Music radio streaming is a system for the delivery of content in an on-the-fly manner. Rather than recording entire sets onto digital files, a program can be produced live. Here is how that is done.
The Basics of a Data Stream
At its core, music radio streaming is a type of data stream. Just as data streams can be used to provide information, power video games, or deliver news, they also can be employed to deliver audio programming.
The audio is broken down into bits for delivery. You might have a studio configured for regular recording. In that studio, you'll have an encoder box set up that handles the task of breaking the audio down into bits.
Those small chunks are sent to listeners via the internet. By sending things in small packets rather than huge files, everyone can enjoy the program with much waiting. There is a small amount of time for buffering on the encoding end, and there's also a little bit of buffering at the receiving end. Done right, this shouldn't lead to much more than a few seconds of lag between a live program and the audience listening to it.
A Word About Bandwidth and Quality
Bandwidth is always one of the big challenges, although the rise of high-speed internet connections has mitigated this problem somewhat. Your internet connection speed determines your bandwidth. Be aware, though, that it is upstream bandwidth that matters. If you have a connection that supports 150 Mbits download and 20 Mbits upload, your theoretical maximum bandwidth is that 20 Mbits number. Also, bear in mind that you'll never fully maximize your upstream bandwidth so plan to get maybe half of the capacity your ISP says you'll have.
Third-Party Streaming Solutions
If you've maxed out your bandwidth, there are only three options. Pay for more from your ISP, reduce the quality of the stream by increasing compression or work with a third-party service to handle the streams. Getting more from your ISP can be cost-prohibitive, and there also may still be a limit on what even they can give you. Reducing quality can lead to losing your audience so that's a no for most folks.
That leaves you with a third-party solution. Rather than serving all your audience members from your connection, you stream your program to a separate hosting provider, usually with a cloud-based hosting system. They then retransmit the stream to your audience, saving you the challenges of support a growing audience.