audio streaming an audio file delivered to a computer-like device from a website so that it can be heard while it is coming into the device but cannot be saved or stored
Internet radio could more appropriately be called audio streaming, as it involves the flow of music or other audio signals from their originator to a computer via the packet switching technologies that are at the core of the internet. Unlike downloading a song from the Web, streaming music from a website is not designed to be saved by the computer through which it is playing; unless a special recording device captures it and translates it into a saveable format (MP3, for example). Thousands of websites offer streaming music. Many earn fees when a listener clicks to buy a song from a digital music store linked to the site. Often the sites make money through the advertising placed on their sites; MySpace is an example. Sometimes the sites require subscription fees; think Rhapsody. Yahoo! Music is among the sites that shows you ads before streaming the song and has ads in the browser while playing it. But the ads are nothing like the commercial barrage on many commercial terrestrial radio stations.
At least as attractive as few or no commercial interruptions is the diversity of possibilities. MySpace lets you “search for your favorite music,” in the words of its search box. Go to Rhapsody or Yahoo! Music and you'll note possibilities that sound like radio station formats—including “rock,” “today's big hits,” “classic country,” oldies,” “contemporary Christian” and the like. But you'll also find niche channels that would never make it on traditional AM or FM stations—“Celtic,” “India,” “Klezmer,” “naughty comedy,” “modern broadway,” “forgotten hits of the nineties,” and more. The music site Pandora goes further. Its software identifies patterns in the musical compositions a person chooses to stream and then offers music that fits those genres or combinations of genres. Its challenge to traditional radio is explicit: “It's a new kind of radio—stations that play only music you like.”
But these activities are only the start of the way people can shape music streaming to their own interests. Most music sites have forums that allow fans to talk to each other and suggest tracks or albums. AH.FM is a streaming music site and forum for techno and dance music. Napster is among sites that allow people to share music with others, imeem, supported by advertising, highlights what others have played among a large number of different music categories. Rhapsody trumpets the ability of its subscribers to share the lists of streams they have created. Say for example, you are interested in movie scores in Warner Brothers films. Clicking through Rhapsody you could create a se of list links to music that as a group would represent your understanding of Warne Brothers movie scores; it might be three hours long. You can then “publish” that on Rhapsody so that by clicking on a link any subscriber could hear all the piece you've strung together.
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