What to Expect in 2019

2018 was a wonderful year for SoniXCast (SX), but 2019 could possibly be the most exciting and innovative year yet for customers…

2018 in Retrospect…

In 2018 we explored a completely new technological strategy, initiated forward looking partnerships and completely decentralized our infrastructure. Here are the Highlights…

1st Quarter: We expanded our partnerships with Amazon and iHeartRadio to provide radio content on their platforms raising our average listener base from roughly 2 million to an estimated 42 million daily listeners.

2nd Quarter: We acquired 4 stream hosting providers (2 in Europe, 1 in Asia, 1 in North America) which grew our retail client base from roughly 800 to over 1500. Also we introduced the updated SoniXFM popularization platform to retail customers on BoomBox which allowed their radios to be heard on the Amazon/iHeartRadio platforms.

3rd Quarter: After loads of pressure from retail customers, we introduced CentovaCast hosting for Hobbyists and small Webcasters. We also rolled out our new cloud infrastructure into 24 geographically diverse data centers.

4th Quarter: We capped the year with the final release of BoomBox 3.3 which showcases our Liquidsoap transcoder strategy. And we expanded our partnerships with Sony, Microsoft and Apple to provide even more media content on their platforms.

Relationships are a lot…

Strategic partnerships are the cornerstone to our business and the clue to our longevity. Not only does it raise our company integrity, but more importantly, customers are better protected from the turbulences in the industry.

We are constantly exploring new partnerships, but some are on the short list for 2019 like: Expanding our footprint on Roku, Exploring partnerships with monetization platforms like TargetSpot and becoming more prevalent on devices like car radios, social media platforms and AI devices.

But Technology is everything…

Being a technology and platform provider give us the unique ability to set standards, forge relationships, better communication and shape the future of the industry. Here are some of the Highlights planned for 2019…

Public API: We are in the process of normalizing and securing our platform to make it accessible via a set of HTTP API’s that will allow 3rd party providers and resellers (Yes. We will be introducing a Reseller program) access to our extensive line of services, media and libraries.

WebDJ: Imagine you’re out in public and come across a unique news opportunity. With WebDJ you can whip out your smartphone and comment on news or conduct an interview directly to your listeners in real time. You can also broadcast directly from your computer eliminating the need to fork out cash for 3rd party broadcast client software. Already tested and in limited use with commercial customers, we will be introducing the WebDJ platform to retail customers in 2019.

BoomBox: In 2019, program management will become even more powerful and intuitive as we introduce a calendar like interface in which users can schedule individual tracks, ads, spots or even whole playlists with a simple drag and drop. Edit track titles in place, set crossfades and even leave notes for other broadcasters. All from simple easy to use interface.

SoniXFM Media Center: Is our new radio platform based upon SoniXFM™ and AnyCastIP™ which will allow listeners to tune in to thousands of terrestrial and web radios from all over the world. In testing now is our own embeddable operating system based upon android open source that will be targeted towards hardware media devices like car radios. Also in testing right now are: Alexa Skills, Google Home Actions and Android/iTune Apps.

And there is much more…

Video broadcasting (WebVJ), tighter integration with social networking platforms and developing technology guidelines and standards are all on the drawing board as well as working out more direct relationships with performance rights organizations and working with licensing providers to help end pirating and intellectual property theft. Our goal is to ensure radio broadcasting remains a staple for all well into the future.

We wish all our Friends, Partners and Customers a very Happy and Prosperous New Year.

The War on Radio

The untimely demise of the US/Canadian Stream Hosting Provider TorontoCast (torontocast.com) at the hands of the US performance rights organization SoundExchange is the latest in a long list of providers who have been forced out of business or marginalized by an industry on a mission to consolidate content.

It takes Work

Many hosting providers (like TorontoCast) often do not consider that relationships and partnerships should be as diversified as their client base and must go beyond just a single license provider. Understanding that foreign performance rights organizations (PRO’s) may prosecute station members (operators, producers, djs) located within their jurisdiction, if they can’t go after the radio station or hosting provider, is key to protecting ones customers.

