Streaming mp3

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How to Stream MP3's. A Simple Introduction

This is an article that was very popular on our previous website so we have included here again

 
 

What is streaming?
Is Steaming MP3 Audio difficult to set up?
What are the advantages of streaming MP3's from my web site?
How do I set up my MP3 to Stream?
What if I want to stream more than one MP3?

Can I stream MP3's continuously?

 

What is streaming? return to the top of the page
Streamed MP3 audio files enable you to start listening to the audio long before the file has downloaded completely.

It's a bit like reading a letter while someone is still writing it!

Is Steaming MP3 Audio difficult to set up? return to the top of the page
No! It's very easy, it just involves a simple text file which contains a link to the MP3 you want to stream then saved with an '.m3u' (without the quotation marks) extension.

There is no need for complicated server facilities and no extra costs involved for extra hosting. All will become clear a little later.

 

What are the advantages of streaming MP3's from my web site? return to the top of the page
There are several advantages to streaming. Firstly, your visitor will be able to listen to your audio very quickly. This is important, as we all know how impatient web surfers are.

Visitors to your site want to be able to listen to your audio as soon as possible.

Let's look at what happens when a visitor arrives at your web site and want's to listen to an MP3 audio that isn't set up to stream.

In a non-streaming setup the link on your web site points directly to the audio file on the server. When the link is clicked the file starts to download. A window will appear asking where the file is to be saved, then once that's been decided, the download commences.

Audio files tend to be large files so the chances are it's going to take some time to download, especially if the visitor is using a slow Internet connection.

The end result is that if your visitor waits around long enough for the download to finish - all well and good, but the downside is they have a copy of your audio saved on their computer.

This may not be what you want, as it could be your copyrighted material you have given away.

If you were to set that same file up to stream and someone clicks on the link it would automatically start Windows Media Player, Real Audio Player, or which ever player your visitor uses to listen to audio. The file would start streaming, and within a very short time your visitor would be listening to your audio. (NB. The time taken between a visitor clicking on the link and hearing some sound will still depend on their Internet connection speed but it will be much quicker than a non-streamed file.)

The second advantage to streaming is that because the file isn't being saved, but streamed, your visitor isn't saving a copy on their computer.

How do I set up my MP3 to Stream?
Streaming your MP3 from your web site is actually easier than you might think and you don't need expensive hosting to do it. Just about any provider will do.

All the support for streaming is already built into your visitor's computer.

I will assume you know how to make an HTML link or have a WYSIWYG software program to allow you to create one, although the easiest way is to use 'notepad'.

Imagine your audio file is called 'reggae.mp3' and it's in a file called 'web site'.

Depending on where your 'web site' file is saved, in our case it's on the 'C' drive so the file path would look like this:

C:website\mp3s\reggae.mp3

This file would be uploaded to your web site in the normal way, so the file structure would look something like the example below in your ftp program.

You can see from the example the folder called 'mp3s' - and inside, is 'reggae.mp3'.

You will also notice there is another folder called 'stream', which contains a file, called 'reggae.m3u'. (It's not strictly necessary to create a separate folder, but it does make the file structure simpler should you have more than one MP3 you want to stream as you will see later)
This is the note pad file that your link on your web site will point to, and will in turn automatically open your visitor's default player, and start streaming your mp3, or in this case 'reggae.mp3'.

To create this file, open notepad, and type in your full web address (URL) file path and name of your mp3 file. (In this example it's reggae.mp3)

 

Now save the file as C:\Web site\stream\reggae.m3u (make sure it's saved with the .m3u extension) and upload to your web site. (You will obviously replace the example file names with your own)

Don't forget to make sure the link on your web site you are using to open the MP3 points to the 'm3u' file and not the MP3 itself.

That's it!

When your visitor clicks on your link, your MP3 will start to stream.

What if I want to stream more than one MP3? return to the top of the page
If you have more than one MP3 you want to steam, create another 'm3u' notepad file for each MP3 you have, upload the files to your site and point your link to the new 'm3u' file.

The picture below shows you the file structure containing links to MP3 files on my own web site. The links on the 'My Music' page are pointing to each of the m3u files, which then in turn activate the corresponding mp3 file and starts the streaming process.

You can see it in action at http://www.soundabout.net/mymusic.htm

Can I stream MP3's continuously? return to the top of the page
If you want one mp3 to follow on straight after another, then create a file with the .m3u extension and list the mp3's you would like to stream as in the example below. Point your link on your web site to this file and your mp3's will play one after another automatically.
(NB: This works fine for me, but if you have problems with this method you can set up a file using #EXTM3U extensions which will create a play list. I haven't tried this but my thanks to Allan who kindly pointed out this alternative. For an explanation of how to set this file up go here)

 

Well that's it for now.

Have fun setting up your own streaming audio.

David A Grant

http://www.soundabout.net All material copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006

If you are looking for a company to host your website and streaming media, I can recommend iPowerWeb. Their hosting has been stable very reliable.

You can see M3U streaming in action on my music page

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