When it comes to music, the Internet has given us an explosion of choices. There are more ways to find interesting music online than could be imagined ten years ago. So climb aboard the tour bus; this article will take you to some of the best stops.
"Music is an art form consisting of sound and silence expressed through time" according to Wikipedia's definition. Everybody appreciates good music. Each human being has his/her personal preference regarding music genres. Furthermore, it's not a stretch to say that we all are passionate about our favorite genres, artists and bands.
Nowadays the Internet has pretty much become a part of our lives. Being online has become the de facto standard. Lately the trend of extremely high bandwidth has spread to Internet Service Providers all around the world for quite an affordable price. Due to this, almost everybody has a significant amount of spare bandwidth.
Dozens of online music solution breakthroughs happened during the past ten years or so. Unfortunately some of them weren't legal and caused problems both to the users and providers, and directly affected the overall sales of recording companies and artists.
However, in this article we will focus, obviously, on the absolutely legal options to listen and purchase music for both supporting your favorite artists and keeping the records either in digital or physical format for a relatively long period.
History of Online Radio Channels
Decades ago we could choose from only a few radio channels. The quality was nowhere near perfect. Right now we're fortunate enough to claim that virtually we have got access to thousands of unique radio channels. Their quality varies but almost all of them are perfect or nearly so.
What's so great about online radio channels? They are legal from the listener's point of view. On the other hand, the hosts of these radio stations can get in trouble if they are engaging in unethical and illegal ways to broadcast music.
Listening to online radio is comfortable. You do not need to install any sort of audio equipment with long-range antennas or broadcast via dishes from satellites. All you need is a piece of software that is an audio player offering "streaming"capabilities.
Experiments in broadcasting a large number of radio channels with the use of additional codecs to maintain the quality but lower the bandwidth requirements were started around 1994. The first multimedia player allowing streaming was the famous Real Player back in those days.
Nevertheless it is worth mentioning that in 1995 the most common Internet solutions were ranging around 33.6-56kbps due to dial-up. It is quite understandable that either the quality of the music was greatly degraded or the music wasn't continuous (lack of bandwidth is akin to inconsistent streaming).
Online radio channels achieved a huge explosion of popularity right after the launch of the Shoutcast plugin by the Nullsoft development team for Winamp. This plugin accepted "server-client" connections and allowed virtually anybody to set up their home radio station to broadcast music on the World Wide Web. According to the statistics right now there are 18,000 registered channels on Shoutcast, but many aren't registered at all.
Nowadays, online radio channels are streaming in the most popular audio formats: MP3, Windows Media Audio, OGG Vorbis, ACC and so forth. The quality varies from 32kbps up to 256kbps but even higher for paid premium stations.
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