Breaking Out of Live365

So the other day, as part of my internet improvement post, I ranted about the incarceration of Rancho Radio, my internet radio station, behind the unnecessarily high walls of Live365, the broadcasting service I pay for and have used for almost 10 years.  For some insanity-inducing reason, Live365 requires unregistered listeners to use its music player to listen to Live365 radio stations and makes it really hard for registered users to play the stations through other software.  Even though Live365 stuffs lots of ads in the stream, it does not allow non-professional stations (e.g., ones that don’t pay a fortune for a professional broadcasting package) to publish streams that can be played on any music player.  To make this utterly frustrating situation worse, you have to register as a listener just to listen to stations in iTunes or your other preferred music player- and even then Live365 tries to wrap your preferred music player over the Live365 music player.

live365player1
  This little player is the bane of my radio existence

What I mean by wrap, is that the Live365 player will be open, but it will push the stream to another desktop music player, like iTunes or Winamp.

This makes Facebook seem like the wide open Serengeti and puts Live365 stations at a huge disadvantage compared to the plethora of other online music options.

So my good friend and IT guru, Dave Wallace, started poking around to see if he could navigate around this problem- if there’s anyone on earth who can figure this mess out, it’s Dave.  He made some progress and was able to get the stream, at least temporarily, into iTunes.  It even looks like the artist-song information was displaying.  Mazzy Star.  Hope Sandoval. . . .  OK, I’m back.

I followed Dave’s tutorial, and actually got my stream to play in iTunes, with the artist-song information.  That Jerry Garcia- Merl Saunders record is awesome.

itunesrr

I created a new Playlist, named it Rancho Radio, right-clicked the stream and added it to that Playlist.  Presto, I now have an entry in that Playlist for Rancho Radio.  I was able to stop and start the stream several times, including after closing iTunes.

itunesplrancho

While this is certainly promising, there is at least one problem.  You have to register with Live365 to have access to the Listen Settings Dave describes in his walk-through.  Given that Live365 puts ads in the streams and that each station has a maximum amount of listeners (depending on the broadcaster package you buy), why is that necessary?  Why can’t we just have a stream link that can stream directly from our music player of choice?  We (me the broadcaster and Live365 the in-stream ad seller) should want to make it EASY for people to listen to our station.  This is too HARD.  I don’t want my listeners to be forced to register with Live365, because I know that for every one who will there are untold numbers who won’t.  There is no conceivable legitimate business reason to make people jump through this hoop.

None. Nada.

And there could be a bigger problem.  A little digging reveals the stream URL to be:

http://www.live365.com/play/11174?auth=8b64a2f702854181f5e8d7ebe4d0c684-1236680459-errbearmusic&ss=errbearmusic%3AVE30jMFgIG0BgWk3&tag
=live365&token=8965de820136fdc2267d00b64082298d-2002100084200000&sid=98.201.123.161
-1232926918910378&lid=618-usa&from=pls

I can think of only one reason why the URL has to be that long- because it’s temporary.  Plus, why make us go to all this trouble to find a stream URL?  And that “usa” reference doesn’t bode well for Dave and my other mates down under.  I tried to open the URL in Windows Media Player, and it opened, without the artist-song information, but that could be a player configuration issue.  I tried again in MediaMonkey, and it opened, but skipped horribly.  This could be a software issue too.  Say bye bye Mr. Monkey.

If- and I think this is a big if- the stream URL I came up with above is permanent, will work for everyone who wants to listen to Rancho Radio without having to register at Live365 and doesn’t violate an enforced Live365 term of service, then the problem is solved.  I saw something in the Live365 forums indicating that non-professional stations aren’t supposed to have direct streams.  I don’t know if what I am trying to do is OK with Live365 or not.  If not, I’ll delete the URL upon Live365’s request, though that would be silly since anyone who wanted to could use Dave’s tutorial to find and bookmark the stream URL.  My bet is that the URL above is temporary and/or won’t work for anyone but me.

I hope I’m wrong.

Clearly, Live365 wants you to be chained to the Live365 music player.  Once you go through Dave’s tutorial and get the stream into iTunes, closing the Live365 player results in this:

itunessilent

If you delete it without opening the aptly named “silent.pls,” the stream continues to play in iTunes.  If you open it or if you’ve configured PLS files to always open in iTunes by checking the box, you get. . . silence and a notice that the broadcast has ended.  I can’t tell you how much that pisses me off.  Unless there is a constitutional amendment requiring this, it is unacceptable.

I know I’m coming across as a Live365 hater, and I know that they have the right to sell whatever product they want- and that if I don’t like it I don’t have to buy it.  I get all that.  But the thing is that Live365 has such potential.  But for these unnecessary walls, it is a very good service.  And – and this is probably a big part of the problem – it is the only service of its kind that I know of.  It has the market cornered for broadcasters who want to upload their music and have it streamed from the host’s server.  Sure you can broadcast live by uploading your songs to Live365 in real time, but that simply doesn’t work.  I’ve tried it, only to have some hiccup knock out my upload – and thereby my station – for hours while I was away or at work.

Live365 is very close to rocking.  They just need to knock down the walls and set the music free.