Hosting providers should understand that it is not enough to simply license through SOCAN. Much more is required. We’ve made it no secret that Sony and SoniXCast have been partners for many years. Sony IS in large part SoundExchange as they are also largely responsible for DRM. We have spent many years forging relationships with similar PRO’s and Record Labels in many of the worlds countries, building a cooperation and reputation that effectively shields our customers from many of the legal woes experienced elsewhere.

Keep an Eye towards the Future

Listener trends have changed. More and more consumers are moving away from the advertisement filled, monolithic concept of Public Radio for personalized playlists and AI targeted content. Producers are tasked with not only building reputation, but maintaining relevance in an oversaturated market.

We recognize that relevance is as important as reputation and we have been working closely with major content providers like Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft (available to BoomBox customers only) to provide high quality content to their massive worldwide user base.

Our unique Global Broadcast Network (likewise only available in BoomBox) forms the backbone of providers like Amazon, iTunes and iHeartRadio as well as device manufacturers like Roku, Microsoft and Nintendo.

We, together with our partners, pioneered the internationally recognized station identification (callsigns in BoomBox only) system. Ensuring that our stations are respected and known to be backed by a serious and legally sound provider.

The War Continues…

Centova Technologies Inc has not released a significant update in many years and users of CentovaCast cannot take part in the protections offered by our more innovative BoomBox platform. Therefore, broadcasters on CentovaCast (regardless if hosted with us or elsewhere) and other legacy platforms can be subject the same substantial personal legal jeopardy as with TorontoCast.

Globalization has made it easier for foreign PRO’s to assert jurisdiction in other nations. Radionomy was effectively banned from opening up shop in the US, StreamLicensing.com was stripped of many of its licensing options and more recently TorontoCast was unable to find a remedy for their legal issues.

The legal landscape around internet broadcasting is complex and ever changing. It pays to be on the cutting edge of technology and legal understanding. Of that we are committed as a company and technology provider.

BoomBox v3.3 Released

We are happy to announce the release of BoomBox v3.3!

BoomBox Version 3.3 signifies a significant milestone and is the most comprehensive release to date. Besides a major code rewrite, there have been significant upgrades made to the frontend as well as the popularization sub-system and the relay network.

Brand new Backend

The BoomBox backend (the part customers do not see) has been completely rewritten and upgraded to support a wider variety of 3rd party components. this will allow the development of many more advanced features and immensely enhances application reliability and stability.

Long Live Liquidsoap

Version 3.3 signifies the departure of SoniXCast’s hybrid ShoutCast transcoder and the full implementation of the Liquidsoap transcoder. Currently the implementation simply mirrors previous functionality, but future versions of BoomBox will take advantage of Liquidsoap’s advanced features.

Fully Mobile Ready

The BoomBox frontend (The part customers do see) has been updated to twitter bootstrap 4 and is now fully compatible with any mobile device. Use your phone to view statistics or broadcast live with your tablet. No need to download a special app. BoomBox will run in any browser on any device. Whatever you want to do, BoomBox can do it!

New Popularization Features

Want your station to be found on Amazon, iTunes or iHeart? Well everybody knows sonixfm.com is the platform preferred by all popular aggregation services and BoomBox now supports music ‘moods’ popular on said platforms. Just enter a mood (like ‘tailgate country’ or ‘looney tunes’) into the genre field along with your regular music genre and your station will be among those requested on Roku, Echo Dot or Google Home devices.

Massive Music Library

Never has it been easier or faster to get a new radio up and running. The global music library has grow to over half a million tracks representing entertainment from around the world.

New Relay and Redirect Network

We’ve completely rebuilt the relay and redirect network and have added over 100 worldwide nodes making the reliability and speed at which listeners can find and tunein to your stream faster and better than ever before. And, of course, the new network is backwards compatible so current stations do not have to change any of their tunein or nobex links.

Network Attack Resolved

Chinese attempt at brute force attack foiled.

On Saturday November 11th, 2018 at 04:30 EST SoniXCast was contacted by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation that there was a brute force attack occurring on the SoniXCast edge network that serves US government systems. Within a short period of time the attack expanded to other SoniXCast networks in Canada and Europe that serve federal and commercial services including retail branch services.

