Live Audio Streaming: How to Broadcast Audio with a Professional Platform [2021 Update]
Table of Contents
Audio streaming is more popular than ever before. Podcasts, internet radio, and other types of audio content are extremely common. There are more than 500,000 podcasts listed on the iTunes store, with many more on other services like Stitcher.
As of 2020, 37% of the U.S. population listens to podcasts at least once a month. When you consider the global audience, the potential audience size rises astronomically. This is definitely an audience that is worth tapping into.
This blog will look at how to choose a live video streaming solution for streaming live audio. Specifically, we will look at the rise of podcasting and online radio. We’ll also discuss why a live video streaming solution is ideal for streaming audio and hosting. After that, we’ll compare 10 of the top live audio streaming platforms on the market.
Table of Contents:
- The Rise of Podcasting and Online Radio
- Is a Live Video Streaming Solution Ideal for Audio Broadcasting?
- Other Features for Broadcasting Live Audio
- How to Stream Live Audio
- Top 10 Live Audio Streaming Platforms
The Rise of Podcasting and Online Radio
Nearly 90% of people from around the world tune into audio-only streams on the regular. Given that massive audience size, it’s no surprise that we’re witnessing a renaissance in broadcasting live audio.
All kinds of businesses, organizations, and individuals are broadcasting live audio. Here are a few examples of genres and industries that are taking advantage of this renaissance:
- Full-fledged radio stations with diverse programming
- News and media outlets
- Traditional music-based radio shows
- Talk shows
- Educational podcasts or radio channels
- Business and entrepreneurial podcasts and recordings
- Sports broadcasts
- Religious broadcasts
- Entertainment and audio drama
The appeal to audio-only streaming is that it consumes significantly less bandwidth than video streaming. It is also quite convenient for listeners to tune into an audio-only stream. Listeners can play audio while they drive, work out, or do other daily activities without posing too much distraction.
The growing popularity of audio streaming gives most businesses and organizations the incentive to hop on the trend and reach their audience in a new way.
Is a Live Video Streaming Solution Ideal for Audio Broadcasting?
When you’re looking for a podcast or radio station hosting service, it’s easy to think that an audio-specific solution is best. However, there are multiple reasons that may not be true.
A live video streaming solution is usually capable of audio-only streaming, and many organizations find that broadcasting live audio via a live video streaming solution is actually more suited to their needs.
Let’s look at a few reasons why this may be the case.
1. Live Broadcasting
Most podcast hosting services are made for hosting and delivering pre-recorded content that isn’t time-sensitive. This means that they aren’t well suited for live broadcasts that are scheduled or meant to be running 24/7.
In contrast, a live video streaming solution provides the functionality and power for live streaming, whether it is a scheduled event or a broadcast meant to run continuously around the clock. That includes distribution via a powerful live-streaming Content Delivery Network (CDN) for scaling to reach large, globally distributed audiences without buffering or lag problems.
Not every solution has this functionality, however, so make sure to do your research.
2. Audio File Storage and Hosting
Storage space is another of the largest differences. More storage allows you to store more podcasts and reuse them forever. One popular podcast hosting service costs $75 per month for 1.5 GB of monthly storage.
In comparison, Dacast offers 50 GB of storage for just $39 per month with an annual Starter plan. If you need more storage, you can upgrade to 1 TB for $188 per month.
Another major feature is monetization support. A live video streaming solution like Dacast provides an easy-to-use paywall that is integrated into a white label player, offering pay-per-view and subscriptions.
Streaming audio makes up an increasing proportion of music industry revenue. This is a substantial revenue stream that you can tap into via monetization tools.
Video hosting plans may also include some perks that podcast hosting services don’t include. These features include features like analytics, API access, security and access control features, M3u8 playlist support, and more.
How to Stream Live Audio
Getting started with broadcasting live audio is relatively simple. Let’s take a look at the steps you need to follow to get started.
