Broadcast radio uses a tower and a transmitter to deliver its signal; Streaming radio provides audio content over a continuous broadband connection. There is no file download associated, instead a stream of content is provided by the server or station to the receiver or listener. Streaming radio may also be known as Internet radio or web radio. Because it is a one to one connection, streaming content may be personalized, so users can control what they want to hear. Many stations offer multiple channels and genres and provide users with the opportunity to personalize their audio content.
Streaming radio stations can be broadcast stations that are providing the same content in an online stream, or online stations that do not broadcast terrestrially. The license to have an Internet radio station is compulsory, meaning that anyone can do so. However, there are licensing rules that include per performance royalty fees to the music industry. There has been a lot of attention from the blogosphere paid to the battle between webcasters and record companies over establishing fair rates. Most stations are free and ad supported.
Streaming radio can be listened to on any device that is able to connect to the Internet, including mobile devices such as the iPhone. There are thousands of Internet radio stations and the music played on streaming radio stations is more varied than on broadcast stations. Streaming radio's diversity is one reason it is growing in popularity. Popular Internet radio stations include Pandora and LastFM.