By Rich Menta- 11/15/99
Want to start your own personal web music station but are afraid you don't have the technical skills to pull it off? Well, it just got very easy with the introduction of a new software that is the biggest boon to hobbyist webcasters to date.
Enter myCaster 1.0, a tool for building online stations that promises to have the average joe webcasting within 10 minutes. Thanks to some clever ingenuity, myCaster comes through on that promise through a brilliantly simple concept.
To cut right to the chase, myCaster is essentially an MP3 software player like WinAmp or FreeAmp with one big difference. If you are online as your tunes play through your speakers, myCaster automatically takes a feed and sends it to the myCaster.com web site where the signal is broadcast.
The software is only 120k in size and took less than a minute to download. We tested it using a 56k modem and left the Internet connection live as we clicked on the program.
The myCaster properties box opened first and we filled in the User Profile and Broadcast sections. The Broadcast section contains all the information that will appear in the myCaster.com listing including station name and music genre. It is also where you set the bandwith for your stream, which for a 56k modem is optimal at 24 Kbits/s, 11,025 Hz. stereo (most MP3 music on user hard drives are 128 Kbits files, high quality but much too large to stream. myCaster converts the files on the fly to a more practical bandwith). Webcasters who have T1 access will find 56 Kbits/s 24,000 Hz. stereo optimal. When we were done, we pressed OK and the myCaster control panel appeared.
The next step was to add music. To do this we simply drag-and-dropped MP3 song files into the myCaster playlist. The music starts to play when you drop the first file in.
Now comes the impressive part. After loading a dozen or so songs, we opened our browser and went to www.myCaster.com. There, staring at us on the second page of radio listings, we found our stream "MP3newswire.net Presents".
Click on the link, and a dialog box opens showing the next 5 songs on our playlist as well as the genre and description info we added earlier to the Broadcast section of the properties box (a nice touch). The site then opened our default MP3 player (WinAmp) and began to play our feed loud and clear.
Total time, 9 minutes.
We love simplicity. In this case, the webcaster doesn't even need their own website, just net access to pump their favorite tunes to the masses. The ability to get even grandma online with her own net radio show will bring a lot of fans. In fact, the ease of myCaster is such a pronounced issue here, it should become a key to the future of hobby webcasting.
This includes the US Governments pending decision on whether to require webcasters to be licensed as broadcasters and the Recording Industry Association of America's (RIAA) lobby of the government to force webcasters to pay performance fees to them for every song played (see story). A significant increase in hobby webcasters spurred by myCaster can boost their collective voice in such issues.
In the mean time, our advice is to take 10, go to www.mycaster.com, and try your hand as a cyber DJ. You may get hooked. We are.
Copyright 1999 MP3 Newswire. All rights reserved.