The attack was mounted from the US.

The attack was mounted from 3 separate US location from Virtual Private Servers located in Atlanta Georgia, Dallas Texas and San Francisco California. Payment came from an offshore financial services company known to be associated with Chinese Intelligence Services. The attack was in form of a bot that would attempt multiple password variations in order to gain root access to a system. By evaluating TCP headers, technicians were able to backtrack connections to a server in Taiwan China.

The Resolution

SoniXCast emergency attack protocol was immediately implemented which confuses most modern network attacks. However, the protocol also confuses customer systems so some minimal downtime was experienced. There seems to have been a timeout associated with the attack script so that when the requested ip-address and port was no longer available, the bot gave up and moved on to another system which minimized downtime overall.

SoniXCast is cooperating with the US federal government and has contacted cyber attack units in countries where the attack on SoniXCast networks occured. Once a full report has been issued, the network team will evaluate and advise if further actions are necessary.

BB38 Update

BB38 has reached minimum thresholds.

The master server image for BB38.sonixcast.com has been moved to a new dedicated hardware primarily to allow for more resources for customers, but also to ensure for adequate resources are available for future customer sign-ups.

BB38 has been running in ‘hot-swap’ (switching between dedicated hardware) mode for the last 72 hours due to high loads and the decision has been made in order to eliminate any possible downtime to upgrade the backing hardware.

BB38 will run redundantly (all images running simultaneously) for the next 24 hours in order to allow adequate time for proper worldwide ip-address replication before taking the old images offline.

Customer Impact

IP-Addresses will change, however these changes will be reflected in our worldwide DNS and AnyCastIP nodes and no customer impact is expected. Customers are however encouraged to double check any file uploads made within the last 72 hours to ensure that they were properly replicated during the upgrade process.

More upgrades in the works

BB34.sonixcast.com and cc.sonixcast.com images are very close to reaching minimum resource allotment and will be similarly upgraded to new hardware over the next days or weeks. In each case an announcement will be made separately.

New SSL Relay Network

SoniXCast’s Relay Network now supports SSL (https)

For a while customers have been requesting SSL (https) support for the listen urls they give their listeners and for embedding on their secure websites and now we’re happy to announce that SSL support is finally here. Try it for yourself -> https://relay.sonixcast.com

Who needs SSL?

The https protocol is trusted by the internet community at large and bolsters the reputation of content providers. Hardly any serious provider (be it google.com or microsoft.com) would consider doing business without a secure connection to their website and more and more devices have begun requiring a secure (https) connection due to privacy concerns. Web browsers especially make it well known to the visitor whether the connection is secure or not and some security conscious listeners may actually move on if it is not. Therefore, it behoves all content providers (and radio stations) to offer SSL support on their website.

Those who already have SSL enabled will be able to eliminate the annoying ‘Mixed content types & security threats associated‘ message that usually is displayed when a unsecure link to their stream is embedded on their webpage. All-in-all offering SSL support will make your listeners trust you better and they will listen to your station longer.

The Challenge

SSL has been around for a while and is rich with configuration options. The challenge for us was to build a suite of profiles that would support as many devices and browsers as the less secure http protocol. The only practical way to achieve this was to test each device and browser type and generate logic that would enable or disable certain SSL features on a per device/browser basis. For example: Many older Java-based devices do not support TLS which is the defacto standard for smartphones. Or the browser application Internet Explorer 6 (IE6) (much more widespread as one would think) does not support encryption algorithms found in more modern browsers like FireFox or Chrome. Over 200 different devices and browsers have been tested and certified to date.

Now what do I do?

SSL (https) runs side-by-side with the http protocol, so there is nothing that you must do unless you want to. The Relay Network will continue to work as before. You just have the added option of using https instead of http in your listen urls if you like. End user devices and browsers will transparently handle the secure communication, so your listeners may not even notice the difference unless they are watching for it.

Performance and Scope

SSL is baked into just about everything, so theoretically there should be no performance difference between using http or https. There may be compatibility issues with older devices or browsers we have not yet certified where you might receive a security message, but with all the devices and browsers we’ve worked on, we think you will be hard pressed to find something that is not compatible.

