9 Challenges Faced by Internet Radio Stations

Are you a budding online radio broadcaster?

If yes, which challenges keep you up at night...

Today, we’ll look at some of the common challenges online radio broadcasters face.

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1) Generating listenership


Terrestrial radio stations can easily garner listenership in the thousands as long as their towers cover an area effectively.

Online radio stations aren’t as yet lucky in generating lots of listenership. If you’re really new, getting tens of listeners is a blessing.

Some stations still manage to garner thousands of streamers, but those are the few. Web stations can address the listenership conundrum through effective marketing, using social media, etc.

Recommended Read: 19 Ways to Promote Your Internet Radio Station & Make It Famous!

2) Royalties for online streaming


You might or might not know this fact, but AM and FM stations in the US don’t pay royalties to artists. However, they do pay the songwriters.

Now, internet radio stations have to pay performers or artists royalties. When terrestrial radio stations simulcast their broadcasts online, they also have to pay royalties.

Not many people are turning in a profit right now with internet radio stations. Therefore, having to pay royalties to perform commercial tracks can be burdensome.

What’s the expected royalty amount? Well, noncommercial radio stations are expected to deposit $500 per year with SoundExchange.

It gives them an allowance of 159,140 listening hours per month. If the listenership exceeds these hours, each performance will cost $0.0018.

If you’re streaming to 10 listeners, that’s about $0.018, and if they listened to 100 songs, it would be $1.8.

3) No one is paying for internet radio


It just means that there are no advertisers spending money on advertising on internet radios yet.

Advertisers usually flock to media channels with large audiences so they can get their word out to as many people as possible.

Now, until internet radio is bringing in huge numbers, small advertisers will primarily spend their money on search engine advertising or social media advertising.

4) Cracking the in-car listenership puzzle


Over half of daily radio listens takes place in cars. Terrestrial radio stations have ruled the car dashboard since the first commercial in-car radio was placed there in 1930.

Internet radio might have a future on the in-car radio dashboard, but we are not there yet.

Assuming internet radio rules in-car listenership, it’s going to be through Android Auto and Apple Car Play. These infotainment apps allow drivers to connect to their car players using their mobile devices.

They can then launch apps like TuneIn, which is an internet directory that lists thousands of radio stations all over the world.

Their still an impediment to the connected dashboard, and it has to do with the cost & availability of wireless data.

5) Radio means less and less to young audiences


Long before Instagram, YouTube, smartphones, gaming consoles, and other modern distractions, radio was a popular means of entertainment for the young.

The youth of today have a wide range of options, and sadly listening to the radio is one of the many.

And both terrestrial and web radio stations might face problems appealing to this age group.

6) Mastering social media & other promotional tactics


Web radio stations face challenges when it comes to self-promotion. On social media, they run into the challenge of garnering enough fans without paid promotion or buying fake followers.

If they manage to garner a sizable following, there comes the challenge of creating content consistently.

Internet radio stations also lack elaborate digital strategies. Some may consider creating a website as their sole digital strategy.

7) Stiff competition from streaming service


Online radio stations have to compete for attention from streaming services such as Pandora, Spotify, etc.

These algorithm-driven services give listeners the choice of millions of songs. Some even allow listeners to create “radio stations” based on a single song.

For a long time, terrestrial broadcasters have emphasized more music and less talk. However, music is now widely available.

The only way web stations can rise above these streaming services is to provide what they can’t: personality, local content such as news, meaningful relationships with their audience, etc.

Now, some internet radios continue to emphasize more music & fewer ads approach. But still, they need personality-driven content, curated playlists, jingles, links between songs, interview programs, etc.

8) Being ubiquitous


Nowadays, there are no clear lines in media. For instance, big news outlets like the New York Times no longer rely on the written text to dispense information. They are creating videos, podcasts, etc.

Today, web radio stations are also required to dabble into podcasts, publish videos, create blog posts, and more.

It might be challenging for small radio stations since most run on shoestring budgets. Also, there is the challenge of manpower, as most are one-person operations.

9) Lack of a strong brand


Brand identity is key, and stations must work to create strong brands. It starts with a clearly defined image, voice, and personality.

There should be consistency in the station’s image across its social media accounts, website, merch, etc.

The music played must reflect the station’s overall style.

Presenters must mold the station’s personality. For instance, you’ll find that at hot hits stations, the radio hosts are full of energy & always pumped in their delivery.

At beautiful music stations, presenters are low-key.

Radio imaging should be also top-notch. The station must create ear-catching jingles. Station IDs must be played regularly to ground the station’s name & format in the listener’s mind.

Bottom Line


Most of the challenges web radio stations are solvable. And some challenges might resolve themselves with time.

For instance, we can argue that more and more people are listening to internet radio than in the late ‘90’s when technologies like Icecast debuted.

Got more internet radio station challenges rocking your boat?

Tell your peers in the comments below…

And if you need a place to host your radio station, try CloudRadio. We provide high-quality servers powered by technologies such as Shoutcast, Icecast, Steam Cast.

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