- Internet & the Web
How To Set Up A Streaming Music Server With Opera Unite
In the past, media was stored on hard storage devices like cassettes and CDs. Over the past few years, an emerging trend has appeared. Streaming music. Subscription based streaming music has been highly successful. XM dominates the satellite music industry while the Internet is waging it's own war over streaming media. We have lots of choices. The big players are Pandora and Slacker Radio. While Internet streaming services are nice, there are some minor inconveniences that vary from provider. For example, Pandora has ads and you are only allowed to skip 5 tracks per hour and a total of 10 per day. You can remove the ads but this requires a $36 yearly subscription fee. Okay, so you have lint in your pockets. What else can you do?
You can stream music directly from your home computer. No extra devices to purchase. All you need is Opera, a good Internet connection, and another computer (preferably a laptop or a netbook). Most people only have 1 computer but a growing number of people are starting to own multiple computers. Their main computer is usually left at home while a more portable laptop or netbook is taken with them on the road or to school.
Opera launched a serviced called Opera Unite. Along with giving users the ability to stream music, you can also share files and even host your own site. For the sake of relevance, we'll focus on streaming music in this hub. How do you set up a streaming music server with Opera Unite? How does it work? And is it right for me? We'll answer all these question and you'll be streaming music in no time.
Lets Set Up Media Player
First, you have to determine if your Internet connection is up to par. I have a pretty fast and reliable ISP so lets assume your answer is “yes”. Second, like a good host, your main computer is going to have to be on if you want it to stream wicked awesome dance tunes from the 90's. Legally obtained, of course. Third, download the latest version of Opera here and open an Opera account. After you've installed Opera, open it and go to Menu > Opera Unite > Enable Opera Unite. Then go back to Menu > Opera Unite and click Manage Applications. Now right-click Media Player and click Open. You will be asked to install Media Player. Don't worry. It won't install on your computer. It's more of an extension rather than a program. Choose a music folder to share and click OK. You will be given a unique URL to share. This URL is the location of your music. It should look something like http://laptop.username.operaunite.com/media_player/ . Your Media Player is password protected by default. You can change it or make it public. Lets test it out!
Testing It Out
Go on your netbook and type/paste this URL into the address field on any browser. Make sure you have Flash enabled. Log in(if required) and hit play. There you have it! Your very own ad-free streaming music server. Music should be streaming straight from your main computer kind of like YouTube! Currently, Media Player is very basic. You can only play/pause, skip forward, and skip back. There is no playlist so it basically plays the whole folder. If you have sub-folders, you can go into them and play those files as well. It works pretty good!
What's The Big Deal?
Okay, so it works. So what? Why would I want to do this? What are the advantages? If you're the type of person that hates copying and pasting large folders of music, using Opera Unite's Media Player(OUMP) may just be right for you. Since the music is streaming, all you need is a reliable Internet connection and you're good to go. Be sure your main computer(the host) is powered on and not in sleep mode or hibernate. This may be an inconvenience for some but there's a surprisingly large number of people who leave their computers on all the time. If you “use” lots of torrents and file sharing services, you know what I mean. Another advantage is cost. It's basically free! You already pay for your Internet. Might as well use the bandwidth. Using Opera Unite's Media Player is good for people with a large collection of music. Another advantage of the Media Player is sound quality. Most streaming music services downgrade the quality of the audio in order to save bandwidth. With OUMP, you get full quality streaming music. Serious audiophile can tell the difference.
You can also share this URL with your friends. No subscription or registration is required. All your friends need is a Flash enabled browser. Some of the newer Android smart phones supports Flash so it can also work over their phones. Be careful about this since streaming music at full quality uses lots of data. Be sure you have a compatible data plan.
OUMP may not be right for you if:
- You don't want to leave your computer on all the time.
- You don't want to play DJ. Currently, you can't create playlists, repeat, and shuffle your tracks.
- You have a slow Internet connection at home such as dial-up.
- You've already paid a subscription fee to a streaming music site.
OUMP may be right for you if:
You like to play and experiment with new technologies, gadget, etc.
You have a fast Internet connection.
You leave your computer on for extended periods.
You don't want to waste space copying/pasting music.
You like the idea of freedom, responsibility, independence, and no ads.
You want to have full control over your music.
OUMP is a very cool feature. Listening to streaming music is cool but hosting it is even cooler. When you host your own music server from your home computer, you have full control over everything. OUMP is not perfect. It is still missing a few key features like playlist creation and music shuffling however these things can easily be implemented on their side. You can host for yourself or for friends. Be aware that streaming music for others means being a good host. This means speed and reliability. Personally, I love responsibility so I just might do that. I plan to host a large database of music and maybe even upgrade my Internet connection. Until then, check my current OUMP for a live example(password is: sam123). Hopefully, I am online. Thanks for reading music lovers!