radio free fedi blog

StateOfTheStation

radio free fedi state of the station and end of year report December 2023

(This blog is federated but NOT interactive. Kindly please follow @radiofreefedi@musician.social instead.)

At the end of January 2024, radio free fedi will celebrate one year of broadcasting.

“This is small web, consent driven, artist populated, non-commercial mechanism, attribution promoting, community radio from the fediverse.” -RFF from day zero

As we come to the end of the calendar year let's firm and frankly reflect on a super positive year for how artists and supporters joined together, and the simultaneously super stressful year for factors constantly trying to exhaust us from connecting, sharing our work, asking for help or even creating in the first place. #StateOfTheStation


The state of the station is 14/17 pineapples and intensifying. The hamster sprinting in the wheel remains on a permanent upward line graph of exhausted as are many of you friends out there. However, as usual we're buoyed enough to not sink by the love and support flowing amongst the creative fedi and RFF community and hope you might be as well.

We anticipate increasingly difficulties for our artist friends and indeed RFF to stay connected as the costs, stresses and threats on small players in the fedi are exacerbated. We are not optimists, but in the face of the latest rifts that will continue to affect our collective ability to be connected, RFF are vowing to do our best to remain a proper weird signal in whatever corner of a federated network we can remain for the absolute purpose of lifting each other up by celebrating consent, agency, artists and community.

If you TL:DR and only go this far, know this:

THANK YOU so very much to every single artist that has contributed.

THANK YOU to every voice reader and writer that have contributed to the vibe of the station.

THANK YOU to every single financial contributor that has made sure RFF exists and is no fiscal strain or anxiety on the hamster.

THANK YOU to every single absolute legend that has tuned in, discovered artists, tagged a kind word to an artist, made great lists of artists to support, helped promote artists and RFF, contacted artists for amiable terms to use their work or collaborate on new works, and made the effort to materially support artists as direct as possibly and by whatever means artists can navigate.

“It’s a way to find amazing underground music, that you won’t find on other platforms cause it’s buried by the algorithm. Ahem. Points at self. But also, that’s genuinely been my experience of it it, on Fedi and listening to RFF” @Meljoann

“PSA for #fediverse #music #RadioFreeFedi is great for discovery. I've gotten in the habit of launching it as soon as I hit that moment of 'it's too quiet but I don't want to think about what to listen to'. Love it.” @Raineer

If the existing or pending fedi rifts and splits make it harder on all of us as artists, and certainly harder for a project like RFF to navigate, we will need your help in how we organise and stay connected.

The transmitter remains on at full power beaming our collective message of transparent discovery, consent, attribution, celebration, cooperation, strength in community, normalising and easing promotion of indie and marginalised artists, and organic interaction in at least a potentially somewhat safer alternative web space for supporting and uplifting one another.

“Instead of a #FollowFriday I wanted to just say how much I've literally had more happiness in my life after properly getting into @radiofreefedi this week and discovering and enjoying so many amazing artists, so shout out to...” @MediaActivist

The community has proven keen to have a rallying and discovery tool such as RFF, that we are collectively willing to throw down for and give support to each other, and to be a non-competitive and downright lovely beacon for creativity and comradery to the fediverse and beyond.

There is potential for so much more inclusion, promotion, sharing and supporting of our creative siblings and each other as community we hope you will continue to play whatever part you can in the new year or if you are just finding out about us, join in the party!

“Fellow #Musicians #Composers & #SongWriters , if you haven't heard of @radiofreefedi yet, have a little read & a browse, submit your #music, & start listening! The more creators that submit, the more varied the experience becomes for all. Such an interesting & organic way to find new music & make connections. It's also a real thrill when you are making coffee at 8am on Saturday morning in little old #Ireland & one of your own songs comes on!” @SharonMurphyMusic

FROM THE FEDIVERSE TO THE UNIVERSE, RADIO FREE FEDI


New business:

RFF has organised what we are calling a stream parade for New Years Day 2024. It's like a stream “raid” except it's organic, it's a bunch of rad independent creative fedizens and communities using open and federated tools and with none of the corporate ads or harassment. NEAT! We are very close to having a url for the event but in the interim you can check out the “tentative” schedule of superb participants.

update The stream parade was by many accounts a raging success of community vibes and comradery. We've left the schedule up so you can continue discovering and supporting the participating broadcasters and streamers https://radiofreefedi.net/nyd24 and our post event debrief

Since the last state of the station (August), RFF and community have increased the artist count in the station by 17%! Keep helping us reach new corners of the fediverse, boost, tag #radioFreeFedi and mention artists when you have a moment to drop a kind word or a mini review. Keep submitting music, writings and voice reads, and recommend your friends and favourite artists might also like to join the community!

“The feed is consistently high quality and always a little surprising. Keeps me on my toes as a listener.” @jannem

“Getting into #RadioFreeFedi got me super motivated to get into podcasting!! Thanks!!” @StrepsipZerg

In a niche corner of what was mostly a niche federation doing something sadly considered weird by corporate talking heads, we reckon it is well worth celebrating that there are now over 400 direct contributors of music, voice, advising and funding to RFF! There are thousands in the extended network who have kept an eye on what we are doing. There have been hundreds of thousands of listening sessions. We can't count or see them all, but we reckon the most important number out there is the MANY connections, kind words, collabs and as direct as possible donations subscriptions and sales for artists that you all have realised!

“Wonderful to find more music people here and thrilled at how many folks have found the new EP through @radiofreefedi.” @RobertaFidora

If you had any small part in this, please know that every small bit is MASSIVE to the artists and the cumulative energies and community effect is downright AWESOME.

“RFF makes me feel like I am participating in music, not just being a passive listener. I can send my contribution if i want to, listen to what others sent in... I could send compliments to the musicians by simply tagging them...It means being part of something bigger, being less alone. That is not something a youtube or spotify playlist or a regular commercial radio could give to me.” -Fish @rybson


Matters arising:

OK let's get the year in review gloom out the way. Apologies, please scroll a lot if you are tired of reading about being collateral damage in the centralisation of power dynamics, clout for sport, co-option, in the ActivityPub federation and beyond

CW: We're angry, we're tired, we hate seeing our creative cousins bullied, erased, stressed, and made to shoulder unnecessary and inequitable workload to simply exist, find community or eat some lunch. As such, ahead are some links that may have terse yet informed opinions by way of our community vantage point. Our primary weapon for defending against the battles foisted upon our communities is usually tripling down on what is positive and highlighting when our wider community is getting things so right and so beautiful, but this year truly challenged that approach so please forgive some year in review tone variance.

