I’ve loved streaming music for over a decade now (le sigh), but I’ve had four major annoyances:
- Bulky player interfaces (I’m looking at you, Pandora – linux users, see Pithos for a great desktop interface to Pandora’s service, Mac users, see PianoPub.).
- Too many stations when I just want to start a damn stream (I’m looking at Shoutcast and Icecast here)
- Lack of support for the playlists, so when a server moves, my desktop client’s bookmark simply times out, and we’re back to #2… (This is my major gripe about playing streams in Clementine, which is otherwise my music player of choice – and cross-platform, too!)
- Only supports a few incoming formats. WMP is the worst about this, obviously. Last time I tried a few years ago, it couldn’t play streaming MP3 out of the box. Really? Really?
When I’m on Windows boxes, I like Screamer Radio. It has a pretty extensive library of stations already built in, but you can also configure your favorites. Support is currently from XP up, but an older version can handle your remaining Win98 boxes.
For Linux, I like RadioTray. Yes, you have to manually add stations – but I think that’s a good thing. I usually only listen to a few stations (see #2 above), so I don’t need a whole directory. It’s very lightweight, and now that I have AAC decoders installed, I can use the super-lightweight 32k AAC streams from Digitally Imported. (Handy tip: right click the “click to play”, and “copy link location”. That link – which ends in .pls – can be used as the station, so issue #3 isn’t a problem.) Because RadioTray uses gstreamer, so any codecs you have installed there (howto) will play, so #4 is a non-issue.
What to listen to? Aside from the Shoutcast and Icecast directories, Screamer has a great searchable directory of internet radio streams for anybody to peruse.
Overall, these two applications fill my Windows and Linux streaming radio needs. I just recently found about FStream for the Mac, which has very similar characteristics (lightweight, plays streams, leaves you alone, and free).
What do you like listening to?