4 Easy Ways To Stream Your Music Online

A while back, Damien published a great article on How To Install And Setup Jinzora Media Server In Ubuntu. Jinzora is a great and powerful way to stream your music over the internet, but getting it set up can be somewhat complicated. Today, I thought I’d cover some of the other options that are a little easier to set up, and may work on other platforms.

GNUMP3d – The GNU Streaming MP3 / Media Server

Platform: *nix, Windows, OSX
Browser/Client Player: Client
Supported formats: MP3, Ogg Vorbis
Configuration: Text File

Screenshot of gnump3d

So far, I think GNUMP3d is my favorite simple music streaming application. According to the website it runs on Windows as well as the UNIX type systems you’d expect from GNU. I’ve only tested it on Linux and it’s been a breeze.

To install GNUMP3d, you just download and extract the tarball from the GNUMP3d website, and run

make install

Configuration is done through a plain text file, instructions are provided on the website.

Once it’s up and running, you point a web browser to the address you’ve set up (like http://localhost:8888) and you should see a screen similar to the screenshot above. From here you can click directories or individual tracks. Each click will result in the server generating a playlist file (.m3u) which your host computer will open in whatever media player you have set up for M3U files. I tested it through VLC but the website notes that others like WinAmp and XMMS work as well.

Another handy feature found in GNUMP3d which seems to be rare with this type of software is that it allows not only streaming but plain downloads of the music files. You can download the MP3 as easily as you can stream it.

One thing I felt was missing from GNUMP3d was user access control. I’d like to be able to set permissions so that only those with the correct username and password can access my music collection. The README stated that similar functionality had been there for a previous release, but had been removed as it didn’t really do anything to improve security.It did, however, let me restrict connections based on IP address. This worked well for me as I intend to stream my home music collection from work, so I set it to only accept connections from my employer’s IP range.

Vibe Streamer

Platform: Windows (also reported to work through Wine)
Browser/Client Player: Browser
Supported formats: MP3
Configuration: Graphical

vibe-streamer

Vibe is the music streamer I’ve tested most in Windows.  Like GNUMP3d, it runs a mini webserver which gives you a browsable list of available music files. Unlike GNUMP3d, it is set up through a normal Windows graphical program. Another difference is that Vibe uses an in-browser player to play the music, instead of relying on a client-side program such as Winamp or VLC.

The one feature I really liked about Vibe was that it was very easy to set the server to only accept connections from someone with a proper username and password. It didn’t seem to use HTTPS so I can’t make any claims on how much that really improves security, but it’s a nice feature. It would at least stop someone from casually strolling on to my server and using up my bandwidth.

Icecast

Platform: Windows, Linux, BSD, Solaris
Browser/Client Player: Client
Supported formats: MP3, Ogg Vorbis
Configuration: XML file

Icecast LogoOf the software I reviewed for this article, Icecast was by far the most difficult to set up. Configuration is done through a XML file using a lot of unfamiliar terminology. I read over the docs on the website which clarified a few of the options, but there was a lot I had to figure out on my own.

Icecast streams music like a regular radio station, with a certain selection of music being beamed out to the world. You don’t have the control over music selection you have with the other options I’ve covered here. This is good from the server side, as you only need to send out a single stream which all listeners will hear. For my purposes, I just want the stream for myself while at work, and I’d like to choose my music selection as I go, so Icecast doesn’t meet my personal needs very well. If you intend to stream music to many listeners, the Icecast style might be the best way to go.

Apache

Platform: Just about everything
Browser/Client Player: Either
Supported formats: Anything
Configuration: Apache config is a BIG topic better handled elsewhere

Apache logoThat’s right, the plain old Apache webserver is all you really need to stream/download your music. It’s probably not the BEST option in most circumstances, but it’ll do the trick. You simply install Apache according to the instructions for your operating system, and drop your music files in the web folder. That’s it. You won’t have any nice graphics, no playlist support, nothing fancy just a list of files that can be clicked to download or stream, depending on client/server configuration.

IMPORTANT – As with any internet-connected server, be very careful about what you place for public access. Any of the software listed here could potentially have some kind of security flaw. On top of that, it’s probably a bad idea to host copyrighted music to the whole internet. Stream at your own risk.

What other software do you use to stream music over the Web? Share with us in the comments.