When I was 16, I started my own online radio station using Winamp and a Shoutcast server. The process was hard, but we managed to get a team together and stream to 10 people.
Today the process is much easier, with platforms setup to allow anyone to start a radio station within minutes. Below you'll see 10 of the best radio station hosting providers.
With features designed to cater towards small, medium and large radio stations, you can create your own station that plays music or hold your very own talk show.
With a wide variety of platforms below offering free trials, and competitive pricing, you'll be able to pay as you scale, and only pay for what you're using.
So grab your studio microphone and start streaming! Booyah.
Voscast offers unlimited hosting, with uncapped bandwidth and audience size, and no extra charges. It is available in 6 different plans which vary in price depending on the maximum bitrate required (the speed at which audio is transferred).
For example, the lowest quality plan, at 48 Kbps, is $6.95 per month, whilst the highest quality, 320 Kbps plan is $48.95 per month.
It comes as downloadable software or as a browser interface, allowing users to upload songs and broadcast from anywhere. It also includes custom HTML5 audio players, analytic tools, and automatic broadcasting tools.
Voscast provide an extensive knowledge base and tutorials, a ticketed support system and live chat support.
Radio.co offers premium grade broadcasting and is used by over 20,000 professional broadcasters around the world. It provides live broadcasting, social media integration, analytics and automation and scheduling tools.
Radio.co offers a free 7-day trial and four paid plans – Bronze, Silver, Gold and Pro. The Bronze plan is $49 per month and includes 10 TB of bandwidth, 10000 listeners and 10 DJs.
The Pro plan comes with unlimited listeners, 75 TB of bandwidth, studio quality audio and unlimited DJs, all for $299 per month.
There is a Radio University, with a range of webinars, courses and case studies, as well as help guides and FAQs to help users get started.
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Athens based Radiojar offers cloud-based radio management and streaming solutions. They run their own network of servers, giving users a scalable platform with high quality audio and reliable broadcasts. Other features include a virtual studio, media libraries and ad server tools.
There are four monthly subscription options available. The Simulcast is $10, Broadcaster is $20, Professional is $50 and the Network plan is $100 per month.
There is also an enterprise plan available for professional broadcasters, and if users purchase a plan for two years, they receive two months free.
There is a good range of help articles provided that cover most topics, as well as a FAQs section, but no live chat support.
Airtime is a fully featured broadcasting tool with automation tools, program calendars, live broadcasting tools, built in microsites, podcast feeds and DJ management tools.
Airtime has live chat support included with all paid plans, as well as a Help Centre with a range of articles and guides, and a community support forum. Users can also submit tickets or contact the company directly with email addresses provided.
There are four subscription plans available – Hobbyist ($9.95), Starter ($33.29), Plus ($54.12) and Premium ($83.29). Plans are priced per month but billed annually. There is a free trial available, and discounts are available for students, educators and not for profits.
Shoutcast can host radio stations on their own servers or they can provide their software to be installed on user’s own server network. The Shoutcast server is available for free with limited features or a Premium version is available for $9.90 per month.
To host radio stations, Shoutcast offer a Business and an Enterprise plan. The Business plan starts at $14.90 per month, whilst the Enterprise plan is available by request. There is a 7 day free trial available for hosted stations.
Shoutcast has an advertising tool called TargetSpot, which inserts ready made ads into broadcasts with the revenue split 50/50. All stations also get added into the Shoutcast directory, one of the largest radio directories available.
Cloudradio lets users host radio stations using Shoutcast and Icecast radio servers. Cloudradio has a different pricing structure than most radio streamers, in that they charge by slots, with one slot equal to one listener.
Prices start at $2 per month for 10 simultaneous listeners, or slots, and rises to $200 for 1000 listeners. Users can increase and decrease slots for particular times, for instance if they expect a large audience for an upcoming broadcast.
Cloudradio doesn’t offer as many features as other providers such as automation or scheduling tools, but does stream all audio in 320 Kbps, has unlimited bandwidth and a customisable HTML5 audio player. Support is provided through a help centre with a range of articles organised by topic.
Caster FM is another radio station platform using Shoutcast server technology, and is available on a Free or Premium plan. The Free plan has features such as a central control panel, a customisable radio web page, private broadcasts and a pod cast recorder.
The Premium plan is available in M, L, XL and XXL options, costing from $80 per month for the M plan up to $350 for the XXL option.
These prices are for the lowest bitrate speed, and increase in price up to $700 for the XL plan with a 320 Kbps bitrate. Premium plans come with a desktop application as well as a branded iPhone and Android app.
Radioboss has a 14 day free trial and Small, Medium, Large and XLarge subscription plans, priced respectively at $10, $20, $30 and $45 per month, all for unlimited listeners.
The Small plan includes a 1 TB data transfer limit, 15 GB of storage space and 1 additional encoder (allowing broadcast to external streaming servers). The XLarge plan comes with a 15TB transfer limit, 100 GB storage and 5 additional encoders.
Radioboss has many of the same features as other platforms including the ability to live stream, social network integration and radio management and automation tools. Support comes via email support, community forums and help articles.
