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Reasons to Build Your Own Radio Station App

At Alty, we always take the time to do the preliminary market research for our clients. You know, scope the competition, dig up some industry stats and get to know what kind of solution users would actually love to use.

Previously, we’ve shared some insights on why advertising agencies should consider building a mobile app and reasons to build a custom stock trading app for investors.

Today we invite everyone to tune in radio app development

The Online Radio Market Size: Stats & Trends

If you want to make a radio app, you’ll definitely like the following numbers. According to Statista:

  • 58.36 million of Americans have used online radio services monthly in 2015.
  • An average user stays tuned in for around 12 hours and 53 minutes every week.
  • By 2018, 68.4% of the US Internet users will listen to radio online.
  • The global online radio revenues have hit $827 million in 2015.
  • 45% of users tend to recommend favorite stations/apps in person.

Ok, so this data already gives some solid reasoning to create a radio station app. But wait, there’s even more!

According to Nielsen’s Music Mid-Year Report, audio has surpassed video as a leading streaming format and now comprises 54% of all streaming activities happening online. Bingo!

The overall digital music consumption is up by 9% compared to last year. However, digital tracks are down by 24% in sales compared to the first half of 2015. Again, that indicates the consumers’ shift towards paying for subscriptions, rather than for per item goods.

Internet Radio Consumption Keeps Growing

The latest report from Edison Research shows how online radio popularity has boomed in the past few years.

What’s more interesting is that you can see consistent growth among different demographics:

Let’s additionally look how this data transfers to the popularity of music radios like Pandora. After all, we are not yet sure that people actually want an app for that, right?

Well, according to the Internet Radio Trends Report by Xappmedia, 95% of radio listening now occurs on mobile devices. And here’s what the latest financial Pandora report from Q3 2016 has to say:

  • Q3 2016 consolidated revenue was $351.9 growing 13% year-over-year.
  • Q3 total listener hours were 5.40 billion, growing 5% year over year.

The growth numbers may not look that spectacular…but let’s not forget that Pandora app already boasts over 80 million users globally and is past the aggressive user acquisition stage.

When putting the current numbers in the perspective, their financial results seem more spectacular, especially when accounting for the next factor

The Competition Landscape

So the competition is already there of course. Apple’s entrance with a new streaming music app has initially created waves in the community. However, as Ethan Rudin, CFO, head of global label relations and business development at Rhapsody/Napster noted in the Global Music Market Report the Apple launch in 2015 has had a small impact on their numbers.

“Apple has raised the awareness of what streaming is. They have participated in what I would call a great education – turning streaming into a mainstream format”

Also, as you’ve noticed in the chart above online music radios are highly popular among the millennial and Gen Z consumers well-known for their shifting preferences and lack of brand loyalty.

There’s still room left for another app. However, the key to succeeding with an online music radio like Pandora is to create an effective “music fan” onboarding strategy paired with an efficient user retention mechanism.

Internet Radio Revenues

Online radio and streaming apps typically deploy a variety of app monetization strategies simultaneously. For startups that’s a sure-fire way to stay afloat and show decent growth in revenues to the investors.

Apart from offering subscriptions and freemium upsells, a lot of companies (Pandora included) are experimenting with advertising. According to BIA/Kelsey and eMarketer, the Internet radio ad revenues will constitute 20% of the overall radio industry revenues by 2020.

Forbes columnist David Porter went as far as saying that advertising on online radio stations will be the next big thing for businesses. Rapid user growth, high content consumption stats and affordable advertising price have turned Internet radio stations into a very lucrative advertising market.

However, don’t expect to compensate the radio app development cost with those revenues immediately. A fair share of that money goes not just to the publishers’ pockets, but to labels, songwriters, and artists as well. Additionally, you might need to invest in purchasing a license just as a regular FM station to protect yourself from any legal hassle and possible copyright infringements.

To wrap it up, Internet radio listening has already gone mainstream on mobile according to comScore data:


The user base is there and keeps growing. The revenues are expected to rise as well, while the competition remains moderate if you present a great product. And our developers have some tips for that.

How To Make a Radio App That Users Love


Streaming music on mobile even through a responsive website isn’t that fancy. A native mobile app can take advantage of such features as background streaming, smart notifications, seamless control and, in general, offer more personalization options to the user.

To make a popular and delightful product, here are a few ideas to mingle over first.

High-Quality Music Streaming

Becoming the best app on the market is impossible if your audio quality sucks. Hence opt for AAC+ at 64 Kbps streaming quality or higher. Your app should perfectly function in the background mode so that the user could use other apps on their iPhone or Android gadget without the stream being interrupted.

Additionally, the stream should automatically stop whenever there’s an incoming phone call. Online streaming app development, in this case, may be a bit tricky, yet it’s definitely worth the hassle from the UX perspective.

Different User Engagement Options

The key to the long-term success is to retain your users successfully. After all, merely listening to music is possible through multiple channels. Hence, you may want to offer sweet extras such as:

Special On-Demand Content

That could be live streams from featured artists or invited DJs like iHeartRadio app does. Or the ability to create personalized radio stations and share those with friends like Pandora proposes.

Streaming podcasts is another option to consider as around 57 million of Americans are estimated to listen to podcasts on a monthly basis.

And again, 64% of users use mobile devices to listen to podcasts.

Advanced Customization

One of the definitive product strengths of Pandora is the ability to customize and personalize pretty a large number of playlist configurations. The app is also quite successful with “guessing” user preferences.

Yet, there’s still plenty of room for improvement left. For instance, you can fine-tune the discovery/preference guessing with AI-powered algorithms and deliver better suggestions to the users. Or aim at building a community of featured taste trendsetters, who will share their latest finds and playlists with the rest.

Get Social

You may want to introduce a more social element to your music app and allow users to create public profiles and public shareable playlists. Though it will increase the cost to build a radio station app, it could be a smart way to growth hack your product. After all, part of the initial Instagram’s success was seamless integration with Facebook, which enticed more users to the app. Airbnb deployed a similar, but a more aggressive hack by piggy-back riding on Craigslist to initially grow the user base as well.

Additionally, you may want to reward active and loyal users & app promoters generating referrals with sweet perks such bonus storage for playlists; more free hours of streaming etc.

Push Notifications

Finally, to retain and entertain users you will need to have a great push marketing strategy in place.

You can notify users about new trending shows or on-demand content added; contests and special promos happening within the app; notifications on their friend’s/public playlist activities and so on.

Should You Go Cross-Platform?

Pandora did and their app is now available on for different mobile OS and as a desktop app as well. If you have the budgets, opting to support both iOS and Android platforms will ensure faster user base growth.

If your financials are tight, it’s better to build one amazing app for one platform, rather than two mediocre ones. Using Xamarin for cross-platform app development may reduce the costs and the development timeline, however, there are certain disadvantages of using this service too. Check out our previous post for more insights.

And if you already have a product concept in mind and want to discuss the specifications, Alty team is just one quick email away

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