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This section taps into the origins and influences that shape Hip-Hop culture.

Technology drives evolution. The internet has changed the way people communicate. Naturally, audio, video & software was eventually going to allow a new form of broadcasting: web casting. In the past few years, Ustream has been embraced by veteran DJs in the hip-hop community.

Self-broadcasting is a powerful tool. Anyone who wants to do a music format show can play anything they desire. Programming is at the discretion of the channel's creator. No program director or commercial limitations. No FCC.

I intended to publish this article in the fall of 2009. At the time, I had spent several months watching various shows. The new technology was fascinating to me. My recent use of Twitter (in April 2009) opened the door to these shows, which coincidentally were quite new. Traditional radio & TV video shows no longer played the rap/soul/r&b music I liked. There was a noticeable decline through the 2000s. I wanted some form of “live” music that I really enjoyed (to listen to at home). So, when veteran DJs started streaming shows from their studios, it filled the void.

It's probably a generational thing. Many 30-45 yr olds frequent the rooms. It caters to the generation that grew up during the golden age of hip-hop (late 80s/early 90s). Don't get me wrong, younger viewers who appreciate the music tune in.

History of Notable Broadcasting Dates

Radio: November 2, 1920, station KDKA (Pittsburgh, PA) made the nation's first commercial broadcast.

Television: July 2, 1928 marked the first regularly scheduled television service in the United States. The Federal Radio Commission authorized C.F. Jenkins to broadcast from experimental station W3XK in Wheaton, Maryland.

Internet (Modern Web Browser): A potential turning point for the World Wide Web began with the introduction of the Mosaic web browser in 1993, a graphical browser developed by a team at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (NCSA-UIUC). 1994: Netscape was standard browser. Later, Internet Explorer and Mozilla FireFox became industry standards.

Ustream, established March 2007, is a website which consists of network of diverse channels providing a platform for lifecasting and live video streaming of events online. The website has over 2,000,000 registered users who generate 1,500,000+ hours of live streamed content per month with over ten million unique hits per month.

Ustream Explained

Ustream has advantages over terrestrial radio. For one, there is no language censorship. There is video with option to use live video, just still images or other recorded video. Viewers can chat with hosts or other viewers but this is not mandatory. Ustream can be viewed on desktops, laptops, enabled cell phones & tablets such as iPad. While Ustream has embedded text ads & 30 sec ads when you load or refresh a site, the stations themselves typically are non-commercial. The Ustream video & chat window can be embedded into an existing web site. The music can be very diverse. Many stations feature hip-hop, funk, soul, reggae, house, electro, R&B & hits from the 70s/80s. Also, Skype can be used as part of broadcasts.

The Ustream setup is fairly straight forward. For those who have never watched a show on Ustream, here is how it works. As a listener, you go to the show (specific url for each station). The page loads with a video window and a window with tabs for social networks/chat. Show information can be tweeted to followers directly from Ustream. The chat window allows you to chat (once you sign up for account) with other listeners, moderators (people assigned to monitor room for abusive people) & many times the host/DJs you see on camera.

Recently, celebrities like Charlie Sheen have used Ustream to broadcast. While this is not new, I’m simply pointing out that it’s becoming more widely used. News agencies have used Ustream sites to stream live pictures of breaking news stories (i.e. Japan earthquake/tsunami). Ustream has been utilized in tv & films.

While I’m focusing on Ustream, there other sites that do the same thing. Livestream is a comparable site. Another site is Stickam. Other sites exist & more will pop up as technology improves.

Bitches Brew w/DJ Mocha & DeJeanne on Beatminerz Radio (2009)

Hip-Hop Renaissance

The essence of hip-hop got lost somewhere in the commercial television & radio world. In the late 90s, there was a noticable shift in the type of music played. Napster's introduction in 1999 completely changed the music industry forever. With the internet came a new way to get music distributed. For the record, streaming audio internet stations have been around since the 1990s. This is a mixture of terrestrial radio making local broadcasts available online & strictly internet-based stations. Ustream radio shows (along with other online shows) mix the new music with classic material.

2011 & Beyond

While Ustream is the current platform at the moment, look for more customized video, audio, chat, email, social networks to be custom-designed for individual sites. Other streaming entities will compete for the growing number of ‘consumers’. The video compression will improve. Computers & home televsion systems will be more integrated. Imagine your favorite show in High Definition & Dolby TrueHD.

Inevitably, there will be commercial applications developed to harness the viewer ship of these programs. It’s very niche advertising but that has been the trend over all media last 10 years. Ustream may be usurped by yet another site that offers an experience that surpasses the functionality. More programming. More viewing options.


Ustream & other streaming sites potentionally tap into a market of music lovers who aren’t satisfied with the more traditional options. There is still a desire to listen to music from DJs who do this professionally. When Wi-Fi becomes more economically viable in cars, internet stations will have yet another platform to expand. The future of live streaming music via the internet is here. Embrace it.