Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

How To Create Your Web Radio Station: A Mini-Guide

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It is easier than ever to create your own Internet radio station and stream your music, thoughts or discussions live over the web. Not so very long ago you would have faced either incredible equipment expenses and music licensing fees, or the continuous threat of having the authorities shut your pirate radio station down, seizing your music collection in for the bargain.

Photo credit: Brosa

That no longer needs to be the case - whether you decide to create a talk-only station, join a network with pre-paid music licensing, or showcase your own or others Creative Commons licensed music, there are plentiful opportunities to reach out to a global audience in the world of online radio.

Where traditional radio broadcasting only traveled as far as the radio waves would let it, with your own Internet-based niche radio station you can reach audiences anywhere on the planet. The only possible limit on your popularity is the quality of your content. But how do you get that content out of your home and streaming across the Internet?

In this mini-guide I guide you through several alternative routes you could take, including:

  • Desktop applications that will set you on your way to broadcasting from your bedroom or office
  • Existing networks that will cover all of your music licensing worries, protecting you from potential copyright infringement issues
  • Peer-to-peer solutions that distribute the bandwidth needed to broadcast among your listeners

Furthermore, I give examples of some great sources of copyright-free material for those who want to broadcast music without worrying about royalties to be paid or having to license commercial tracks from the recording industry majors.

So if you want to set the airwaves alight with your charismatic banter, teach the world a thing or two about great taste in music, or engage a global audience in live, no-holds-barred discussion, you came to the right place.

Online radio networks

The following networks supply a broadcasting infrastructure for you to make use of and in the case of music-based shows will cover what might otherwise turn out to be huge music licensing fees. As such, these services allow you to play copyrighted music without incurring extra fees, within your online radio shows.

One of the main advantages of creating your radio station through these existing networks is the fact that you are able to use their streaming technologies to reach a large audience, rather than having to rely on your own bandwidth.

  • Live 365


    Live365 is a network of over 10,000 online radio stations, which are free to listen to. Broadcasters pay a monthly fee for the hosting of their mp3 files and use of the Live365 infrastructure, which includes the following features:

    • Live streaming capability: Yes (basic account excluded)
    • Pre-recorded streaming capability: Yes
    • Embed player in own website: Yes, in pro accounts
    • Directory of online radio stations: Yes
    • Music licensing: Yes, full details at Live365 website.
    • Monetization: Yes. Rewards program gives broadcasters a portion of revenues made from users signing up to a preferred membership program. Professional accounts can add advertising to their ad-free broadcasts and keep 100% of the revenues.
    • Pricing: Pricing ranges from $9.95 per month for a basic account, to $84.95 per month for advanced features. A full list of price plans is available at the Live365 website.

  • Mercora


    Mercora is an interesting take on online radio broadcasting, given that DJs, and all users, can tune in to the music from one another's hard drives by means of peer-to-peer technology. At any given time, five files from users' mp3 collection are made available for all to listen to, and would-be DJs can create playlists for other users to listen to.

    While this is not a great solution for those with a compelling desire to talk and announce the next record, if you are simply looking to share your music over the Internet with other listeners, Mercora is an interesting solution. Robin Good reviewed the latest in the Mercora line-up, Radio 2.0. Features include:

    • Live streaming capability: Yes (mp3 tracks only)
    • Pre-recorded streaming capability: Yes
    • Embed player in own website: No, but has an IM client
    • Directory of online radio stations: Yes
    • Music licensing: Yes
    • Monetization: No
    • Pricing: Mercora is free to use

  • Talkshoe


    If you're looking to skip the music and launch yourself as a talk radio host, Talkshoe is a viable platform for doing so online. Talkshoe lets you create your own talk show, using your telephone or VoIP client, and invite listeners to join you. With the ability to control and moderate when your listeners speak on the show, and a live text chat accompanying the discussion, you have everything you need to delivery talk radio shows from the comfort of your front room. Features include:

    • Live streaming capability: Yes
    • Pre-recorded streaming capability: Yes - as all shows can be recorded, users can download or stream your show archive
    • Embed player in own website: No
    • Directory of online radio stations: Yes
    • Music licensing: No
    • Monetization: Yes, as a host in the Talkshoe hosting program you can make money from your talk show episodes
    • Pricing: Talkshoe is currently free to use

Direct streaming

The following tools allow you to bypass the online radio networks by giving you the tools to stream your content directly to other users. The downside of this approach is in having to use your own bandwidth to serve up content, effectively limiting the amount of listeners you can have at any one time. Furthermore, you cannot legally play copyrighted music or content without purchasing the relative licenses to do so, which can generally prove to be quite costly.

On the bright side, there are thousands of copyright-free songs you can use by visiting the sites listed below in the sourcing copyright-free material section of this mini-guide.

