This is the home page of Hit1FM, the Coventry Internet station
that led Aaron Gregory to create the SHOUTca.st platform.
COVENTRY, England — It sounds like the plot of a feel-good teen movie: A 17-year-old teenager invents his own Internet radio distribution platform in his bedroom.
He does so simply to launch his own station, but his design is so reliable and successful that it becomes a global sensation — and is now used by Internet broadcasters worldwide.
This isn’t fiction, it’s fact. In July 2013, Aaron Gregory of Coventry developed SHOUTca.st to webcast Hit1FM, a 24/7 streaming pop music service “100 percent dedicated to Coventry,” says the Hit1FM website. But his SHOUTca.st distribution platform has proved so reliable — and the prices charged to SHOUTca.st users so affordable — that the platform has since attracted thousands of webcasters around the world. They just send their streams to SHOUTca.st for distribution, and SHOUTca.st handles the rest.
To say the least, SHOUTca.st’s client are happy. “Initially, I used a free server, but this very much limited what I could do, and didn’t allow me to have a player on my own website,” said Martin Breathnach, managing director of Hull Online Radio Limited (http://hullonlineradio.co.uk).
He started this station to showcase local unsigned music talent, and cover all aspects of Hull’s arts scene. “I started to shop around, and came across SHOUTca.st,” Breathnach said. “Their prices were really unbeatable.”
The SHOUTca.st Homepage
THE UNINTENTIONAL MAGNATE
Aaron Gregory didn’t intend to become an Internet radio magnate. In fact, “I’m an emergency care assistant with the United Kingdom’s South Central Ambulance Service, so I have some unusual hobbies that don’t necessarily coincide with my chosen career,” he said. “I got into radio broadcasting at about age 13, after spending some time researching how to put together radio shows online. I learnt the ropes and within a few years I was presenting shows on stations around the world.”
The lessons Gregory learned getting Hit1FM online (now up to 1,000 listeners in the 16–24 age bracket daily) got him intrigued “about the backend of streaming; leading me, Ethan Gates and Maartje Eyskens to create SHOUTca.st — which is a play on the popular software used for streaming, SHOUTcast,” he said.
“What makes SHOUTca.st different is our pricing and the features that we offer for the low price. We offer everything that anybody needs to get up and streaming on the Internet, from mobile applications (Android and iPhone smartphone apps) to social media tools. We provide everything for a low monthly price.”
Indeed: SHOUTca.st is a budget-priced Internet radio platform/content distributor. The site’s free plan offers a startup Internet radio broadcaster 50 MB auto DJ storage (for automated playout during unmanned periods), 2 GB monthly bandwidth, the ability to serve up to 30 listeners at a time, a connection to the SHOUTca.st distribution system via Centova Cast; distribution via the SHOUTcast.st v1 or v2 or Icecast platforms, and audio quality up to 96 kbps and ticket support for broadcasters.
Pay £2 (US$3) a month, and the auto DJ storage goes up to 2 GB; bandwidth goes up to 10 GB, up to 100 listeners can be supported, audio quality goes up to 128 kbps — and the webcaster gets a free Android/iPhone app to distribute their content as well. For the princely sum of £5 (US$7.50) per month, the SHOUTca.st VIP user gets 20 GB of auto DJ storage, unlimited bandwidth and listeners, and audio quality up to 320 kbps; plus the free Android/iPhone app.
At a price like that, Breathnach opted to make Hull Online Radio Unlimited (150 to 500 listeners daily) a VIP SHOUTca.st user. “I have absolutely no issues with the program at all,” he said. “SHOUTca.st offers a service that is second to none, and for a novice I never felt foolish sending them requests asking how to use their software. Nothing is ever too much for them, and as a customer, this means a lot to us.”
Hull Online Radio Limited covers all aspects of the Hull
unsigned music and arts scene, using SHOUTca.st.
Clearly, Gregory and his co-founding partners are not trying to get rich from SHOUTca.st, given the low prices they are charging for the service. Yet “we do indeed earn money from the platform,” he said. “I can’t go into detailed numbers, but we’re a student-run company and the financial side of the business is great for our age. We never expected to earn a large amount of money from SHOUTca.st but we’re now one of the leading providers in Internet radio solutions.”
It is worth noting that SHOUTca.st does not advertise. In fact, “many of our clients find us via Google or social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter,” Gregory said. That this service now has 10,000 users speaks to the promotional power of the Web. Business has become so brisk, that Gregory has moved SHOUTca.st out of his bedroom, and set up shop at the Rural Innovation Centre at Stoneleigh Park in Warwickshire.
As for the future? Although Gregory and his student partners intend to keep SHOUTca.st going and growing, he is not intending to go full-time into media.
“I’m currently a full-time emergency care assistant,” Gregory said. “My career thus is entirely unrelated to what I do in my spare time, although I hope SHOUTca.st will provide a healthy income in the future.”
James Careless reports on the industry for Radio World from Ottawa, Ontario.