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IndustryInternet radio
FoundedFebruary 2000
HeadquartersSan Francisco, CA
Key people
Rusty Hodge, Founder

SomaFM is an independent Internet-only streaming multi-channel radio station, supported entirely with donations from listeners. SomaFM originally started broadcasting out of founder Rusty Hodge's basement garage in the Bernal Heights neighborhood of San Francisco, as a micropower radio station broadcast at the Burning Man festival in 1999.[1][2][3] The response to the project was sufficiently positive that Rusty Hodge launched it as a full-time internet radio station in February 2000.

SomaFM takes its name from Soma, the "perfect pleasure drug" from Aldous Huxley's 1932 novel Brave New World, and the South of Market neighborhood of San Francisco, known colloquially as SoMa.[4]



In May 2002, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel 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.[3] Hodge estimated that the channel could have been forced to pay over US$1,000 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.[5]

In June 2002, SomaFM ceased broadcasting. Hodge was one of several webcasters who testified before the U.S. Congress in 2002 in the hopes of reducing the royalty rate.[6][7][1] Subsequently, Congress passed the Small Webcaster Settlement Act of 2002 (SWSA) on November 15, 2002,[8] which enabled small webcasters to negotiate a lower rate with SoundExchange.[9] SomaFM resumed broadcasting in late November 2002 under this new royalty structure.

In 2005, SomaFM partnered with Orban to begin streaming to 3GPP-compatible mobile devices,[10] becoming one of the first internet broadcasters to support mobile streaming on 3G/EDGE networks.[11] In June 2007, SomaFM participated in the "Internet Radio Day of Silence" in protest of the Copyright Royalty Board's decision at the time to raise royalty fees for internet radio stations.[12] [13]

In January 2013, SomaFM partnered with Aha by Harman International to make its content available via Aha apps in supported automobile dashboards.[14] In 2014, SomaFM partnered with Qualcomm to include Allplay (part of the AllJoyn open source software framework) for wireless speakers in their mobile apps.[15] Throughout its history, SomaFM, as well as its playlist curators, have been recognized with various awards and other honors.[16][17][18]

List of channels

Channel Genre/theme Year added
Drone Zone Drone 2000
Groove Salad Downtempo/chillout
Secret Agent Lounge/jazz with a 1960s spy theme
Indie Pop Rocks! Indie pop/indie rock. 2002
cliqhop idm Intelligent dance music
Beat Blender House/downtempo/chillout
Boot Liquor Americana 2003
The Trip Classic trance/progressive trance. Formerly known as Tag's Trip. 2004
Xmas in Frisko[a] Eclectic Christmas-themed music 2005
Space Station Soma Ambient space music 2006
Illinois Street Lounge Lounge music[19]
Doomed[a] Industrial/dark ambient
Sonic Universe Avant-garde jazz 2008
Lush Female-driven vocal downtempo
Digitalis Self-produced indie rock and electronic music
Suburbs of Goa Desi/Arabic-influenced worldbeat
Underground 80s Early 80s British synthpop and new wave. Formerly known as Nu Musik.
Christmas Lounge[a] Christmas-themed lounge music
Mission Control Ambient music mixed with the sounds of NASA's mission broadcasts and live shuttle coverage 2009
PopTron Electropop/dance-rock
Covers Cover songs
Black Rock FM[a] The broadcast for 102.3FM in Black Rock City for the Burning Man Festival 2010
South by Soma[a] Music by artists from the SXSW Festival 2012
SF 10–33 Ambient music mixed with the sounds of San Francisco public safety radio traffic
Dub Step Beyond Dubstep and other bass-driven electronic music
Folk Forward Indie folk, alternate folk
Christmas Rocks![a] Christmas themed indie/alternative rock
DEF CON Radio Music from DEF CON's chill room, provided by SomaFM 2013
Iceland Airwaves[a] Music by artists from the Iceland Airwaves festival
Deep Space One Deep ambient electronic, experimental, and space music
Seven Inch Soul Classic soul music 2014
Left Coast 70s Mellow album-oriented rock from the 1970s 2015
Fluid Instrumental hip hop/future soul/liquid trap
ThistleRadio Celtic music, was previously broadcast as The Thistle & Shamrock on NPR
Metal Detector Heavy metal
Jolly Ol' Soul[a] Christmas-themed soul music
SomaFM Live Live music[b][20][21] 2015
Groove Salad Classic Early 2000s downtempo/chillout[22] 2019
Department Store Christmas[a] Christmas-themed beautiful music
Heavyweight Reggae Reggae, dub, ska, and rocksteady[23] 2020
Vaporwaves Vaporwave[24]
n5MD Radio Music from the music label n5MD
Synphaera Modern electronic ambient and space music 2021
The In-Sound 1960s & 1970s Euro-Pop 2023
Tiki Time Exotica
Bossa Beyond Bossa Nova & Samba
Chillits Recordings of musical performances from Chillits 2024


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Only available seasonally.
  2. ^ Broadcasts live or previously live content from events. Started in 2015, and mainly rebroadcasts SomaFM's live content, including from San Francisco's How Weird Street Faire.


