Revolutionizing the Music Scene to Digital: A Journey from Pirate Radio & MP3 Dial-up Downloads to CryptoCurrency & Streaming Media

This post is also called:  “An unintentional history of early digitized mp3 music collecting, Winamp, download geek audiophiles , Internet Radio Pirates, “Getting Slapped with wet trout”, the bots of mIRC & Cryptocurrency: A History of Streaming technology.”

WORKING TITLE: Slide into our DMs… ASL?: MP3 Dial-up Downloads to Crypto” 

 it’s just a playlist, right?
Its a playlist that we can advertise/showcase our own artists AND now immediately be on millions of directory nodes & websites because it gets listed as an “internet radio station” through Shoutcast and many other private, free, and even subscription relay radio services which all have apps listing their stations and directories in iTunes, The Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.

SO I said why shouldn’t we have an “internet radio station” of our own that we produce, publish and promote and it shall be called: LittleBigFest Radio ….

You know.. consensually and all…


WARNING… I’m kinda presumptuous when i write, I make some heavy claims and assumptions about digital music history based really only from my personal experience of growing up a geeky screen tanned code head. Maybe I’m wrong maybe & haven’t got it right … I don’t write like this without: Giving each and every one of you readers the safe-space and full on request FROM ME to CALL ME OUT if you think I’m wrong and you are right, thats what the comments are for. Tell me I am 100% wrong, correct me in the comments… In fact, I ENCOURAGE IT. I don’t do so though without the expectation though of it being tastefully and tactfully in an adult like manner having a full discussion of the post and your comment/opinion for healthy discussion/debate. I’m willing to learn I was wrong and you are right just come prepared to discuss and if it comes to it and we don’t see eye to eye we respectfully agree to disagree shake hands, high five and, peace.

The BEST Streaming Platform for Internet Radio, EVER!

And so it began .. I found an open source & free to use GNU/GPL (Thanx Richard Stalhman) software called AZURACAST and well it basically does it all for us! This powerful tool allows us to host not just one radio stream but an entire directory of streams, both pre-recorded and live. 


AzuraCast I wish I had heard of you sooner !!

With VM technology credits available for non-profits by companies and individuals out there I’m hopeful that LittleBigFest will continue to use cool openSource technology to spread the good word of MUSIC to the rest of the world! 


– Kurt Vonnegut on the topic of Epitaphs


I became familiar with the Shoutcast Radio service and its DNAS Streaming software  as I was first listening and running my own radio streams in 1997 from WINAMP

WINAMP Music Player:

WINAMP Circa 1996

“We like to invent software that we believe people do creative things with,” explains Robert Lord, director of online strategy for Nullsoft. “Shoutcast has opened up the possibility of self-publishing for webcasting. Anyone with a few MP3s or CDs and microphone can now be a radio station.”

In other words, Winamp/Shoutcast is a power-to-the-people online descendant of pirate radio — an easy and affordable alternative to corporate webcasting technologies. And for the moment, it’s a total free-for-all. On any given night on the Shoutcast Web site, you can find around 450 eager Shoutcasters happily producing personal radio stations crowned with names like “FEELTHY MONKEY *Fantastica!” or “Red Dogs’ K-9 Radio.” Although the growing Shoutcasting community is still struggling with questions of legality and licensing, many are describing it as the first time that broadcasting has truly been available to the public.
– Blog Post about Shoutcast on 1999:

in 1999 AOL realized

What a megalith these dudes created which was  “some music player” with an internet radio directory and they purchased the shoutcast directory from Winamp, hired them, and hosted it and the entire radio community on AOLs servers as part of the acquisitions. This became a fringe bene of having AOL in 99 and *boom* you then had free internet radio with thousands of channels and the first boon of internet radio was born. The directory was now hosted and managed by the big guys with the big servers. 

