An equation is derived for the growth rates of the beam-plasma instability excited by non-thermal electrons with arbitrary distribution function, and it is shown that the reactive instability does not depend on the assumption of a monoenergetic distribution. Hence the properties of electromagnetic waves are calculated for the hollow beam and loss-cone distribution. Hence the properties of electromagnetic waves are calculated for the hollow beam and loss-cone distribution functions. The general characteristics and structures of the growth rates are similar to the results for the monoenergetic distribution, but there are still some differences in the relation between the growth rates and the relevant parameters, such as the ambient parameter ωpe/Ωe, the angle of propagation θ and the pitch angle a. The main purpose of this paper is to compare the properties of the beam-plasma instability (reactive) and the electron-cyclotron maser instability (kinetic) under similar ambient conditions. The calculations show that both kinds of instabilities are easily excited at larger angles of propagation with respect to the ambient magnetic field, which means that both depend mainly on the free energy of the non-thermal electrons perpendicular to the magnetic field. The magnitudes of the growth rates of the two kinds of instabilities are comparable under the same ambient conditions. However, because the non-resonant wave—particle interaction is taken into consideration for the beam-plasma instability, which makes the resonant peaks broaden and connect with each other, the spectra of the beam-plasma instability are also more complicated than that of the maser instability, and the range of the angle of propagation of the growing waves in the non-resonant case is also larger than that in the resonant case.