Go to frontpage

> frontpage
> what is zine?
> download latest issue
> latest articles
> previous issues
> next issue
> contact us
> credits
> bitfellas
Video didn't kill the radio star
by Axel of Brainstorm

The demoscene radio Nectarine has had its highs and lows in the past. It struggled not only with the problems every hobbyist project struggles with, such as lack of time or lack of money, but foremost it had a hard time with hardware, which seemed to be as reliable as a shady person in a shady corner of a street willing to exchange some foreign currency. Reason enough for ZINE to sit down with Yes, founder and visionary of Nectarine demoscene radio to get the inside scoop on the past, present and future of the station.

It was in January of the millennium year 2000 when Yes had the idea for Nectarine. And it wasn't just a wild thought during a wild New Year's night. "I remember the moment very well", explains Christophe, better known as Yes. "I had lost my job at the end of 1999. Chandra of Orange Juice offered me to join a company named FTD (now POLIRIS). Working with a true friend was a real pleasure", he admits. "So I started at the new job in November 1999 and some months later I met Zgeblez. Zgeblez did a small shoutcast radio streaming commercial songs and anime tunes. He started to broadcast some live stuff too, such as interviews, focus tests, and demoscene music with some guys like Made of Bomb and Traven of Syndrome. With this idea in mind, I tried to create a completely automated radio."

First steps

With the idea in his head, Yes started out by using Winamp with the so called Oldskool plugin and a first version of Shoutcast. "Using the ID3 engine parser which was used for the Orange Juice website at the time, I produced a small website to tag all songs with information about authors and titles. The first version was released on February 12th, 2000, if I remember correctly. I think I lost the first version of the website but you can find the second one (dated December, 2000) here http://web.archive.org/web/20001207103500/ and here http://nectarine.ojuice.net/.

An early version of the Nectarine site

New projects never come without heaps of problems though. It's like when you had to drum up people for your bands first gig or get your parents to attend your first football match (well, okay, they were there anyway). Problems were also patiently waiting for Nectarine to come around the corner. "First problems came from the Oldskool plugins", explains Yes. "I started to stream mods and XM files." One would think that this wasn't really a problem but some musicians claimed that the plugin played their songs incorrectly. "When I wanted to stream other formats, it was a pain to stick solely to Winamp."

The solution arrived in the form of an email. "A group of coders from the US had started to code an engine to stream mp3's using Shoutcast. I thought that encoding the songs to the mp3 format could be a good solution. Musicians could convert their own songs and the format would remove the replay problems. So I accepted and they asked what kind of functionalities I needed. We started to code the program together. Now it's even is a commercial application", before he adds "...which enjoys a lot of success" with a smile on his face.

Rewards and legal issues

User feedback is one of the reasons we all keep doing productions in the scene. If there was no feedback, there probably wouldn't be any demos anymore. The competition and the motivation to do something no one else has done so far, or to simply treasure and archive creations from the past is a driving factor for most of us. Yes sees it the same way: "Well, the coolest compliment wasn't really a sentence but rather seeing some old guys logged on the website such as Peter Salomonsen (PMC), Clawz, Moby, Reflex, Audiomonster, Greg / Alcatraz and many more really means a lot to me.

Like most webradios, Nectarine had some issues to go through on the legal side as well, mostly due to the fact that either former composers have gone professional and thereby might be registered at the SACEM (Societ des Auteurs, Compositeurs et Editeurs de musique) which protects composer's rights (and royalties), or because of new laws which force webradios to pay a fee for their services. "In 2006 I was in touch with french SACEM lawyer", explains Yes. "I tried to explain what Nectarine Radio is all about, which proved to be a pretty difficult task on its own. I needed to explain it though. The problem was that authorities asked for payments of the radios without checking their content. So I gave the lawyer an FTP account and asked him to download a lot of tunes to see (or rather, hear) what it's all about. The lawyer confirmed that all is good and that Nectarine wouldn't have to pay any monthly fee." Yes and the admins were relieved.

Insurmountable obstacles

With the crash of Chandra's server and its harddisks, the climax of technical difficulties of Nectarine was reached. The radio seemed to be lost and dead. Did Yes ever think about stopping the project during that time? "Well, yes. I stopped everything. First of all Nectarine was coded in ASP using the ID3 parsing engine from Poliris and MSSQL engine. I didn't want to code it again using the same engine and limitations. And my php skills were close to being inexistent. I started to receive lot of emails from people complaining about my choice. Then, some 5 months after the crash, I bought a php book and started to code some stuff. Don't know why but it was very easy and efficient to code and make process again. Two weeks later the first new opensource Nectarine version was online.

However, in the five months of silence, a lot of former Nectarine admins and supporters have jumped ship, many of whom have put dozens and dozens of hours into the project and who were truly dedicated to their roles. "I had a lot of admins in the seven years of Nectarine's existence, such as Rez, Keops, Knos, Willbe, Mr Young, Doh, Sir Garbagetruck, Spectral, Nosferatu, KB, Arthur, Evil, Genetic Gemini, Poligone, JV, Phaser and Rain). As expected, some of them didn't agree with rules, limits or Nectarine goals (for example one of them decided that all songs he disliked needed to be removed). It's impossible to accept everything. Everyone got his/her own idea about what a demoscene radio could or should be like. Some of them decided to leave our family but I think through everything there were no bad feelings, and we're still friends.

Upcoming competitors like Bitfellas' radio named Bitjam definitely enrich the competition of demoscene radio stations. Contrary to popular belief, Yes of Nectarine thinks the same. "I think it's a good idea to promote demoscene music everywhere. I'm pretty happy to see lot of new radios everywhere. It took Nectarine to find its audience over the course of seven years. I do hope that all others find their audience too."

When it comes to projects like Nectarine, the question comes up soon regarding just how much time it takes to build such a project. Often, the amount of time is severely underestimated. Yes of Nectarine never really felt like an accountant to list all the hours he spent on Nectarine. "I don't want to do that", he comments. "But I think I spent more than 700 hours of my life time since it started."

Over the course of the development of Necatarine, not only the media landscape has changed, but also the demoscene itself. But has it really? "In my opinion, the scene never changed, but the people did", says Yes. "We have less productive people but the friendship is there with parties, IRC chats and forums. I don't agree with all the people saying that scene is dead. In case you haven't noticed, these people in most cases are the ones who don't produce anything anymore. Maybe that could explain their point of view. By the way -- the mistake we made was to close the door to young people. Scene.org/Pouet and all the other websites are starting to reverse the engine, and that's a good thing."

All it took to get Nectarine up and running was a dream, many years ago. So what does its creator dream of today? "It would be great to broadcast Nectarine via satellite one day," concludes Yes.

Go back to articlelist

Comments: (click here to comment the article)

Hosting provided by Mythic-Beasts. See the Hosting Information