Only AnyCastIP™ and the SoniXCast Media Server (SXMS) have been secured with SSL. The Redirect Network and direct stream access are as before unsecured. Read here for more information on the different types of networks that are offered to customers.

What is SSL?

SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is the standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. This link ensures that all data passed between the web server and browsers remain private and integral. SSL is an industry standard and is used by millions of websites in the protection of their online transactions with their customers.

To be able to create an SSL connection a web server requires an SSL Certificate. When you choose to activate SSL on your web server you will be prompted to complete a number of questions about the identity of your website and your company. Your web server then creates two cryptographic keys – a Private Key and a Public Key.

The Public Key does not need to be secret and is placed into a Certificate Signing Request (CSR) – a data file also containing your details. You should then submit the CSR. During the SSL Certificate application process, the Certification Authority will validate your details and issue an SSL Certificate containing your details and allowing you to use SSL. Your web server will match your issued SSL Certificate to your Private Key. Your web server will then be able to establish an encrypted link between the website and your customer’s web browser.

The complexities of the SSL protocol remain invisible to your customers. Instead their browsers provide them with a key indicator to let them know they are currently protected by an SSL encrypted session. All SSL Certificates are issued to either companies or legally accountable individuals.

Typically an SSL Certificate will contain your domain name, your company name, your address, your city, your state and your country. It will also contain the expiration date of the Certificate and details of the Certification Authority responsible for the issuance of the Certificate. When a browser connects to a secure site it will retrieve the site’s SSL Certificate and check that it has not expired, it has been issued by a Certification Authority the browser trusts, and that it is being used by the website for which it has been issued. If it fails on any one of these checks the browser will display a warning to the end user letting them know that the site is not secured by SSL.

SoniXFM.com Released

SoniXFM.com is here…

SoniXFM™ has long been known as the radio aggregation and populization platform driving music services like Amazon, iTunes and Microsoft and more recently on devices like Roku, Playstation and XBox. But now music lovers can listen to their favorite radio at a click of a button on any device, anywhere in the world. Just visit SoniXFM.com! Developed and tested to work with every browser on almost every device, the new SoniXFM.com is the straightforward and intuitive way to find and tunein to high quality radio broadcasting.

Blazing Fast Search Engine

Search for any type of media content by keyword, genre, format even country at speeds found nowhere else. Our highly optimized search engine will scan through over 2 million unique content providers to find the content you want right now! See why the SoniXFM platform is so popular with music service providers and listeners alike.

Tunein in an Instant!

All streaming is proxied through AnyCastIP, the broadcasting network used by millions to listen to radio regardless of device or location at the same speed and high quality as listening at home. SoniXCast Broadcast Network (SBN) and BoomBox customers already use AnyCastIP, but now third party streaming content providers benefit from faster startup times and higher quality for their listeners worldwide as well.

Want to learn more?

SoniXFM has been around for a long time, but not always as a consumer product. Only recently has there been demand for a central website for listeners to go to and SoniXFM.com now answers that call. SoniXFM, like all SoniXCast products is under constant development in order to offer consumers and providers the best possible content and latest technologies. If you are interested in whitelabeling the SoniXFM aggregation services, contact support@sonixcast.com. If you are interested in reading more about SoniXFM and underlying technologies, visit the SoniXFM About page.

Database Connectivity Issue Resolved

On 8/22/18 we experienced an issue with the main database server which caused a few hours of downtime for all applications (SoniXCast, GML, GPP, CentovaCast…) which has now been permanently resolved.

The legacy system which maintained the main database server was experiencing intermittent network interface dropouts and we were in the process of moving all databases into the AWS (Amazon.com) cloud when the server just gave up completely.

It was all hands on deck to get the databases moved into the cloud and get all the applications working again. However now all databases are hosted on a high availability, multi-point redundant platform that will ensure that future issues with database connectivity can never occur.

No data was lost or compromised during the operation and we apologize to all for the inconvenience.

