Starting an Online Radio Stataion
January 5, 2005 8:10 AM   Subscribe

A friend of mine has a very large reggae collection of stuff that's unreleased and wants to start an online radio station. He swears it will be big and wants me to help him pull it off. He's talking thousands of listeners. Does anyone have any experience with this kind of thing who can tell me what the monthly bandwith expenses associated with streaming 128kbps to around 3000 listeners. The math I did comes out to about 384Mbps, which means we will need somewhere between an OC3 and and OC12. I can't get pricing without contacting a bunch of sales people that I really don't want to talk to yet, so if anyone knows what a monthly port charge for something like that with a petabyte of bandwidth each month would run please let me know. Also any advice from others that are doing such things currently would be great.
posted by daHIFI to Media & Arts (12 answers total)
Radio Wazee is an alt/rock station that -- by my own observations (there is a "now listening" counter on the homepage) -- has 1000-1200 daytime listeners, and about half that at night.

From their Donation page:
radio.wazee isn't about making money ... it's about music, technology and fostering a community of fans of the kind of modern/alternative rock we play. It costs about $1500/month to operate radio.wazee. Whatever costs are left after listener donations I pay out of my own pocket.

More than 150,000 different people tune into radio.wazee over 600,000 times each month! If just 500 of our listeners (that's 1/3 of 1%) donated 3 bucks/month it would fully cover our operating costs. How much did you spend last month in your favorite fast food joint or local 7-11? You'd have a hard time paying for lunch -- even at Taco Bell! -- with 3 bucks!

Every month is a new challenge with new bills to pay and your donations really do matter. If you dig what we do, consider a donation today!

I also know they use Now Stream for part if not all of their streaming radio bandwidth.
posted by fourstar at 8:31 AM on January 5, 2005

I know nothing about the technical details of getting something like this to work, but you might also want to contact some of the folks who already do something like this. I know of one at least online radio station (Radio Paradise) that seems to fit the basic profile you're describing--if you google their name in combination with keywords like "infrastructure", you can find a lot of discussion with the guy who runs it around how it operates.
posted by LairBob at 8:33 AM on January 5, 2005

You might also want to check this list of Shoutcast Hosts at Radio Toolbox. Your average host is going to charge $250/m for 100 users @ 128kbps. So 3000 users will cost about $7500 a month.
posted by Jairus at 8:34 AM on January 5, 2005

Oh, and BTW, I wouldn't realistically count on getting ~3000 listeners on a reggae station. Check out SHOUTcast's most popular stations and you'll find reggae isn't even mentioned in the top 50.
posted by fourstar at 8:36 AM on January 5, 2005

I also want to add a note of caution: if your friend has dollar signs in his eyes, you might make sure to completely disregard everything he says about potential income and compensation. I've seen so many people try this and make zero money they almost seem to outnumber the HerbaLife losers. It's got to be done out of passion for the music or love of the form but not for money, fame, or--this is a common one--all the free records he thinks the record companies will send him and that he thinks he will be able to sell in order to fund the enterprise.
posted by Mo Nickels at 9:11 AM on January 5, 2005

I've never seen a peercast radio station that worked, but the general idea is that the bandwidth is shared (like bitTorrent) between all the listeners. If you want something cheap and cheerful, and you're not scared that your listeners aren't going to get the technology, then this may be an option.

Personally, I'd do without the streaming, and podCast each program over something like bitTorrent. That way, people can listen to a show when they want on whatever type of MP3 player / device they own.
posted by seanyboy at 9:37 AM on January 5, 2005

I prefer streaming myself as I never listen to anything that I download. Is his collection reggae or dancehall, or both?
posted by Juicylicious at 10:04 AM on January 5, 2005

I also looked into this for a while. It's a pie in the sky, as Jimmy Cliff says. You can't make money from webcasting. I'd listen, but not pay, and dozens more just like me would as well. But thousands? Paying? So sorry...
posted by Aquaman at 10:13 AM on January 5, 2005

You'll at least count me as a listener. Unreleased Reggae (especially if it includes 80's Dub and or Bullwackies-type stuff) gets me Pavlovians goin' ;).

Also: as Mo Nickels said... you won't make any profit from this venture. But us fans of the sound will thank you kindly (and donate to keep you above water, if necessary).
posted by basicchannel at 11:10 AM on January 5, 2005

seanyboy has it. This podcasting silliness is the flavour of the month. But making money off it, if that's the goal, would be problematic.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:48 PM on January 5, 2005

Start an Mp3 Blog. It will cost you less and you can be all hip and up to date.

Web Radio is so 2001.
posted by TTIKTDA at 5:08 PM on January 5, 2005

Does your friend have appropriate (legal, contractual, whatever) license for such use of this huge amount of unreleased recordings?
posted by billsaysthis at 5:24 PM on January 5, 2005

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