Ari Shohat’s Digitally Imported Radio grew from a Binghamton U. dorm room to a Manhattan office with 15,000 to 35,000 people tuned in to www.di.fm at any time. The network is run by a handful of mostly part-time staff, while dozens of electronic music fanatics and DJs program the site’s channels on their own time and resources.
Webcast Metrics, an independent third-party audience measurement platform, recently ranked www.di.fm as the top independent web-radio site. As Shohat, a native European, saw the need to share electronic music with Americans, his fan base grew, and people offered to help diversify and quickly expand the radio network with more channels.
“Listeners write in, wanting to be a part of uniting this large, fragmented culture of electronic-crazed listeners,” Ari says. There are also companies and people that donate bandwidth to Digitally Imported Radio so that the music can reach more listeners. “You’d be surprised at how many young CEOs and Executives are addicted to trance and house music,” says Ari, 25.
Most major US cities have one to two designated electronic radio stations, which are limited to mainstream electronic favorites. The industry, however, is largely made up of thousands of ‘bedroom DJs’, some of whom also perform at local clubs and program songs to play on www.di.fm. Ari’s network of devout DJs around the globe spend their own money building up their collections for play on the network. “As we expose different sub-genres of electronic music, DJs are being discovered by labels and other industry giants.” Ari says. “Listeners look forward to the live shows on our different channels each day. This leads to people writing in with ideas and requests to help, which fuels our growth and popularity.” Digitally Imported Radio has never advertised.
Ari believes his listener ship, which is posted on the home page and updated every minute, is high also because the service is free. “Most web radio stations require a monthly fee, or bombard listeners with a lot of advertising and password requirements,” Ari says. “This is more of a passion than a high-profit venture, and we’re just getting started.”
This year, Digitally Imported Radio plans to launch at least five more channels, and begin using Coding Technology’s aacPlus format, so higher quality music can play on a much lower bandwidth, allowing dial-up and PDA users to listen to higher quality audio with ease.