Workshop: Basic music streaming in Second Life
Among the many things that make Second Life great is the ability to collectively listen to music. For a lot of us, after we’ve gotten used to listening to other people perform live or dj, being a listener isn’t enough. But if you’re like me, you didn’t really have a clue as to how to go from listener to life of the party.
When I first wanted to dj a party in SL, I was already fairly savvy with computer audio, yet I found it was a pain in the ass to get it set up and there wasn’t much information to go on. Of course, if I’d bothered to look at the SL Wiki entry on streaming music, it might have saved me a lot of time. So make sure you visit it and bookmark it.
If you are building a club, or just want to stream audio into a little 512k plot you own, you’ll need to set the audio address on your land. If you know how to do this, or want to know about how to rent a stream or get your dj mix into SL, you can skip down.
Setting audio on land:
Go to World=>about land=>media. Enter the music URL or IP address with the port number of the stream. That will look something like:
That last number after the colon is the port number. It is likely to be a number in the 8000s. If you are renting your own stream, that information will be supplied by your provider.
Also, you can get a “server,” basically an object containing a script that will allow you to select from different streams or “radio” stations. This can be helpful if you’re running a club, or if you just have a bunch of internet radio stations you’d like to pick from. (A “radio” in SL is basically the same thing.)
Renting a stream:
There are a number of streaming media providers on the internet. You can stream music into you land from any stream, so it’s not necessary to rent from an inworld provider, however doing so offers a number of advantages. First, there doesn’t seem to be much difference in price, and if anything inworld deals are better. Second, you can pay in Lindens. And lastly, tech support is often more personal and responsive. I’ve rarely had trouble with the stream I rent, but on the two occasions where I had questions one time the provider was on line and the other time he IM’d me back within a few hours.
I’m not plugging any one provider here, so take some time, use search (“streaming”) and check out 3-5 places to compare prices and packages. Then, rent something short term first to see how it works. I’m paying L$3,200 per month for a 128 kbps stream at 44.1 khz that supports 100 listeners. A good deal and one that generally runs without too many hiccups, though it’s not perfect.
Streaming your own audio signal into Second Life:
Here’s where it gets fun. Getting your music (recorded or live) onto your stream requires software on your computer that will send your audio output to the streaming server. First, have a good connection. Cable is better than DSL. Don’t even think about it on satellite or modem.
If you’re on a mac, I suggest getting Nicecast. It’s simple and well-designed. It only requires filling in a few fields to set your output to connect to your rented stream server.
On a pc, for a basic set up, I’d use WinAmp and Shoutcast broadcasting tools. If you don’t want to use WinAmp, you can download SimpleCast from Spacial Audio and use that to stream from other programs like iTunes. There are also plug-ins for winamp that will also allow you to plug itunes into it if you use itunes to organize music on your pc. Here’s where you want to use the SL Wiki for specific instructions, especially for WinAmp. If you are using SAM Broadcaster or Traktor to dj, you won’t need separate streaming software.
As far as technical details, in addition to the URL/IP and port, tou will need to know the bit rate of your stream (higher is better, 128kbps is the current top and is the same sound quality as a standard mp3 from eMusic or iTunes). Then you will need to know the sample rate, cd quality is 44.100 khz and you want to stream in stereo. You will also need the password for your stream. Again, supplied by your provider. Sometimes you will need an account name, but many providers don’t bother with this. If you do need it, you should be told.
If you want to dj using more than iTunes or Winamp, with something that will allow you to do better mixes, then you’ll want to at least step up to DJ 1800 on a Mac, or FutureDecks Lite for PC, which will give you a taste, and then for real pro quality mixing capability, you can use SAM or Native Instruments’ Traktor, which has tremendous mixing, looping, and fx capabilities.
Once you’ve connected to the stream and tested to make sure your audio is playing in world, it’s done. You can focus on playing or mixing.