Updates to BoomBox, SoniXFM and CentovaCast

We are happy to announce the release of updates to BoomBox, SoniXFM and CentovaCast which address issues reported by customers and consumers. See the changelog below for detailed information:

BoomBox™ Radio Automation (RA)

  • Upgraded from 3.1 to 3.2
  • Complete rewrite of the core subsystem
  • Expanded monitoring to auto restart account services unless otherwise disabled
  • Introduction of enhanced media management and auditing
  • Re-introduction of the global music library (GML)
  • GeoTrend fixes and enhancements (Phase 1 of 3)
  • Listener Session fixes and enhancements (Phase 1 of 3)
  • Server and transcoder fixes and enhancements (Phase 2 of 4)
  • Nomenclature adjustments (Phase 3 of 6)
  • Numerous UI enhancements and fixes

SoniXFM™ Global Relay Network (GRN)

  • Added 14 additional nodes in South America, Asia and Oceana
  • NIST/GPS synchronization enhancements
  • European RDS integration released (Phase 1 of 2)
  • Embedded device (Roku, SmartTV…) fixes and enhancements
  • 44 additional AM/FM Channels added to the terrestrial radio program
  • Digital Satellite Radio (SirusXM, DirectTV, Hughes…) fixes and enhancements
  • DAB and DAB+ (Europe) fixes and enhancements

SoniXCast™ Global Popularization Platform (GPP)

  • Added Pandora, Slacker and Spotify platform support
  • ClearChannel (iHeartRadio) platform fixes and enhancements
  • iTunes, TuneIn, Nobex fixes and enhancements
  • Amazon, Live365 fixes and enhancements
  • Discontinued ShoutCast.com integration
  • Extended Xiph.org integration
  • Added Hindi, Basque and Farsi language support

CentovaCast

  • Installed ftp service on all slave systems (cc2x.sonixcast.com)
  • Upgraded the max file upload size to 500MiB
  • Amazon.com album lookup integration
  • Expanded DNS support for widgets and players
  • Numerous UI enhancements and fixes

Additional Information

Customers are encouraged to login to their respective control panels and verify that the patches applied resolve any reported issues.

The ShoutCast.com integration into the GPP has been discontinued as Radionomy has not granted SoniXCast API access despite repeated requests (No response from the support team). Customers must maintain their ShoutCast.com profile manually from now on.

SoniXFM™ Global Relay Network (GRN) and SoniXCast™ Global Popularization Platform (GPP) remain exclusively available to BoomBox Producers only.

Although initially planned, CentovaCast integration into the GPP and GRN has been put on hold indefinitely. CentovaCast has announced that a major update to their platform is in the works and it makes more sense to wait until it has been released and our systems have been upgraded before considering integration.

The majority of User Interface (UI) fixes and enhancements revolve around supporting individual browser idiosyncrasies and final integration of the Bootstrap 4 platform with full worldwide CDN integration.

The majority of stream and broadcast fixes and enhancements revolve around music metadata support for the individual platforms as the standards for such is not well-defined nor normalized.

The BoomBox Liquidsoap integration is ongoing and is, as before, slated for final release in version 3.5. However, updates have been made to the legacy transcoder which mirrors much of the basic functionality found in Liquidsoap, so that producers may become familiar with the system beforehand.

New Blog & Social Network Footprint

In the past our blog (sonixcast.com/blog) functioned as the central communication portal, however with the recent advent of integrated group collaboration tools, we’ve decided to shut down the SoniXCast community and move everything to Facebook and Google. The blog will now function (as it should) just as the central announcements, information and documentation portal for everything SoniXCast.

We are introducing two new focus groups where Producers, Customers and Consumers can collaborate:

Producers Forum

Membership only group where you can connect with other SoniXCast producers, exchange info and experiences, take part in discussions and help direct the future of Webcasting.

  • On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/SXProducers/
  • On Google: https://groups.google.com/d/forum/sxproducers

Premiere Support

Our membership only premier support groups are manned 24/7 by our support team. Important: Whenever posting a new technical issue please supply the hostname and main port of your service in order to expedite your request.

  • On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/SXSupport/
  • On Google: https://groups.google.com/d/forum/sxsupport