So what does it take and more importantly how much does it cost to be an internet radio host on Venom Radio or another station?
The answer is not a short one. Assuming one has a decent computer and broadband connection already, it can be as cheap as right around $200 and as expensive as each individual wants it to be depending on the gear they believe they may need to purchase. I’ll try to answer some questions and give an idea of the basics of what you’ll need—
A computer. Laptop or desktop doesn’t matter. More than likely, if you’re reading this, your computer will work. But preferably something that less than 5-6 years old—only because if you bought yours at a Best Buy or similar “off the shelf” place, these will have at least the bare minimum hardware requirements to run a show. I’d suggest Windows 7 64bit as the OS with minimum of 6GB (8+ GB is preferred) of RAM, and at least 100GB’s of free hard drive space to store your .mp3s on. Having a “better than” onboard sound/video card is a plus, too, though may not be required. A lot of this is up to the individual and this is by no means a minimal requirement of performance standards, but it is very close to the minimal requirements—I still have an XP 32 bit computer that is capable of running my show. Usually, if you can stream an HD video, you should be able to stream a show. An external hard drive is also a great thing to have to back-up your music in case your computer crashes. Also, it has been proven to me that although you can go wireless, having a hard-wire internet connection provides a bit more bandwidth and connection security.
A broadcasting program for your computer like SAM Broadcaster Pro by Spacial Audio—on sale you can find it for as low as $150, while normal price of this is $300. In the past there have been payment plans, but it is unknown when these or other specials may pop-up past the normal holiday sales events. SAM is now also supporting Mac platforms as well as .m4a files in SAM Broadcaster PRO 2015.1, so that is a plus for not only the iStuff users, but PC users with .m4a files laying around. Finding “less than legitimate copies” of SAM is discouraged as there is always a chance with “found copies” there could be faults with it. Plus, doing things right ensures it will work as it should.
A mic. This is a whole realm of potential scariness in and of itself depending on how you want to sound and what the quality level requirements your station has. I’ve seen pictures of online DJ’s who have this involved setup with a mic on a boom stand, with a pop filter going into a mixing board that goes into their computer. This isn’t always necessary—I have a Logitech headset I’ve used since I started doing this back in 2010 and it works fine with good sound. Another guy I know uses his $30 webcam mic with zero problems. I’m not going to pretend to know what all is involved with capturing the human voice and making it sound good via actual “real-world” mics, but I know of several people that do have the more elaborate set-up and can’t say their sound quality is noticeably different from the guy I know using a webcam mic. The cost? $20 for a cheap mic that sounds decent to hundreds of dollars buying all the “real studio”-type stuff which, if you are just starting out, you will not need. I would invest in a decent mic/headset (whatever the individual prefers) that can be found for under $100.
Then there’s some legalities with playing copyrighted music as well. It is much too boring and long to post all of it here, but once someone decides to approach Venom Radio or even another station, they will and should be advised of it.
“Can I make money at this?”
In most cases, probably not. The “pay” comes from the love of doing this and being invited to obtaining pre-release music from labels and interviews with bands. Of the half-dozen stations I’ve been at, no one has gotten paid to my knowledge. It has always been a “volunteer thing”. Think of internet radio as being in a local band—we’re not the most talented or known and haven’t been able to command any “real pay” yet but we do it for the right reasons and “exposure”. But, the sky IS the limit. You are in control.
“How much time do I have to commit to do doing this?”
Again, a bit of a loaded question. At Venom Radio we have a “one, two hour show a week minimum” commitment. This is two hours, “on air”. Keep in mind there may be a few hours prior to your show (either right before or in the week prior to your show every week) required to get your show playlist together. Some people prepare their stuff days or weeks in advance, some do it right before the show, and some fly by the seat of their pants and go with the moment. So the amount of time spent on doing this is dependent on how you believe you can do your show justice.
“When can I do my show?”
At Venom Radio–anytime you like as long as another host doesn’t have that time slot. Unlike other radio stations, we don’t dictate when you can or can’t do your show. Of course, as the schedules fill, then there are less options. Also, the possibility of an “ad hoc” or “random show” (eg-“raiding the stream”) is open as well as long as someone else isn’t on. A live host is always better than the Auto-DJ.
“What kind of music can I play?”
At Venom Radio, we play everything from rock and roll to extreme metal. Again, we don’t dictate that. And if a random country or hip-hop song gets thrown in the mix… well, that’s on you! As far as what other stations do, that’s on them as well… I can’t speak for them. But would a primarily hip hop show or country show ever be on Venom Radio? More than likely, absolutely not. It’s called Venom Radio for a reason and that brand and image doesn’t lend itself to other styles very well.
“Can I play requests?”
Ahh, yes–this is a favorite question of mine. The short answer is yes, but according to the DMCA there has to be an hour passed from the time the request is made until a host plays that request. Of course, if the song is already in the playlist to be played in the next couple of songs, this rule does not apply. Yes, there ARE different rules between your local terrestrial station, other online music things like Spotify and internet radio stations like Venom Radio. I don’t make the rules, I’m just forced to follow them. I personally don’t like the request rule myself, but it is what it is.
If there are any other questions, feel free to ask and I’ll answer them in the comments section below.