We've dealt with some incredibly artist unfriendly issues this year.

The second fall of Bandcamp exposed new risks for artist agency and exploitation as a new gold rush formed to fill any space left by an exodus. In seeking options for where and how to safely or beneficially host and share our music there are stresses in balancing ethics, reach, survival AND unfortunately the often selfish and narrow demands of the wider commentating public and fedi armchair pundits for artists and builders to jump at their command. We took some time to hit back at that and encourage a bit of not just walk a mile in the artists' shoes but that we might not all have the proverbial correct footwear for the weather.

September Urging calm and support for the artists we love in the face of the latest changes at Bandcamp

October bandcamp and where to for artist agency, listener choice, general agency and ownership

November on bandcamp vs no bandcamp vs some bandcamp?, vitriol, armchair punditry, projection and respecting the diversity of our realities on the ground as indy artists in a digital landscape of immense power imbalance


There have been some incredible admin wars in the fedi that can have quite a lopsided impact on us as artists who may have been lucky enough to find a community and possibly lose unknown chunks of it on a whim or vindictive burst. As we approach the end of the calendar year we've said most of what we've needed to say partially as a relief valve for stress and tension but mostly in the hopes to show solidarity.

Sadly we are not the most eloquent of writers but the motivation is to document valid community issues, emphasise human and artist centred empathy and consideration toward such issues and maybe offer a bit of a sign to tap and holy shit has it been a year of tapping the damn sign. We have tried to be critically positive and offer as many ways we can think of to help the fedi, the web, and the world see how systems and actions impact us as independent and/or marginalised creatives, and how we might approach moving forward together or if needed, to kindly consider getting out of our way so that we can stand and survive.

September Despite the recent timelines there is fedi LOVE and it is YOU!

We hope the voice we have chosen addressing these issues has provided if not direct help and knowledge, and if not solutions, and if not a sign we can collectively tap on to the world, then hopefully at least some comfort that we are not alone in all the challenges. If the community wants RFF to just shut up and sing, we will. But the community has been the inspiration for us to even try and be a conduit for concern and rage. We'd rather be drumming, but it would have felt lazy and antithetical to our mission to not try.

We are adamant about advocating for the voice of the independent and marginalised artist in an internet landscape that has seldom valued and certainly not often celebrated our work, existence or survival. It is worth fighting for our voice and ability to achieve some level of agency for controlling and sharing our work on fairer and safer terms for all, so that we might continue to create, at a minimum.

it's Threads+Mastodon

December – a 'nicer' RFF pro artist stance that held us up from reviewing the year because of the absolute noise in the feed and concern in the inbox. threads and what is the fedi anyway?

If you want some more of the decompression from our vantage point we've added an extra addendum on the topic at: it's Threads+Mastodon

end of gloom. back to our regular programming

Our primary emphasis in entering any discourse out there is the safety of our creative friends and the durability of organic reach and organic community that has shown so much promise. It is a crime against art and creativity that for many reasons of direct attack or proximity exhaustion to these difficulties, challenges and dramas that any of us should lose contact or motivation. If you are out there creating, trying to do no harm, and punching UPWARDS, RFF stands with artists of all stripes, doing what they need to do to create, share, seek support, and survive.

“My music is played regularly on #RadioFreeFedi and I've had such support on #BandcampFriday through boosts, comments and sales. I feel part of a #CreativeCommunity here. In all my years on Twitter, that never happened!” @SharonMurphyMusic


Let's step through the RFF journey

A bit of origin lore January 2023:

We've touched on the origin story in other blogs and out on the main site. It is very true it was kind of a challenge in a bit of a throwaway post from our friend Gabe at @owncast. We had both tried over a couple years to get some engagement from fedi artists for both a music audio and interview podcast and a 24/7 music video channel where we both wanted to really highlight attribution and connections. Neither materialised due to content availability and difficulty hunting and maintaining.

Due to health issues there are often days that need to be pretty low activity we like to call “recovery days” ya know like a high performance athlete. So on a recovery day, this showed up in our feed:

“Project idea: One time @jnktn_tv had a show full of music by people on the Fediverse. It could be cool to have a 24/7 stream of Fedizen's music. When it plays a song it gives links to the person's account and more info about them and stuff. I'm mostly just hoping I can wish this into existence and @controlfreak will take it from here.” – @gabek 23 Jan 2023

Challenge accepted!?! Armed with a voucher for a free domain and some borrowed time on a VPS in about a week we soft launched RFF with a small proof of concept wire frame catalogue based on our previous research and pilot episodes of a fedi music podcast and what some would consider a weird mission. It has been heartening to look back in review at some of the early messaging and how consistent it has held and resonated. Cheers for coming along on the journey.


RFF Comfy – March

Very soon after launch there was immediate demand to just do all the things, have all the channels, allow 15 minute opus', play music types no one was submitting, be Spotify etc. We decided to go even more inclusive for our friends who may be a bit ND or any friends at all who just needed something a bit more chill in the life. Enter RFF Comfy. Plenty eclectic and fun to explore but without the sharp edges. There is absolutely a loyal comfy crew out there and we hope to really grow the channel in the new year for you. Comfy origin story


??

Somewhere in this area we added theTraffic at the bottom of the hour on the Main channel. As most of you will be aware, theNews and theTraffic are actually neither of those things. We very much enjoy finding new and interesting ways for them to not be. Don't make us add theWeather...


June – In June we broke the 200 contributors to the station mark. We focused on reworking and offering better and more robust now playing and recently played options. There is a paradox that while our now playing bot was expanded to all the channels and we included channel specific hashtags, the botsinspace server throttles public posts to 6 hours and everything else is sent out as “unlisted” and thus not searchable. Fair enough. It is on our white board to move the bot or host the bot in a way that you will be able to search. This may require a specific champion host or patron to help.

