Run out of a house in Roodepoort by an ambitious group of young Africans, RadioVybe’s most popular station is Amsterdam-based Ram FM, which plays mostly hits from the eighties.

RadioVybe is a social network for online radio and music lovers co-founded by a Nigerian, his brother, and two South Africans.

An idea that began brewing in 2011, the online platform was officially set-up last year. Unlike other radio streaming services such as tunein.com and Spotify, RadioVybe enables listeners to “be a part of the conversation” in real time, Ezeani tells Moneyweb.

They can write on the ‘wall’ of the radio station they are streaming, comment on or ‘like’ posts, and request songs, he explains.

RadioVybe hopes to add a call function in future, enabling users to call studios through the website.

Facebook feel

With a Facebook feel to it, RadioVybe has created a community of 5 500 online listeners (growing by between 50 and 70 daily) and roughly 700 radio stations, with some ten stations joining every day. It streams both terrestrial and internet radio stations.

International radio stations currently dominate RadioVybe and Ezeani and his team are working hard to gain traction locally, engaging various local media groups to sign up their stations.

Currently, OFM and Durban Youth radio can be accessed via the site.

RadioVybe also provides publicity to up-and-coming artists, enabling them to upload their music, generate a fan base and receive feedback. There are currently more than 800 songs on the app with new musicians signing up daily, according to Ezeani.

Streamed not downloaded

Music can only be streamed and not downloaded, a function that Ezeani and his team hope to introduce in future as they get more musicians and possibly even record labels on board.

The platform has not yet been monetised and is focusing on user growth, Ezeani says. Its five-year plan is to grow users to 150 million, with more than two million radios and broadcasters.

With these growth numbers it plans to sell text, banner and voice advertising on the site – the latter functioning similarly to YouTube ads where the user will hear an ad before being redirected to their station of choice.

Other revenue generators include sponsored posts and featured radios – where radio stations can pay to be featured on top of the ‘radio’ page, which theoretically arranges stations randomly – as well as selling the information it collects on radio station users to those stations.

Ezeani believes the business could achieve revenue in the order of R23.3 billion by 2021 if it gets all of this right.

Broad appeal

RadioVybe is certainly easy to navigate and has broad appeal. The filter function, which enables you to find a station near you or one with particular content, wasn’t working when I tried to use it and the same ten stations kept popping up on my ‘radio’ page each time I refreshed it, rather than giving me a random selection.

Over and above ironing out these glitches, RadioVybe needs to get a mobile app up and running as soon as possible, which Ezeani says is in development stage.

Gary Stroebel, CEO of OFM parent, Central Media Group, said that OFM supports any platform geared towards bolstering radio as a medium, but it is unlikely that it will treat RadioVybe as part of its core strategy. Managing a Facebook page demands enough resource, Stroebel said, so the station wouldn’t develop a separate strategy for another social media platform, given that there are so many.

Going forward, RadioVybe plans to make it possible for users to post simultaneously to Twitter and Facebook from RadioVybe, says Ezeani.

This story was first published by Moneyweb (@Moneyweb) and is republished here with the permission of the editor. Follow Hanna Ziady @hannaziady.