Icecast is an open source Streaming Media Server, which allows you to broadcast your radio station online. Icecast streams can contain live song metadata embedded within the stream. What happens if you need to extract this data and send it to other broadcast systems, such as RDS, Digital Radio and your website? MetaRadio allows you to listen to this Icecast stream and extract the song data in realtime. This article explains how to do this.
This solution is ideal for any radio stations receiving their program audio via an Icecast-compatible stream. Perhaps you have a cloud automation system provider, maybe you are receiving a syndicated show or station via a live stream, or perhaps you are using an AI Radio provider who send you the audio via an internet stream. Using MetaRadio, you can now forward this song data through to your other broadcast systems!
IMPORTANT: This guide shows you how to receive Icecast data in MetaRadio. If you want to send song data to Icecast from your automation system, please see out Icecast Output guide.
MetaRadio is software which acts as a connector for your radio station’s metadata. It enables you to send your now playing data to dozens of different systems, and also unlocks new opportunities for revenue and promotions by inserting commercial and non-commercial messages between your song data. While many automation systems can send data to some of these third party broadcast systems, MetaRadio aims to connect all your systems together and provide advanced features.
MetaRadio takes all the hard work out of connecting your metadata. There’s no need for custom scripting – MetaRadio does everything you need out of the box.
Sending song now-playing information to other broadcast systems has clear advantages for your listeners and also your station. Now Playing data enhances the listener experience by allowing them to discover new tracks, increases a station’s website traffic, and unlocks additional advertising opportunities.
Before we can connect to Icecast, we need to download and install MetaRadio.
MetaRadio has a free trial available. You’ll need to tell us your name, email, and number of inputs you want to use. MetaRadio is licensed based on inputs:
- If you have only one Icecast stream, you only need one license – no matter how many places you want to send that data.
- If you have two Icecast streams (such as a separate HD2 station), you’ll need two licenses.
- If you want to take data from an automation system, satellite system, or music fingerprinting system at different times of the day, you’ll also need multiple licenses.
When you sign up for the trial, we’ll email you a license key and an installer. Save these to your computer.
Where to install MetaRadio?
The next step is to work out where you want to install MetaRadio. MetaRadio runs on Windows. When you’re using MetaRadio with Icecast, you can install MetaRadio on any PC that has network access to your internet stream, as well as the output systems.
Make sure you pick a computer that’s:
- Always turned on and always connected to your network, and
- Has a network connection to your output systems, such as your FM RDS encoder, HD Radio exciter, DAB or DAB+ headend system, and so on.
Completing the Installation
Once you’ve decided where to install MetaRadio, copy both the installer and license file over to that PC. Log in as an Administrator, and then run the installer.
The first step of the installation wizard is to supply the License File. Once you’ve done this, you can accept all the other default settings, and complete the wizard.
You’ve now installed MetaRadio, and you’re ready to start configuring it!
Open MetaRadio from your desktop shortcut. It will open a black window showing the status, and if this is your first time running MetaRadio, it’ll also open a web browser with the MetaRadio Configuration App. If you don’t see the configuration app, the status window shows you the address you need to go to in your web browser. Any modern web browser, such as Edge, Firefox or Chrome, will work fine.
By default, the MetaRadio configuration app is available by going to http://127.0.0.1:9606/
MetaRadio’s configuration interface lets you control all settings within MetaRadio.
- The left contains the menu with various options – including the Input and Output settings.
- The centre of the screen contains information about your system, including license details, and a summary of the inputs and outputs you have setup.
The options you see available will vary depending on the version you have installed, and the license options you have installed.
Now that we’ve installed MetaRadio, we can connect it to Icecast.
MetaRadio allows you to send data from an Input (such as Icecast), to any number of outputs. We need to configure the inputs first, and then our outputs second.
Select the “inputs” menu item on the left, and click “Add New System”. Scroll down through the list of systems and select “Icecast Metadata”.
Enter a name for you station, and then enter the URL of your Icecast stream. This is the URL used to listen to your live stream. In our example, we use the URL ‘https://stream.example.com/stream.mp3’.
The “Metadata Format” field allows you to specify the format of metadata received from Icecast. The two options are:
- title-artist: This allows MetaRadio to receive data in the format “Title – Artist”.
- artist-title: This allows MetaRadio to receive data in the format “Artist – Title”.
In both these formats ” – ” is the delimiter (space dash space). If you have another format, please contact our support team.
Click Save, and then click “Apply & Restart” up the top to restart MetaRadio.
Testing Your Now Playing Data
If your configuration is successful, the black MetaRadio window will say “Now Playing” with some track details every time a new track plays in Icecast.
This means your input configuration is done, and you can now move onto configuring your Outputs. An Output in MetaRadio is any destination system you want to send data to – a RDS Encoder, HD Radio System, Website, Digital Radio, Streaming Server, Mobile App, etc.
In the left menu of MetaRadio, click on “Outputs”. Find your station, and click “Add Output”. Now you can select your output system from the list, and configure its settings. Our website has instructions on configuring all the most popular systems, or contact our support team if you need assistance.
Support & Next Steps
Thanks for choosing MetaRadio to manage your now playing song data needs. Make sure you explore all the features, such as station scheduling, message scheduling, and all of our advanced output options. Please get in touch with us if you ever need assistance!
If you have any trouble with this process or it’s not working, please send the MetaRadio log files through to our support team. We’re here to help! You’ll find the support bundle file in MetaRadio’s dashboard.
Can I have multiple Icecast stations connected in one MetaRadio instance?
Yes. You can connect unlimited Icecast streams to the one MetaRadio instance on one PC. You will need one MetaRadio license per Icecast stream. You can buy multiple licenses online. If you have purchased licenses separately and need them combined (so they can run one one PC), please email support your purchase receipts and we will make this change for you.
What does “Duplicate now-playing data detected. Ignoring.” mean?
This message will display when it detects the latest data is identical to the previous message. This prevents MetaRadio from re-sending the same song data multiple times in a row. This message often displays at startup, and will also display if your Icecast stream encoder is re-sending the same data over and over.
Can I exclude certain asset types from sending now-playing data?
Icecast does not send any extra metadata such as categories, so you cannot use this to filter your data. MetaRadio assumes your song data in Icecast has already been filtered.
Can I disable Icecast Now Playing data during certain times?
Yes. This is a common request for stations that take satellite programming during certain hours, or for stations which use Audio Fingerprinting to detect tracks not played via your automation system. MetaRadio allows you to create a schedule for your automation system input. In your Input Settings, look for the “Input Settings” section. Any day/time entries specified here will disable your Icecast data.
What does “Zero items are currently playing” mean?
This means no data has been received recently from Icecast. MetaRadio will automatically ‘time out’ the metdata after a few minutes, so the same song isn’t shown forever on your radio receivers.
MetaRadio does not see my now-playing data and does not show any errors
The most common reason for this is MetaRadio is unable to connect to your Icecast stream. Double check the URL is correct. Please also check your song data from Icecast is visible in a media player such as VLC.
If you need assistance, please contact out support team.