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How to Build Your Own Radio Station App?

Two hands holding a smartphone on which there's a list of different radio stations

Are you an entrepreneur planning to launch a radio station app? Well, yours could be one of the ventures that will turn around the radio industry! As the traditional radio market declines, digital radio is picking up steam. Read more about this key observation in “Radio’s Big Challenge: Finding Its Way Forward In This New Digital World”.

Modern technology such as cloud computing and APIs provide you with enough wherewithal to build such an app. In this article, I will explain how to build your own radio station app. Before that, let us see the essential features of such a streaming music app.


Features of a radio app
Radio app examples
Licensing requirements for a radio app
Approach #1: How to make a radio station app using the AppInstitute app builder
Approach #2: Create an online music radio app like Pandora using Contus Vplay
Approach #3: Radio app development using the Appy Pie app builder
Approach #4: Radio app development with Wowza cloud and SDK
Approach #5: Radio app development with Napster APIs

Features of a radio app

A silver iPhone with the iTines radio app dashboard

Consider including the following features when you make a radio app:

  • The app should have cross-platform support. Radio station app development for iOS is easy, hence many start-ups did that. They didn’t release a version for the other platforms, therefore, listeners using those other platforms couldn’t use that app. However, now it’s much easier to create a radio station app for other platforms.
  • The app needs a streaming feature. The streaming should be of high-quality, and ‘background-streamable’. When users use another app, however, the audio continues, that is ‘background-streamable’.
  • On-demand content: Often people would want to download content, and not listen to the streaming music. Consider offering podcasts and MP3 as downloadable content.
  • The app should provide a program guide, besides the song information is needed.
  • User notifications, for e.g., push notifications will increase the user engagement, hence this feature is important.

Read more about these features in the CrowdRadio features page.

Radio app examples

I recommend that you study examples of best radio apps so that you can get design ideas for online streaming music app development.

  • TuneIn: This is a very good radio app for Android and iOS platforms. It offers many local radio shows, sports stations, and podcasts hence you get an excellent variety. The app offers a nice and easy interface besides, it has a good sound quality.
  • NPR One: This is from the famous ‘National Public Radio’ (NPR), and offers you great news programs and podcasts. Users can listen to local radio stations as well as nationally syndicated programs. It features the popular NPR programs like “All Things Considered”, “Planet Money”, etc. It’s available for both Android and iOS.
  • iHeartRadio: Available both on Android and iOS, this is a highly popular radio app. You can listen to a wide variety of music, additionally, you can also listen to sports or other programs. There are nice features that drive user engagement besides the premium subscription offers more such features.
  • Pandora: They had started in 2000 when the Internet was new, with the objective of letting users find music they like. Even now, Pandora is highly popular. There are many reasons for that, for e.g., the app has a very user-friendly design. Users can easily create playlists, additionally, they can also engage with upvoting or downvoting.

Find more examples of radio apps in “Tune in and chill out with the best radio apps for Android and iOS”.

Licensing requirements for a radio app

To launch your radio app, you will first need to apply for a license. You need this license, to remain on the right side of copyright laws. If you are in the US, apply for a license with ‘American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers’, or ‘Broadcast Music Incorporated’. If you are in Europe, you need to get a license from “European Stage Authors and Composers”. Find out the appropriate licensing authority in other countries from the Internet.

I will now describe a few approaches which will show you how to create a radio station app.

Approach #1: How to make a radio station app using the AppInstitute app builder

The AppBuilder CMS dashboard opened on a MacBook

AppInstitute provides an app builder to make a music radio app like Pandora. You don’t need to hire a radio station app development company in this approach since no coding is needed.

Features that AppInstitute offers

You can include the following features:

  • Audio streaming;
  • In-app song request form;
  • Listing of timetables for popular shows is possible;
  • Push notifications;
  • Messaging center;
  • RSS feed.

