Start Your Own Internet Radio Station for Free

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Step 3: Configure the Source App

Now that your stream server is running, you need to give it something to stream. That's where Edcast comes in. Grab the Edcast Winamp plugin, open Winamp, go to Options, Preferences, Plug-ins, DSP/Effect, select edcast DSP v3 [dsp_edcast.dll], and click Configure active plugin.

Here you can set Edcast to use either your microphone jack or your Winamp playlist. Just click the mic picture to enable or disable the mic; when the mic is disabled, Edcast will use Winamp for its input. You can test this yourself by clicking on the sound-level meter to activate it, playing some music through Winamp, and toggling the mic off and on to see whether each input is working.

Next, click Add Encoder to add a new entry (Vorbis: Quality 0/Stereo/44100) in the box below, and double-click the new entry to configure it. Here you'll need to plug in your server settings--make sure that the server type is set to the right protocol (Shoutcast or Icecast2, depending on which server you chose in step 2), enter your server's IP in the Server IP field (if you're hosting the Icecast server on the same PC, it's your IP address), and enter the corresponding port and password.

The Edcast interface.
You'll also want to set your encoder type here: AAC and MP3 tend to be the most widely compatible; AAC+ is optimized for lower-bitrate audio applications (perfect for streaming), but it sometimes doesn't sound as good; and Ogg Vorbis has fairly high audio quality at lower bitrates, but certain music player apps (iTunes, for example) don't natively support it.

If you're using Icecast2, note the 'mountpoint' entry in the Basic Settings tab. You'll need to put a path here depending on your encoder type: Ogg Vorbis streams can be called '/whatever.ogg'; AAC streams, '/whatever.aac'; and so on. This string will eventually appear at the end of your radio station's URL, as in 'http://xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx:8000/whatever.aac'.

Edcast configuration screen.
When you're satisfied with the way your station works, you'll want to click over to the YP Settings tab to configure your public listing information (station name, URL, genre, and so on), but for now you don't need to mess with it.

Step 4: Play That Funky Music

Icecast2 (or your dedicated radio server) is up, Edcast is configured, and your Winamp collection is ready to rock. So click Connect in the Edcast window to connect Edcast to your radio server, and start spinning away.

It's no fun if you don't have an audience, though. If you opted for a separate radio server, you'll probably have your own URL (something like http://s3.myradiostream.com/24212.htm) but if you're using Icecast2, the URL to access your radio stream will be http://(youripaddress):(port)/(mountpoint), without parentheses.

If your IP address is 192.168.0.1 and you are using port 8000 and you set the mountpoint to '/stream.ogg', your listeners can tune in by pointing their audio player of choice to http://192.168.0.1:8000/stream.ogg.

Linking your radio station URL to your IP address can be a pain--particularly if you don't have a fixed IP address for your home broadband--because your listeners will have to keep up with your IP changes. To avoid this complication, you can register your own domain name; but if you don't want to shell out the cash, you can sign up for a free DynDNS.com domain name instead.

Step 5: Don't Get Sued

The intricacies of broadcasting and copyright law are outside the scope of this how-to. Generally speaking, however, if you want to broadcast someone else's music legally, you need to obtain the permission of both the artist and the recording company that produced and distributes those recordings, which can cost a small-time broadcaster a lot of money and time.

Rather than play Russian roulette with the RIAA, consider acquiring licensing through a service such as Live365.com, the JPL program of the SWCast Network, or LoudCity. These organizations offer different ways to get your station appropriately licensed for a monthly fee based on factors such as how many listeners you have.

You also need to ensure that your radio station complies with the DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act) when you program your playlists. Live365.com has posted a summarized list of rules you must follow.

Alternatively, if you play your own music or if you get permission from independent bands that don't have a recording industry contract to play their music, you're all set. Music licensed under the Creative Commons can work, too, though it depends on the specific license that the artist uses: If you run advertisements on your station, you might not be able to use music licensed for noncommercial broadcasting only.

Now you've started your own radio station. Give us a link in the comments!

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