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A webcast is a media file distributed over the Internet using streaming media technology to distribute a single content source to many simultaneous listeners/viewers. A webcast may either be distributed live or on-demand. Essentially, webcasting is “broadcasting” over the Internet.

How it works[]

A webcast consists of several steps. The webcaster must first assemble the music that will be transmitted and then translate it into one or more digital formats. Music that is not streamed “live” must be stored so that it is available to individuals who use their personal computers to access the website created by the webcaster. The final step is delivering the music through an Internet connection.

Choices about the audio quality of the transmitted music and the size of the audience affect the webcaster’s operation costs. The quality of the resulting music depends on the bandwidth — the number of bits of information transmitted per second — used by the webcaster. Higher bandwidth results in better sound quality of the transmitted music and allows a greater number of simultaneous listeners. The size of the Internet connection to the webcaster’s server and the choice of bandwidth determine the potential size of the audience.

Although in its most basic form webcasting can be a relatively inexpensive “do-it-yourself” operation using a minimum of two computers and an Internet connection, the trade-off is lower sound quality and smaller audience size. Alternatively, webcasters that hope to reach a large audience with high-quality music frequently contract with one or more third parties to provide the different steps. Such third parties can provide a single service or some combination of services, including translating the music into digital form and adjusting bandwidth needs to accommodate the number of simultaneous listeners. Some may also provide data on the number and location of listeners.

Because webcasters frequently deliver their music at no charge to listeners, webcasters may contract with other third parties, such as companies that wish to advertise products on the webcaster’s website, to obtain revenue that can help offset the costs associated with webcasting and return a profit to the webcaster.

See also[]

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