  1. ^ a b "Move over, pirate radio from a Bernal Heights garage". June 30, 2004. Retrieved June 20, 2019.
  2. ^ Lasar, Matthew (March 14, 2016). Radio 2.0: Uploading the First Broadcast Medium. Praeger. p. 44. ISBN 978-1440832437.
  3. ^ a b Myers, Kellen (January 12, 2013). "The RIAA, the DMCA, and the Forgotten Few Webcasters: A Call for Change in Digital Copyright Royalties" (PDF). Federal Communications Law Journal. 61 (2).
  4. ^ "SomaFM: About Us". somafm.com. Retrieved December 13, 2019.
  5. ^ "Web radio's last stand". Salon. March 26, 2002. Retrieved December 13, 2019.
  6. ^ "- COPYRIGHT ROYALTIES: WHERE IS THE RIGHT SPOT ON THE DIAL FOR WEBCASTING?". www.govinfo.gov. Retrieved December 13, 2019.
  7. ^ "Testimony of Mr. Don Henley". United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary. May 15, 2002. Archived from the original on December 20, 2012. Retrieved August 8, 2013.
  8. ^ "Senate, House Pass Bill To End Webcasting Crisis". Archived from the original on February 3, 2010. Retrieved August 8, 2013.
  9. ^ "Notification of Agreement Under the Small Webcaster Settlement Act of 2002". United States Copyright Office. December 24, 2002. Retrieved August 8, 2013.
  10. ^ "NET RADIO BROADCASTING TO CELL PHONES INCREASING". Hypebot. June 23, 2005. Retrieved December 13, 2019.
  11. ^ "StreamGuys in Affiliation with Coding Technologies and Orban are now Supplying High-Quality MPEG aacPlus Streaming Services for Listeners Using Winamp and Real Player". www.businesswire.com. September 13, 2004. Retrieved December 13, 2019.
  12. ^ Jake Ward (June 25, 2007). "The Sounds of Silence Will be Heard By Millions" (PDF). SaveNetRadio. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 23, 2008. Retrieved August 8, 2013.
  13. ^ "The Sounds of Silence Will Be Heard by Millions". PR Newswire. June 25, 2007. Retrieved August 8, 2013.
  14. ^ Murphy, Hillary (January 7, 2013). "Aha by HARMANTM Becomes Even More Musical with Addition of AccuRadio, Deezer, Rdio and SomaFM". New York Times. Archived from the original on April 17, 2015. Retrieved December 13, 2019.
  15. ^ Hollister, Sean (January 6, 2014). "Qualcomm's AllPlay music streaming attracts Panasonic, iHeartRadio, and Altec Lansing". The Verge. Retrieved December 13, 2019.
  16. ^ "Best of the Bay 2005". Archived from the original on November 23, 2005. Retrieved December 13, 2019.
  17. ^ "Poll Positions: 2007 Best DJs of the Bay Readers' Poll!". Archived from the original on April 18, 2009. Retrieved December 30, 2019.
  18. ^ "Mixcloud announces 2017 Online Radio Awards winners". September 13, 2017. Retrieved December 13, 2019.
  19. ^ "SomaFM: Illinois Street Lounge: Classic bachelor pad, playful exotica and vintage music of tomorrow". March 2, 2019. Retrieved March 2, 2019.
  20. ^ "SomaFM: SomaFM Live". March 2, 2019. Retrieved March 2, 2019.
  21. ^ "SomaFM: SomaFM Live". September 12, 2015. Archived from the original on September 12, 2015. Retrieved March 2, 2019.
  22. ^ "SomaFM: Groove Salad Classic". March 3, 2019. Archived from the original on March 3, 2019. Retrieved March 3, 2019.
  23. ^ Jardin, Xeni (January 24, 2020). "I'm loving this Reggae, Dub, Ska and Rocksteady internet radio station". BoingBoing. Retrieved April 16, 2021.
  24. ^ @SomaFM (October 2, 2020). "In case you missed it, we have a new channel, Vaporwaves" (Tweet). Retrieved October 3, 2020 – via Twitter.