Online radio stations, along with other audio and video streaming services, are wildly popular these days. They have large audiences, yield significant profits, and can be effectively used for public influence. Considering these benefits, let us review how to make a radio app, who would want to create or use it, and how to make it profitable.

Contents:

Why People Still Listen to the Radio?

Nowadays, we have all sorts of digital media content at our fingertips: movies, books, music, even magazines and newspapers. Moreover, we have the luxury of choosing exactly what we need at the right moment: a particular song, for example. So, why the hottest trend these years is listening to online radio stations where you have no choice over the playlist? Let’s find out why many listeners prefer radio to mp3 players, and use this information to make our software more attractive to its potential users.

The unique feature of good radio stations is the defining touch of their hosts. Call it the vibe, aura, or even soul of the station; it is the reflection of a radio personality who is in charge of the music. Intermissions and monologues of silver-tongued, charismatic DJs add life to the audio stream, making in more “cozy” in comparison to the uninterrupted sequence of tracks. Even in the virtual worlds, the presence of radio stations as an alternative to conventional soundtracks makes games much more immersive, as proven by GTA or Fallout series.

Another reason why many people prefer radio stations is the element of surprise. Every track can turn into a pleasant revelation, or sometimes, a disappointment. Yet another popular feature of the radio is unique content such as podcasts or radio shows. In any case, all mentioned features that attract listeners exist only thanks to radio hosts.

Two main types of radio apps

Generally, there are two main scenarios for building a radio application. Both types depend on the origins of such software, namely – on the initiator and reasons for creating a radio station app. Let us consider who would like to build a radio station app and why they would want to do it.

Branded application of a particular radio station

A lightweight mobile app aimed at the admirers of a particular radio station. As a rule, this type of software does not require a large number of features, so its development will likely be fast and relatively cheap. Additionally, it is easier to ensure high performance and quality of such small applications. Finally, since your target audience is the admirers of your radio station, you don’t have to worry about your competitors as in this case you don’t have any. Find out what your loyal fans want from your future application by using a poll on a website, for example, and do not subvert their expectations.

Radio aggregator startup

Another common type of radio listening software is a multi-functional aggregator that targets a much wider audience with various tastes. Such complex applications need an extensive set of features to cover all types of potential requests and satisfy more customers. They also involve much better planning and market research as compared to “single station” apps. Finally, as these aggregators provide a wide selection of live and recorded content from various radio stations, they should include search functionality.

Five Desired Features for Online Radio Software

As we have mentioned above, two types of radio station software require different sets of features. A single-station app may have only the basic and most requested functionality to be as lightweight as possible. On the contrary, a radio aggregator application needs basic features, optional features, and at least one unique feature to distinguish itself from competitors and attract users. Yet, keep in mind that every added feature increases the cost and time required to make a high-quality application.

Now, let’s review five features that might be highly desirable for an application focused on online radio services. To keep our article brief and useful, we will concentrate on specific features and omit more commonplace characteristics that are required from any kind of software, such as a user-friendly interface, high performance, support of wearables and AI voice assistants, etc.

  • Favorites. Quick access to favorite stations or podcasts is a very convenient and attractive feature for any fan of online radio. However, it is of less use in the case of a single-station app and may be omitted.  
  • Search. This feature can be a bit tricky to implement, and in some cases may involve the use of AI, such as a speech-to-text conversion algorithm. A user would love the possibility to find a radio station dedicated to a certain genre, a specific podcast in an archive, or even a particular song.
  • Offline mode. The offline mode for an online radio app seems like a weird idea, but it is, in fact, a popular request in this type of software. It particular, it refers to a possibility to download and store podcasts, show episodes or other content on users’ devices.
  • Broadcasting. Several advanced online radio apps allow their premium users to use the broadcasting functionality and even store their podcasts in a cloud for a limited time. This feature is rather rare and requires a certain amount of hardware resources and, for this reason, should be available only as a paid option.
  • Schedule. Themed programs and shows hosted by celebrities and radio personalities define the spirit of each radio station. Listeners would enjoy having a convenient timetable with the schedule of audio broadcast for one or several stations. As a useful addition, it could have an alert functionality and work in combination with the “favorites” feature mentioned above. This way, it may warn users when their desired program is about to start by displaying push notifications on mobile devices.

