Starting up an FM, satellite, or DAP radio station requires a lot of things, including licensing, soundproofed studios, audio broadcast equipment, some capital, knowledge on music royalties, and a good business plan. But sometimes, the thought of going through the lengthy process of setting up an FM radio station can be overwhelming. Why not consider broadcasting over the internet instead?
How to Start Your Own Internet Radio Station
Starting a conventional radio station is capital intensive, which puts it out of reach for most people. Internet radio, on the other hand, works across standard broadband connections, though it is much cheaper and easier to set up, making it possible for any serious person to start a broadcast. Today, there are numerous stations accessible online, from conventional channels playing only music to those focused on political and social issues.
How Does it Work?
Unlike traditional radio, internet radio originates from a computer, which creates an audio stream from any music or sound originating from your end. This audio stream is then converted to data before it is sent along your internet connection to a server for distribution. This distribution server is another very powerful computer with a super fast internet connection, possibly located in a data centre, and has the capability to relay or distribute the stream to other users across the globe. Any listener tuning into your radio station essentially connects to the distribution server in order to receive programming.
That said, there are three primary categories of internet radio that you can choose:
1. Live streaming service. To start this service, you would need a studio with the basic equipment, including a computer system, headphones, microphone, CD, and mixing desk, as well as a connection to an internet streaming server to convert the output of your studio into a stream, as discussed earlier. You can host the streaming (distribution) server yourself, or you can register with a third party streaming radio server.
2. Pre-recorded or part-live service. This option frees you from having to run a 24-hour a day live service. Usually, you have to automate your station using clips from recent editions of your podcast, which are then streamed to your listeners across the globe.
3. Podcasting. For this option, you need to record a sequence of radio shows, and then distribute them as podcasts. Your listeners across the globe can then download your shows automatically and listen to them at their own time.
Podcasts are growing in popularity, as they are the easiest way for people to get their voices out there. Whichever option of internet radio station you choose, there are a few things you need to consider, including:
- Hardware: Basic audio broadcast equipment plus a PC, microphone, and servers.
- Podcast bandwidth: You have to host your podcasts or audio streams somewhere, which is usually a premium service offered by hosting providers.
- Music licenses: You need a music license before you can play music on radio, even internet radio. Playing copyrighted music without a license can lead to substantial fines. To qualify as a small online radio, you must meet the requirements for licensing given by bodies such as PPL, or PRS for Music.
- Topics to discuss: Make your pick, but you must make it interesting to your target demographic in order to build up a listener base. It helps to be knowledgeable in the niche you choose, and you’ll want to keep your topics timely and relevant.
- Funding: Advertising and affiliate deals for products discussed are great revenue streams.
Lastly, it is important that you use suitable audio broadcasting equipment, as this can help your new internet radio station present a professional image with high-quality audio.