Here are all the ways you can see, check, scroll back, or research recently played on all the channels https://blog.radiofreefedi.net/rff-recently-played-history-how-to-and-stuff


RFF Specialty – July

As the next phase of station growth we decided a good way to increase the amount of tracks we could showcase while being able to go weirder, wilder, longer, and to provide some focused themed/genre experience still drop-in and discover friendly, and to make sure the listener has the choice in the matter for all that, we launched the Specialty channel. This project involved over a few weeks going back through every single submission to date and reviewing every track and assigning, tagging and loading everything to any appropriate themed blocks including reviewing all tracks not previously used on the main channel for inclusion. tee D us.

Here is the Specialty channel lore. And here are the themed blocks.

You should make a date to enjoy a themed block and get to experience tracks you won't hear on Main and Comfy.

“Nice! @radiofreefedi has programming blocks now. This now gives you 3 channels to choose from. Currently playing some nice atmospheric #music. #radiofreefedi is a great way to discover new music and directly support the artists. #til” @robbielink


August – Here be dragons!

The server where our masto account resides got wiped including backups by their hosting provider. That was a hoot. Here is the anatomy of a disappearance.

Without old messages available, luckily we had a load of text files and this here blog to be able to reflect on the year and build this year in review state of the station. We've heard that some of you appreciate lore and the occasional update that doesn't have to be in the dreaded 1/427 format on limited post servers. We've been happy to have it as a reference.


Video Channel – August

While we've had a number of test chat hangouts and a few live mix style Specialty block shows, we've also hosted our first RFF artist live performances and hangout on the #owncast powered RFF video channel.

The community is very welcome to use this space for all manner of creative and fun uses. Album listening or release parties, live performances, Q&A or AMA, panel discussions and interviews, or just chat host a Specialty channel themed block simulcast hangout. Anything original, consented and inline with the station and community ethos is encouraged.


Somewhere in here we migrated the public facing streams to our own self-hosted relays which helped us gain a bit more integration and control over our ecosystem and reduced some costs allowing us to spread the infrastructure fund even further into the future.


RFF Faircamp Hosting – September/October

Given all the turmoil around Bandcamp transgressions as referenced in the three blogs linked in the gloom section we decided something we could do to show an exploratory option for artist agency and portability was to stand up an RFF faircamp directory and hosting offer. The idea was to help RFF artists who haven't the spoons or may not have the funds to explore self-hosting options for sharing their music as an exploratory option for agency and portability in a probable post Bandcamp landscape.

“All my gratitude to the wonderful @radiofreefedi for helping me to make my music available on the RFF community faircamp.” @socool

It's not a platform endorsement as it is not a platform. Rather just a decent method for assembling a tidy self-contained site bundle with music for preview and/or download suitable for portable hosting most anywhere. As we keep an eye on the horizon for what may come next here was our rationale and call to keep on supporting artists at the time.

We are also very concerned with the space, stress and oxygen created by the latest Bandcamp shitsplosion as rocket fuel for a huge influx of widely varying motivations to quickly enter the space and fill the gap and etc etc jargon. So whatever you are considering doing out there, please be vigilant of where you are putting your work, with whom and how clear or unclear they are about what they are doing with it.


Threads and Mastodon pooping in our picnic basket – December 2023

yeah nuff said.

On a great #unwrapped note, we blew past 320 music contributors and overall including writers, announcers and readers, patrons, advisors, there are now over 400 contributors beaming in the RFF signal!


I LOVE A PARADE – 01 January 2024

As mentioned in the new business section, in the hopes to celebrate and showcase some of the alternative and self-hosted streaming and broadcasting community we decided to organise a friendly global stream parade for New Years Day. It's not a centrally hosted and produced event, nor is it an automatically crossed over “raid” like on the nasty platform, rather it is a super cool assemblage of artists, communities, labels, collectives and broadcasters. https://blog.radiofreefedi.net/new-years-day-2024-global-24-hour-stream-party

update again, it was a success. Reach out if you are keen to get more involved with coordinating mini distributed stream parades, offer your work or stream, or leverage our or other community group platforms for boradcasting and streaming.

Our post NYD24Parade event debrief


Lolz

“I did (really) have to upgrade the data deal for my phone after #radiofreefedi reeled me in! 😁👍 But absolutely worth that extra £1 per month” @nigelharpur

“I have seriously got to stop listening to #RadioFreeFedi and browsing my timeline during the workday because the amazing #music that you people are putting out is KILLING my discretionary funding (play money) account” @Venya

“I've been listening to #RadioFreeFedi all day during #OliveHarvest, but couldn't use my phone's touchscreen while wearing gloves, so I thought it'd be a great day for field testing my #RFF display prototype, using a #Pimoroni Pico Inky Pack E-paper display for the #RaspberryPiPico.” @AxWax


Continuity

The station infrastructure is funded through March 24. We want to thank each and every friend who donated to the fund this year, especially in the early days for literally keeping the transmitter beaming. The human, often referred to as the hamster in the wheel sprinting to power the tower, has not been in a place to shoulder any costs personally, so it has been amazing to be able to not just create, not just continue, but to grow the station's offering and have zero (extra) existential dread at least about station server bills at the end of the month.

“at times like this, I'm just so proud being a #RadioFreeFedi supporter.” @Yuvalne

We'll call out for a telethon if we get close to blackout. We've jokingly asked RFF artists to “staff the phones” for a streamed event and you know you'd love an RFF tote bag for your support and contribution. (shush, global printing and shipping is a costly nightmare)


Staff

At some point it was kind of out of the bag that there is no RFF team. We alluded at times our solo nature and to bear with us when things were especially busy, or when our health was too much to work through, and when we were all in damage control for various fedi and internet debacles and dramas. It's not that we haven't asked. It would be lovely to offload some regular tasks. We appreciate that many are time poor or also exhausted.

“I think today it's you who needs to hear that we all like what you are doing, that it is amazing and we're all a little bit overwhelmed with just how much!” @kel

RFF was a more than full-time volunteer gig for many months to start. We were able to be a bit more part-time for a bit, but trying to push more station initiatives to support artists and trying to survey, map and navigate the tools, dramas affecting artists of which we are as well is a lot of work on top of running a station, platforms for artists to share and participate, and being as positive as possible in not a part-time gig.

