Quite often either due to a lack of FM frequencies available, cost constraints, or as a way of testing the waters before committing to a FM radio station installation, it is possible to start up an online streaming radio station rather than a traditional broadcasting station. An online streaming radio station can be as basic as a completely computer based system, where music is simply played back along with occasional station IDs. Alternatively you can opt for a more in-depth setup, which could include other equipment such as a mixing desk, microphones, music, audio equipment, compression gear, audio cables, cd player, phone in system, headphones, microphone stands, etc. As a minimum, the equipment you will require is computer with a high speed internet connection.
When it comes to how to start up a online streaming radio station you have available a wide range of options to choose from. You need to consider what format you want to broadcast, as well as the sound quality you want. The higher the audio quality, the more data you will use. Bear in mind that a stream radio station is in operation for 24 hours a day, every day of the month, so even on a rate of 24 kbps, this adds up to be quite a considerable amount of data being used. Note also, that if you are going to use your existing internet connection for downloading files whilst you are also streaming, to ensure that you have sufficient bandwidth available. If you run out of bandwidth, your streaming station may be affected.
When it comes to the equipment for your online streaming radio station, it is possible to get it set up with very basic equipment, which is not possible when setting up a station broadcasting on an FM frequency. For a somewhat more advanced, professional sounding streaming radio station, the equipment you may have in your studio could include: computer, automation software, mixing desk, microphones, device to take phone calls on air, CD player and compression equipment.
The monthly cost for keeping your online streaming radio station on the internet is also fairly low. Bear in mind that in most countries there are fees payable to the music licensing organisations to cover royalties for the music you play on air. Aside from this, your only other likely costs are going to be electricity, internet connection, stream hosting and website hosting costs.
The way streaming works is you run the station, play music, talk into the microphones, etc. This audio is then relayed into your computer and then sent from your computer to the stream hosting company server. When people listen to your station online, they are actually receiving the audio not directly from your computer, but rather from the streaming server. This approach substantially improves your performance and means your connection speed will not slow down when you have multiple listeners. When people want to listen to your station they simply go to your website and click on a link to activate the stream.