Streaming Audio and Web Hosting

Streaming audio allows your visitors to hear your MP3 file while they are downloading it, as opposed to hearing it only after they download it. Here are examples to clarify this concept.

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Streamtest.mp3 (1.29MB)
After you click on the above sample MP3 file, you'll only hear it after it fully downloads into your hard disk. In some cases, depending on your browser's settings, you'll see a tiny window with PLAY/STOP controls.

Streamtest.m3u (37 Bytes) - Streaming Audio
The above M3U file is a tiny text file that contains just one line:

Since the web host provider of allows audio streaming, you'll hear the sound file while it is being downloaded. Not all web hosting packages allow this, so you'll have to ask before you sign up for web hosting if you plan to serve MP3 files from your site.

One thing weird I've noticed though with M3U files, if I try to play it a second time, I just get a "Connection Lost" error message. With MP3 direct links, however, I can hit that play button over and over again.

If you're serving short MP3 files (i.e., < 2mins), it might be better to just use direct links to the MP3 file. Assume 1MB of data per minute of recording, so for long recordings use the M3U file. Or better yet, provide both links so that your visitors can choose which they prefer.

In the interest of accessibility, choose web hosting packages that allow you to stream audio. You'll never know when you might decide to use audio on your web site.

Have fun!
[ First posted on 08/16/2004 by Manuel Viloria ]

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