We did our best this year to offer as constant and as available as possible support for just about any fedi, internet, platform, mutualaid and music queries. Amongst some of the challenges we definitely took some hits personally and probably burnt a bit too hard from both ends of the wick. Is that sustainable? Certainly not and we particularly wish the techbros would give us a damned holiday from drama so we can just share amazing art and build more capacity to help promote rad artists for an undisturbed minute. Even though there is so much more we could do, and most intitiatives and project we undertake have been very well received, almost too well received, we are far past the point of being sustainably able to manage and sustain all the things for this community service.

It's not at all what we want to do, had any intent to do, or even like, but we recognise the ripples of goodwill, belonging, community and support that are out there rallying around the artists and RFF and there may be a time to ask the community how we sustain the human power to sustain or grow those ripples. Help in the form of time still requires handover or oversight, but even that has not arisen or been forthcoming. We have absolutely no doubt the infrastructure will be funded any time we ask, but this thing has gotten a bit bigger than just that.

** update. with much personal consideration and with the loving feedback of members of the RFF community we went ahead and pivoted to asking the community if they would support the human at a minmum level to continue RFF as close to existing levels of activity.

We'd like to shout out the beautifully mischievous instigator @hilljam for unilaterally putting out a call for mutual aid for the hamster/human who faced some sizeable loss this year and if we're being honest with you, came very close a couple times to unplugging the transmitter. As a volunteer community service apparently we needed to be better at accepting help ourselves if the community wants to help not just the service but also the human power behind it. Your response was incredibly humbling and while we can't burn as hard for another year, we hope we can find some balance to continue.

Forest and trees and all that. When you keep staring down rapid fire dramas, setbacks, disasters, traumas, losses that feel amplified by the feed, especially from a community project's perspective, it's hard to not be overrun by all the things. And it can be hard to step back and see certain things as they are.

Thank you to the kind souls out there that helped us with a good cool down talk, stitch n bitch, or tone checks on our rough as guts writings when the hamster was steaming. Thank you to the shoulders we leaned on throughout this first year that helped use realise that as things are, RFF as a community and as a thing is practically unassailable positive. That rocks and let us be a bit more comfortable taking the odd moment to be appreciatively proud to be a part of it.


What are you actually doing over there:

It was apparently no small task to spin up and ramp up a completely consented and fedi based catalog where there is absolutely zero blind download dump and randomise or anything like that. Rather we do curate and do our very best to present something from every submission in the best place or places we can across our three channels with the best and cleanest data we can for the benefit of the artists and hopefully the enjoyment, enrichment and discovery of the listeners. At a minimum there is a weekly station music and playlist update which we post about and welcome the artists. Depending on how many new artists have been reached or suddenly motivated, or how busy our existing artist friends have been, some weeks there are 2 and even 3 music update!

There is also a lot of cumulative little works in cleaning voice submissions, editing and merging news, IDs, sweeps, drops, helping with audio on music submissions if and where we can.

And all the communications. And the main fedi account where when we aren't side quest doing our best to represent the bard class or tap the sign, we are doing our best to keep some positivity flowing to your feed. And all the various directory, public masto follow list, and playlist format data sets that are checked and updated at every station music update.

And managing all the self-hosted and nerd stuff we use for station management, audio streaming, video streaming, web and blog stuff.


Regerts! we have one:

A side effect of RFF wanting to foster good communication, collaboration, celebration of agency and consent et al is that when server wars, attrition, exhaustion, and class warfare by big players force artists to always be on the move, the station has to do our best to keep up with server changes in our directory, for each track in the station catalogue and any tagged promo etc. That's been amplifying lately for reasons in the gloom section of this update.

Something we got so wrong, and it was too late to do anything about as we grew so fast was to not insist on an e-mail or some alternative means to communicate with contributing artists as part of the submission and onboarding process.

There are quite a few initiatives and projects and potential things in the pipe, ongoing and projected that we simply cannot tactfully discuss, poll prospective participants based on the limitation of fedi microblogs and their being too public, having no viable group tools (we tried 3), and our community being too large to negotiate anything via private mentions. Twice we put out the call for e-mail and matrix IDs from RFF contributing artists and got single digit returns. We know everybody is busy and all, but we really do have some amazing opportunities that would need better input and consent to tackle and test.

It's not viable to post public, have artists not see it, have the public get amped for it, then it not actually happen. So it's not about being secret squirrel, it's more about feeling out IF things are possible or if we have the backing of the content providers.

Hit us on matrix if you have the means. #radioFreeFedi:matrix.org


How can you help?

  1. LISTEN TO RFF

  2. Tell a friend to drop-in and listen and discover amazing independent fedi artists! Helping RFF reach new listeners is in turn helping our entire artist community. Massive impact from some simple sharing.

  3. Submit your original music! Or, tell an artist friend to get in on the party and submit music. In most cases it's as easy as a single DM.

  4. Follow links affiliated with the tracks we play via now playing, the playlist bot, the playlist csv text files or the artist directory to: -Drop a kind word to an artist who's work you've enjoyed -Tag us too, or #radioFreeFedi, it's hugely rewarding to see amazing and kind interactions -Be an impromptu street team for an artist you've enjoyed hearing to help them reach new corners of the fedi -Consider the best ways you might amiable to for materially supporting artists if you have the means

  5. Check out the schedule and setup a date with a specialty block of themed tunes to discover even more tunes and artists. Since know what you are signing up for, Specialty block selections can go a bit longer and wilder and feature tracks you will not hear on the Main and Comfy channels.

  6. Want to perform live, busk, have a panel interview or discussion, host a listening party or album launch on our Specialty channel and/or video streaming channel? Can you offer some time to moderate chat in the video channel for a hangout? OR, does anyone out there want to record artist interviews? We could happily help recommend some willing and friendly artists. Or would you like to provide production help with any such events? There is space for just about anyone willing to be an active contributor.

  7. Can you help to collate and assemble lists of things such as upcoming release dates from fedi artists? Write some friendly mini reviews of RFF artists we can post as RFF?

