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A new version of Winamp adds functionality, fixes issues, and (sad) supports “music NFTs”

No matter how hard I tried in January, I don’t believe “several big changes to the Winamp player” would have made it into my list of things to expect in 2022. On the other hand, the release candidate for version 5.9.1 of the software improves upon the foundation built by August’s 5.9 upgrade by addressing several problems and adding new functionality to the revitalised music player. Most are either updates or enhancements to preexisting capabilities; however, given that the year is 2022, support for music NFTs is one of the few really novel additions.

From what I can gather (mainly from pro-NFT sites such as NFT Now), music NFTs function similarly to NFT photos except that the NFT offers a link to a digital music file rather than a jpg. Proponents of the technology argue that musicians gain from it since they may make more money via the use of scarcity (by, for example, publishing just a small number of copies of a song) and through the selling of NFTs at a discount on third-party websites.

However, since this is essentially an upgraded version of a music player from Windows 98, support for NFT music is a little haphazard. To play music in Winamp from an NFT library, users must first export their library from their current platform as an.m3u playlist. We’ve included a video that Winamp created to demonstrate this procedure below.

“Winamp’s latest version lets music fans link their Metamask wallet via Brave, Chrome, or Firefox to Winamp. It then connects their favorite music NFTs to their tried-and-true player,” the company to Ars. “Winamp supports audio and video files distributed under both the ERC-721 and ERC-1155 standards, and is launching this new feature for Ethereum and Polygon/Matic protocols.”

Winamp’s present goals (creator platform, NFT marketplace) run head-on into its existing product at this point in the process (a music player whose cultural relevance peaked during the George W. Bush administration). According to the release notes, an improved rendering engine for Winamp’s in-app browser, which is presently based on Internet Explorer 10, would be required to directly display webpages needed to download these NFT playlists.

Winamp purists will find enough to like, and it’s great to see the modernising efforts made in version 5.9 paying off in the form of more frequent upgrades. The latest version of Winamp improves upon previous versions in a number of ways, including a smaller “memory footprint,” more streaming bandwidth, support for OpenSSL 3.0.5, and updated codecs and other software. Winamp developer Eddy Richman (also known as “DJ Egg” on the Winamp forums) said that NFT support may be disabled during or after the installation of Winamp if the user so chooses.

Richman also tried to keep comments on the Winamp 5.9.1 release notes thread on-topic, perhaps predicting that Winamp’s surviving diehard followers would not have much affection for NFTs.