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How much does it cost to start a radio station online?

How much does it cost to start an online radio station? It depends on the amount you want to spend.

Once there was a man who wanted to build an elegant mansion only to spend all his money on the fence and the driveway.

Lesson learned: Budget for the essentials. Buy them first. 

This post aims to make you aware of the costs to start a radio station so you can budget appropriately.

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Simple audio recording setup


Need the minimum equipment to get your radio on air? This setup is just that. A USB microphone + Computer.

USB Microphone

Its selling point: You can plug it into your computer and start converting sound energy into an electrical signal. 

Free option

You can get by with an inbuilt computer microphone.

While you have reduced the cost to start a radio station online, the sound quality will be so-so, and besides, a good microphone is a small investment. 

You can even use it to video chat.

Paid options

You can get a Blue Yeti microphone—popular with podcasters—at about $100-$120.

Cost to start radio station online

OR an Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB microphone at about $70. If you want something reasonably-priced, you can try the Snowball Ice mic that retails for about $50. 

Professional Audio Setup


Fancy a more professional setup? Here it is: 

Microphone XLR + Mixing desk + Monitoring speakers + Headphones + Computer

Mixing desk

The mixing desk combines sound signals from different sources and sends the output signal to your computer or other destinations.

For instance, a mixer with four inputs can take sound from your phone, CD player, and two microphones.

Mixers fall into two categories: Analog mixers and digital mixers. 

Paid Options

If you're looking to reduce the cost of starting a radio station online, opt for an analog mixer.

For instance, you can get a Behringer Xenyx X1204USB mixer with 12-inputs, 4-XLR mic, for about $170. 

You can also get analog mixers with fewer inputs for less than $100, like Pyle Professional Audio Mixer for just $69.

On the other hand, a Behringer Digital Pro Mixer DDM4000 Ultimate 5-Channel Digital DJ Mixer with two microphone inputs goes for about $350.

Tablet-controlled digital mixers fall within the price range of $400 to $800, like the Mackie 2044387-00 DL1608 16-Channel that costs $650.

Lots of digital mixers, however, come with a $1000+ price tag.

XLR microphones

XLR microphones require phantom power to work, which is usually provided by a mixer.

Modern analog mixers will also convert the analog signal from the XLR mic to a digital signal. 

Paid Options

One of the most popular microphones for professional radio studios is the Shure SM7B with a price tag of $399. 

But you can still get high-quality sound from decently priced microphones like the Behringer B-1 for $99. 

You'll also find other XLR mics for less than $100 like the MXL 770 at $72. 

Keep in mind that you'll need accessories like a shock mount, boom arm, and pop filter to go with your XLR mic.

Expect to spend about $40 to $100 on the extras.

Monitoring speakers and Headphones

You can grab a Mackie CR4 (Pair) Creative Reference Multimedia Monitor Speakers for about $150.

If you need a pair of high-end studio monitoring headphones, expect to pay about $150 for the Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO.

You'll also find a lot of options for less than $100 or even $50. Like Audio-Technica ATH-M20x for $49. 

Radio broadcasting software


You need software to create playlists, rotations, organize music, automate broadcasts, and more!

An encoder program is also required to turn audio into a streamable form. 

Free options

PlayIt Live, RadioDJ, Mixxx for playback. 

BUTT, Altacast, LadioCast for encoding.

Paid options

Playback & automation: Sam Broadcaster PRO ($229). NextKast PRO ($199), PlayoutONE Standard ($99), RadioBOSS Advanced ($239.95). 

Encoders: RadioCaster ($49.95), Rocket Broadcaster ($49)

Some radio automation & DJ programs like Sam Broadcaster and Mixxx have built-in encoders. 

Read more about them here

Recording and editing programs


Radio shows need to be recorded & edited. If you'd not anticipated this radio cost, don't fuss as you can get free solutions:

Free

Audacity for Windows. Garage Band for Mac. 

Paid

Adobe Audition CC ($20.99/month) Reaper ($225) Hindenburg Journalist ($95)

Read more about them here

Call recorder program


Are you planning on having guests on your radio shows? You need a way to record your conversations.

Free options

Callnote free version – Skype, Hangout, Facebook, Viber. Limit of 10 recordings per month.

Almolto – Free for Skype for Windows 10 and Skype for Windows Desktop. 

Paid options

Zencastr – Records each track per guest and has built-in Voice over IP.

Callnote, Amolto paid versions.

Imaging (Voiceovers, intros, outros, and more)


The cost-free way is to produce your imaging. Or download free sweepers & sound effects. 

But, it's way better to have personalized imaging for your radio.

And though it may increase the cost to start an online radio station, it makes your radio unique. 

Fiverr

It's a freelancer marketplace teeming with voice artists. Search for "radio sweepers." And you'll see a list of sellers and their starting prices.

Prices will usually start from $5 or $10. Sound effects may not be included in the price.

Other marketplaces

You can find dedicated companies that offer imaging services by carrying out a quick search.

Try "radio imaging companies."

Radio Hosting


Radio hosting is something that doesn’t come automatically to mind when you’re starting a radio station.

If we map out the path audio takes from the studio to the listeners it looks like this:

Studio Computer > Radio Server > Listener

Free Option

Well, if you have the resources and technical know-how, you can set up your own server.

But this is not free since the computer will use power, and require connection to high-speed internet with enough bandwidth.

Paid Radio Hosting

CloudRadio is a radio hosting platform tailored for beginner stations. For one, our platform is easy to use and quick to learn. And the investment is quite small.

For $5 a month you can have a radio with 25 listener slots. And you can add more listener slots to your radio up to 1000 slots. 

Logo


A logo visually identifies your radio. For instance, when you submit it to radio directories.

You don’t need a complicated logo. Look at the simplicity of some big brand logos like Google or the BBC.

Free option

You can design a logo using tools like PowerPoint or Paint. Or with online tools like Canva or Hatchful.

If you don't get the best results, it may be time to hire a professional graphic designer.

Paid option

You can find a talented graphic designer on freelancer platforms like Upwork, Freelance, Fiverr, or People Per Hour. 

If you still want to create your logo, try paid online logo design tools.

With about $10 or more, you should have a logo for your radio.

Music and Licensing


When you purchase music, aim for DRM-free music. DRM-locked may be restricted to one device or application.

Some sources of DRM-free music include the iTunes store and Amazon.

On Amazon, for instance, you can buy a song for $0.99, and an album for a couple of dollars. 

Stream licensing

If you’re playing commercial music like that new Ariana Grande album, you might have to pay performance right fees/royalties.

Webcasters in the USA pay royalties to SoundExchange. The minimum fee for radios was $500 per year for 159,140 ATH per month, which is about $40 per month.

In Canada, SOCAN collects royalties from web radios. You pay royalties based on the location of most of your listeners.

You’ll need to contact relevant authorities in that country to find out how to license your stream.

Costs to run your radio station

What are the running costs involved? 

  • Rent (if your leased space for your radio station)
  • Staff (if you hire DJs and other personnel)
  • Music subscriptions
  • Stream hosting
  • Licensing
  • Website hosting

You don't need everything right away. Keep the cost of starting a radio station online low by focusing on the essentials.

  • Wanda says:

    Thanks for the one by one step:)

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