Live365 is one of the oldest and the most influential broadcasting and radio listening networks out there. For years, it has allowed creators to start their own online stations. Apart from that, it has its own radio streaming service which allows users to listen to thousands of curated stations built by none other than fellow users from around the globe.
What makes Live365 unique is that it’s a network that has been created and managed by listeners like you and me. From radio enthusiasts to hobbyists and professional broadcasters, you’ll find everyone on this network.
What is Live365?
Live365 is known for its established FM and AM stations based on its own distribution network. A platform that offers its own streaming service and allows users to simulcast their own stations via the distribution network. Over the years Live365 has covered artists such as Johnny Cash, Pat Metheny, David Byrne, Frank Zappa and Jethro Tull on its network. In the 20 years of its existence, it has broken records and achieved crucial milestones one after the other. As mentioned earlier, it is amongst the very few longest running internet radio website which caters to both listeners and broadcasters.
Overcoming the dark patch
Live365 after its 10-year contract ended in 2016 found itself in trouble. In fact, not just Live365 but all the small independent radio service providers were in a tight spot after the royalty law was changed in December 2015. The pending expiration of the royalty rate for small broadcasters led investors to hold up their hands. Thus, Live365 ceased its operation and vacated its office because it didn’t have any fuel left. With just a few employees remaining, Live365 operated from home for over a year until it made a comeback.
In July 2016, Jon Stephenson – the owner of EmpireStreaming acquired Live365 and restored the website. In 2017, an article appeared on the official account suggesting that Live365 is back and sign-ups were opened allowing the former broadcasters to restart their stations.
Live365 was first built by a small skunkworks team that worked at Nanocosm – the parent company of Live365. In the initial years, Live365 worked as a hosted community radio project which used Shoutcast technology to build this company. Andy Volk was the man behind Live365 – he shared the idea with Peter Rothman – CTO at Nanocosm. Peter who was convinced with Andy’s idea began the original network. Later the network was modified by Brian Lomeland and that led to the establishment of Live365.
Why should you stream on Live365?
If you’re interested in starting your own online radio station, you can begin with a 7-day free trial. There are different broadcasting packages which you can use to unlock certain features and capabilities. A well-structured plan allows you to start your station for free and monetize based on the number of users visiting the station.
Music Royalty Coverage
Most of the independent radio streaming service providers have a hard time overcoming the royalty issue. Thus, they have to cease their production and put an end to their journey or pay royalty fees to keep their services going. When you work with Live365, you no longer have to worry about royalty as it is covered by Live365. All you have to do is to be creative and find new ways to attract listeners.
Uncompromised Sound Quality
Why settle for a 32 or 64kbps when you can start your channel at 128kbps? Sure, 128kbps is not HQ but it’s still better than the majority of the radio streaming services out there. Whether you’re starting with the basic personal broadcasting or as an advanced broadcaster, you have the liberty to choose the quality you want.
Customizable Players and Station
A thematic option goes a long way in making a station appear distinctive. With Live365, you can customize your player and make your station stand apart from everything that’s out there. Most of the broadcasters look for such options as they want their channel to stand out from the rest. Apart from the customizable player, you also get access to mobile and desktop apps which helps you reach out to your audience in a more personalized way.
Distribution and Statistics
With Live365, distribution is well-handled and you can get your station on multiple platforms including iTunes Radio for better exposure. You’re in full control of the analytics as you get detailed statistics about each and every aspect of your station. Thanks to a user-intuitive dashboard, you can manage anything – from the content library and storage to a number of visitors and songs played, you are on top of everything.
Live365 appears premium all the way. A huge amount of credit has to be given to the developers for the stand-out design. The minimal no-nonsense approach really stands out as the white and dark blue gradient stands out along with orange accents. I’m not claiming that it’s the best radio streaming website, but it is a strong competitor.
Live365 has a simple reader with a logo on the left. A transparent search bar at the center and three options on the right. These include Start Your Station, User Icon (Sign up and Login Panel) and an ellipsis icon which has a drop-down menu with five options – ‘Start Your Station’, ‘Listen to Radio’, ‘Broadcaster Resources’, ‘Support’ and ‘Blog’.
Live365’s hero section extends all the way until you see the ‘Discover More’ button. With ‘The World’s Audio’ as the main text on the hero section accompanied by genres and album arts is rectangular and square tiles. There are four genre options – Christmas, Jazz, Gospel and Classical along with two dozen radio station thumbnails.
As opposed to the dark blue/purple gradient, the body section is quite light. With a black background and light icons, the section looks off from the rest of the elements on the homepage. It has three sections – Audience, Licensing and Monetization. If you wish to learn more, you can click on any of these features, if not, you can scroll down to find the app plug for Android and iOS platform.
I really like the footer as it follows a simple design that correlates with the body section justifying the odd-even approach. In the footer section, you have two rows of options on the left. The first row has the following options – Podcast Hosting, Christmas Music, Where to Listen and Broadcaster Resources. The second row as usual features About Us, Blog, Careers, Support options. On the right, you can find social media icons – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn if you wish to share the platform with your friends and family.
Though the inner pages follow the same blur and gradient layout, what stands apart is the media player. With the name of the station on the top, genres in the middle and a sleek player underneath, I like the aesthetics of this section. The grey transparent box also features the track name, artist name, and album art. If you scroll down, you’ll find recently played tracks and detail about the station on the right side.
Right from searching the site on Google to actually landing on it, you can easily make out what the platform is about. When you search for Live365, you’ll find six crucial metadata – Listen, Start Your Station, Pricing, About Us, Live365 Broadcaster and Get Internet Radio.
Having said that, it’s only when you land on the website that you realize the sheer content depth that this platform has to offer. Live365 has content for everyone which you’re unlikely to find anywhere else. There are hundreds of genres ranging between Rock, Jazz, Electronic, Gospel, Country, Classical, Reggae, Hip-Hop/R&B, Oldies, Broadway and Talk shows.
I enjoyed the streaming experience on Live365. As mentioned before, I loved the small music player on the inner page. The sleek design and overall functionality ensured that I kept returning to the website for more streaming experience. As for hosting my own broadcasting station, I tried a $59/month package for 6 months and I have to say that I enjoyed it. I had access to 1,500 license channels and had unlimited bandwidth.
Plans & Pricing
There are four plans – Free, Broadcast 1, Broadcast 2 and Broadcast 3. The first plan costs $59/month whereas the 2 and 3 plan costs $99/month and $199/month respectively. A major difference between the three premium plans is the amount of storage provided and licenses available. The $59/month plan provides you 25GB storage with 1500 Licensed TLH whereas the $199/month plan offers 100GB storage with 7,000 licensed TLH.
Suggestions I have for Live365
I didn’t find any significant holes in Live365’s overall service. I’d just like the developers to work on improving the streaming quality and fix the inner page layout on the desktop. I do understand that they’ve done it keeping the mobile responsiveness in mind but on desktop, it looks quite ridiculous.
Whether you’re a listener or a broadcaster, Live365 is a platform that you definitely need to check. The well-designed interface and a wide range of plans allow you to start your own journey as a broadcaster. For listeners, if you’re interested in hearing songs and podcasts from independent artists, this has to be one of the finest platforms.