What is this, 1997?
Quiet, you. Anyone who lived through the crunchy old days of the Internet will remember Winamp, at one time the de facto music player of choice for personal music collections. It did indeed first emerge in 1997 – alongside the rise of services like Napster – and eventually landed in the hands of AOL, who last released a version in 2013.
Great. So what’s the story?
AOL, in one of its many rounds of divestment and management shake-ups, sold off Winamp (and Internet radio streaming service Shoutcast) to Radionomy in 2014, and now that company is set to release not only the first update to Winamp in five years, but a whole new version of the software.
What’ll it do different?
Winamp has always been about collections; it played your illicit MP3 collection back in the day, and the new version, due in 2019, will play your whole music collection. Since your playlists and tunes are likely now attached to one or a number of streaming services, that’s what it’ll target: integration with the likes of Spotify, Apple Music, and more.
Why do I need it?
Theoretically, the new Winamp will make things seamless. If there are tracks that are only available on one platform, it’ll bring them in line with your whole collection – you won’t need to run a whole bunch of different apps just to listen to your favourite music.
Naturally, we don’t all listen to music all the time. The new Winamp is set to stream podcasts, Internet radio, and just about anything else you might want to pipe in to your ears, and there are versions both for the Windows desktop and for mobile platforms in the works. That’s if it all functions properly – tying together a host of music services sounds like a technical and bureaucratic headache to us.