Internet radio (e-radio, web radio, streaming radio and webcasting) is a digital radio service transmitted over the Internet. Internet broadcasting is generally called webcasting because it isn't transmitted over conventional means through conventional telephone lines. It can be transmitted over various bandwidths by downloading it from certain websites. It is delivered in the form of digital audio data or other compressed files.
Internet radio services differ in the way they deliver the content and in the licensing requirements. There are many types of Internet radios. They include iPods, regular CD radios, satellite radio systems and the Web radio systems. There is no complete agreement as to what constitutes an Internet radio. However, there are some common characteristics that all Internet radio's share and you should become familiar with these if you want to start a station on your property or if you intend to listen to Internet content on another person's property.
A major problem faced by Internet radio stations is that they don't have the ratings or the audience control over some traditional radio formats. You cannot reject a license based on listener appeal, nor can you pick and choose which programming features you want. Internet radio stations are subject to copyright laws just like traditional radio stations and broadcasting entities. In order to broadcast over some parts of the United States, for instance, you need a license from the FCC (Federal Communications Commission).
One major difference between internet radio stations and traditional radio is the number of listeners a single station attracts. If there are only a few listeners, it may not be worth the investment, especially if there is very little demand. In a highly populated area, this may be the only factor that deters potential listeners. However, if you are able to attract a large audience, there may not be better options.
The third way in which a listener can tell whether an Internet radio station is worth the investment is whether there is some kind of money-back guarantee provided. The best stations provide this guarantee and encourage early listeners. If the station has only a few minutes of audio each week, then there is no reason for the early bird to pay for it. Most listeners are looking for more than five minutes of audio per week, especially if they are looking for interesting stories, interviews, or information about their local town or region. If you provide an early-morning or late-afternoon hour slot where there is plenty of current local content, listeners will be more likely to stick with your program and keep coming back.
The fourth way in which a listener can tell whether a radio station is worth investing in is the amount of money needed to start up the radio station and find consistent daily or weekly listeners. If you are considering using the web to broadcast internet radio broadcasts, you should take a look at how much it will cost to set up and maintain the online radio station. Compared to the cost of a traditional radio station, the cost of an internet radio station may be a viable option in the future, but for now, starting out with a web radio requires much less funding.