Every, Radio station, dude with a music folder, kid downloading music all night and more from across the globe re-distributed their own audio streams for the first time globally. During this two year boon still limited by the early dial-up speeds of 28.8 and 56k Rockwell modems and finally dual ISDN at double 128k/second you could transmit your stream to 10 to 20 people at a time. But if you knew how to server relay you could send your stream from your computer to a server relay that could then handle 100 concurrent streams or more.  In the directory were thousands of peoples streams from all over the world with everything from different forms of music to talk radio to much much more. 

Shoutcast, like the MP3 format in general, has proven popular with independent musicians — such as 18-year-old Mitchell Shier, who broadcasts the freestyle hip-hop he creates with his friends in Canada in hopes of gaining support from other online hip-hop fans. Says Shier, “We don’t feel that we have anything that’s professional enough to be mainstream,” but he’s been excited to watch their server gain a small but devoted group of listeners.

And, interestingly, there are also a large number of servers that don’t play music at all. Popular servers include the “All Adam Sandler All the Time” station, which broadcasts clips of Sandler comedy skits; a server that broadcasts audio tracks from “Star Wars” movies; and a server that streams a reading of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” There’s even the occasional talk show.

Then there are servers like that of Tom Higgins, a 34-year-old systems analyst, who sends out digital versions of old science-fiction radio shows from the 1950s, clips of William Gibson readings and other bizarre aural arcana on a tiny station he’s tagged WSMF. Explains Higgins, “My whole idea is spoken word — the spoken word has an innate power that so much of the media we have today lacks. I’m trying to bring back stuff that has an oral nature that allows people to use their brain and fill in the gaps with their imagination.”

This then meant I could then place my own named stream on TCP port:8000 of my home network and get listed in a directory of radio stations from far reaching and at equal seeming footing of selections with stations and audiophile music collectors from Germany, Japan, London and all over the world. 

There were no advertisements as part of the directory and whether you were a kid with a folder of music or a 40 year time honored radio station you were just another line in the interface listing of music stations in Winamp with a global reach.


Probably one of the first ways to globally search music was this directory inside the software in 1998 which eventually became a website in the summer of 2000.

Shortly after the AOL purchase the directory hosted one of the first widely visited music based website search utilities that wasn’t actually downloading music on to each others machine. This meant (at the time) there were no rights management issues and The Shoutcast Music Directory was finally outside the software and on an actual new thing they called a website in the beginning of the Internet.

Shoutcast-AOL Website Launch August 15th-2000

Despite having music freely available to listen to with a wider variety than we ever had available There were still people that wanted to host their own radio stream (me I’m people)and despite growing controversy by artists at the time in the beginning of this century who disagreed with how people came to collect qnd share music using technology this didn’t stop us from continuing to fill up hard drives beyond capacity with music we obsessively downloaded at all hours of the night trying to find the genres among sub genres of music we never otherwise knew existed so that we could please the gods of our earholes with as audiophiles. 

We were part of the culture that “Really Whipped The Lamas Ass”

10 second Sound Clip above: what was heard when you opened WINAMP for the first time launching after install

We Who spent #mIRC late-night all-night download sessions in chat rooms from 1992 to 1999 with users around the globe who only were brought together only by their love of Music & File sharing. Every night of the week geeks and nerds via their 56k & 28.8k connections at 16,17,18 & 19 years old furthered their music selection by leaps and bounds than they did in the years previous to 1992. We shared our love of music and they shared theirs with us. In addition to collecting music using technology we were all learning as the technology as was being created and before we knew how streaming would change the world… 

DalNetservers and more

it was about sharing, knowing your neighbor and knowing those in the room with you were all in on it together. This was an illegal venture, you could get arrested for trading music. Trading music was newly illegal according to the government and none of us at the time knew or cared as 17 yr olds we just wanted to share music.

In fact if you weren’t careful, while in the chat rooms, to find the people that might have the server of the subgenera of music you were looking for ask quickly in chat, “ASL?” and if you didn’t respond quick enough for an “ASL?” call out….


