of around 350 songs. I updated it infrequently. Live365 also inserted ads into the stream as a way of generating revenue for the service, but not for me, the broadcaster. It wasn’t much, but it was more reliable than my home connection afforded. The cost of doing business was about $25.00/month.
Around 2003 I became dissatisfied with Live365 and weakness of the small playlist I could afford to maintain and it was at this time that I re-branded the service as “Deeper Into Music” and decided to greatly expand the station and make it behave more like a “real” online or broadcast station. I would have jingles and announcements, I would design a better website, I would add the ability for listeners to make requests and most of all I would build a station that would recall the early sounds of progressive FM radio, updating it with today’s adult alternative and indie music.
I dropped Live365 and moved to LoudCity, a licensing service that provides blanket rights coverage for small webcasters. No more inserted ads. More disk space for more songs. At this time I began to greatly expand the Deeper Into Music library and soon had well over 3000 songs.
At first I returned to serving all the files from my dedicated home computer. By 2004 I had a robust upstream thanks to Time Warner Cable and I sent the signal directly from Carrboro, North Carolina to a SHOUTcast “reflector” server in the UK that then redistributed the signal as listeners connected. I could maintain about 50 concurrent listeners at this time, many more than I could have done simply by serving them directly from home. I often had maybe 5 or 6, though. The cost of doing business was about $95.00/month.
Then Deeper Into Music was listed on iTunes radio in 2007 and something unexpected happened. Suddenly, I had more listeners than I had bandwidth for. I was maxing out my listening caps. Overnight, Deeper Into Music was super-sized. The email poured in. Folks loved the sound. For about $125.00/month I was able to rent a serve about 100 listeners concurrently. Deeper Into Music arrived, a little glitchy sometimes, but it was really here.
Even the best consumer home connection isn’t as reliable as a good data center, so in late 2008 I took the plunge and purchased a dedicated server and moved the whole software and hardware operations to a very stable and reasonably-priced data center in St. Louis. I was able to increase the listener caps to 500 con-currents with the bonus of relatively little down time. The time listeners spent with Deeper Into Music continued to grow. And, grow.
That brings us nearly to the end of this 10 year adventure in online broadcasting. Hear in late 2010, every week, thousands upon thousands of listeners tune in to sample Deeper Into Music. Some stay 15 seconds and move on; song keep connected for 15 hours. It still makes me happy to get a one-line email from someone in, say, Estonia who tunes in and enjoys hearing Midlake or Mojave 3. The playlist is now over 11,000 songs and grows by about 100-200 songs per month.
In late 2010, the cost of doing business is almost $300.00/month for servers, bandwidth and music rights. It’s been remarkable to watch the sometimes glacial and at other times super-fast growth of what is now Deeper Into Music. And, the most rewarding of all are the listeners who value he service enough to send a few dollars my way. Deeper Into Music is really listener-supported online radio. And, I wouldn’t want it any other way. Thanks for coming along on the journey.