Under The Microscope

The End of the Nicecast Era

Summary

Today, our internet radio tool Nicecast is being retired from active development. Nicecast is no longer available for purchase, and we do not plan any further updates. Nicecast will be supported on MacOS 10.10 through 10.13 until the end of 2018, after which it will be fully deprecated.

Please read on for more details.

Nicecast’s Origins

Nicecast was one of Rogue Amoeba’s earliest apps, first released way back in 2003, and receiving more than sixty updates since then. Soon after Audio Hijack provided the ability to record any audio on the Mac, users asked us to make it possible to broadcast any audio to the world. At the time, it was very difficult to create an online radio station.

So it was that we decided to join our powerful audio capture with a simple user interface on top of the open-source command-line icecast MP3 streaming server. With Nicecast, even novices could get started streaming audio from their Macs to listeners around the globe.

Since 2003

In short order, Nicecast users were providing hundreds of different streams for the world. Hobbyists were able to live out their DJ fantasies, while terrestrial radio stations could easily provide online access to their content as well. It was very exciting, and we improved the app significantly in the first few years.

However, Nicecast never gained widespread popularity, and thus has always been a junior player in our product lineup. As well, after a brief ascendancy, internet radio has not continued to grow. While it is certainly still in use today, it is small niche compared to the promise it originally showed. The vast majority of listeners rock out with streaming music services like Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, and many others.

Our customers are best served when we optimize our limited resources, and so the time has come to put Nicecast out to pasture. The waning popularity of internet radio, coupled with pending changes to MacOS which will break 32-bit apps, are leading us to retire the product.

Next Steps

If you’re an existing user of Nicecast, you can of course continue to use it on supported systems (that’s MacOS 10.10 – 10.13). Nothing will change for you in the short-term. If you need to download the software again, the last planned version, 1.11.13, is available from our Legacy page. Technical support will be continued for licensed users through the end of 2018, after which the application will be fully deprecated.

Due to Nicecast’s 32-bit nature, we expect that changes Apple plans for future MacOS updates will render the two wholly incompatible. As such, you should be extremely cautious with any production environments running Nicecast, and avoid updating them past MacOS 10.13.

The Future

We encourage our existing users, as well as any new users looking for Nicecast, to find alternate solutions for broadcasting content online. Other solutions for creating an internet radio station do exist. To run a local streaming server on your Mac, installation of the command-line icecast is possible using Homebrew or MacPorts.

Feeding audio into any streaming server, local or remote, is possible with several different tools. The icecast website maintains a useful list of third party apps, with Mac tools like Ladiocast and broadcast using this tool (aka “butt”) being of special note. It’s also worth mentioning that our audio routing tool Loopback will enable you to feed any audio from your Mac into these tools for broadcasting.


Update (March 2nd, 2018): We got a lot of questions from users, so we’ve taken the time to expand on the above in a separate blog post. Please see “Broadcasting From the Mac Without Nicecast” for more complete instructions to help you transition away from Nicecast.


While Nicecast is now retired, we are considering future solutions to help users broadcast to more modern streaming options. In particular, we know many podcasters provide a live stream using Nicecast, and hope to eventually provide a more comprehensive solution for that use case. Following this blog is the best way to stay up to date with our latest news.

Closing

It’s sad to retire an application, particularly one that’s been developed for almost fifteen years. Nicecast solved a real problem in a fun, useful way. Unfortunately, that problem space just wasn’t big enough, and the world passed the app by. We’re sad to see Nicecast go, but excited to dedicate our energies to more modern projects which will help even more users.

Questions?

If you’re an existing Nicecast owner with further questions, please get in touch directly.

15 Responses to “The End of the Nicecast Era”

  1. Eric says:

    As long as you’re retiring the app, you should at least give people the full app for free while it’s still useable.


  2. Jim says:

    Ironically, I am just about to relaunch a new internet radio station on Live365 using Nicecast after being off air for two years in the wake of the music royalty meltdown. Nicecast is the perfect solution for track information, effects, and recording. Next up: goodbye to Apple? Heartbroken.


  3. Kieran K says:

    Crazy that the first comment on a blog post commemorating a long running piece of software is someone asking for it to be given to them for free.

    I remember using this back in 2004 or so in order to stream my large music library to my work PC while using VNC to change the stations.

    Thanks for keeping this around for so long.


  4. Charlie WIlson says:

    I’ve been using Nicecast since 2005 when we started streaming live our church services rather than distribute CDs or cassettes. I enjoy seeing what equipment people are listening to the services with. When it started almost all were WinPC of some flavor but last week I noticed all were Ipads. It has worked well and we will stick with the current OS until no longer possible (mac mini dies) but will have the whole thing backed up using SuperDuper in hopes of keeping it alive.


  5. dB says:

    Can’t Nicecast be ported over as a 64-bit app? Seems a shame to lose an app that did a fairly complex task in such a simple way.


  6. Quentin Carnicelli says:

    Eric – There are a lot of downsides to handing out a free version to an app that’s no longer in development. One consideration was that Nicecast duplicates functionality from Audio Hijack, which is still actively developed and sold.

    dB – It can’t be ported to 64-bit, due to choices made long long ago. The big one is that the entire Effects system and audio pipeline is written in Carbon. And not modern Carbon either, but old school QuickDraw Carbon. Back in 2003, this was a Good Choice, because VST/AudioUnit plugins all used Carbon for their user interfaces. It’s only 15 years later that it finally catches up to us. The only way to modernize it, is a costly full rewrite.