How to use the AppInstitute app builder

You only need to take a few simple steps to create your own radio station app, as follows:

  1. Choose an appropriate radio station template.
  2. Brand your app, by taking branding information from your website.
  3. Customize according to your business requirements.
  4. Publish it into the ‘Google Play’, or ‘Apple App Store’. Remember to check out the Google Play app “Launch checklist”, and the Apple “App Store Review Guidelines”, respectively.

AppInstitute advantages

This approach offers you the following advantages:

  • Quick ‘Time to market’, because you don’t need to code.
  • You can easily monetize your app with redeemable coupons.
  • The app builder is easy hence you can add content like text, images, videos, and custom HTML easily.
  • Analytics modules to measure user engagements.

Radio app development cost with AppInstitute

You don’t need to hire developers in this approach. However, you need to host your streaming with a ‘Mobile Backend as a Service’ provider. You can use Google Firebase, AWS for mobile, Kinvey, SashiDo, or Kumolos. Check “How To Choose The Best Mobile Backend As A Service (MBaaS)?” for a comparison of prominent MBaaS providers.

Additionally, you need to buy an appropriate package from AppInstitute. Their premium plans like AppBuilder Pro+ offer white-labeled app and priority support. For companies building radio apps for their customers, the ‘Reseller’ pack also includes sales tools and support material. Visit their pricing page for more details.

Approach #2: Create an online music radio app like Pandora using Contus Vplay

Contus Vplay is a ready-made solution for your radio app. You need not engage any app development company with this approach.

Contus Vplay features

They offer you the following features:

  • You can include streaming audio in your app.
  • Monetization of your app is easy. For these, pay-per-view, banner ads, subscriptions, and more options are available to you.
  • You get a scalable and secure content delivery.
  • Contus Vplay has ready-made social integration options.
  • The company offers a robust analytics suite hence you can measure user engagement.
  • Downloading content is possible.
  • The product features an intuitive UI.

Contus Vplay advantages

As you might expect from a ready-made product, your ‘Time-to-Market’ will be quick. Another distinct advantage of Contus Vplay has an inbuilt audio streaming transcoder. The transcoder supports all prominent formats like MP3, ACC, WAV, etc. Read more about it their audio streaming product page.

The company also provides very good security features, which is another advantage. Strong encryption, ‘Digital Rights Management’ (DRM), and access control keep hackers at bay.

The cost to build a radio station app with Contus Vplay

There is no cost of hiring app developers. However, you need to have an MBaaS provider like Google Firebase, or AWS for mobile. Contus provides their product pricing information upon request.

Approach #3: Radio app development using the Appy Pie app builder

A screenshot of the Appy Pie app builder on an iPhone

This is yet another approach where you can launch your radio app quickly without coding. In this approach, you can use the Appy Pie radio app builder.

Features supported by the Appy Pie radio app builder

This radio app builder supports the following features:

  • Support for multiple playlist formats is available, for e.g. SHOUTcast, and Icecast.
  • The app will be able to display the artist and song information.
  • Your audience can work with their other apps, while the radio plays in the background.
  • You get the complete SoundCloud support.
  • If you have images for your company already with Instagram and Flickr, you can easily integrate them.

You can use their powerful analytics tool suite to measure your user engagement, additionally, you can also monetize your app.

How to use the Appy Pie radio app builder

It’s a series of intuitive steps. You need to sign-up with Appy Pie, and then provide your business-related details. Subsequently, you use their drag-and-drop app builder to choose a layout. Then you can add the features you need.

You need to configure the features you have selected, for e.g., you may need to provide social media channel information. After your configuration is over, go ahead and publish the app in the ‘Google Play’ and ‘Apple App Store’. Follow the app publishing guidelines I had mentioned earlier.

Radio app development cost with Appy Pie

In this approach, you don’t need a skilled radio app developer. Assuming you already have your branding and graphics ready for your business, you don’t need a graphics designer either. Appy Pie plans come with cloud hosting included, hence, you don’t need to separately buy an MBaaS service.

Visit their pricing page and check out their plans. Keep in mind that only the ‘Platinum’ plan allows you to use your own branding information. This plan also includes help with app submission.

