||This article may require cleanup to meet Wikipedia's quality standards. (September 2009)|
|First air date||1999|
|Format||electronic, jazz, indie pop, others|
SomaFM is a listener-supported, commercial-free Internet-only streaming music station, which started broadcasting out of founder Rusty Hodge's basement garage in the Bernal Heights neighborhood of San Francisco. SomaFM broadcasts electronic music, indie rock and lounge music, among other genres.
SomaFM began as a micro-power radio station broadcast at the Burning Man festival in 1999. The response to the project was sufficiently positive that Rusty Hodge launched it as a full-time internet radio station in February 2000. Taking its name from the South of Market neighborhood of San Francisco and Soma, "perfect pleasure drug" from Brave New World, and marketed entirely by word of mouth, SomaFM's twelve channels reached a peak listenership of 10,000 concurrent listeners by 2002. SomaFM reported over 6 million listener-hours in December 2008.
SomaFM initially offered nine channels of music, which has now grown to twenty-four, plus three seasonal channels. The most popular channel is Groove Salad, with well over 4000 average concurrent listeners in 2010. Secret Agent, Drone Zone, and Indie Pop Rocks come in second with over 500 average concurrent listeners. Most channels play genres that are rarely heard on commercial radio or are "not being done right" according to Hodge. Thus it plays a certain role in creating genres or keeping them alive.
|Secret Agent||Lounge/jazz with James Bond theme||2002/1|
|Cliqhop||Intelligent Dance Music||2002/1|
|Indie Pop Rocks||Indie Pop/Indie Rock||2002/5|
|Lush||Trip-Hop/Downtempo with a focus on female vocals||2009/6|
|Space Station Soma||Ambient||2009/6|
|Sonic Universe||Modern jazz/Fringes of jazz||2008/2|
|Illinois Street Lounge||Lounge||2009/6|
|The Trip||Trance. Formerly known as "Tag's Trance Trip"||2009/6|
|Mission Control||NASA mission broadcasts and live shuttle coverage mixed with ambient music||2009/8|
|PopTron!||Electropop and indie dance rock with sparkle and pop||2009/8|
|Suburbs of Goa||Desi-influenced Asian world beats and beyond||2009/8|
|Underground 80s||Early 80s UK Synthpop and a bit of new wave||2010|
|BAGeL Radio||"What alternative rock radio would sound like had Nirvana never happened." Formerly known as "480 Minutes".||2011|
|South by Soma||Music by artists from the 2012 SXSW Festival||2012|
|SF 10–33||Ambient music mixed with the sounds of San Francisco public safety radio traffic ("10–33" is police radio code for "alarm sounding")||2012|
|102.3 Black Rock FM||The prototype broadcast for 102.3FM in Black Rock City for the 2012 Burning Man Festival||2012|
|Dub Step Beyond||Dubstep, Dub and Deep Bass||2012|
|Folk Forward||Indie Folk, Alt-folk and the occasional folk classics||2013|
|DEF CON Radio||Started as a temporary special event channel from DEF CON 21. It may be rebranded in the future.||2013|
|Christmas Rocks||Holiday-themed indie/alternative rock||Seasonal|
|Xmas in Frisco||Eclectic and irreverent winter holiday-themed music, some which is "NSFW" and offensive.||Seasonal|
|Christmas Lounge||A "family-friendly" holiday channel featuring "Chilled holiday grooves and classic winter lounge tracks"||Seasonal|
No longer broadcasting
- Squidradio Downtempo (1/2002-6/2002)
- Squidradio drum'n'bass (1/2002-6/2002)
- Soma House Party (1/2002-6/2002)
- We are Electro (5/2002-6/2002)
- Jazz Masterz (5/2002-6/2002)
Awards and Credits
DJ Elise Nordling, Music Director and DJ of SomaFM's "Indie Pop Rocks!" station, was awarded the San Francisco Bay Guardian's "Best DJ of the Bay" award in 2005, 2007, and 2009. In 2007, they wrote, in part: "DJ Elise is renowned for her impeccable taste, encompassing everything from bleeding-edge unsigned bands to classic small-label favorites... Because of this pioneer's curatorship, Indie Pop Rocks! has become required listening on a global scale."
The San Francisco Bay Guardian also awarded SomaFM a "Best of the Bay" award in 2005 for "Best Way to Avoid the Top 40."
SomaFM makes a two hour track history list for each station available, longer last-played track listings and station history are available through per station Twitter accounts accessible through a link near the bottom of each stream's Song History page. Song history for each station was unofficially tracked by Somaseek. Somaseek is not affiliated in any way with SomaFM and was operated and maintained by a fan of SomaFM. Somaseek is not currently online.
Conflict with SoundExchange
In May 2002, the DMCA CARP rate ruling came into effect, requiring internet broadcasters to pay a per song per listener royalty to SoundExchange for the performance of the sound recording, retroactively through October 1998. Hodge estimated that the station could have been forced to pay over $1,000 USD per day to continue operations. The royalty was later reduced by half, but that rate still would require payments by SomaFM that exceeded their revenues.
Subsequently, Congress passed the Small Webcaster Settlement Act of 2002 (SWSA) on November 15, 2002, which enabled small webcasters to negotiate a lower rate with SoundExchange. SomaFM resumed broadcasting in late November 2002 under this new royalty structure.
As of December 2008, SomaFM has not yet settled with SoundExchange.
- Hodge, Rusty. "Donate to SomaFM! Support Commercial-Free Internet Radio". Retrieved 2013-08-08.
- Hodge, Rusty (2008-12-07). "Holiday Channel Traffic!". Retrieved 2013-08-08.
- "About SomaFM". Retrieved 2013-08-08.
- "Poll Positions". 2007. Archived from the original on 2009-04-18. Retrieved 2013-08-08.
- Petrow, Sean. "SomaSeek - The unofficial SomaFM.com history and search engine!". Archived from the original on 2012-03-20. Retrieved 2013-08-08.
- "Testimony of Mr. Don Henley". United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary. 2002-05-15. Retrieved 2013-08-08.
- "Senate, House Pass Bill To End Webcasting Crisis". Archived from the original on 2010-02-03. Retrieved 2013-08-08.
- "Notification of Agreement Under the Small Webcaster Settlement Act of 2002". United States Copyright Office. 2002-12-24. Retrieved 2013-08-08.
- Jake Ward (2007-06-25). "The Sounds of Silence Will be Heard By Millions" (PDF). SaveNetRadio. Archived from the original on 2008-07-23. Retrieved 2013-08-08.
- "The Sounds of Silence Will Be Heard by Millions". PR Newswire. 2007-06-25. Retrieved 2013-08-08.
- Hodge, Rusty (2008-12-10). "SoundExchange Royalty Update". Retrieved 2013-08-08.
- SomaFM website
- Coomey, Chris (2004-06-30). "Move over, pirate radio from a Bernal Heights garage, Internet station SomaFM plays tunes for the whole wide world, and its all perfectly legal". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2013-08-08.
- Mieszkowski, Katharine (2002-03-26). "Web radio's last stand". Technology and Business (Salon.com). Retrieved 2013-08-08.
- marx (2002-06-21). "RIAA kills US-based Internet radio". Kuro5hin. Retrieved 2013-08-08.