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Winamp is once again back from the dead

It’s 2022 and Winamp is once again trying to gain relevancy.

winamp name over images of concerts
Image: Winamp

Those who grew up streaming music might not remember Winamp, but it was a beloved digital music player with a customizable interface. Now, it has been reborn for the modern age, but should it have been?

The way we listen to music has drastically changed since Winamp’s 90s heyday. Back then, the only way to get digital music on your computer was to “rip it” from physical CDs and encode them into MP3.

From there, Winamp would let you listen to those MP3 files with things like music visualizations.

Now, we overwhelmingly stream our music and any other digital media. In 2020, 85 percent of all music revenue in the US was from streaming, with only 7 percent from physical media and 6 percent from digital downloads.

screenshot of winamp 5.9 classic skin
Image: KnowTechie

The new Winamp does have some handy features, though, including a CD ripper. That’s handy if you have physical media still that you want to preserve in digital form.

You can also sync your podcast subscriptions through it, reducing the number of apps you have to use.

What it can’t do (yet) is link up with your streaming services. That would make Winamp indispensable to me, acting as a media center for my computer, linking to both music and video streams.

The Winamp team could do that now that they’re on a modern codebase, and I sincerely hope that’s the direction they take.

If you want to see what music playing looked like in 1999, download the new public build of Winamp, 5.9 RC1 Build 9999.

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