Approach #4: Radio app development with Wowza cloud and SDK

In this approach, you will develop a radio app using streaming cloud and ‘software development kit’ (SDK) offered by Wowza media systems. This approach requires coding hence you need to assemble a development team. Having said that, with an SDK, the development effort is less than developing the app from scratch.

Assemble your development team

This being a development project, you need to assemble a development team. Consider the following skills:

  • 1 business analyst;
  • 1 UI/UX designer;
  • 2 iOS developers:
  • 2 Android developers:
  • 2 testers;
  • 1 project manager.

Most modern projects of this nature now use the ‘Agile’ methodology. You may want to build an ‘Agile’ team, in that case, you can check out “How to Build an Agile Development Team?”. Within the larger world of ‘Agile’, ‘Scrum’ is now an increasingly popular technique. If you want to build a ‘Scrum’ team, read “How to Build a Scrum Development Team?”. Your project manager should be well-versed with “Top 7 Project Management Methodologies in 2018”.

Managing your mobile backend

You have noticed that I have not mentioned backend developers in the above team composition. This is because I recommend that you use the Wowza streaming cloud solution. It integrates well with the GoCoder SDK of Wowza. Check out the Wowza audio-only streaming page for more details.

Wowza GoCoder: your SDK for this project

Wowza offers their GoCoder SDK for you to build your streaming app relatively easily. You can build your app with your branding information besides, you can protect your content with their good security practices. While GoCoder SDK is free, it comes bundled with their streaming cloud or streaming engine packages. In this case, we will use their streaming cloud, because their streaming engine is more suitable if you manage your own infrastructure.

Wowza GoCoder SDK has excellent documentation. Please ensure that your development team reviews the entire document, which can be located here.

Your project phases

This approach is a development project. Hence, you need to execute it in appropriate phases. For e.g., if you are following the ‘Scrum’ technique, then you need to do the following:

  1. Build the backlog for your ‘Sprint’;
  2. Plan your ‘Sprint’;
  3. Daily stand-up meeting when the ‘Sprint’ is in progress;
  4. ‘Sprint review meeting’ at the end of it;
  5. ‘Sprint retrospective meeting’ to learn lessons from it.

Check out our guide “How to Build a Scrum Development Team?” for more details.

Radio app development cost with Wowza streaming cloud and GoCoder SDK

To know about the price of Wowza streaming cloud, visit the Wowza pricing page. GoCoder SDK is free when you buy the Wowza streaming cloud. There is no other cloud hosting cost.

Your development effort depends on your app complexity. Also, your manpower cost depends on your geography. Note that certain skills may be considered niche in your local labor market, hence, you may need to get professional help. If you plan to engage a software development company, check out our guide “How to Find The Best Software Development Company?”.

Approach #5: Radio app development with Napster APIs

No, there is no legal trouble for you if you use this Napster ‘application programming interfaces’ (APIs) approach! Today’s Napster is a perfectly legal company, and you can check out their ‘Service Terms of Use’ page.

This is a full-fledged development project. So, is you want to make your own radio station app, you will need to assemble a development team, select your appropriate project management methodology, and manage your project from end-to-end.

However, in this approach, you will use Napster APIs. They allow you to access over 40 million songs, besides they handle the licensing. You can access the song, artist, ‘listen count’, and several other similar information. It’s also possible to also manage user information. You need to first sign-up for their APIs.

From this point onwards, you have two alternatives. The first is that you develop your Android and iOS apps, and consume their APIs. Napster provides extensive API documentation, therefore encourage your team to review it here.

The other alternative is that you use their Android and iOS SDK, to make your development effort a bit easier. You can access their Android SDK, and their iOS SDK.

You need to get an MBaaS account, hence, check out our MBaaS comparison guide that I had referred to earlier. Your manpower cost will vary based on the complexity of your app and your local labor market. If you need to get professional help, consult our guide “How to Find The Best Software Development Company?”.