  8. Can you provide about 5 minutes of voice read per month for a regular show that RFF will write edit and produce? We just need a regular presenter willing to record the intros and bridges. From a script verbatim if that helps.

  9. Have some original longer form spoken word or other programming you can consent or is fully consented for us to broadcast on the Specialty channel?

  10. You don't have to be a musician to contribute material. Send in some things for theNews or theTraffic. Send in some fun station IDs. If you'd like to do a read, we have scripts and guidelines available if that helps. All good fedizens are welcome to join the party. DM @radiofreefedi@musician.social for more info.

  11. Other duties as required. If you have some regular time to offer, we can probably line you up with a helpful task! Or if you have an idea for any original or consented programming you might like to make for RFF please do pitch it. If you can help with how we might be more sustainable as a community service without burning out a volunteer, we are all ears. Local grants are tough because of our global reach and scope. Prominent global grants lean real heavy to dev of tech that will get thrown away in 12-18 months and less for community building. Corporate money is a non starter. Pledge driving to staff the place feels weird personally as it was never the intention of the experiment, but here we are, it's not really an experiment anymore, and as a means to help and promote more indie artists it may be OK to the community? Any help here would be amazing.

  12. Join us on a public RFF chat for general comradery off the mciroblog format, offers of time or help, feedback. Artists please ask for an invite to our artist and contributor group so that we can discuss station initiatives and how we might further help promote each other. #radioFreeFedi:matrix.org

  13. LISTEN TO RFF

It's a bit chicken and egg to spend time to map out tasks or jobs others might be able to help with that may never get answered or aling with initiatives that may not be realised without knowing who is actually interested in getting involved and what they might be able or willing to bring to the community.


are we there yet?

Don't make me turn this car around.

Whatever happens with the fedi as it was, is or might become, together we've made an impact. Maybe not much of a dent in systemic imbalances, but we've damn sure thrown down a gauntlet of how big small can be!

For every one of us as artists that have been touched by the uplifting energy of the community that has rallied, and for everyone in the wider community that has contributed in any way to that uplifting, and to all of us that have gleaned some discovery and joy from listening and sharing, this experiment that happens to be social web adjacent has been so much more than selfish social signaling and performative posturing. Quite the amazing contrary. We have seen absolutely gorgeous non-competitive and selfless giving of honesty, emotion, time, coin, knowledge and all manner of help amongst you all.

Are we fucking exhausted? Yes. Are the techbros constantly trying to crap in our cornflakes? Yes. Are comms always easy or durable in clunky federated microblogs? No. Are trolls? YES. Despite all of that, thanks to all who have worn it and even managed to beat it back a bit with a stick to make space for the absolute fucking AWESOME that has become the RFF community.

We hope you might get a wee break or a chance to reflect or a little power up at this time of year so that you can join us as we do our best to roll on in 2024. If so we're here to give you an awesome soundtrack. If not, we're here to provide and awesome soundtrack.

Whatever your endeavours may be and wherever your travels may take you, as always, we're here for you to drop-in, discover and hopefully inspire you to keep creating and to keep getting out there a supporting amazing independent artists.

Kia kaha

Ngā mihi me te aroha nui

-the hamster sprinting in the wheel powering the transmitter

( please do not follow this account, this is for long form reading, expanded masto posts, specialty pages/posts and archive reference. Please follow and interact with us at @radiofreefedi@musician.social where we announce and link the material here)

The state of the station is exhausted. Just as we were assembling plans to dig out of our personal gear dilemma, the server our main account resides on was wiped out of existence by a hosting provider. We won't go over that again but if you need a debrief check out a anotomy of a dissapearance. We gained many new friends while you all helped post that we were back online around this incident which is awesome, but sadly with federation it is very hard to know how or why hundreds have not reconnected. #StateOfTheStation

OK onward!

Reminder the new Specialty channel is playing themed blocks with heaps more tracks you won't hear on the other channels expanding depth, length and diversity. Schedule yourself some strategic drop-ins.

RFF Calls to Action

  1. Keep listening, finding new artists to support materially and with kind words and be awesome.

  2. Don't be shy to tag #radioFreeFedi

  3. Many of you have and cheers for that, but could you try to reach out to any friends who might be a fedi musician about submitting material? There are many corners of the verse still to reach.

  4. Musicians have you thought about submitting and never have? how to submit

  5. Writers do you have poems, microfiction, short stories you'd like to read or have read by our announcer team? Fedizens would you like submit a fun station ID in your style/language/fedi persona? DM @radiofreefedi@musician.social

  6. Is there anyone out there that would like to assemble (resize, slideshow, merge, credit) visual material being submitted into backing video for the video/chat simulcast and/or help us collating material for full video programming? DM @radiofreefedi@musician.social

  7. RFF artists we have tools and initiatives for a number of new programming and event options and need to be able to gauge interest and feedback ahead of public posting. Can you please DM your matrix ID so we can invite you? ^1

  8. Do you have any contacts, means, ideas for reviews/interviews/posts from publications, podcasts, accounts, allies, anything that might like to amplify our community message and ethos of celebrating agency and consent and supporting independent fedi artists? Our head is always so far down in the operations of the station and the artist side of community management there is seldom spoons or oxygen for identifying other types of outreach.

  9. Artists, as above regarding head down making the sausage, it is very hard to traverse the verse and see all of your release schedules and plans. We stopped trying to do regular posts highlighting RFF artists releases, singles, albums, collabs, remixes whatever even if you hadn't submitted it for play. If you could please build in to your release plans notifying RFF that'd be wicked. Many of you have been doing advance preview on RFF which is amazing, but even if timed closer to release, please do keep submitting new works. We may have seen it coming but most weeks do not have the capacity to message out requesting.

We were admittedly trying to do a few too many things and many weeks RFF is a full-time job or two. Back to back and adjoining gear and fedi account disasters did not help.

The music will go on but we need to offload or share some tasks to keep improving the reach and impact the community can have for supporting fedi artists.

Keep fedi weird.

Support fedi artists!