Monetization Strategies for Online Radio Apps

Mobile applications for online radio listening can use a wide range of monetization models. They can be completely free, since a radio station or an online podcast may already get substantial money from broadcasting advertisements. Alternatively, they can charge money for using specific advanced features. The access to such features may be a one-time purchase or a subscription-based service.

Chart of podcast advertising revenuesIn some cases, for example, when an application offers unique features unavailable from its competitors, its owners may choose to market it as paid software. However, free software is much more attractive to users and still can yield profits. Other approaches to the monetization of free mobile apps are further covered in our blog in more details.

Essential Steps to Create a Radio Station App

The main steps of building radio station software are no different from the stages of building almost any custom software. They are:

  • Outlining the idea. This step includes defining the concept of your future app and performing preliminary market research to analyze the competition and perspectives, as well as adjust the required features.
  • Search for an executive team. Once you have a basic understanding of your app’s desired functionality, it’s time to select people who will turn your ideas into a flawless piece of coding art.
  • Planning stage. You newly hired team requires fixed specifications and thorough market research before the radio app development begins. This stage finalizes the set of features, architecture, budget, and scope of work. 
  • Design and prototyping. After finalizing the specification, the next task is creating your app’s design based on the agreed architecture. Mobile software design should follow some rules in order to be intuitive and convenient to use via a touchscreen. 
  • Development and testing. Depending on the number of features and skills of the chosen team, this stage can take a while. Remember, quality is a must. An early release filled with bugs and partially implemented functionality will ruin the whole plan of a successful application.
  • Release and post-release support. The date of release is highly important, so be sure to conduct thorough research. You need to find the period with the most favorable conditions to enter the market and publish your app. Show your supporters that your application is constantly improving by adding new features and removing nuisances pointed out by users.

If you require an ordinary software product for your radio station, you may resort to app builders, such as Appy Pie or similar. Such easy-to-use software building solutions use the “what you see is what you get” approach and allow creating a simple application without any coding skills. However, if you want to ensure better quality and a wider range of features, you should refer to experienced specialists.

The technology stack for a radio app will depend on its type, just like for any other software applications. In this article, we focus on mobile applications, so the choice is between native apps and hybrid apps. For native applications, the selection of programming languages is predetermined by the respective operating system: Swift and/or Objective-C for iOS, and Kotlin and/or Java for Android. Hybrid apps allow a much wider selection of programming tools, including React Native, Ionic, Xamarin, Cordova, Flutter, and others.

Notable Examples of Popular Radio Station Software

The potential of radio station apps is illustrated by the list of successful companies in the relevant field and their associated software available on Google Play and App Store. Let’s find out what the top 3 of them offer to their listeners.

Chart of top 5 US radio companiesPandora is an excellent example of how well a radio station app can integrate into various smart devices. It supports Android and iOS smartphones, Alexa speakers, Xbox consoles, various fitness trackers and smartwatches, even cars. Basically, if a smart device is capable of outputting sound, there is a great chance it is compatible with Pandora.

iHeartRadio focuses on podcasts and truly excels in this field. It offers an incredible library with thousands of podcasts categorized according to different topics: news, health, relationships, music, science, and much more.

NPR One and NPR News are two applications from the National Public Radio media organization that unites over a thousand of US radio stations into a single network. While the main type of content is local, national, and world news, there are also many shows, podcasts, and other cultural and music programming.

Conclusion

As you can see, an online radio application for mobile devices is an excellent way of extending the reach of a radio station and cover new audiences. It is also a valid solution for adding extra profits to your station’s revenue, and a great help in attracting new sponsors, advertisers, and other business partners. Just don’t forget to settle all licensing details, and be sure to find a skilled team of developers. Contact us to get a user-friendly radio application from our experienced specialists.


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