While most of us use a streaming service to listen to music these days, this wasn't always the case. Before streaming came the MP3 audio file, and before that came the compact disc, or CD. When our civilization reached the phase where it could "rip" audio tracks from a CD and turn them into an MP3, there was a surprising lack of a standard way to listen to these files.
At first, the dominant players like QuickTime and Window Media Player didn't even know what to do with MP3s. So into this power vacuum stepped a minimalist desktop app called Winamp. This widget-sized player made MP3s nearly as easy to use as CDs, down to a familiar interface with the song name, a volume slider, a seek slider, and options to shuffle or repeat tracks.
With the rise of the iTunes Music Store came the decline of Winamp, and streaming services like Spotify (Android, iOS) and Pandora (Android, iOS) hammered quite a few nails in its coffin. However, TechCrunch reports that it's not dead yet and is feeling much better, actually.
A company named Radionomy bought the Winamp IP from AOL in 2014 (whose ownership is a story in itself), and Radionomy's CEO Alexandre Saboundjian has declared that "There will be a completely new version next year, with the legacy of Winamp but a more complete listening experience. You can listen to the MP3s you may have at home, but also to the cloud, to podcasts, to streaming radio stations, to a playlist you perhaps have built."
The ancient acolytes of the original Winamp may recall its integration with Shoutcast, an Internet radio service that streamed ambiguously licensed music into the desktop app, in case you got bored of your own MP3 collection and didn't want to brave the peer-to-peer file-sharing that remains controversial to this day.
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Shoutcast's heart still beats nearly 20 years later, and now it looks like it will be rejoined by its old comrade in arms (or partner in crime, depending on your views about copyright).
At the very least, Radionomy has updated the current Winamp app to run reliably on Windows 10, which has been a pain point for its faithful adherents. The patched version leaked early and should be officially released this week. But it's not clear yet if the next Winamp touted by Saboundjian will ultimately be another upgrade or something elementally different.
He tells TechCrunch that it's aiming to release the truly new Winamp next year. We'll keep our eyes peeled.
- The Winamp music playing app for Windows is getting resurrected to handle both music files and music streaming services.
- The original app is also about to get an update to make it work reliably in Windows 10.
- Pandora launches The Drop, a personalized playlist of new music, to compete against Spotify's Release Radar
- Google Maps unveils new features for commuters, and music controls
- Spotify cracks down on account sharing by demanding location data for family plans
- SiriusXM to buy Pandora in $3.5B deal that could unlock your car for streaming (CNET)
- Tencent Music said to postpone US listing amid dismal market conditions (ZDNet)
- Google Chromecast: Cheat sheet (TechRepublic)