One of the greatest things that access to the Internet gives us is choice. The World Wide Web was not available to the public for long before some enterprising individuals decided that the Internet was an ideal tool for bringing choice to music, and Internet radio was born. Internet radio has several advantages over terrestrial, or land-based, radio and other music distribution systems, and if you enjoy music, you're certain to find something to like about Internet radio.
Choice and Variety
The variety of stations available is Internet radio's greatest strength. Internet radio choices extend far beyond basic genres such as classic rock and pop. If you like music from the 1980s, you can select anything from new wave to hip-hop. If you like electronic music, you can choose trance, ambient, video game soundtracks and more. A streaming radio station is available for virtually every taste, no matter how obscure.
The costs of running an Internet radio station are high, but the costs of running a terrestrial radio station are far higher. Internet radio stations generally broadcast very few commercials compared to terrestrial radio stations, which must broadcast a steady stream of commercials in order to pay the bills. Some Internet radio stations are supported by donations or subscriptions — or play royalty-free music — and have no commercials at all.
Internet radio is available wherever there's an Internet connection, and there are no geographical boundaries. While you must be relatively close to a terrestrial radio station in order to receive a broadcast from it, this restriction does not exist on the Internet. You can listen to an Internet radio station regardless of your location. Many terrestrial radio stations even stream their broadcasts online.
Minimal System Requirements
Internet radio has been in existence since the late 1990s, and the requirements for listening to a streaming radio station remain virtually unchanged. If you have a computer that is able to run any version of Windows, Mac OS or Linux, you can listen to Internet radio. Generally, you can use software already installed on your computer to listen to streaming music online. Additionally, streaming radio stations are available on a variety of non-PC devices such as PDAs, video game consoles and mobile phones.
Terrestrial radio is subject to interference and environmental factors. You can lose a radio signal in poor weather or driving through a tunnel, for example. Additionally, radio sound is heavily compressed to reduce the impact of high-volume passages and make quiet passages easier to hear. Internet radio is often less compressed and closer to CD quality, although lower-bandwidth Internet radio stations are available for those using dial-up modems.