You might even get /slaped “around a bit with a large trout” if you don’t respond to an ASL call out before getting access to their bots & DCC send/request file share system…

Wikipedia has even upheld the tradition of slapping with a trout so it didn’t die ..

Music hunting and Music Discovery was much like a contact sport back then and for the first time ever you could discover the widest variety of music possible without ever having to leave the computer desk and this was even before google …. if you remember this yer probably saying “get off my lawn” right now…

From the beginning there was no consistency & way to find the resources of stuff you were searching for because a central index like google still hadn’t yet been born and you still had to go find the place where you were going to go searching for something.  

Archie, and other tools like it at the time, weren’t functional in the early to mid 90s for much more than research of papers at a university and then finally USENET Newsgroups (think craigslist but over email no website attached) and then netscape came along and showed us what a browser does and this was as about the time that all this #IRC downloading thing was peaking …  

All this was happening in a space when all the people (KIDS… me I’m kids) who wanted to use the Internet were still using #IRC. You’d connect to DALnet or one of the other IRC servers and then really care less about a browser that let you search research documents at some university…..  who cares if yer 17 & wanna chat with people and trade music, who wants to read research papers on a browser… “lame ….. lol …brb lemme go read a research paper”

downloadfrom anMIRCbot

… funny enough enough the nerds that did this in their teens learned to code and became tech heads, geek gurus and white paper authors as they ended up writing protocols for the internet and softwares that would revolutionize digital information create the privacy rights Intellectual Property scene and you could say is all “because” of peoples “Love of Music”. 

Without Love, War or Religion you wouldn’t have music and some would say without Music you definitely would not have any of them. 

– Marc Juneau, 7/2023

The #IRC and #mIRC channels of the mid to late 1990’s became THE place to get discographies and scores of downloaded music as this is where people were chatting across the globe about file sharing and literally any other topic you could possibly think of. 

This looked like the below where you would have to:

  1. Find the groupings of servers that listed its different text based sub genre chat rooms 
  2. Where you could then chat with individuals and request access to their collection/system
  3. These individuals created and programmed server bots whcih allowd for the browsing and download of music on their own file sharing system … This wasn’t look at a folder and click the name to download it was type the name of the directory and DCC command request the file or file sets of stuff to download from their machine to yours…
    1. /dcc get Nirvana
  4. Unless you had music as cool as the person you were downloading from you may not at all, be able to download from their collection of music. 
  5. You would then just get snubbed, kicked-banned from the room if you were only a “music leecher” and didn’t offer your own file share bot for other people in the community based command/terminal/tty like structure talk to your file sharing system and download what they desired as well …. 
  6. THEN IF: you found the right sub-genere of music AND THEY LIKED YOUR SHARES you might spend days connected to their server DCC requesting things over #IRC 
  7. Using a 28.8k or 56k modem to download songs
  8. That were 3mb a piece or more…

All at 4096 bytes/ a second thats only 0.004096mb/sec
woo hoo!

It wasn’t a fast process and only the truly obsessed and geeked out all night collectors were able to maintain collections of music that was organized, pre-tagged & sorted collections of MP3s from of full discographies of bands to collections of music videos to full collections that seemed to rival the library of congress of selection when yer a teenager browsing the later collections of peoples file servers. The more accurate the tagging and describing the more sought after a persons collection became. 

Fast Forward to 99/2000 we then met “AudioGalaxy. From some of your first cable modem connections you went to a website, looked for an album or band name, clicked “download” and 5 minutes later that whole album showed up on your hard drive. It was the first time anything like this was possible in music collection.

Audiogalaxy was an Internet music service with three incarnations. From 1998 to 2002, it was a file sharing system that indexed MP3 files. From mid-2002 to mid-2010, it was a promotional website for the Rhapsody music subscription service. Finally, from mid-2010 through 2012, it was a personal audio place shifting service. Audiogalaxy ceased operations on January 31, 2013. 