1. Make a Plan
Every good audio stream starts with a solid plan. You don’t have to have every moment scripted, but having an outline of the segments you want to cover will come in handy.
Aside from planning individual episodes, you’ll need a master plan of sorts. Create a document that outlines the purpose of your audio show, who you’re trying to reach, and what you’re trying to achieve. Plot out how you will bring those goals to life.
Make specific notes of which features you’ll need to be successful. For example, if you plan on generating revenue from your stream, video monetization tools are a must.
2. Choose a Live Audio Streaming Platform
Once you know what features you’re looking for, it is time to choose a live audio streaming platform. Many online video hosting platforms have audio-only capability. The value of hosting your stream on a professional platform like this is that you have access to scalable tools.
Further on in this post, we will provide an in-depth comparison of 10 of the top live audio streaming platforms to help you make a smart choice.
3. Embed Your Audio Player into Your Website
Another key element is embedding your live stream in the correct location. Most online radio stations embed a player right at the top of their website. You can also embed on the websites of partners/advertisers, individual shows, DJ/host blogs, and so on.
The process of embedding a live feed using Dacast is easy. To do so, log in to your account. In your list of live channels, click on the radio channel you want to embed. Remember that you can have multiple simultaneous channels, so choose the right one.
For quick sharing among your network, you also have a “share code” which is a simple URL where your followers can directly access your podcast.
4. Get Your Podcast Listed
If you’re hosting a podcast using Dacast or another live video streaming solution, it’s easy to get listed on iTunes, Stitcher, and other podcasting services. Before listing, make sure your podcast supports the following specifications:
- Feed available via the RSS 2.0 specification
- The feed contains artwork between 1400 x 1400 and 3000 x 3000 pixels, 72dpi, JPEG or PNG format, and RGB colorspace
- Proper metadata for each episode
- More best practices here
5. Create Your Setup
Now, it is time to get your microphone set up with your streaming software. All you need is a quality microphone that can be connected to a computer. Most broadcasters use USB mics or XLR mics connected via some sort of soundboard. Once this is set up, you can pull that audio feed into a live broadcasting software application.
Once this is done, you can connect your software to your online video platform. This involves entering the streaming information of your video content (provided by your live streaming solution) and enter your encoder settings.
Many podcasters and radio show hosts create a sound-proof area with good acoustics to record their live audio streams. Luckily, capturing audio is much simpler than video since you don’t have to worry about lighting or the general aesthetic.
You can create your audio setup in a relatively small space since you don’t have to consider the appearance of the background.
6. Test Your Setup
One essential step to live audio streaming is testing your setup to identify any snags in the system. This is really important because when you’re streaming live, there is no room to correct mistakes in real-time.
We recommend running a couple of tests to make sure you’re good to go.
7. Start Streaming
Once you’ve confirmed that your setup is working properly, it is time to start streaming. On most platforms, this is as simple as clicking “Start Stream.”
Remember to remain confident while having a little fun with your stream. Even though the audience can’t see you, they will get a sense of your attitude and mood through the sound of your voice.
Top 10 Live Audio Streaming Platforms
As we mentioned, it is important to choose a reliable audio streaming platform to host your audio-only content. We’ve rounded up 10 of the top platforms with this functionality. Let’s take a close look at their features and pricing.
Dacast is a highly capable online video platform that supports audio-only streaming. This platform is so appealing because it is fully loaded with the professional tools that an audio broadcaster needs.
Dacast is equipped with a white-label video player that can be customized to meet your needs and embedded in just about any website or app.
Another appealing aspect of Dacast is that the software is available at a variety of different price points.
- Broadcast live shows, not just pre-recorded content
- Embed players on the website of your choice
- Stream pre-recorded music and podcasts mixed with live video
- Broadcast multiple radio stations from the same account simultaneously
- Stream to multiple sources at once
- Fast, global delivery via top-tier live streaming CDNs
- Access detailed analytics
- HTML5 white-label video player
- Integrated paywall
- Secure content with geographic and IP restrictions as well as password-protection
- Access to a wide variety of professional features
- Reliable content delivery
- Pricing plans for every budget
- May require a bit of a learning curve.
