This article is a simple introduction to Streaming Audio and how it can be added to your website or CD ROM without expensive software, hardware or dedicated streaming web hosting.
Lets start at the beginning.
What is Streaming?
Streamed audio, be it MP3 or any other types of audio you may want to stream enables you to start listening to audio long before the file has downloaded completely. It’s a bit like reading a letter while someone is still writing it!
What are the advantages of Streaming Audio?
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 wants to listen to an MP3 audio that isn’t set up to stream.
In a non-streaming set up the link on your web site points directly to the audio file on the server. When the link is clicked, a window will appear asking where the file is to be saved, and once that’s been decided, the download commences. Audio files tend to be large 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. Although it is much easier to record streaming audio with readily available software these days, there’s no point in making it easier than necessary for people to save your audio, plus they may not want large files saved on their computer.
If you were to set that same file up to stream, and someone clicks on the link, Windows Media Player, Real Audio Player, or which ever player your visitor uses to listen to audio would open, 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.
Is Stream Audio Difficult to Set Up?
No! It’s very easy, it just involves a ProstaStream simple text file that contains a link pointing to the MP3 you want to stream. The file is then saved with an ‘.m3u’ extension. (without the quotation marks). In other words this little m3u text file acts as a ‘go between’ to link, the link on your website, to the audio file to be listen to. All the support for streaming is already built into your visitor’s computer.
How do I Set Up Audio Streaming?
Here is how you configure your files. 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 folder called ‘mp3s’ it’s saved in a website folder called ‘website’ and it’s on the ‘C’ drive. The file path would look like this C:website/mp3s/reggae.mp3 and this file has been uploaded to your web site in the normal way.
Now we have to create the m3u file (our ‘go between’) to link reggae.mp3 to the link on your website. To create this file, open notepad, and type in your full web address (URL) file path, and name of your mp3 file. In our example it would look like this:
Now save the file as C:websitemp3sreggae.m3u (make sure it’s saved with the.m3u extension) and upload to your web site.
The next thing to do is to add the link on your web page that will point to the m3u file (our ‘go between’ file) not the mp3 file. In our case it will be http://www.website.net/mp3s/reggae.m3u
Now when someone clicks on your link, the m3u file comes into action, the default player opens and your mp3 starts to stream.
Can I Set Up More than one Audio File to Stream?
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.