Noho ora mai

Notes: ^1 The account loss incident made us think again about the absolute need for side channel for behind the scenes help and discussion on station initiatives, direction, and content planning as well as incidents like server burps, outages, or other useful things like artist mutual aid. This will hopefully to incorporate some new energy, help out the sole volunteer with feedback, and keep this discussion less public since it may involve projects, content, programming that may or may not eventuate based on the response of the contributor community. During onboarding we never asked for or required an email, and RFF was an absolute seat of the pants real-time have a go and see what happens experiment, so now we are faced with 280 artists, announcers, patrons, advisors and masto DMs just ain't the go to quietly reach this group. We tested multiple fedi group tools and they were neither private nor durable. A few weeks back we posted this when we deleted the group we did test rollout to the community, asked for emails as another option and received 2 of 240 artists. We can build in asking for email or matrix ID during onboarding new artists going forward but here we are for now. We have to have something so after much consideration as with everything, on balance we have a matrix room. The use case does not demand hyper privacy or self hosting as we are only talking about syncing promo for releases, new content initiatives, special events planning, and just needs to be outside of public posts. Artists if you can DM a matrix ID if you got one, that'd massive.

Born of a fever dream wish it into being challenge from a fedi friend, radio free fedi was a classic smell of an oily rag let's get it going and see what happens after that kind of story.

#StateOfTheStation

The reality

We appreciate the patience and love so many of you have shown in helping us to navigate how the sometimes overwhelming levels of communications and noise we need to organise and manage which can impact our ability to respond or act immediately. The reality for us as a single, disabled and IRL unwaged volunteer is that our daily tasks require a great deal of coping mechanisms and grouping of tasks that includes:

managing submissions, editing/cleaning/recording voice content, adjusting music submissions that may not meet basic format clarity or level thresholds, cleaning track meta data, cleaning imagery, adding extended meta for every single track with fedi link/support link/license so that multiple services/sites can ingest and highlight, all artist and station communications, ALL customer service inquiries, ad-hoc community support, vetting new contributors to not platform any fascists etc, previewing and queuing station adds, playlist programming for both channels, multiple website management, reviews, interviews, archive blog, care and feeding and maintenance for multiple server platforms, development and tuning for systems, station expansion planning, balancing costs, catering, other duties as required...

The great news:

As we have stated before, RFF would not be “on the air” or growing such amazing organic connections amongst artists and listeners and supporters were it not for some amazing patrons who love the vibe and love their fellow fedizens and independent artists. The bare minimum to keep the lights on is funded until NOV/DEC 2023. Awesome!

As a community we have not only helped each other with artist promotion and instigated fiscal and real world support out there for the contributing artists but also generated an incredible amount of love, support and goodwill that while it cannot buy groceries, is a strong fuel to carry on and create. The amazing support of all kinds including emotional from listener to artist, artist to listener, artist to artist, listener to listener has been an absolute honour to have had even the smallest part in facilitating.

The less great news:

The volunteer has no personal resource to cover any gaps so there may be some tough decisions on the horizon. In terms of content and news and updates and community events we want to do all the things but we cannot afford the time and there is sometimes a lack of understanding of how much free stuff can cost.

If the community rallies to cover the non-human costs, we will do our best to carry on. Given the scope and scale and spoon count and the collective desire to do more cool stuff that has proven to massively resonate with the community, there may begrudgingly but certainly in line with our community driven ethos be a separate support mechanism for the human at some point. Again, community willing.

Until then, we keep sending out positive vibes and try our best to expand the ways we can walk the walk as a non walled garden, non-commercial, consent and agency promoting, as transparent as possible discovery platform that invites, nay encourages listeners and supporters to leave it and interact with and support fedi artists!

Rationale

RFF launched end of Jan 2023, we received our first donation in Feb 2023. We are therefore mapping things to try and survive the first year meaning FEB-FEB. At time of this post we are funded until ~DEC 2023 and about $80 short of making it a year. Infra costs have already gone up when we added the comfy channel and our next expansion will shrink how far we are funded.

For anyone casting any doubt on the intentions or ethos, THE SOLE VOLUNTEER building, managing, running all operations and community work for RFF has taken zero donations, rather have tried to commit to securing infrastructure stability for a stable time into the future.

RFF would have been folded up early in if not for the amazing community of patrons (some also contributing artists) who have covered the infrastructure costs that are very reasonable but not doable for said volunteer. We are posting this for transparency and a reference as needed if there is any question of what we are trying to accomplish with limited resource and solely community driven.

money money money money......MONEY

If we cover all expenses, we'd also like to make a donation to our masto server. We always want the focus to be on the music, not about any human curator or algorithm or platform, or hyper curated dead-end consumption experience. We are dead serious when we say, drop in and discover, and, support fedi artists!

All figures in $NZD

RFF annual expenses if no cost increases and prior to pending JUL expansion ($NZD) $26 Domains $208 Public facing streaming servers $104 Static public facing sites' hosting $364 virtual servers for station management systems, storage, drop/sharing

TOTAL expected annual infra costs: $702

Donations: $136.00 LP (liberapay) to date $256.00 Ko-fi to date $75.00 Other $158 LP promised

Total in to date: $625.00 Projected annual over/under: –$77.00

VOLUNTEER HOURS JAN 220 FEB 212 MAR 160 APR 100 MAY 80 JUN 56 JUL 168 projected (will be more due to expanding services)

TOTAL HOURS TO DATE: 996 If @ NZ min wage $22,908.00

OK, let's get back to finding more ways to promote amazing fedi artists eh?

how to listen/submit/contribute: https://radiofreefedi.net

this is your 24/7 fediverse #community #radio #radioFreeFedi

Heoi anō tāku mō nāianei Kia ora rawa atu

( please do not boost or follow here, this is only a long form reading and archive reference. Please follow and interact with us at @radiofreefedi@musician.social )

Music updates are weekly or fortnightly and based on flow of submissions and mostly IRL pressures and stresses. The whole midweek update post idea is often bleeding more toward weekend. We recognise there is a decided lull in fedi activity on the weekend, but it is what it is.

#StateOfTheStation

We've rebuilt the nowplaying interface on the website which expands the comfy channel recently played to the same depth as the main channel and moved a few things around and softened some of the pain hopefully. We literally hadn't looked at it or had time to think about it since launch in February. Doh!

We posted recently that we have cruised past 2000 friends and 200 contributors and climbing almost every day. Awesome!

