1. Computing

Starting Up Your Own Internet Radio Station: Is It Worth The Hassle?

Dateline: 03/08/04

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A site visitor writes:

I am thinking about starting a personal Internet radio station on live365, or similar service provider. Although it appears easy enough, and the price is certainly affordable, before I commit and start something like this I would like to know what the caveats are.

What is the real future of web-radio? Is this something too early to predict?

Is this something worth pursuing, or are there legal ramifications of which I should be aware?

Radio Guide Answers:

If you are starting it for personal reasons, I don't see why it matters what the state of the industry is in. If you are looking to make money, I think that's a tough slope to climb right now because:

1. You'll have to pay royalties to stream the music and...

2. If you go with Live 365, you’ll incur hosting fees.

Plus, if you decide to run an Internet station without the help of a hosting service like Live365, expect considerably other expenses which may easily become higher for server hardware, third party software, etc.

Before starting up your own Internet station, you have to decide what your goals are. If you’re doing it because you have a passion for a particular type music and want to share it, then no doubt you’ll be happy if you can make enough money just to break even.

If you are looking to make a profit, then it might be helpful to figure out a business model you can follow. Maybe you can sell premium subscriptions to higher bandwidth access, rely on banner ads, or sell products on your website that relate to the music you’re streaming.

Remember: you are competing against not only thousands of other streams but terrestrial radio and satellite radio, too. There have never been more choices for a listener so whatever it is you do, make it unique, maintain the quality and don’t try to serve too wide an audience.

Today, all radio stations serve a small demo or special interest listener. With so many choices, you cannot expect to be everything to everyone. You must decide your specialty and make good on your claims. Web-based streaming audio has grown considerably in the last five years and will continue to expand, much in part because it has offered alternative programming to traditional choices.

As for the future, I don’t think anyone has a clear idea where streaming audio on the Internet will eventually wind up. Luckily, several legal hurdles have been removed and if you want to broadcast, the costs are at least reasonable in terms of royalty payments and hosting fees. That's assuming you stream a station that features music. If you plan to originate your own programming (talk, original music, etc.) then you'll easily get by with just the hosting fees.

Where Internet Radio goes will depend less on the state of the industry today and more on the entrepreneurial vision of tomorrow.

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