The original Audiogalaxy system was created in 1998 by Michael Merhej as an FTP site index called The Borg Search. It quickly evolved into a robust peer-to-peer system with client software (the Audiogalaxy “Satellite”), a web-based search engine, always-on searching for requested files, auto-resume and low system impact. It quickly gained ground among file sharers abandoning Napster in 2001. Some observing the previous downfall of Napster via lawsuit were shocked at the design of Audiogalaxy, which was in some ways more centralized and way more stable and less security risk than Napster.

Audiogalaxy’s stated mission was to facilitate sharing of music, though it was also notable for its strong community due to such features as chat-enabled groups and per-artist/per-genre peer moderated internet forums. This strong community also facilitated a very broad reach of content across many genres, particular those that tend to remain under-developed in more modern systems. Even very obscure or emerging artists could be heard. Moreover, it served as a teaching/learning tool for anyone wanting to explore, explaining subgenres of music, with thousands of examples readily available.

In June 2008, CNET hailed this incarnation of Audiogalaxy as one of the greatest defunct websites in history.[1]

It really was only good from 1994-2002 …. 

It became quite common after this to find libraries of music that people tagged as one band name but were entirely wrong on who they thought wrote that song, people confusing black crows with Lynyrd skynard and just naming playlists of collections of music things that its not and lots of the download scene became SO HARD to sort though due to the gross and intentional mis-tagging of songs and files by bad actors that things began to get tough in the download crowd and easier for viruses to hide in the shadows of all sorts of wrong named things to spring up on people that didn’t know what they were clicking on other than “maybe” it made noise when they opened it like a music file but it was likely a virus payload. 

This then was the Fall of Napster and rise of BearShare and LimeWire which as we know were just honeypots of virus and malware. Computer Tech Repair Shops of 2003 and beyond’s biggest money makers in this time was:

“kids ruining computers by destroying the operating system so far from recognizable by clicking on things they had no clue what they were but maybe played a sound and then loaded a virus payload taking over the computer to become a bot in the attackers network abusing everything from POP & FTP to creating click farm armies controlled by the attacker”

I did mention WAR in this article right? It was these same virus like technologies which:

Stuxnet is a malicious computer worm first uncovered in 2010 and thought to have been in development since at least 2005. Stuxnet targets supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems and is believed to be responsible for causing substantial damage to the nuclear program of Iran.[2] Although neither country has openly admitted responsibility, the worm is widely understood to be a cyberweapon built jointly by the United States and Israel in a collaborative effort known as Operation Olympic Games.[3][4][5] The program, started during the Bush administration, was rapidly expanded within the first months of Barack Obama‘s presidency.[6]

It became easier and quicker to just buy a new computer than risk dealing with anything that annoying or complex (see above) and hence technology started to become disposable, individuals were being sued out the wazoo from their internet service provider for downloading copyright protected media and something had to crack …

All of this activity led the real file sharing dedicated people in this dynamic, the geeks, wanting to download stuff safely. They knew if that was to happen a safer/better and more verified system than what was happening to all the people that didn’t know better had to be created. 

Torrenting was born … This emulated the same concept of what AudioGalaxy’s of use of a Peer to Peer network did. How it differed is that it accomplished the mission way better, way smarter and as an ANONYMOUS peer2peer network.

Music is responsible for cryptocurrency trading as we know it today.
Without theses innovations of file sharing & music collection we would of never have arrived at a way to trade files without getting caught when push came to shove. This technology of “Anonymous Peer to peer Networks” is WHY AND HOW Crypto ever was able to become a thing and why things like a Coin named after a dog that was a joke have become one of the biggest valued things that could make people money for a minute if they were savvy/geeky. 

“Expect Us”

Music/Movies/Files downloaded from a torrent network at the inception of the technology was

  1. Actually verified on multiple other peoples computer so you knew it had to be tagged right for all the versions of that file to mash together as the same thing to be able to download all at once as one package together ….
  2. You you could tie them all together and download the same & safe payload of the same matched files from multiple peoples computers all at the same time making not only the whole process faster
    1. Safer 
    2. More verified 
    3. less likely to contain viruses or screw up your computer

Leave it to geeks came up with a way to keep collecting music and trading files as



***LOL “they” can totally see what you are doing now on every network everywhere… kinda…. be careful with torrenting out there if that’s your thing, its no longer really that safe or recommended and the possibility for a complete and hostile take over of your computer to be controlled by a bot-net network in a third world country or worse still exists as a possibility today. 


