The Streema Blog

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At the Streema Blog we generally cover major events, so this time we want to bring the 2012 U.S. Presidential Debates.

The Presidential Debates in the U.S. are usually held at large halls (in a university, for example) with citizens in the audience and journalists as moderators. It's important to remark that although the Debates are not constitutionally mandated, they are already part of the election process. The topics are usually the most relevant of the current agenda, and the Presidential Debates this year are particularly more interesting globally since one of the main topics is foreign policy. Before the elections there will be a total of four debates, three of them between presidential candidates and one of them between their respective vice presidential candidates.

So, tomorrow Tuesday 16, at 9 p.m. Eastern Time, the 3rd debate is happening and it's between the US President Barack Obama (Democrat Party) and the former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (Republican Party). To listen to it on radio, most of the Public Radios in the US will broadcast the event, but you can particularly try the following ones:

WNBF - AM 1290

WVTF - FM 89.7

Fox News Radio

In case you've missed the previous debates, during the first half of October we already had two of them, the first on Oct 3rd between the presidential candidates and the last on 11th between the Vice Presidents - current Vice President Joe Biden (Democrat) and Wisconsin U.S. Representative Paul Ryan (Republican).

So, tomorrow October 16th will be the third and the next (and last) one will be on October 22 (also 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time). Be sure to listen (or see) to them if you get the chance!

After that, the elections will happen on November 6 and we hope you follow them on radio too. :D

Stay tuned!

The Streema Team

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With the latest addition of the Facebook Login Button we've added one more chapter to our relationship with the social networking site - a relationship that has been a long and exciting journey. Here is our story.

Ever since Streema's beginnings, we've wanted our site to be a social network for radio listeners. When Facebook launched its Application Platform back in mid-2007 we looked at that as a natural step in that direction, so we started developing an application in late 2007. We did some really cool stuff with that app, even growing to become one of the biggest radio apps out there and winning a "hockey stick award". As we grew, Facebook Page owners started asking for a way to add stations to their pages, so we went ahead and built an application for Pages.

Unfortunately, Facebook started deprecating certain features for Pages, so we couldn't continue developing that particular application and we closed it in 2010. Then last year, we realized that we couldn't dedicate resources to our original Facebook app for listeners and we stopped developing it as well.

Then, the story took an interesting turn, bringing us to today. Our community of users continued growing and Facebook continued evolving their strategy to create a more social web, launching Open Graph in the past year. So we thought this was a great opportunity to bring Facebook back into our life by adding the "Login with Facebook" button - as a result, now you can use your Facebook account to login to Streema while sharing your Streema activity. We think that's the way to go for now and, although we know there are many things we could do, we believe this is the start of a deeper integration with Facebook.

In a few words, yesterday we had an application (or, rather, two applications) on Facebook; today we have the "Login with Facebook"; and tomorrow, the truth is we don't exactly know, but we have a few ideas. What's certain is that we'll keep working with Facebook and other applications / social networks to create the best social radio experience on the web.

Stay tuned!

The Streema Team

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Sometimes when we explain to people what we do, we hear a reaction such as: "Ahhh, broadcast radio... isn't that industry going downhill, specially with all those services such as Pandora, Spotify...". In this blog post we would like to give our point of view.

First, when we think about "radio", we think about a song, talk, show, or any content that is delivered live to everyone. While some services offer music or content on demand, radio is essentially the same audio content at the same time to everybody.

Right now there is trend called "customization" that technology and the web have spread widely, but we think that even in this context a live stream that anyone can tune in to has very specific value. Actually, it's a way to "connect" people and makes us feel in community. Think about a song that is released for the first time on a station or when a popular radio DJ ask a tough fun question to a caller on live radio - that is a very unique experience.

Second, as we've mentioned before, radio is not only about music, there are also live shows, sport events, and talk shows of every type that you can imagine and even more: anime, astrology, art, children, drama, gaming, language, military, transport... and the list goes on. There are more than 70 non music genres containing radio stations that represent more than 30% of our directory.

Now, let's get back to music. Everybody would think that most people discover new music through sources such as YouTube, Spotify, or any similar. However, recent studies suggest that people still choose radio as their first source for music discovery.

And now, back to content. It's true, a big part of the traditional radio industry is still doing the same thing that it was doing decades ago, but there is a lot changing too and there are many people experimenting with new things, like new sources to fund and reach audiences. For example, the case of radio show "99% Invisible", they aimed to raise $ 42K at Kickstarter (a popular online crowdfunding platform) and this month they raised more than $170K!!! This may or may not be a trend, although it's certainly not the only one, and while it's also true that not every show can easily raise the money to make it happen, this is for sure a great success story!

