On the air with Rivendell

By LeRe Pics

My use of online music services like Pandora, Mondomix, TaintRadio.Org, and my recent voiceover dabbling has gotten me itching to start my own online radio station. Or reignite my itch, I should say: back in 1997 I became one of the first to apply to the Library of Congress for a compulsory license for Internet radio (back when the list of online radio stations would fit on just few pages). I never followed through with it because it was a leap of faith: the song royalty rates were not fixed and could have been enormous once they were.

Anyway, like any good thing in the music industry, lawyers stepped in and ruined it. The resulting laws that got passed like the atrocious Digital Millennium Copyright Act made it onerous and outrageously expensive for small Internet broadcasters to play copyrighted music. It’s not something you can opt out of, either, as the royalty-collecting company (spun off from the RIAA) charges royalties for ALL musicians, not just the ones in the RIAA. So until the rates come down to realistic levels this station is simply an in-home experiment.

Even so, I wanted to set things up so that should I one day want to start writing checks to the sharks in the music industry (or, say, start up an LPFM station), I could. That means good logging, which means many of the playlist-only choices for feeding my Icecast server were out. Some very good Windows scheduling systems exist but they cost in the hundreds of dollars.

Fortunately, an outstanding scheduling system exists for Linux, and it’s free. Rivendell is an excellent, open-source scheduling system which just released it’s second generation of software. While its documentation is lacking and the installation was mystifying even for this long-time Linux guru, once I got it running it has proven to be rock solid.

In a future post I will take you through the steps I took to get it up and running, with an eye to avoid the pitfalls that befell me.

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