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What is SHOUTcast?

Today, Internet radio broadcasting is more popular than ever. Hugely famous sites like Radio Paradise, Pandora Internet Radio, and Last.fm serve to illustrate that fact. They allow users to discover new artists, explore a variety of genres, or just listen to old favorites.

SHOUTcast radio has all that and more. What makes it stand out from the crowd is its focus on users and its high level of accessibility. Unlike stations on most Internet radio sites, almost all SHOUTcast stations and programs are streamed live, instead of being queued up for broadcasting ahead of time by either a person or a computer.

Most importantly, anyone and everyone can create their own online radio station simply by downloading SHOUTcast software and broadcasting tools. Those are just the bare bones of what it takes to create a smoothly-running station, though.

SHOUTcast Hosting Options

Hosting providers such as VosCast, ShoutCheap and Server Room provide comprehensive hosting plans which use a great deal of additional features and services to enhance your SHOUTcast-based station.

Valuable statistics, pre-written codes and scripts, the ability to stream to a variety of devices, and 24/7 support are just a few examples of the kinds of benefits you'll get if you choose a hosting plan from a SHOUTcast hosting provider.

To start broadcasting with SHOUTcast today, with the added bonus of helpful features provided by the host, simply purchase a SHOUTcast plan from a hosting provider.

Of course, in many situations it is also possible to run SHOUTcast on your existing hosting plan. Manny hobbyists choose this approach, either by reusing a plan they already have, or by building DIY servers for small SHOUTcast stations.

This approach makes sense for small ventures or individuals. It involves a bit of tinkering, but then again it allows users to repurpose old hardware or use idle server capacity.

SHOUTcast Hardware and Software Requirements

In terms of hardware, SHOUTcast doesn't place a lot of load on the server. It is a very scalable audio streaming solution and you don't need pricey high-end processors or very fast storage. However, bandwidth is important and more often than not, it is the limiting factor for small operators.

The SHOUTcast DNAS Server and Transcoder are available on a range of operating systems, including 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows 2000, XP, Vista, Windows 7 and beyond. Linux is also supported in 32- and 64-bit flavours. BSD 8.x and Mac OS X support is also on board. The default port number for the SHOUTcast server is port 8000.

SHOUTcast V1 and SHOUTcast V2 are both still in use, but the different versions have very similar requirements. The biggest difference is the use of a new Stream ID and new Ultravox 2.1 protocol in SHOUTcast V2.

There is no big mystery — SHOUTcast is free and so are most plugins and modules you may need.

Bandwidth and Scalability

So if the requirements are so low, why bother with hosting plans designed specifically for SHOUTcast?

The short answer is bandwidth.

The cheapest plans, usually priced south of $10 a month, can support a limited number of listeners. The exact number depends on the bitrate, but you are usually looking at a few dozen listeners. The average $25 plan supports up to a hundred listeners.

In case you want an unlimited number of listeners, you could get away with a $50 plan, but on a low bitrate — it's more likely you will end up in triple digit territory if you go for a high-bandwidth plan with more than 1TB of traffic.

Custom Plans and Dedicated SHOUTcast Servers

A number of hosts have started offering custom SHOUTcast plans, allowing the customer to choose a number of different parameters and create a tailored hosting package.

This approach makes sense depending on the niche you are interested in, as hardware and bandwidth requirements can be drastically different depending on what sort of broadcast you plan to host (different bitrate, regional peaks or global reach, talk radio or 24/7 music etc.)

Dedicated plans are the best choice for ambitious users. They usually start with limited traffic and basic hardware, but users can customise them and cherry pick the upgrades they are likely to need.

Unmetered plans usually start at about $100 a month and get you a dedicated 100Mbps connection. These plans also tend to feature RAID or SSD storage, along with quad-core Xeons and 8GB of RAM.

However, bear in mind that many hosts will also require you to purchase control panels and licenses, pay for proper server management and so on. Comparing list prices is not enough — you will have to dig a bit deeper to in order to accurately compare dedicated plans, as these costs can quickly add up.

SHOUTcast Hosting Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is SHOUTcast?

    SHOUTcast is a software application that allows anyone to stream audio over the internet. It is commonly used for creating internet radio stations.

  • Is SHOUTcast open source?

    No. SHOUTcast is proprietary software and uses some proprietary data formats.

  • How does SHOUTcast work?

    SHOUTcast is installed on a server. It receives an audio source, such as an input from an audio application. SHOUTcast converts the audio data coming from the source into a streaming audio format consumable by anyone connected to the internet. Anyone who wants to listen simply opens the URL in a compatible software client, such as a media player.

  • Can I use SHOUTcast with a shared hosting plan?

    Shared hosting doesn't normally support SHOUTcast, mainly because of the bandwidth it uses.

  • Can I use SHOUTcast on a VPS hosting plan?

    Yes. Check what the bandwidth limitations are, and if there are any fees for exceeding them.

  • What type of software is needed to listen to SHOUTcast audio streams?

    Most mp3 players and services can play SHOUTcast audio streams, including Winamp, iTunes, and Windows Media Player. VLC Player has removed support for the SHOUTcast protocol due to licensing concerns.

  • Is SHOUTcast free?

    There is a free version of SHOUTcast. It does not include monetization features, analytics, or support. Premium editions of the software provide some or all of these features and also allow for the use of CDNs.

  • Can I broadcast from my home computer?

    Yes. You can set up a SHOUTcast streaming server on your web hosting account, then connect to it from the SHOUTcast app on your own computer. Although you can skip the server and broadcast directly, this isn't recommended.

  • What are the web hosting requirements for SHOUTcast?

    You can run SHOUTcast on Linux, Mac, or Windows web hosting, providing your plan supports it.

  • Can I use SHOUTcast for streaming video?

    Yes. SHOUTcast supports the streaming of video.

  • What is the difference between SHOUTcast v1 and SHOUTcast v2?

    SHOUTcast v1 is not supported by modern browsers, as it uses non-standard ports which have been deprecated. SHOUTcast v2 is fully supported, and also adds API support.

  • How much bandwidth do I need to stream SHOUTcast audio?

    There is no set limit, because it depends on the bitrate, which will vary depending on whether you're broadcasting audio or speech. It also depends on how many users are listening.

  • Do I need a dedicated server for SHOUTcast?

    If you plan to broadcast high-quality audio, or build a large audience, a dedicated server is a good idea. It will provide room to grow, while giving you complete control over the software. As with a VPS server, check the bandwidth limits carefully.

  • Can I use SHOUTcast to run a station in iTunes Radio?

    Yes. You can submit your SHOUTcast-based internet radio station to iTunes. Your station will need to be approved before it appears in the directory.

  • What are some alternatives to SHOUTcast?

    Take a look at Icecast v2, or use a subscription service that offers a full hosted radio platform.

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