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How to start an Internet Radio Station

How to start an Internet Radio Station

How to start an Internet Radio Station

You want to start an  Internet Radio Station but there is a minefield of complicated information to digest. This guide aims to help you set up your first Radio Station and get your content broadcasting to the world.

Step 1 – Choose what content to broadcast

Before you start you will want to choose what content you will be broadcasting. Most Internet Radio Stations are music based but you could also broadcast speech only or a mixture of both.

If your station is music based it is a good idea to decide on the main music genres you will be broadcasting.

Step 2 – Decide if your station will broadcast live, from Auto DJ or a mixture of both.

This is an important step before you start your station.

If you choose to broadcast live without the back up of an online Auto DJ service will you be able to keep your content available 24/7?

Live Only

Radio Stations with a central studio will often broadcast live from the studio and if they do not have live DJ’s they will have a system in place to automate their playlist content.

There are many automation systems like WideOrbit Automation that are used typically by commercial Radio Stations.

Sam Broadcaster is also a tool of choice when automating content.

For more budget solutions you may decide to automate content with free tools such as Winamp or iTunes.

 

 

Auto DJ

Auto DJ is an online playlist system where you can upload your content to broadcast when you have no live feed available.

This works in the same way that software automation systems work but are hosted online.

Stream GB use the most popular Auto DJ system Centova Cast to deliver your content.

  • Auto DJ Upload content via control panel or FTP
  • Automatic stream recovery
  • Custom scheduled playlists
  • Heavy, light and medium rotation
  • Drag and drop content
  • Track statistics
  • Album art
  • Allow DJ permissions to upload content
  • Royalty reports

As your content is stored online Streaming Media Providers typically charge by the disc space you use for Auto DJ.

Step 3 – Choose your Streaming Platform

SHOUTcast and Icecast

There are 2 main streaming platforms to choose from, SHOUTcast and Icecast.

For new Radio Stations SHOUTcast V2 is recommended as your station can be added to the SHOUTcast streaming directory which will help your station grow a following.

Icecast has it’s own directory but typically the SHOUTcast directory is more widely used and a great start to get new listeners.

You can read more about the pros and cons of these 2 platforms in more detail in our Difference between SHOUTcast and Icecast article.

 

Step 4 – ChoMP3 Logoose a streaming codec

MP3 –  is the most widely used codec and supported by the majority of Streaming Encoders. This is best to use for compatibility.

HE-AAC –  is suitable for Bitrates up to 128k. A 48k HE-AAC stream can sound similar to the quality of a 128kbps MP3 stream. Typically used for mobile devices on data plans. HE-AAC is not as compatible with playback devices as mp3 and would be recommended as a second option.

 

Step 5- Choose a Bitrate

In simple terms the bitrate you choose will determine the audio quality of your Radio Station. The higher the bitrate the better your stream will sound.

Higher bitrates use more data transfer from the streaming server to the end listener. This is something to keep in mind when delivering content to mobiles on data plans.

Bitrates are typically measured in ‘KBPS’ (Kilo Bits Per Second) and in terminology can be shortened to ‘K’ For example ‘128k’.

Many Radio Stations will offer more than 1 stream to cater for different network conditions at the end users location.

With Stream GB Auto DJ plans we can automate this process for you by outputting different lower rates from 1 high KBPS stream.

  • 320 KBPS MP3 – High quality-Better than CD quality.
  • 256 KBPS MP3 – True CD quality sound.
  • 128 KBPS MP3 – Minimum Bitrate for a good near on CD sounding stream
  • 80-96  KBPS MP3 – Minimum for low bandwidth connections from the encoder.
  • 24-64 KBPS MP3  – Low quality sound typically for mobile content on data plans.

Step 6 – Choose your expected listener count

If you are purchasing an audio streaming plan you will need to select how many maximum listeners your stream can handle. The more listeners you have, the more data transfer you will use.

For billing purposes Radio Streaming Providers typically charge by a mixture of bitrate and maximum listener slots. With stream GB you can upgrade your listener slots at any time, so for cost purposes it’s best to start low and upgrade as your station grows.