Turkey based Radiolize doesn’t offer a free trial but does offer free demos and a 3 day money back guarantee. Subscriptions are available in monthly, six monthly and yearly plans, in Bronze, Gold and Diamond options.
The Bronze plan is €5 per month, or €45 per year, and comes with 96 Kbps audio quality, 4 GB of storage and a 1000 listener limit, whilst the Diamond plan has the highest audio quality and no listener limit and is €49 per month or €440 per year.
Radiolize is cloud based so is accessible through any web browser, and also through an Android mobile app. It has auto DJ and scheduling features as well as live broadcast tools.
Radioking offers 5 different products.
The Radio is a radio station broadcasting platform that works in much the same way as other broadcasting providers, and is available in Start (£16), Pro (£32) and Business (£65) monthly subscription plans.
The website is a radio station website builder that is available as a Simple (£10) or Full (£19) subscription, or as a lifetime license for a £399 one off fee.
The Mobile App product is an Android and iPhone app builder which starts at £19 per month. The Smart Speaker adds your radio station to Amazon Alexa and is £89 per year, whilst the Radio Player connects listeners to radio stations and comes in free and paid ($119) versions.
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How to choose best radio station hosting?
Usually we'd get an expert in to discuss this buyers guide, but I actually owned my own radio station back in the day. We mastered the art of setting up a hotline and inviting callers to request songs and give a shoutout.
There's a few considerations that you should factor in before getting to that step though.
You will see various bitrates offered. This may range from 32kbps up to 320kbps. The higher the number, the better but this means a higher amount of bandwidth is required.
For example CD quality or attending a music festival, the tracks they are playing will be streamed at 320kbps which means they are crystal clear, ultra high quality.
Next you'll want to check your audio files and see what quality they are in. Are those files 128, 192 or 320kbps? Do you want to offer your listeners the best quality?
To get started you can stream at a low rate such as 48kbps but your quality won't be that great so I'd recommend streaming at 128kbps or 320kbps for best results.
To conclude, the higher the bitrate, the more bandwidth used which is the traffic for you uploading to the radio station hosting company and your listeners downloading (streaming) the show.
If you're going to be streaming 24/7 you'll want to ensure your radio station hosting provider offers unlimited bandwidth. If not you'll find you'll chew through your bandwidth fairly quickly.
Bandwidth is fairly cheap now, but even still although 10GB sounds like a lot, with 100 listeners you could easily blow through this cap within a day or two.
These are the number of available listeners you can have. If you've got a server with 100 slots, you can have 100 listeners at any one time. If you get 101 then that last person won't be able to join.
You'll want to plan accordingly, and often you can increase your plan as you scale. Some companies only offer fixed plans such as 100 or 500 slots, which can be a lot of wasted cash, while others will charge per slot such as $0.10 per slot per month.
You may want to look around to checkout the best deals.
You'll probably want to choose a company that offers a high level of uptime, usually around 99.9%. This means that your station will be down for no longer than 15 minutes per calendar month. It's highly unlikely your station will be down at all, but no one can guarantee 100% uptime.
Ultimately hosting providers have to reboot servers to install updates and perform routine maintenance, so there will be a short downtime. Often your host will send you an email advising when your stream will be down, so you can plan around this.
Software For Streaming
You need a software to stream to your radio station hosting service. Some providers offer a cloud based solution where you can DJ in real time via your web browser. Others provide server details allowing you to stream from desktop based software such as Winamp or Sam Broadcaster.
You may need to purchase a license for these software programs. If the provider offers a DJ platform then check to see what features it offers. Is there an AutoDJ service? Can you have multiple speakers connected at the same time?
Lastly can you record from multiple sources such as your microphone as well as computer inputs? If you want to host a talk show you may need this functionality. If you want to stream pre-recorded content or even have an inbound phone number with Skype, you'll need this service.
I won't go into too much detail here as there's plenty of videos on how to do this.
Believe it or not, you can't download Youtube tracks and stream them on your radio station. Back in the day I did this myself but quickly got a letter demanding a license fee. You'll want to checkout your licensing rights. Some platforms will take care of this for you, others will require you to deal with it based on your jurisdiction.
Before you start streaming Eminem's latest rap song, make sure you're aware of your requirements to pay royalties for streaming this music.
How to connect radio station hosting to website?
You probably have a website that you're going to showcase your radio station. Most providers offer either a hosted live streaming page that you can direct your visitors too, or embed as an iframe on your website.
Others offer an embedded HTML5 or flash player which allows you to have a media player box on your website which visitors can start themselves. This is similar to popular radio stations here in Australia that let you listen for free.
Other radio providers offer white label android or iOS apps you can offer your visitors so they can tune in on their smartphones on the go, anywhere in the world.
You may need to pay more for a mobile app, but it's definitely worth it for larger radio stations.
You can do no wrong with any of the best radio station hosting providers listed above. We personally like Voscast which offers a range of services starting from $6.95/mo, and offers an auto DJ feature allowing you to stream 24/7 without lifting a finger or any manual labour. A range of embedable players for your website and 99.5% uptime round out this wise option.
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