We have seen a number of amazing collabs kick of from fedizens finding fedizens and some via radio free fedi. And even more rad, we are now getting to put into rotation on the station some of the outputs of the collabs. Totally awesome! The collab between Lehto and Socool we've been spinning in advance of their EP release this month is so so good. There is so much talent on the fediverse hiding in quiet corners. Let's shout it all a little louder eh?

The fediverse focused publication wedistribute is back and released a nice writeup on our little community project and some of the feels of listening to radio free fedi. https://wedistribute.org/2023/06/radio-free-fedi/

Thanks to the amazing group of patrons that have rallied to RFF and a few new friends joining that effort, our infrastructure is sustainable for months to come. While it is hard some weeks to donate the time we'd like for developing and keeping the station going, content gathering and review, community management, editing, data entry etc etc etc, when that monthly bill comes for the servers it is nice to report that we feel zero existential dread in that respect at least. So thank you to our patrons.

https://radiofreefedi.net/#shouts

It wouldn't be a thing without you as we would have pulled the plug for costs some time ago, and instead we are out here making amazing connections for and with artists and listeners. Awesome!

We've received multiple new station IDs and new spoken word micro fiction from a fedizen collab writer/reader team that organically formed around a fedi interaction. Awesome!

Artists you are doing pretty darn good at letting us know when you have a new release, single, EP, album, collab etc and often sending them our way for advance play which is so cool! Please keep that up. We see chatter out there that there are definitely regulars who notice and call out new stuff from artists they previously discovered on RFF which is guess what...AWESOME!

Everyone, if you want to hear more of something, send it in, or encourage artists you know and/or love to submit.

The response to the csv file for easy masto and derivative import of the RFF artists list was overwhelmingly positive. This is great for networking and promotion and is why we make sure you are ok with and give us a public fedi ID. it's a great way to catch up and add as the station adds, or pare down as you find artists that jam your way.

https://radiofreefedi.net/following_radioFreeFediContributors.csv

We update this file every single batch of station updates, as well as the txt list of every artist with their links and licences on the website, and we have started shouting out by tagging new artist adds and existing artists new song adds in the regular station update posts.

We were recently called corporate/commercial and anti diverse due to our rough time limit guideline? We hope anyone that tunes in for a few minutes or reads the website or a couple of posts will get that the entire mission is to promote going AWAY from RFF straight to the artists and supporting them. The intention of keeping things neighbourly in length is to provide more diversity for the drop-in and discover experience. As in previous state of the station reports, we cannot afford the time or infrastructure to provide hyper curated genre end points for dead-end consumption. That's antithetic to the weird, wild, fun and diverse discovery experience of your fediverse community radio. That being said if you have long form work or very experimental long loop or drone kinda stuff and don't mind providing an excerpt, the bottom of the hour theTrafficReport is an awesome place we'd like to highlight more sound collage and excerpts of other long form stuff.

If there is ever a lag in response time or we get a bit of data wrong, we apologise, please reach out via DM and we appreciate your love and patience as this thing grows and grows. We are a lone hamster in a wheel.

We have had quite a few folk reach out to do station IDs, station read, or reads of materials we have ready for TheTrafficReport and TheNews segments but not submit. We would love for a variety of fedi voices to be included in this way. Don't be shy, DM the station for info, we have script outlines and material ready to help you and some new writers have also appeared.

Reminder that our playlist bot @radiofreefedi@botsin.space account is unattended so try not to DM it on accident. It's name has BOT in the front of it. Please do use it as a reference if you were washing the dog and could not look at the screen 27 minutes ago to get links for an amazing artist you heard!

And you did it, it's the end of the message. Stay awesome out there!

how to listen/submit/contribute: https://radiofreefedi.net

KEEP SUPPORTING EACH OTHER AND FEDI ARTISTS

and keep fedi weird

this is your 24/7 fediverse #community #radio #radioFreeFedi

Heoi anō tāku mō nāianei Kia ora rawa atu

( please do not boost or follow here, this is only a long form archive reference follow us at @radiofreefedi@musician.social )

Often times numbers are used to divide, conflate, obfuscate, other, and oppress. But we hope in this instance here are some numbers to celebrate your #radioFreeFedi community in reflection of 3 months 'on the air'!

#StateOfTheStation

192 the number of music, voice, writing, financial contributors in RFF to date. AWESOME, keep it growing and submit music, readings or other help.

41 hours of material in our main channel rotation pools

10 hours of content in the young and emerging comfy channel rotation

50% funding to offset the first year of back-end and infra fees for RFF. We are 3 months into being public and thanks to some amazing contributors (including artists) we had no hesitation to add the comfy channel and improve our permanence and stability.

1 hamster in a wheel volunteer operation so thank you for your support, patience and enthusiasm as this experiment has grown rapidly and organically

PRICELESS

The support you all are showing for one another as listeners and artists. The discovery and encouragement to artists are why this thing exists. Well done team!

Not wanting to being the end point of consumption or the focal point of attention, but rather a discovery layer to fuel interaction and support with artists may seem odd to some. The interaction we have seen, heard of and been in are a testament to YOUR awesomeness

( of course as soon as this was posted as it's original masto thread the numbers changed because you are all awesome )

how to listen/submit/contribute: https://radiofreefedi.net

KEEP SUPPORTING EACH OTHER AND FEDI ARTISTS

and keep fedi weird

this is your 24/7 fediverse #community #radio #radioFreeFedi

Heoi anō tāku mō nāianei Kia ora rawa atu

from the desk of radio free fedi . please do not follow or boost this blog account or post. it is only a reference to long form we can't smash or make into 1 of 12 threads in masto.

What we've learnt so far in our first 7 weeks and from putting it out there about possible growth.