A typical example of a new Internet Radio Station would be:

50 Maximum listener slots streaming at 128kbps.

Step 7 – Download a Streaming Encoder for live streaming

Internet Radio Butt Streaming Encoder

There are many free and paid streaming encoders available to use with SHOUTcast and Icecast.

A simple encoder we recommend is butt – broadcast using this tool.

This is a simple encoder that is light on computer resources and runs on Mac OS X, as well as Linux and Windows.

As well as streaming your shows to the server, you can also record the shows to your computer.

If you have purchased a plan from a Streaming Provider like stream GB you will receive the following details by email to enter in to your encoder.

  • Server Hostname or IP address
  • Server port
  • Your server streaming password
  • Your chosen maximum bitrate
  • The platform – IE SHOUTcast (v1)

You can view a full guide to this encoder with download link by clicking the following link:

http://streamgb.com/radio-streaming-guide

Step 8 – Start Streaming your Internet Radio

If you have purchased a plan through a streaming Media Provider like Stream GB you will receive a control panel login where you can administrate your stream and control the Auto DJ if purchased.

The control panel will also list your streaming URL to submit to directories and provide you with links to play your stream with external players like iTunes, Winamp and Windows Media Player.

Now you can start streaming to the world!!

Why not get started with a free 14 day trial from Stream GB. You can test SHOUTcast v1, v2, Icecast and Auto DJ

Difference between SHOUTcast and Icecast Streaming

The difference between SHOUTcast V1, V2 and Icecast Streaming

Radio Streaming Mixer

Stream GB offers 3 different types of streaming platform for audio radio streaming.

  • SHOUTcast v1
  • SHOUTcast v2
  • Icecast

 

All 3 radio streaming platforms are quite similar and our radio streaming control panel will display all 3 in the same way. There are however pros and cons of each platform that are outlined below.

SHOUTcast V1

The original audio streaming platform used by thousands around the world. This platform is still popular today for its ease of use, stability and simplicity.

Originally developed by Nullsoft and was created in 1998.

AOL purchased Nullsoft in 1999 and then sold the platform in 2014 to online radio aggregator Radionomy.

 V1 Pros

Listing on the shoutcast.com directory – The directory has thousands of online radio stations and is also syndicated by other directories allowing exposure of your Internet radio station.

Simplicity – SHOUTcast V1 has been around for some years and radio station owners are more likely to have used this version in the past allowing a familiar interface.

MP3 and AAC Live Streaming

V1 Cons

V1 does not allow for mount points and if you use Auto DJ there is no automatic switching feature. You or your DJ’s will have to manually log in to the control panel in order to stop Auto DJ when you wish to go live.

Auto DJ can only use mp3 format.

 SHOUTcast V2 Pros

Automatic source switching when using Auto DJ. When you or 1 of your DJ’s wishes to connect in live, the stream will automatically switch to the live source.

You can upload mp3 and AAC files to the Auto DJ system.

Multiple bitrate usage with mountpoints.

V2 Cons

Older users of SHOUTcast V1 will notice a change in the D.N.A.S interface and advanced options.

Icecast

Icecast was created in 1998 as an open source audio streaming server and allows anyone to modify its contents to their specific needs. This platform allows for Ogg Vorbis as well as mp3 and AAC.

Icecast Pros

Icecast allows for multiple mount points allowing you to switch from 1 source to another. A perfect example of this is our Auto DJ system. You can simply connect in live on the encoder and the source will automatically switch from Auto DJ to live and back again when you disconnect.

Icecast is used well with HTML5 based players on desktop and mobile devices. Some devices even allow for the playing of the stream in the background when the mobile web page is not on show.

Multiple Bitrate usage with mountpoints.

Icecast cons

Your stream will not be listed on the SHOUTcast directory but will be listed on the Icecast directory instead. The SHOUTcast directory typically gets more views then the Icecast directory would do.

Summery

SHOUTcast V1 is great for users who like the familiarity of the user interface whilst SHOUTcast V2 and Icecast have more features and automatic Auto DJ switching.

All 3 of these services can be added to the Tunein and iTunes radio directories to increase your listeners.