To conclude, without a doubt radio has its threats and its weaknesses, but we believe it also has its strengths and its opportunities. We hope Streema can help with these last two, helping radio to reach places it has never reached before and connect with its listeners in ways it has never done before.

Stay tuned!

The Streema Team

If you're still interested on this topic, check this out: The Big Box Theory, or Why Radio Is and/or Isn't Dead

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Yes, it's true, we didn't post any news during the month of July - and that was the first time it happened since we opened this blog back in 2008!

The truth is... we've been quite busy here! But we do hate to say that, because busy is not a good explanation nor is the answer we think you should receive - this beautiful article tells why we think that: The 'Busy' Trap.

Now, it's also true that if we don't want this to happen again, we better start working on our next blog post. :) Stay tuned!

The Streema Team

PS: BTW, Dilbert always explains it better (click on the image to see it in a larger size).

Dilbert.com

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We’re about a month away from the next Olympic Games which will be held in London.  For those that didn’t know, London will become the first city to host the Olympic Games three times - the two previous being 1908 and 1948.

The 2012 Summer Olympic Games will start on July 27th and end on August 12th, where 205 nations will compete in 26 sports divided into 39 disciplines.  This will be followed by the 2012 Paralympic Games, from August 29th to September 9th, where 147 nations will take part in the competition.

The excitement generated by the Olympics is worldwide and it will be followed globally through TV, Radio, Newspapers... and of course, the Web. The media has traditionally played a significant role in this event, although one can say that this role has evolved a lot since the last time the Olympics were held in London!

Once again, the BBC will be the main broadcaster providing a special program from July 25th to August 13th, and in addition, many UK radio stations will follow the event, a few of which follow below:

We look forward to see an amazing show, where athletes value progress over victory, respect over rivalry, and motivation over fear. We also hope the best for your favorite countries, athletes and disciplines. :)

Stay tuned!

The Streema Team

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A few times people have asked us about Streema with questions such as: are you guys a radio? are you a streaming services provider? We'll answer these questions and a few more, so fasten your seat belts cause we're going Behind the Streams. :)

To start off, we like to say that Streema is a social networking site for radio listeners - a big part of our service is to connect listeners and radio stations through the Internet. There are many stations that stream online, ranging from the very big stations that are part of a big corporation to the very small ones run by one person as a hobby. In order to make it easier for listeners to find these great stations, we created Streema. So, we are not a radio station, rather we are like your car's radio tuner, which can tune to all publicly available stations, but we do it for the web and with a social angle to it.

Additionally, radio stations, big and small, stream their content via third party providers that take care of all the technical stuff, offering a publicly available stream, while the stations themselves focus on the content: music, talk and sports mostly. We're not streaming content providers, but we do allow the listener to tune in to those streams provided by these third party services.

To summarize, Streema is not a radio station nor do we host nor stream content provided by the radio stations. However, we do organize all this information and provide a platform where people can tune in, discover and share their favorite radio stations, and in the future we'd love to build a global platform for radio stations to help them understand, learn from, and grow their own audiences.

We hope we've addressed some of these questions and that you continue enjoying a great listening experience on Streema. :)

Stay tuned!

The Streema Team

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In the last few months there have been a couple of conferences and events in the US (SXSW, RAIN Summit and Digital Music Forum East, to name a few) where many media industry leaders have been presenting their research and recent developments. The numbers are really positive for radio listening, so we wanted to share some of them with you. Bear in mind all these stats are for the US market, but they do show a trend that we believe is happening around the world too.

To start off, the report The Infinite Dial 2012 from Arbitron, the media & marketing research firm, shares a bit of data around the number of radio listeners out there:

Weekly online radio audience reaches an estimated 57 million people; audience doubled every five years since 2001.

When we talk about behaviour, TargetSpot, the digital audio advertising network, presented the First Digital Audio Advertising Research, a report that contained some interesting pieces of information, such as:

- 80% of internet radio audience listens for 1-3 hours per day, 40% listening 1-2 hours per session.

- 61% of listeners don’t keep player minimized, 64% often check the player for song/artist info. - this was added by TargetSpot's CEO at the RAIN Summit.

- 73% of Internet radio listeners change stations stations multiple times a day.

Finally, based on Jacobs Media’s TechSurvey8, the most popular applications in the US are:

Pandora is the most popular pure-play Internet option, with 45% of “streamies” listening, topping competitors like iHeartRadio (19%), Spotify (7%), TuneIn Radio (7%) and Slacker Radio (5%). Its users are split as to whether internet pure play is actually considered “radio”: 43% said yep, 49% said nope. Listeners to alternative, Contemporary Christian, country, CHR and Variety Hits are more likely to consider Pandora “radio.”