Streaming platform pricing plans with Dacast start at $39 per month and includes four levels:
- Starter plan: ideal for newcomers with 1.2 TB of bandwidth and 50 GB of storage per year, at just $39 per month billed annually.
- Scale plan: includes 24 TB of bandwidth per year, with 1 TB of storage for $188 per month billed annually. These Scale pricing plans add phone support, monetization paywall, an M3U8 online player for live channels, ad insertion, white-label video player, and video API access. Additional bandwidth is available upon request for monthly plans. Read more here about Dacast’s live streaming pricing plans.
- Event plan: for organizations that would rather not sign a contract, and want to purchase bandwidth separately to live stream an event. It offers 6 TB of bandwidth upfront, 50 GB of storage, and costs just $63 per month (or $750/year). Additional data and storage can be added as needed.
- Custom plan: if your enterprise business has high volume streaming needs, you can contact Dacast for a custom plan tailored to your needs.
Cincopa is a multimedia hosting platform that is capable of storing video files, audio files, photos, and more. This platform is a bit different than the other platforms that we will compare in this post since it has dedicated audio hosting support.
- Tools or businesses with large multimedia storage/hosting needs
- Specialized tools for
- Solutions for sales, marketing, education, production, publishing, and more
- Video monetization tools
- Video analytics
- Dedicated support for audio streaming
- Plans at every price point
- Access to specialized features for a variety of use cases
- A large number of features makes the platform a bit complicated
Cincopa offers four distinct pricing plans:
- Startup: $9/month; designed for a team of 1; limited hosting tools
- Plus: $25/month; includes marketing tools (CTAs, email integrations, etc.)
- Corporate: $99/month; advanced broadcasting tools
- Agency/Enterprise: $350/month; advanced broadcasting tools with more flexibility
Please check out Cincopa’s pricing page for a further breakdown of storage and capabilities that come with each plan.
Kaltura is a highly customizable streaming solution that is open source. Users can integrate a wide variety of settings to create the broadcasting experience that they are looking for.
Kaltura’s customizable nature makes it a great option for broadcasters that have unique needs or are after a very particular end result.
- A highly customizable streaming experience
- Multi-bitrate and adaptive streaming are included
- Reliable content delivery via a combined CDN approach
- Ability to bring your own CDN)
- Tech support via a ticket-based system, which is slower than chat or phone
- Video API access
- Security features, including a range of authentication and encryption options
- Monetization, including all major models (subscription, advertising, PPV streaming)
- Many available features available
- Reliable delivery
- Multiple monetization options
- Robust security
- No phone or chat support
- Highly complex
- No China video delivery
Kaltura uses a credit-based pricing system. Broadcasters can purchase credits to spend on bandwidth and access to additional features and integrations.
Muvi helps broadcasters set up OTT streaming platforms for both video and audio content. It is equipped with tools for brand control, customization, monetization, and more.
Muvi offers a wide range of features, which is great for users who have the time and expertise to learn and understand the platform. However, it can get a bit overwhelming for new broadcasters.
- Live and on-demand hosting
- Custom branding
- HTML5 video player
- DRM and security features
- White-label with branding customization
- Video analytics
- Monetization tools
- Powerful video CMS
- Reliable content delivery through powerful CDN
- Transcoding support for high-quality streaming
- The platform is not user friendly
- Difficulty with integrations
- CMS user interface is complex
- Does not support China delivery
Muvi has five different pricing plans:
- Standard: $399/month (+ $299/month per app + infra fees), allows 2000 concurrent viewers, 1TB of bandwidth, 1 TB of storage, and API access.
- Professional: $1,499 per month (+ $499/month per app + infra fees) increases limits and adds premium support.
- Enterprise: $3,900 per month (+ $499/month per app + infra fees) adds a dedicated server with auto-scaling.
