What bitrates do you broadcast in?

We offer 128k MP3, 128k AAC (aka AAC-LC, part of the MPEG4 standard), and 64 and 32kb AAC-HE (aka aacPlus) streams. A couple channels offer experimental higher-bitrate MP3 streams.

What streams are the highest quality?

The 128k AAC streams are the best sounding. The 64k AAC-HE streams are a close second, followed by 128k MP3 streams.

What streams does the popup player use?

For widest compatibility with browsers, we use 128k MP3 streams in the popup/web-based player.

What kind of software and equipment do you use?

SomaFM uses Icecast KH servers, OtsAV playout systems, Orban 1100/1101 and Optimod-PCn audio processors, legacy Shoutcast MP3 stream encoders and Transcoders, Orban Opticodec and StreamS Live aacPlus encoders. We use Ubuntu Linux servers for stream servers and web servers, connected via various bandwidth providers, currently 2GB/sec from Unwired, LTD and 500mbit/sec secondary services from Telx. We operate a small data center out of 365 Main in San Francisco.

How big is your music library?

We have over 9500 CDs and 250,000 digital tracks in our primary music library, although many SomaFM music directors have personal libraries as well. From this, we select only the best tracks to play on SomaFM. In the last 2 years, we've played well over 20,000 different artists on SomaFM. (Actually according to our logs, 33,568 different artists, but there may be some instances where the same artist has variations in their names or artists that record under different names, etc.)

So how do you guys stay in business?

We have to beg for money a lot! But most of our listeners value what we do.

We run our station on a very tight budget and rely on donations from listeners. We're lucky to have a lot of friends at indie record labels who have donated CDs for premiums or have let us include some of their music in our compilation CDs. And we're thankful to the folks at Shoutcast.com who have provided us additional streaming bandwidth in the past.

What can we expect in the future?

Our goal is to make SomaFM available in as many ways as possible: from internet radio, to cell phones and wireless devices, smart speakers, in-car entertainment systems. Wherever you are or whatever you're doing, we want to make SomaFM available to you.

Through SomaFM's partnership with public radio stations, we're making our programming available over the air by providing a special version of Groove Salad for use on their HD multicast channels. KPBS-FM in San Diego is our premier public radio partner, broadcasting our programming on their HD3 channel.

We also plan to launch more channels and specialty on-demand and podcast programs. Since we have such a small budget, we have to move slowly. But because we don't have to answer to investors or VCs, we can broadcast exactly what we want to.





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(Amazon makes us say all that stupid stuff)

SomaFM is commercial-free radio supported entirely by you! With a $50 donation, you get a SomaFM tshirt!

somafm tshirt

If you can't afford $50, your support of any amount helps keep us on the air, or use our simple automatic monthly program:

More monthly options are available as well.