For traditional corporate radio stations, commercials are the primary (and often sole) source of revenue. That’s why there are so many commercials per hour. But not for Live365, the hosting service for Ho`olohe Hou Radio. The commercials are aimed at generating the revenue needed to pay royalties to artists and composers. But the rest of the operating expenses – what we would call in the corporate world overhead (electricity, servers, routers, webpages, design and creation of apps) – are covered by subscribers – those individuals like me who desire to host a radio station. The fees can be as inexpensive as $4 / month, but that sort of subscription is limited to five (5) concurrent listeners. When the sixth listeners clicks on the station, then, they receive a message that the station is “full” and to “try again later.” For $39 / month, a subscription will support an unlimited number of listeners but only for a 1,000 total hours. So if a mere 25 listeners were to tune in for only 40 hours – or one work week – the total hours would be exhausted and the station would not be available for the remaining three weeks of the month. This is like putting a parking meter on radio.

For these reasons, I selected Live365’s most robust professional broadcasting package. For $199 / month, the station can support up to 5,000 listener hours. If the station exceeds this (and I hope it will), additional hours will be available at an expense to the broadcaster of $0.05 / hour. This means that Ho`olohe Hou Radio will support an unlimited number of listeners for as long as they wish to listen without ever being rebuffed by a “try again later” message.

But, with the aim of hosting the most unique Hawaiian music radio station in history, I went a step further. The $199 / month professional package only boasts 8GB of storage at the highest available bitrate quality (128kbps). I did some math… At that bitrate, the station would only hold approximately 2,664 songs. This might be a huge collection to many of you, but it would only represent 10% of my vast archives of more than 25,000 Hawaiian recordings. I worked with my Live365 account manager to acquire double the storage space – 16GB – to double the size of the Ho`olohe Hou Radio library to more than 5,000 songs. But each additional 1GB will cost the station $20 / month – or an additional $160 / month – bringing the total Live365 expenditure to $359 / month – or $4,320 / year. This is the basis of my humble fundraising request. The rest of the funds will be used for incidental expenses needed right here in the Ho`olohe Hou Radiostudios (electricity, additional Internet bandwidth to update the Live365 library, hard drives to continuously back-up the collection). There is a stretch goal to attain additional resources such as additional Live365 storage space and hardware and software to make the remastering process more efficient. I’ll tell you more about the stretch goal when we reach our primary funding goal.

I asked myself – long and hard – if anyone would pay for radio. The truth is we already do. 3.3 million listeners are paying $4.99 / month for access to Pandora. More than 15 million of us are paying $9.99 / month for Spotify, Google Radio, Rhapsody, and Rdio. And millions more are paying between $9.99 / month and $18.99 for Sirius/XM (a provider which has long ignored a petition signed by thousands demanding that these services begin offering a Hawaiian music station).

The key is striking a balance between commercials and listener-funding. The question in my mind was not whether or not listeners would pay for radio with commercials. The question really was how many commercials are tolerable? Ho`olohe Hou Radio via Live365 only airs five minutes of commercials per hour – or less than 10% of the airtime. Are you willing to fund the other 90%? Is five minutes of commercials really so terrible? Are Hawaiian music lovers different from the rest of the listener universe in that they actually care that Hawaiian artists and composers get paid? We are about to find out in this grand experiment.

Of course, if you find any commercials at all that offensive, see the list of premiums Ho`olohe Hou Radio is offering – which include both 6-month and 12-month commercial-free listening packages and still for less than the price of any of the other services listed above. 

But, most importantly, none of the services above boast the Hawaiian music library that Ho`olohe Hou Radio will offer – because all of the services above only spin recordings that have been made available in the digital era, while much of the Ho`olohe Hou Radio library will come from long out of print recordings.

Category:Ho`olohe Hou Radio -- posted at: 5:45am EDT