Bots & Rippers

Whilst looking over the station's stats, I discovered the strange phenomena of bots and rippers - automated listeners that would connect based on particular songs or artists, sometimes listening only for the duration of a song, or more often, listening for hours on end.

Stream ripping is a way of automatically recording a station’s output. Mostly, it's for personal use when someone wants to record a stream when they are unable to listen live. A PVR for radio, if you will. By and large, these bots and rippers go unnoticed as it's a single instance of a recorder and doesn’t particularly stand out from other listeners. 

Occasionally, a whole raft of bots will connect in quick succession. Looking at the shoutcast log will reveal 10, 20 or more listeners - seemingly connected from lots of locations worldwide and all using the same type of media player. These are always bots. A collection of stream rippers that have been programmed to look for a particular artist or song title or genre, something that’s currently in demand. Playing a track sought after by the bots is a kind of honeypot and causes them all to launch simultaneously and boost your listening figures quite dramatically.

A swarm of bot listeners can cause near heart attacks with some presenters who are unwittingly lulled into a false sense of popularity. It’s a great boon for pirate stations, who seemingly get a boost to their listener numbers. It’s a headache for legit station owners, who will ultimately have their listening figures pumped up artificially. The sudden peak can unnecessarily eat into your listening allowance for the year. If the number of bots connecting at one time is extreme, it can actually blow through your shoutcast ceiling, prevent others from listening and cause additional expense at the end of year when your listener figures are submitted to PRS and PPL.

Posted by Tim on Wed 05 Oct 2022 at 09:39 and viewed 1,181 times.

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