Shoutcast? Icecast? What? Both of them are basically programs or software used for streaming audio over the internet. Shoutcast is a proprietary software made by Nullsoft while Icecast is an open source program created by the Xiph Foundation.
But the main question and probably the reason why you are reading this is simple. Which of the two should you be using? Well let’s take a look at first the pros and cons of each software and then hopefully you can decide which one you would want to use.
Shoutcast, is the most popular one as it was created by Nullsoft who also happened to create one of the most popular music players and management of all time called Winamp. Its popularity means wide compatibility with various players. It is widely used by both amateurs and professionals owing to its ease of use and set up. It is fairly simple to start with and has the added benefit that any new radio station gets added automatically to Shoutcast.com’s directory. As of Version 2 once you connect a live broadcast from your computer to a Shoutcast server the AutoDJ feature will automatically deactivate offering a seamless transition for your listeners. Shoutcast supports the following formats: MP3. AAC+ for streaming with AutoDJ and MP3, AAC+ and AAC+ V2 for live broadcasting. As the program is proprietary it is easier to find documentation for the discerning DJ or audiophiliac concerned with technicalities and specifications.
While Shoutcast offers accessibility to new as well as experienced users it also has its own downsides.Being registered to one of the world’s largest if not the largest internet radio directory comes with a cost. An Authorization Key or AuthHash is required to register and will only allow you select one genre and one sub-genre. If you’re one to stream multiple genres of music or tracks then this might become an issue later on.
Icecast could be considered the 2nd most popular after Shoutcast with people looking at its open source roots as an advantage since this means codes are easily accessible and can be customized to no end. If you are an advanced user and looking to do more then Icecast may be something that you can use. Icecast is pretty much close to Shoutcast in terms of features and was the first one to allow listeners to be seamlessly transferred from source to source (e.g. being transferred from AutoDJ to a live source and vice versa). It also has its own radio directory, however it is not as popular as Shoutcast’s and could be a factor if you’re looking to grow your numbers.
Before you decide what to use look at your plans for the future of your radio station and do your research as well. There are tons of information online as well as forums and videos that can help you decide. Choosing to use either Shoutcast or Icecast is not really a one time thing and you will always have the option to change it later on, consider however the cost (e.g. time, listener inconvenience, knowledge, manpower).