That’s all for now!  Hope you find this data optimistic and relevant - we certainly do think it’s good news for Streema. :)

Stay tuned!

The Streema Team

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Starting late last year, at Streema we've been working hard to improve the website's uptime and performance - nothing is more annoying than a tech service or device when it doesn't respond, right?

So we wanted to give you guys a quick update on this, but before we start, though, two important definitions:

Response Time: The interval between a request that enters and the answer that is received. In this case it’s the page load time, i.e. the time to retrieve the HTML page (without images, stylesheets, JavaScript, etc.). So, although it could be below a hundred ms (milliseconds), as a user, it could translate into seconds to load a complete page.

Downtime: It is the period when the system is unavailable, i.e. the period you wait, mostly doing nothing, and if it goes above what you expected, you start hitting your computer or anything around you, in addition to shouting out phrases such as “come on!”, “ahhhh” or others that we can’t publish right here. :)

So, we’re happy to share with you that we’ve reduced our Response Time almost by a half and the number of Downtimes by about 75%. Even better, some of the Downtimes we had before took hours, now they are less than 10 minutes - additionally, now they only happen because of our own updates to our site and not because of infrastructure problems!

For those techies out there, here’s a quick summary of what we’ve been doing to get results:

  • Increase the number of servers and balance the load with Nginx.
  • Improve the database setup to take advantage of the servers memory.
  • Rewrite many SQL queries, specially the ones that requested temporal tables on the hard drive.
  • Change the configuration of the Apache modwsgi and increase the number of processes to serve requests.

Finally, regarding the tools we've been using, the main ones were: Apache's Server Status, Munin, New Relic, Percona Tools and Pingdom.

We're planning to continue developing our performance infrastructure - and we hope you continue visiting Streema. :)

Stay tuned!

The Streema Team

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For a change, this month’s post is from our IT team! We wanted to give you a little sneak peek of the technology that Streema runs on as well as pay due respects to some really well known open source initiatives that make our service possible.

So, we use a ton of open source software*, and while each one has its special role in the Streema universe, there’s a couple we wanted to mention in today’s post. Many of our readers might not be aware of it, but most of our software is built with the Python Programming Language and our web application with the Django Framework. In our experience, they both have proven to be great choices for many reasons, among which we can include a great community, a large amount of available open source libraries and modules, and an elegant and pragmatic design.

Going into more detail, we recently upgraded to Django 1.3 and Python 2.7 as part of an ongoing effort of modernizing our stack and automatizing our processes. When you have a site that’s visited by an interesting amount of users each day (thank you everyone, do keep coming back!), such a change can’t be taken lightly. Thorough testing must be done to correct errors that might spring from the migration. All in all, the migration went pretty smoothly - in big part thanks to how well thought out Python and Django are, but also thanks to a good suite of automated tests we’ve built over time. Though our users might not see any noticeable changes, this upgrade will help us continue making our service better, faster, and stronger than ever.

Thanks again to the vibrant Python and Django communities (and the communities of the rest of the many open source softwares we use).

Stay tuned for more news and insight on the technical details of Streema. We might have an interesting thing or two to share!

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* The list is definitely not exhaustive: Apache, Nginx, Munin, MySQL, Redis, Eventlet, Fabric, MongoDB, SQLite, MooTools, Mplayer and of course, WordPress.org for this blog. =)

Powered by Django.

Python Programming Language

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It has been a few weeks with a lot of buzz around copyrights and the Internet. Many of us have read about SOPA and/or PIPA, and as many people asked us about our opinion, we wanted to share it.

We believe in copyrights, and the right anyone has to receive royalties for work they've done: sound, video, literature or any kind of expression of art or science, among others. We also truly believe in freedom, the total absence of coercion, as the ultimate expression of human development, and how it is non-negotiable. And we also believe in balance, and when we say balance, we mean a solution that can suit the different parts that affect a system - in this case, creators and consumers.

The truth is technology is moving fast, and even though it doesn't solve all of the world's problems, it does generally provide better chances to learn and live. The Internet is part of this technological trend, and as with every technology in the past, it's changing the economic and social model that we live by. At the end of the day, the truth is that we all have to adapt to this new reality - creators, consumers, media companies, and any other related entities.

As it stands now, SOPA and/or PIPA may not pass, but it's important to still be aware of this for the future. More than ever, we need to have an appropriate legislation that will give us protection as well as the freedom to choose, learn and understand.

Stay tuned!

The Streema Team

PS: If you feel you want to know more about the implications of SOPA and PIPA, check out the following video, it's one of the best explanations we've found recently:

In addition, here are two interesting blog posts from well respected personalities in the technology industry:

An Open Letter to Pearson about SOPA/PIPA by Martin Fowler

It’s time to stop PROTECT IP by Matt Cutts

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