#StateOfTheStation

There can be a response to jump on a wagon of cool, now “hey be all the stations/playlists/genre silos like spotify/soma/etc/etc.” We can't because we are:

  • unapologetically niche. all fedi, wildly diverse. weird and wonderful.
  • community driven, volunteer, will always avoid commercial or walled garden mechanisms in our sphere, and fedi presence for artists and highlighting consent and attribution are not negotiable!
  • committed to ALL are welcome and we do mean ALL, all humans (and a few raccoons, possum, badgers, alien deities etc), all genres and genres busters! except nazis, and fascists, and racists, and anti trans, and anti queer. fuck them. we celebrate sound and each other, not otherism.
  • because of the above item we will never automate nor payola submissions as a trust mechanism for the community we are a part of and want to celebrate. time sink yes, good for community also yes.
  • weird wild and lavishly diverse to yes sometimes gently challenge, but mostly to spark adventure and discovery
  • meant to be a transparent non-commercial non-corporate intermediary for discovery not an end point for consumption
  • against highly siloed curation that shifts focus away from artists toward a platform. the main stream will always be weird and wonderful drop-in and explore as you wish
  • most likely not be doing highly curated genre channels because that makes RFF more of an end point of consumption and not the discovery layer to get you to the artists which is the mission
  • a jumping off point to go fedi interact with and to support fedi artists on their platforms of choice which we do not judge. SUPPORT FEDI ARTISTS
  • the artists, connections between them and with listeners are the absolute focus, not any RFF layers hence no RFF specific “app” or distracting web stuff
  • you will continue to hear electronic and metal, folk and classical, downtempo and bangers, sometimes you catch a wave, sometimes you catch a basket of wth. enjoy.

Trouble we are having:

  • some days it feels like 1 in 3 fedizens are a soundscape, noise, drone, ambient, experimental artist with 17 minute compositions. we are trying to feature excerpts of things like sound collage into spots like theTrafficReport and be as inclusive as we can but without artists taking this onboard and providing us said excerpts or edits we can't always afford the editing time
  • similar to that, we do our very best to get SOMETHING on from everyone who submits, but again long format, very long loops, poor sound quality or well outside of levels sounding balanced in broadcast we try but simply don't always have time to adjust submissions. these things are just not neighbourly to the other artists or the listeners in a diverse unscheduled drop-in discovery format
  • expectations? we are the opposite of a paid genre curated artist obscuring service. we work very hard to balance artist rotation based on number of tracks by each to maximise variety. many people get it, it is 100% not demographic, algorithm, payola, ad driven. This IS 100% community driven. What is on the station, outside of the above issues, is exactly reflective to what is submitted. As previously stated going hard silo and making the THING an ultra curated endpoint you consume is not a goal. The THING is a little challenging sometimes, but it is celebrating diversity, each other and THE FEDI ARTISTS, not a curator or a website or a playlist. Want more of a certain genre? Then please help encourage more fedi artists to participate.
  • there are many things we could do. technically and content driven. however, rule 1 is not to distract from core mission of interact with and support fedi artists!
  • if not hyper curated “channels”, scheduled genre shows will take a MASSIVE chunk of programming time and could technically be on a side stream, but as it stands, we do not feel they should be on the main stream. “you” may like it, but it thwarts the drop-in anytime and catch some diverse discovery ethos.
  • as a disabled person needing remote work, saying “I'd pay for a feed/show of xyz” would be exciting to me were it not antithetical to the station mission. I can't yet see a way to balance that up without becoming the things we are actively not.

Whats awesome:

  • so so many stories of discovery, mutual artist support, listeners subscribing and buying and giving words of encouragement to artists!
  • the overall support for things we recognise as being weird and different and the core tenets we are standing on
  • have you heard “golf punk” by sockpuppet or everything by Helen Bell? I mean come on, we are so excited these amazing artists came into our feed.
  • it's a lot of work but we are having fun with artist spotlight interviews and hope you are liking them
  • your boosts and interactions tell us that you like or tolerate our nowPlaying mini reviews and we try to do an 8 or 12 hour boost on most station posts to catch you awake

**************************************************

where to then?

Therefore, given the poll direction, and more importantly some very constructive chats with listeners, and assuming continuing patron help with some infrastructure upgrades, we think the following is the least distracting most “on brand” for a RFF small growth step.

We are in the process of scaling up and developing a “comfy” station feed. This will be both a subset of contributing artists and a superset of tracks, being able to feature more material maybe not included on the main feed. This will not be a genre channel persay, rather a vibe.

NEW “CHANNEL” FACTS:

  • this channel will not have spoken word bits and sound collage at top and bottom of hour
  • there will be no jump out at you surprises in terms of drastic sonic clashes and we hope that helps some listeners
  • sonic and vocal pallets of light beats and rhythms we hope most will agree are suitable for focused OR background discovery, chill out and enjoyment
  • while we are shaving off some of the experimental, hard, rough, piercing, throbbing edges, this will still be wildly varied from as many artists as possible who ALL will still be on the main discovery feed with varying degrees of track overlap

radio free fedi comfy!

What we need:

  • keep supporting fedi artists!
  • continued celebration of our difference and of our community
  • keep sending in original music, if you are already contributing to the station please let us know when you have new stuff we can consider and help hype
  • keep putting hands up to do station reads
  • if you have the means, help offsetting infra costs is how this thing is evolving from the initial smell of an oily rag operation and we have begun to separate out some tech for resilience going forward
  • more understanding that there isn't always time to respond to queries that might be pretty clearly answered on the site, that we can't always find a way to include every submission nor have the time to adjust things to within parameters to do so. We can't always respond to every post about “why don't you use this platform?” or “I hate Martian Speed Casio Waltz, why is there not more Hungarian Death Lute Polka!?!?”. The station is and will as direct as we can hustle behind the scenes to make it be a direct reflection of who contributes material. Any compassion, help with care taken with quality submissions to minimise our workload, or maybe holding off on helpful demands that would obviously strain or distract from our core ethos is a massive help.
  • Not my style but I have been told it is worth noting that a lone volunteer spent 60 hrs a week for a month getting this community experiment up and running if that helps with understanding that this is not spotify in resource, ethos, or hatred for artists.

phew, thanks if you made it this far. we hope it helps to have a place other than truncated threads to document more long form some of the behind the scenes in evolving a community driven artist discovery tool

KEEP SUPPORTING EACH OTHER AND FEDI ARTISTS

and keep fedi weird

this is your 24/7 fediverse #community #radio #radioFreeFedi

listen and contribute: [https://radiofreefedi.net]

Heoi anō tāku mō nāianei Kia ora rawa atu