Bathroom singers can turn broadcasters now, thanks to the Internet. And if you are a listener with some niche interest – be it devotional bhajans or Shakespearean plays – help is at hand. Internet radio is getting hotter – and it is mostly free.
An Indian company that allows you to voice your air globally for free is Bangalore-based Radio Verve (www.radioverve.com). The station was initiated about three years back and runs eight stations at present with about 400 independent artistes.
"Radio Verve is a tool for people who do not know how to broadcast," said Shreyas Srinivasan, one of the three founders of Radio Verve. One can find genres such as rock, classical, gospel and even Konkani language music on the station.
Radio Verve has signed up agreements with independent artistes and so far it is only a platform, not a source of fees or royalty. The station can be accessed on the desktop as well as on a mobile phone.
London based www.last.fm is another station where you can upload your music either for simple streaming or host them for downloads as podcasts. Last.fm even pays its artistes an amount ranging from about 10 per cent of the company’s revenues for free services to about 30 per cent that the company may earn on its paid-for premium services.
"The advantage with digital reproduction is that quality is not lost with distance," Atul Chitnis, Senior Vice-President at Geodesic, a Mumbai-based technology company.
Geodesic offers a free Internet radio application called Mundu Radio for mobile users. The application is in trial version and Geodesic is expected to launch a commercial version of the same in a month’s time. Mobile Internet delivered on handsets could make traditional radio old-fashioned.
"Going ahead, most mobile users will leapfrog to 3G (telephony) giving a further boost to Internet radio," said Chitnis.
Unlike FM stations that offer a combination of Bollywood music and gossip thrown between advertisements, Internet radio offers a variety of options ranging from news to sermons.
A quick Google search will yield results for a host of Internet radio stations and www.radio-locator.com is a cool link to search for country specific stations.
Hosted from Paris, Radio Teen Taal and Radio Nimbooda offer Bollywood music to non-resident Indians. If you are a tabla lover you can tune into www.tabla.com. All these come free of cost. Subscription models exist for some channels and advertising finances others.
Music is licensed through organisations such as the Indian Music Association and Phonographic Performance Limited. Alternatively, ad-supported models exist where you may have to either watch a banner ad on the website or else listen to one so that you can catch a song without paying any subscription.
Speed of data streaming is critical for Internet radio. Your bandwidth and the speed must match.