Can You Make Money With an Internet Radio Station in 2021?

can you make money with an internet radio station? - decibel peak

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AM/FM to satellite and now it’s all about the INTERNET radio station.

However, it seems like music streaming services have completely taken over.

So, can you make money with an internet radio station or has it become obsolete like .mp3 downloads and CD-ROMS?

The most popular radio stations made approximately $20,000,000 per year in the last decade. The only way to make that much money from an internet radio station would be through ADVERTISING and SPONSORSHIPS.

That’s how money is made nowadays…

In other words, it’s definitely possible to make money from your internet radio station, but the rest of this article will explain why that might be more difficult than you think.

However, the REAL benefit of an online radio station isn’t necessarily about the money…

How much does it cost to run an internet radio station?

Based on the website, it will cost you 49$ – 179$ to host your internet radio station.

To be honest, that’s essentially all you need…

Of course, I’m assuming that you already own your own music catalog.

Otherwise, you’ll still need to think about LICENSING music for your internet radio station (which we’ll talk about later).

The only other piece of software you’ll need is some type of DJ/broadcasting software.

Mixxx is an open-source/free option and honestly, it gets the job done pretty well.

So, it really shouldn’t cost you THAT much to start broadcasting (streaming) on the web. Let’s just say that it’s MUCH less expensive than terrestrial radio broadcasting.

If you can make use of it, I think an internet radio station is an excellent investment though.

It’s the equivalent of having your own website for music streaming (radio station = personal streaming service).

If you want to raise the objective value of your music and create an “exclusive vibe” to your musical branding, it’s well-worth it.

However, you DEFINITELY need to consider the time and energy you’ll be investing into making your internet radio station come to life. That’s what most people forget to do…

How to make money with an internet radio station

The truth is, you probably won’t make ANY money from your internet radio station.

Well, not at first anyway…

That’s because you actually need listeners and LOTS of them.

However, you’d probably need MUCH less listeners than with music streaming services…

  1. Subscriptions; that’s the first way to monetize your internet radio station
  2. Donations; you can make your station open to the public and collect donations
  3. Advertising; instead of a fraction of the “pie”, you collect ALL the advertising revenue
  4. Sponsorships; people might want to pay you to talk about them
  5. Time-Slots; someone may want to host their show on your radio station

Now, those were FIVE different ways to monetize your internet radio station.

As you can see, it’s like having your own music streaming service and keeping 100% of the revenue instead of making pennies per subscriber.

Of course, there’s nothing instantaneous…

Some of these forms of monetization can take YEARS to put in place.

Personally, I’d be counting on subscriptions and donations to make some decent money with my online radio station.

For example, you can make it exclusive through a tier of your Patreon page.

If you truly value your music and think that your followers do, then you owe to yourself and to them to create your own internet radio station.

How to get advertisers for your internet radio station

Besides upfront fees, you can also make money in the backend with an internet radio station.

To be more specific, you can make money from partnering with advertisers.

The scope of advertisers you can reach is WIDE…

It isn’t as simple to implement as Google Adsense though!

The relationship you’ll have with your advertisers is much more direct. However, you’ll need to have built up quite a LARGE audience before anyone will pay you for air time.

For example, you could imagine how much you’d pay for a spot on the Joe Rogan Experience.

In fact, Spotify actually purchased the whole podcast.

Can you imagine if somebody was interested in purchasing your entire internet radio station? Well, it’s actually the traffic you’re generating that will interest your advertisers the most.

So, you’ll need to do some reaching out.

However, I could imagine that like having your own YouTube channel, you’ll most likely begin to attract advertisers organically.

I wouldn’t worry about this part before building an audience of at least 10,000 monthly listeners.

What types of licenses do you need for internet radio?

The first type of license you’ll need is from your local Performance Rights Organization (PRO).

We refer to this as the “blanket-fee” which is usually paid yearly.

Restaurants/Bars, shops and other venues pay the same blanket fee to play (perform) music from the artists that distribute their music for broadcast/web.

Of course, that’s only if you’re broadcasting music that you don’t own 100% of the rights to.

If you’re also representing the music of other artists, you also need mechanical licenses and performance licenses for the recordings/works.

That’s something you’ll need to acquire from the artist him/herself or the publishing company.

That’s why having your own music publishing company is beneficial.

If you’re interested in starting your own music publishing company, you can read about my experience setting mine up in THIS ARTICLE.

Summary: Can you make money with an internet radio station?

After YEARS of hard-work, you can make an honest living with an internet radio station.

However, I don’t believe this should be your first step in content marketing.

I think an internet radio station is an excellent EXTENSION to your existing brand. That’s why I’d prioritize that first.

For example, it’s much easier to create subscribers for your internet radio station if you have a website/channel that generates LOTS of traffic already.

It’s much easier to start on Google/YouTube than with internet radio.

That being said, I think it’ll be much easier to include your internet radio station as part of a subscription. Patreon is great, but you could also collect payments from your website.

It’s also much better to make your music exclusive nowadays.

Music streaming services are commoditizing music, so internet radio stations might be the best way to fight that off. I’d respect you if you started one.

Personally, I host my own music catalog using DISCO.

It’s like having your own personal music streaming service.

If you have any questions about setting up your own internet radio station though, I’d be more than happy to answer those in the comments. I hope you enjoyed the article, thanks for reading!


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