  7. Rob says:

    I guess I can stop with my periodic requests for Nicecast to add AAC encoding support. 😁


  8. Chris P says:

    I’m sad. I use Nicecast to to stream all our services from our synagogue via a donated mac. It has been rock solid for many years. The UI is simple enough to let non-tech users occasionally archive services when special lectures happen. We have a handful of home-bound members that can reliably listen remotely, and I can remotely monitor via the Nicecast admin interface to confirm everything is working OK, even when I’m not there.

    I know I can figure out how to replicate _most_ of this via open source stuff, but the simple UI that allows the non-tech folks to start/stop archiving (when I’m not there) doesn’t seem like something that can be easily replicated.

    Personally, I’d happily pay an annual subscription to keep the app alive (within reason, of course). Or I’d be happy to purchase another app (ex., Audio Hijack) to get the mixer and compression, if that allowed RogueAmoeba to remove the 32-bit effects by offloading them to another RogueAmoeba app in the audio chain.


  9. Kelly says:

    as to routing audio, ie. Skype/Sound FX cart audio hijack or loopback?


  10. Ferris says:

    We’ve used Nicecast as our internet broadcaster 24/7/365 for seven years. Durable? Yes. We couldn’t accomplish this without it.

    Going to PC is not an acceptable option. This is an unfortunate decision.


  11. Paul Kafasis says:

    Thank you all for the feedback. The first thing to mention is this follow-up post that feedback inspired. Give it a read!:

    Broadcasting From the Mac Without Nicecast

    Eric: We believe that providing a retired application which is entirely unsupported, and will likely have more and more issues over time, would be a grave disservice to users. We’re encouraging folks to find more viable long-term solutions instead. To that end, we’ve written about what’s available now.

    Jim: We’re certainly sad as well. We’ll see what comes along in the future, but have a look at the follow-up post mentioned at the top of this comment as well.

    Kieran K: Thanks for the kind words and memories! It’s been a great little tool, but sadly, the world has largely moved on. Now, we must do so as well.

    Charlie WIlson: You can definitely keep using Nicecast for quite some time, particularly if you keep the Mac its on in stasis. Have a look at the follow-up post mentioned at the top of this comment as well.

    dB: As Quentin noted, “porting” Nicecast to 64-bit would essentially require a full re-write. It is unfortunately not viable.

    Rob: I’m afraid so, but do see the follow-up post at the top of this comment.

    Chris P: I definitely share that sadness. However, if you don’t update the Mac in question, Nicecast should continue to work for years to come.

    As far as more modern solutions go, please do see the follow-up post at the top of this comment. We discuss currently available options including using Audio Hijack (which would give you the recording component you’re looking for).

    Kelly: Loopback, as well as a combination of Loopback and Audio Hijack can definitely help replace Nicecast. We’ve written about it in the follow-up post at the top of this comment.

    Ferris: We’re sorry to see Nicecast go, and we know it will impact folks like you in an unfortunate way. As mentioned, do see the follow-up post at the top of this comment. It will help you keep broadcasting from the Mac.


  12. Dj Majesty says:

    This is not good man. You force me to buy Audio Hijack or something else. Man thats not nice.
    Can we get a discount for buying Audio Hijack?


  13. Dj Majesty says:

    What will happen to your other apps?
    Will they also be gone after a few months or whatever? Can I trust you with this?


  14. Joe McMahon (@joemcmahon) says:

    More than slightly bummed that I *just* bought Nicecast a month ago. Wish I’d known it was going to be killed before I spent the money. I completely understand the motivation — no one sane wants to rewrite Carbon code — but Nicecast is, well, the nicest option.

    I suppose this means there’s an opportunity for someone in the OS X development community to write a replacement, economically viable or not. Our radio station (radiospiral.net) lives and dies by Nicecast, so this will definitely be an issue for us. We *can* switch, certainly, but it would have been nicer to not have to.

    Are there any other older products that might be on the chopping block for technical reasons?


  15. Paul Kafasis says:

    Dj Majesty: We’re most definitely not forcing you to buy anything at all. Nicecast still works just fine, and will continue to work for quite some time. If you don’t update your Mac’s OS, Nicecast will keep working for years and years.

    However, we saw that some users want to transition to a newer solution which uses actively developed apps. We provided details on doing just that.

    As for the rest of our product lineup, we have no plans to retire any other products at this time. Nicecast was in development for just shy of 15 years, and we think that’s a pretty darned good run. For the reasons discussed in this post, the time has come to retire Nicecast, but our other apps remain in active development.

    when it comes to software (and most purchases, really), you’re always purchasing only what you get today. There are very few products like computer software where you gain features and abilities after you’ve paid, but nothing else is guaranteed.

    As to trust, however, Rogue Amoeba has an outstanding track record of supporting our products. We provide countless free updates, as well as reasonably-priced paid upgrades, and we certainly don’t retire an app capriciously. That’s why thousands of users trust us, and that’s why we can be confident and proactive in discussing Nicecast’s retirement, rather than hiding it away.

    Joe McMahon (@joemcmahon): As mentioned, Nicecast will continue to be supported through the end of 2018, and will continue to function well beyond that if you avoid OS updates. We certainly feel for stations and streams which depend on Nicecast, but the business realities force us to make a hard decision here. You can continue to use Nicecast for quite some time, and transition to other solutions when you’re ready.

    As to the rest of our lineup, we have no plans to retire any other products, no.


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