Were you aware that your music can be streamed into Second Life using the same technology as internet radio? Bringing your music to this new audience requires a Shoutcast source client, which sends your music to a streaming server, which subsequently rebroadcasts your music to all the listeners in Second Life.
This article lists the leading choices in Shoutcast/Icecast source clients. This source client is the piece of software that runs on your computer, connecting the music you play with the streaming server.
What it does
The Shoutcast/Icecast streaming source client takes audio input from a program or hardware device, encodes it into a media stream, and sends the media stream on to a streaming server. Each step of this process requires configuration, and each program differs in the specifics of where you may find these settings. However, the settings themselves are fairly universal.
The input to the source client may come from a media player such as iTunes, Winamp, or Windows Media Player, or it may also come from a hardware device connected to your computer — such as a mixer connected to a sound card or even an integrated laptop microphone. Your chosen source client will present a list of possible inputs from which you can choose to broadcast.
Some source clients may be able to encode into multiple media formats. However, for compatibility with Second Life, you will need to use mp3. The Second Life viewer on your listeners’ end does not support WMA, AAC, Ogg, or other formats. Further, you will find that if you try to use the most pristine Prostastream mp3 encoding settings, your listeners will experience skips in the stream. It is best not to use anything higher than 44.1 kHz, 64 kbps, stereo. You should be able to find these settings grouped together.
Specifying the stream server
Lastly, you will need to specify the Shoutcast/Icecast streaming server to which the source client will connect. This will be in the form of a URL or an IP Address, a Port number, and a Password. Some streaming clients allow you to build a ‘library’ of servers, each with their own URL, port, and password. This is handy if you regularly perform at a number of venues. Each venue will have its own server. This allows you to, once configured, merely select a given venue’s server from a list, and have all the values set at once. If your source client does not have this feature, you will need to manually enter this data every time for each venue.
For each listed software streaming client, I list the price, where you can obtain it, what platform it runs upon, and other attributes. After reading this article, you should be ready to choose a streaming source client that meets your needs.
Before I list the choices, I will first define what the various attributes mean.
Operating System (OS) – This tells you what operating system the streaming source client is compatible with. There are choices for Windows, Mac OS, Linux, and other UNIX-like OSs.
Plugin vs. Standalone – Some Shoutcast/Icecast source clients are ‘plugins’, which operate inside of other programs. An example is the Shoutcast DSP Plugin, which installs ‘into’ Winamp as a host. Other source clients run in their own window, providing all needed functionality themselves.