Setting Up An Online Streaming Radio Station
This is a guide on what you need to consider when setting up an online streaming radio station in the UK. We look at the technical basics, rules regarding online broadcasts in the UK, and some other factors to bear in mind.
Internet Radio Station Set-up
This article has been put together based on the experiences of one of our team setting up an automated streaming radio station for our podcast, as well as planning the installation of a simulcast of a hospital radio station’s output over the Internet. We also have some other information on our Starting A Radio Station page.
We’re continuing to add content to this page, and would appreciate any questions or suggestions that you may have. Please get in touch with anything you’d like to see addressed.
Draft Costings for a Streaming Station
Here is a draft costing that was put together by one of our team in 2012 for setting up of a streaming simulcast of a hospital radio service. These figures assume that no Internet connection exists, and that the station already has a studio. These numbers are for broadband, streaming hardware and licences. Obviously, each case is different, but this information is provided to give some basic guidance for anyone working on similar costings:
|Item||First Year||Year 2 onwards|
|BT Telephone Line Installation||£118||–|
|BT Business Line Rental (£18.60 p/m)||£223||£223|
|BT Broadband Unlimited Rental £18 p/m||£216||£216|
|SHOUTCast Server (20 listeners @ 128kbps)||£120||£120|
|Desktop Computer and monitor||£450||–|
|PRS-MCPS Webcasting Limited Online Exploitation Licence (Band A)||£142||£142|
|PPL Webcaster Licence||£228 to £948||£228 to £948|
|TOTAL (inc VAT @ 20%)||£1,567 to £2287||£929 to £1649|
If you are planning to broadcast music over the Internet, you will need a license from the MCPS-PRS Alliance, which looks after the interests of songwriters, composers and publishers.
The following information was correct as of Feb 2012:
Assuming you are a small-scale station with an annual revenue of £12,500 per year, then the MCPS-PRS Limited Online Exploitation Licence “Pure Webcasting Service” may be the most appropriate licence. This costs £120 + VAT (for less than 180,000 streams per year), or £240 + VAT (for less than360,000 streams per annum)
There are two important things to note in respect of the MCPS-PRS Limited Online Exploitation Licence:
- Reporting: This is not too bad, and you are not required to submit line-by-line details of the tracks that you have played. You will have to complete a “Usage Declaration Form” once a year. Within 14 days of the annual licence expiry, you will be required to complete a report to PRS. This is a single page form, where you will be required to state revenue, and the number of streams that have been delivered.
- Right to Audit: PRS has the right, no more than once a year, to visit your site and audit your music and revenue documentation: From Section 8.1 of the licence terms: “The Licensee shall keep and make available for inspection upon reasonable notice, both during and for twelve months after termination of this Agreement, proper, detailed books and records relating to (a) use of all Musical Works and (b) any income or other consideration received by or on behalf of the Licensee in relation to the Licensed Services, together with any supporting documentation relating thereto covering the period up to six years prior to the date of notification of audit.“
More information: PRS Limited Online Music Licence
To broadcast music over the Internet, you are also required to have a PPL licence. PPL, the Phonographic Performance Limited looks after the interests of performers and record companies.
The following information was correct as of Feb 2012:
The entry-level licence for a streaming radio station is the Small Webcaster Licence, which costs £189.41 + VAT per year. This assumes that your revenue is less than £5000 a year and that there are no more than 270,000 performances (tracks played) each year. (270,000 tracks a year = approx 30 tracks listened to per hour, or 49 hours streamed per day). If you are likely to exceed this, the licence cost is £790 + VAT per year (recoupable against a rate-per-performance of £0.00061 per track).
- Reporting: Those with a Small Webcaster licence will be required to submit a report to PPL ever three months, outlining the total amount of time the service has been listened to, and the average number of recorded music tracks broadcast per hour.
- Auditing: PPL may require you, on occasion, to provide a Programme Report (which is a detailed list of all pieces of music played for a given day), as well as details of the territories (i.e Countries) that have accessed the stream.
- Restrictions: Programmes can’t be repeated within 3 hours, no pre-promotion of specific songs is allowed (e.g. “coming next, it’s Something About You, by Level 42”), and there are restrictions on playing songs from a specific album, or by a specific artist being repeated within 3 hours (no more than 4 songs by one artist, no more than three in a row from the same artist, no more than 3 songs from an album, etc
More information: PPL Online Radio Licences
If you already have a radio studio, then it’s just a case of feeding the output of your studio to the input of the soundcard on the computer that will be doing the streaming work. But what if you don’t have a studio?
- An audio mixing desk with enough microphone and music channels
- Music playback: Either a computer to play MP3 files, or a couple of CD Players
- A Microphone (or multiple mics for guests), plus mic stands
- Speakers and a speaker amplifier
- Cabling and connectors to connect it all together
Things to consider
There are a number of things that you also need to be aware of when setting up a station. If you are a hospital radio station looking to set up a streaming service, we recommend you take a look at the guidance issued in an 8 page document on the HBA Members website.
Here is a summary of issues that our station had to consider:
- Getting permission to broadcast football commentary and the news service from IRN (cost likely to be involved)
- The station’s charter and constitution regarding targeting of listeners outside hospital grounds
- Ensuring presenters do not use material that would require additional copyright approval
- Training and Admin. The PRS and PPL requirements would require extra admin, and staff would need to be trained on the admin, and to be careful what they should and shouldn’t say on-air.
The cheaper alternative
If you’re looking to set up an Internet station on the cheap, making use of existing music and audio recordings (no live programming), then consider getting a station from www.live365.com – There are some limitations on what you can do, but it’s a very low-cost entry route into the world on low-priced Internet radio.
- Internet Radio forum – The part of our forum where you can discuss online radio
- Starting Your Own Station – Some basic help and advice
- Community Radio Station Costs – Our guidance on planning the budget for a community station
- Record your voice – How to record your voice at home
- Amateur Radio – Become a licensed radio ham and broadcast to others around the world
- UK Radio FAQ – Answers to many of your questions about British radio