  • SAM Broadcaster


    SAM Broadcaster is a popular, feature-rich solution to online radio broadcasting, with advanced features including crossfading, a gap killer, beat matching, volume normalization and a 5-band compressor/limiter. Key among its features are:

    • Advanced playlist rotation logic and scheduling, so that you can leave your station running and still ensure a great blend of tracks for your listeners
    • Advanced streaming encoders: including aacPlusv2, MP3, mp3PRO, WM9 and Ogg - playing on Winamp, Windows Media Player, Live365, MusicMatch, and more
    • Real-time statistics that let you know how many listeners are connected to your radio station at any moment
    • SAM interfaces with your website and allows automated song requests. Your audience sees artist, title, album, cover art, and other information on the songs played
    • Pricing: $279.00
    • Platform: Windows only

  • Pirate Radio


    Pirate Radio is a budget alternative to SAM Broadcaster, offering less features for a considerably lower price. The principle is the same however, giving you an effective way to stream your music and commentary directly from your desktop. Key features include:

    • The program plays MP3, .wav, and CD audio files
    • It also supports microphones and external input (line in)
    • The platform has its own online and player-based station directory
    • Furthermore with the playerless Java-streaming Clipstream format you can embed your station directly into your web page
    • Pricing: $29.95 + $10.00 shipping and handling
    • Platform: Windows only

  • SHOUTcast


    For those with a little more patience, it is possible to create a simple music streaming solution using the free SHOUTcast platform. This isn't the easiest way of going about getting your radio station online, but if you follow the instructions in the helpful SHOUTcast forum, it is relatively painless to get up and running. Features include:

    • The ability to feature your station in a directory of thousands at
    • Streaming of your playlists from the popular Winamp media player
    • The ability to choose the bitrate you broadcast at
    • Pricing: Free
    • Platform: Windows, Linux

Peer-to-peer solutions

Peer-to-peer solutions solve the bandwidth problem by distributing data among your station listeners, with each one simultaneously sending and receiving information. This gives you the reach of the network solutions with the freedom of the direct streaming alternatives.

Possible downsides are the dependence upon others Internet connections to effectively transmit your show - if there is a weak link in the chain, this can effect the overall quality. Furthermore, these open source, free alternatives require a greater amount of technical know-how and initial setting up. Luckily there is advice online as to how to get set up with your own peer-to-peer broadcasting solution.

  • Peercast


    Peercast is a peer-to-peer broadcasting solution that will facilitate the online sharing of your radio broadcast without draining your bandwidth. PeerCast offers considerable savings for broadcasters because they do not have to provide bandwidth for all of their listeners. A single 56K modem can be used to broadcast a radio station to the entire network. Features include:

    • It offers anonymity for broadcasters because there is no easy way to trace back to the original stream, it is even possible to broadcast directly to a single client located in a different country and have that provide the source for the entire network
    • PeerCast can also serve streams directly to any media player. This means that it can be used in place of a Shoutcast/Icecast server to provide both direct and P2P streaming at the same time
    • It works in much the same way as other P2P file-sharing clients except that instead of downloading files, the users download streams. These streams are then exchanged in real-time with other users. No data is stored locally on any machine connected to the network
    • Support for MP3, OGG Theora and Vorbis, WMA, WMV and NSV formats
    • Pricing: Completely free
    • Platforms: Windows, Linux, Mac OSX

  • Icecast

    icecast.jpg is another peer-to-peer broadcasting solution that uses the same fundamental approach to distributing your streaming content as Peercast. As such you can broadcast from a reasonably poor Internet connection and still reach a large audience. If you have the time and patience to get Icecast set up, it is a capable platform and includes the following features:

    • Compatibility with the SHOUTcast platform
    • The ability to either read audio data from disk, such as from Ogg Vorbis files, or sample live audio from a sound card and encode it on the fly
    • Extensive third-party support for media players and DJ software
    • Platforms: Linux, Windows
    • Pricing: Completely free

Sourcing copyright-safe material

The following resources provide a great way of finding fresh and inspired music for your radio show, whilst avoiding the issue of having to pay licensing fees. The content available has been licensed under the Creative Commons, and as such allows you greater or lesser degrees of freedom to use it. You can find out more about the different licenses used at the Creative Commons website.


  • Creative Commons website features an extensive cross-media search that can be whittled down to a particular medium. This is a great way of finding audio content for your broadcasts
  • Internet Archive has a huge collection of public domain and Creative Commons licensed audio, including the excellent Net Labels, which features hordes of albums from virtual record labels
  • Legal Torrents has a great selection of music that you can download legally and use in your broadcasts
  • Musopen provides public domain classical recordings provided by volunteers
  • CCMixter is a creative commons remix community, and has hundreds of remixable music works for you to make use of
  • The Freesound project is an excellent source of Creative Commons licensed sound effects, should you wish to use some in your broadcast
  • Common Content is a great source of Creative Commons licensed media, including an extensive audio section

Additional resources

If you would like to learn more about creating your own online radio station, you might want to take a look at the following links:

Written by Michael Pick for Master New Media and originally published as: "How To Create Your Web Radio Station: A Mini-Guide"

Readers' Comments    
2010-08-17 07:55:14


Is there anyway to contact the writer or anyone as a consultant? I have more questions and I need an expert to contact! Please!

2010-04-01 11:49:16


lot of money to do all that! noway!!!

2009-05-26 10:11:17


Thank you so much!

2009-04-28 23:04:03

Dalena Nguyen

Thankyou so much ! This website has really helped and I am so glad someone has the time to provide the world with this kind of information to fulfill their talkshow desires !

2007-03-15 09:07:44

Serge Lachapelle

Don't forget to mention the 500 USD yearly fee the RIAA takes if you live in the USA and broadcast copyrighted songs.

posted by Michael Pick on Wednesday, March 14 2007, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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