- Ultimate: $8,900/month (+ $499/month per app + infra fees) doubles the bandwidth and storage of the enterprise plan and adds your own CDN and unlimited API calls.
- Black: this is a custom solution and includes everything in the Ultimate plan plus premium services and project management.
Livestream is a premium streaming offering from Vimeo that caters to an advanced audience. Livestream requires that every stream uses a video feed, but they present multiple loopholes for users to host an audio-only stream.
The main appeal to this platform is that it supports unlimited viewers. That means you can have any many people tune into your stream as you’d like without any friction from Livestream.
- Video management service
- High-quality streaming
- Large storage capacity
- Privacy options
- Upload from anywhere
- Ad-free streaming
- Sleek and professional appearance
- Thoroughly detailed analytics
- Easy to use platform
- Pay-per-view option
- High price point
- No China video delivery
Vimeo Livestream offers three main pricing plans, including:
- Premium pricing: $75/month
- Their Premium plan includes both live streaming and VOD support. This plan is the best option for professional broadcasting on this platform.
- Enterprise Pricing: Please contact Vimeo for custom pricing information
- The Enterprise plan includes white-label service, monetization, and video API access. It also includes branding control and added security features.
- Starter Pricing: $1/subscriber per month
- Growth Pricing: starting at $500/month
- This OTT-specific pricing package comes with the Vimeo.com relationship. These plans include all the basics for starting your web-based OTT channel, as well as growing your OTT business online.
Brightcove is another high-end streaming solution that is highly capable of audio-only streaming. It has many notable features, including video monetization, API access, and more.
All of Brightcove’s plans are custom-priced. However, past users report plans starting at $500/month. This is definitely a luxury platform designed for more advanced broadcasting.
- Multi-bitrate and adaptive streaming
- Global content delivery
- Tech support
- Video API access
- Security features
- Monetization options
- Insightful analytics to track performance
- Includes custom video portals
- CRM integration
- Privacy and security settings
- Editing tools
- Permissions configuration
- Easy-to-use interface
- Very expensive (not well-suited for beginners)
- No China video delivery
Mainly targeting huge clients, Brightcove offers several pricing plan levels but does not provide pricing. These include the following:
- Starter: includes 50 to 200 videos, up to 100,000 plays, and 2-5 users
- Professional: unlimited videos, 100,000+ plays, and no overages plays, with +10 users
- Enterprise: unlimited videos, 100,000+ plays, and no overages plays, with 10+ users, unlimited upload, and analytics-only users
Brightcove also includes custom-priced plans for their Enterprise Video Suite packages. Interested broadcasters can contact their sales department to receive a quote or sign up for a 30-day free trial.
Vidyard is a powerful video and audio streaming platform that offers packages for users with any budget. The most basic plan is free, and the most inclusive plan runs at $1250/month. This makes Vidyard a great option for users who need scalability.
In addition to the accessible pricing, Vidyard offers support for a wide range of tools and functionality.
- Interactive playback experiences
- Content playlists
- Tools for advanced organization
- Custom content sharing pages
- Privacy and security controls
- Plans for every budget
- Powerful analytics and reporting
- Customer support
- Wide variety of professional features
- Active user community
- The platform can be difficult to use
- Inconsistent user experience (reviews vary)
- Does not support China delivery
There are a few ways to break down Vidyard’s pricing. They have two main umbrellas that their services, and are packaged as follows:
Packages for Individuals and Teams:
- Free Forever: Free
- Pro Package: $15/month; comes with password protection and marketing tools
- Teams Package: $300/month; access for 3 or more users; video analytics and custom branding
- Business Package: $1250/month; access for 5 or more users; custom integrations
Custom Video Solutions:
- All enterprise pricing packages are custom priced.
8. JW Player
JW Player originated as a video player that was leveraged by the YouTube founders back when YouTube was being developed. The company has since evolved to become a full-service streaming solution.