While I don’t advocate AND NEVER WILL for the distribution of copy protected files or creative works i do how ever advocate for the consensual sharing of information using streaming technology to our benefit!

What would a blog post about digital music history and streaming radio be without music about Radio ?!?! IF you made it this far in the article promise you will listen to my favorite song about RADIO written by REM:

 ‘Radio Free Europe’ was a protest song against disinformation, propaganda and just general and unwanted noise.

LittleBigFest is the Radio we WANT it IS US… Long Live Pirate Radio! you know… Consensually and all

R.E.M. – Radio Free Europe

I encourage you each and everyone of you who create music with us at LittleBigFest, come be part of our stream! 

New Tagline: “Viva la Revolución, Pirate Radio, you know, consensually and all. Don’t steal music. LittleBigFest Radio”


I WOULD LOVE to do Radio like interviews with any of y’all over the phone or video conference talking about what y’all as an individual artists or bands have been up to, what yer working on what inspires you and what you wanna tell everyone out there about!!!

I would love to showcase all of you on the stream well before LittleBigFest as much as I can to hype up each and every one of y’alls time on stage and give y’all some stuff to share on social media about what we’re all doing here at LittleBigFest! 


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  1. Jonathan Evelegh aka DJ Jonathan E. on August 9, 2023 at 10:46 am

    That is a LOT of information and I cannot say I absorbed every last detail – and yet I feel there is still more to say about subsequent developments in music distribution technology, e.g. MySpace, YouTube, and of course all the streaming behemoths. Not to mention MixCloud, SoundCloud, and Bandcamp. And, perhaps something to say about some of the earlier efforts, mostly on CD-ROM, to at least improve communication about music although this is obviously long before streaming and was more a matter of presenting snippets rather than entire tracks. Long long ago, there was even an attempt to make customized cassettes available through record stores so that exploring new music in those days would be somewhat easier. If I remember correctly, you could audition tracks digitally from some sort of jukebox in the store and then select what would go on your cassette. Sorry, I can’t remember the name of the service. It didn’t last long.

    I will add that, after about 55 years of being music-obsessed and having spent time and energy attempting to evade established distribution systems in favour of more adventurous approaches, I find the amount of music readily available today somewhat overwhelming. Not to be creative with my language or anything, but it’s like drinking from a firehose. I suppose that’s why a trusted DJ or other savant is valuable, but it’s also so easy to spread the word these days that finding a trustworthy source of information is itself tricky. It’s all a bloody firehose! And, now, with a band or musicians being able to essentially bypass all gatekeepers, blow their own horns, promote themselves completely unfiltered – well, you see where I’m going . . . On the other hand, making, playing and listening to music is generally a better use of one’s time than many of the alternatives. I’m just a little frustrated by the shortage of time and the sorting through of music rather than the straightforward enjoyment of it.

    Btw, I’m a neighbour of yours (despite English spelling). You should be able to find me easily enough irl. F2f communication would be fine if you’re interested. I have a nice, and moderately specialized, music collection, physical and digital. Last night I was even fantasizing, once again, about how to make it more available via some sort of internet radio station. Radio Freak Libra was my new name ‘cos I wasn’t happy enough with Radio Free Lion, which itself had replace Radio Free Zion. I suppose it’s somewhat obvious that William Gibson’s Neuromancer with its spaceship dub influenced me. Gimme dub or gimme death!

  2. Jonathan Evelegh aka DJ Jonathan E. on August 9, 2023 at 12:15 pm

    PS Out of the mire of memory the name Personics emerged as the custom cassette-making operation. And so it was, even Wikipedia agrees:

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