This is always the question that comes up first…
It’s difficult to answer this without knowing a little more about your station. You can always contact us first and we can help guide you to the right plan.
Types of plans
Firstly, do you want to broadcast live from your studio, or do you want everything based in the cloud?
If you will be broadcasting entirely from the cloud (you have no studio or broadcast equipment) then you need the AutoDJ plan. This way you’ll upload everything directly to the cloud and administer your station from there. Including scheduling shows, music, jingles and adverts.
If you’ll be doing half and half, so sometimes you’ll be broadcasting live shows from your studio and sometimes you just want music to play, then you’ll still need an AutoDJ plan so that you can upload music while there are no shows being broadcast. You can then dip in and out of the music to do your live shows.
If you’ll always be broadcasting from your studio, then you do not need an AutoDJ plan, you just need a live streaming plan as you will not be storing any music in the cloud, you will be broadcasting 24/7 from your studios.
So that’s the main decider on what type of plan to choose AutoDJ or Streaming Only.
The next part applies to both types of plans, which is how many listener slots you need. Streaming plans are typically sold as packages with a certain amount of ‘listener slots’. There is often some confusion over this. Slots refer to the maximum number of people that can tune into your station at any one time. This is not the maximum number of listeners per day, week or month, just the number of simultaneous listeners at any given time.
How to choose? Simple, start low and if you hit your limit, upgrade your package. Many people contact us claiming they want hundreds or thousands of listener slots and then they never get used… Start small, keep your costs down and grow with your audience. If you reach your listener limits, or get close to it, just drop us an email and we’ll upgrade your package… We are also happy to downgrade too. We offer packages from 25 slots up to multiple servers with 1,000 slots each. As they say, no job too big or too small!
Just a word of warning on streaming server hosts that offer ‘unlimited’ listener slots… There is no such thing. Just bear that in mind! Nothing is ever unlimited.
Another part that you need to decide on, which applies to both types of packages, is the bitrate. The bitrate is basically the quality of the stream. Bitrates typically range from 24kbps to 320kbps. We can offer all ranges of bitrates on our streaming servers. Basically, the higher the bitrate, the better the audio quality.
Talking MP3 technology, the standard bitrate is 128kbps, which is labelled ‘CD quality’ and this is the bitrate most radio stations use. If you have a talk-only radio station, you can easily go down to 64kbps. If we start talking about a newer technology, which is now pretty standard across devices and browsers, you could broadcast in AAC+ format. AAC+ is a newer technology and allows for a lower bandwidth and improved audio quality, meaning that you can get pretty much the same audio quality in a 64kbps AAC+ stream as you can in a 128kbps MP3 stream. This equals cheaper streaming costs.
Our recommendation would be to have two streams, one 128kbps MP3 stream, which will be compatible with pretty much every device/browser and a second AAC+ stream running at 48kbps which you could use for mobile apps and other bandwidth sensitive applications.
Remember, if you broadcast at 320kbps, your listeners need the bandwidth to be able to listen at that bitrate and they may not like their data being eaten up like that!