“Winamp – it really whips the llama’s ass!” – does that sound like a blast from the past to you? In the late 90s and early 00s, Winamp was the music player for PC, period. It’s now a cultural icon for anyone old enough to remember the genuine lo-fi of 128 kbps Xing-encoded MP3s, the gaudy skins, and the cerebral visualiser plug-ins. If you ask me, Winamp needs to stay that way forever. But the owners apparently want to pull a MySpace and reinvent it as a music and creator-centric social media network. Well, it’s happening, regardless of my pessimism! So here’s the lowdown.
Winamp 2021 – what we know
“Re-imagined to connect you to the music and artists you love.” That’s the Winamp mission statement, which sounds like something more than just a new software version. There are also pictures of musicians on display. Like Soundcloud, it all seems to be about following and exchanging ideas with your favorite artists. Based on the job advertisements on LinkedIn, Winamp is about to become more than a music player. I dislike streaming services (they don’t pay artists enough) and hold onto downloaded music, but I realize I am in the minority and have been for a long while. So I get how continuing Winamp as a straight-up media player is a horribly outdated approach.
In the official forum, users speculate that the Shoutcast streaming protocol developed by Nullsoft (the original Winamp creator) will probably integrate into the new Winamp via a smartphone app and the web. Also, teasing new versions is a certain Winamp tradition, if a haphazard one. The last official release remains Winamp 5.6, published in 2013. In 2018, a new version was announced after the beta leak of Winamp 5.8. Yet, nothing new had appeared since, until today.
If you want to be an early bird, you can go to the Winamp website and register for the beta test.