Nowadays, it seems like everyone can start their own radio station. Right in the comfort of their own home studio, believe it or not! What’s next, I’m going to say that it’s affordable too? Well… It really depends on how much effort you’ll be putting into your internet radio station, but it’s more affordable and easier to build than you think. Let’s guide you through the necessary steps!
We’re going to be learning how to start an internet radio station from home. I’m going to guide you through the process step-by-step starting with the first step. You’ll need some type of online radio broadcasting service. For instance, you could actually use YouTube’s live streaming capabilities and get it done for FREE! It’s even possible to stream your radio station 24/7 using this method, however, we’ll be doing things differently today. The best way to start an internet radio station is to use professional service providers (like radio.co) and hosting your own website. If you read through to the end, I’ll show you how to get it done on YouTube (or you can simply skip ahead, it’s up to you)!
- 24/7 online radio broadcasting servers
- Broadcasting tools/software needed for internet radio
- Equipment needed for your home studio/radio station
- Broadcasting your station for FREE on YouTube
- Are you ready to start an internet radio station?
24/7 online radio broadcasting servers
Besides being capable of hosting your music library/catalogue, your online radio broadcasting service provider should allow you to automate the process. You should also have the ability to live stream if ever you intend on hosting LIVE radio shows.
To summarize, here’s what I’d look for:
- 5 GB of storage (that should cover approximately 1000 tracks)
- 5 TB of bandwidth (that should last approximately 100,000 hours)
- High-quality server running 24/7 (without interruptions)
- Ability to automate your radio programming
- Ability to live stream radio shows (using external software)
- Ability to handle at least 1000 listeners at one time
- Ability to embed/customize your personal music player
Once your radio station takes off, you could easily afford to upgrade your plan.
Keep in mind that these service providers could cost you anywhere from 50$ – 100$ per month (sometimes even more, if your daily listener count exceeds the millions).
You’ll also need to consider web hosting and your domain name.
If you’re going through the process, you’ll definitely want to own your own .com in the name of your internet radio station. It’ll become important for branding, so the sooner you get your website up and running, the sooner you can start generating some serious traffic.
Of course, I’m not going to get the specifics of setting up your own website today…
However, you can always schedule 1-on-1 time with me. Did you know that Decibel Peak (the website you’re on right now) was designed by yours truly? That being said, I can happily guide you through the entire process over Zoom if that’s your immediate goal!
Either way, I’ll be covering the different service providers in another article.
Now, we’re moving onto the tools/software we’ll be using.
Broadcasting tools/software needed for internet radio
If you’re planning to host LIVE radio shows from time to time, you’ll also be needing some external software to get that done. Luckily for us, there are plenty of FREE/open-source options to choose from.
I personally recommend these TWO:
You’ll obviously need to learn how to use these tools. However, BUTT broadcaster is the most user-friendly. Mixxx, on the other hand, is much better equipped since it also serves as DJ mixing software (if your show needs that kind of action).
Either way, you’ll want to find out which protocol these broadcasters use.
It’s important for compatibility between your server and broadcasting tool.
Most servers are compatible with the Shoutcast protocol. Both of the applications I recommended utilize this protocol, so you can simply check with your service provider!
Next, we’ll be talking about equipment (that’s where the investment comes in).
Equipment needed for your home studio/radio station
You may realize that the equipment needed for an internet radio station is almost identical to the setup required for podcasting. That’s most likely because podcasting is, in essence, the same as hosting a LIVE radio show.
Here’s what you’ll need:
The audio interface is used to convert your microphone’s analog signal to digital. Your microphone(s) along with the accessories will be used for your radio host(s). The headphones are going to be used for monitoring purposes (like any good DJ).
Just make sure they’re CLOSED-BACK headphones.
You can also check out the pair I recommend right here.
The last step you’ll want to go through is selecting your audio interface as your main audio device using the settings page inside your broadcasting tool/software. It’s the same process you’d go through if you were using a DAW.
As promised, we’re now going to learn how to broadcast our radio station 24/7 on YouTube.
Broadcasting your radio station for FREE on YouTube
The first thing you’ll need to do if you want to use YouTube to host your radio station is to download another piece of software called OBS. It’s completely FREE/open-source, but you’ll realize that this method will cost you in other areas…
YouTube itself won’t actually host your audio files and it certainly won’t automate your program.
In other words, your computer will need to be powered 24/7.
That’ll cost you on electrical and internet consumption. You’ll need high-speed Internet and the bandwidth needs to be large enough to allow for streaming 24/7.
Since you’ll be routing your system’s audio through OBS, you’ll basically need to stop using that computer for the duration of the stream (unless you don’t make any sounds). In essence, you’ll need your own dedicated computer/server for this operation.
However, once you’ve got everything organized in OBS, you can simply put your music library on “infinite replay/shuffle” and even make playlists for any given day.
You’ll need to keep monitoring the broadcast from time to time, but it could be fun!
At any point, you could simply turn on your microphone (making sure it’s routed through OBS using your audio interface) and take control of the show.
You can also use OBS to stream video, an image, etc…
Are you ready to start an internet radio station?
I was inspired to write this guide after being asked to help one of my colleagues start his own internet radio station. I had never considered that internet radio would still have its place in our day and age, but who knows… It may be the start of another musical era.
With the rise of music streaming service like Spotify, music has become abundant.
However, that abundance has significantly reduced the value music has (especially for the starving artists out there… just kidding).
Having the exclusivity of owning your own radio station can do wonders for your brand. It can truly become an asset and who knows where it can take you. I think that every brand who’s considered podcasting should consider starting their own internet radio station.
Acquiring the music is an entirely different topic for another article though!
So what’s holding you back from getting started today?