JW Player is great for audio streaming because it allows users to embed an audio-only MP3 player. This is different from many of the solutions we’ve described. The others are capable of audio-only streaming, but they use the standard video player with a static image.
In addition to its audio player support, JW Player is equipped with a wide range of useful streaming tools.
- Multi-bitrate and adaptive streaming
- Powerful content delivery
- Tech support
- Video API access on all plans
- Basic security features
- Monetization (only via advertising)
- Reliable video player
- User-friendly interface
- Customization capabilities
- Limited access to live streaming support
- 6-hour limit on live streaming
- Limitations on tech support
- Limited to ad-based monetization
- No China video delivery
JW Player offers three main pricing plans. These include:
- 30-day free trial subscription which includes full API and SDK access, and a non-commercial license, with 25 GB hosting bandwidth and 75 GB streaming.
- Starter pricing plan for $10 per month, which includes an HTML5 Video Player and video gallery, with 150 GB hosting bandwidth and 500 GB streaming (50,000 plays) per month billed annually.
- Enterprise plans are available with custom pricing for high-volume storage and streaming. Enterprise plans support live streaming, while lower-tier plans only support VOD.
Pantopto is a powerful streaming solution that is primary used for internal streaming for educational purposes. It is used by schools to stream lectures and by businesses to stream training materials.
Panopto has special podcasting features that make it easy for educators to teach their students or trainees with audio content.
- Lecture-capture and video-search software
- Analytics access
- Privacy and security features
- White-label streaming
- API access for customization
- Audio streaming support
- Document Indexing and full-text search
- Asset categorization for advanced organization
- Customizable branding
- China video hosting
- No customizable templates
- Internal streaming only
Panopto recently simplified its pricing packages and includes the following three options:
- Basic: Free
- Pro: $14.99/month
- Enterprise: Please contact Panopto for custom pricing.
After establishing a contract, you have access to unlimited streaming and storage.
Last but not least, Wowza is another great platform for hosting your audio streams. This solution includes API access, powerful security, cloud management, and more.
Another cool feature of Wowza is live stream recording. That means that you can capture your live stream so that your audience can play it back on-demand after the show has ended.
- Cloud management portal
- Up to 4K streaming
- Wide range of security options
- API access for customization
- Live stream recording
- Reliable security
- Mobile streaming support
- Video streaming
- Video looping
- China video delivery
- No video monetization tools
- Single-camera feed only
- No video analytics
- No event scheduling
- Basic: $99/month; includes 20 hours of live streaming and 1000 viewing hours based on video resolution of 720p
- One Month Event: $149 one-time purchase; includes 20 hours of live streaming and 1000 viewing hours also at 720p
- Plus: $499/month; includes 150 hours of live streaming and 7000 viewing hours based on video resolution of 720p
All of these Live Event plans include full brand control, multi-bitrate streaming, and HD and UHD streaming.
The Wowza Streaming Engine has its own pricing plans. These professional-grade streaming plans are billed annually and include:
- Basic: $125/month + $145/month for each additional instance and $125/month for each additional prepaid instance
- One Month Event: $245/month + $155/month for each additional instance and $95/month for each additional prepaid instance
- Enterprise: Please contact Wowza directly for access to their custom-tailored high volume enterprise solutions
Forty-two million Americans listen to podcasts weekly. Many others listen to online radio stations. With the growing popularity of audio-only streaming, getting involved should be a no-brainer. All you need to get started is a solid setup and the support of a live audio streaming platform.
Not sure where to start with choosing a live streaming platform? Why no try Dacast? We offer a 30-day risk-free trial, which means that you can test out all of our great features before committing multiple reasons may, and we can answer any questions you may have during the process.
Do have questions or comments about our service for broadcasting live audio before giving Dacast a try? Let us know in the comment section below, and we’ll do our best to respond as soon as we can. For regular tips on live streaming and exclusive offers, we also invite you to join our LinkedIn group.
Thanks for reading, and good luck choosing the right streaming service for your radio broadcasts!
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