Update December 19th – The Guardian Liberty Voice was recently contacted by Chris Winston, on behalf of a group of passionate fans of the legendary and soon-to-be-defunct music player program, Winamp. The group has been trying to contact the Winamp creators and plead with them not take the Winamp website down. Their cries have so far gone unheard, so the group has started a petition and they have provided a site for fans to download version 5.666 of Winamp, in hopes to keep the program alive. The links to the petition and to the new website download are provided below the original article. The Winamp site is still scheduled to be taken down on December 20th, 2013.
Nullsoft, the company that programmed Winamp, was purchased by AOL at the height of their popularity for $80 million. On November 20th, AOL announced that after December 20th, the Winamp player will no longer be available for download. The player will still be operational for all the loyal users, but even their web services will be unplugged to die a disrespectful death.
Winamp gained popularity swiftly when they first launched, offering users an easy way to organize and play their music. A plethora of skins made the program easily customizable to fit anyone’s style, taste or mood. What also aided Winamp, to become so popular, was its ability to stream radio and local music.
Nullsoft’s free-spirited approach to online music didn’t sit well with their new AOL owners. Back in those days, AOL may have been a bit too busy with their Time Warner merger to really understand Nullsoft’s renegade approach. The Nullsoft programmers had just launched Gnutella, a MP3 sharing program similar to Napster, to only have the plug pulled on Gnutella after 6 short months. The head of the department responsible for Nullsoft would leave AOL shortly after. With Time Warner making a substantial income from selling music, it was just too much controversy at the time of the merger.
As the music world evolved and changed with the times, Winamp would only see a handful of new versions that never really offered as much as the new popular player, Apple’s iTunes. To also render Winamp obsolete, were streaming services like Pandora and Spotify that would start Winamp to its final downward spiral.
Winamp didn’t just lay down and die, they continued to ‘whip their llama’ by releasing their Android player in 2010 and Winamp Sync for Mac in 2011, which included their full player. With Winamp’s blog sitting idle for the last year, it was pretty clear that Winamp was on their last legs. Die-hard loyal users that have been paying attention probably could have guessed the demise was inevitable, and Winamp would soon be a thing of the past, as AOL seemed to never quite know what to do with it.
One exception to the dead programs of 90’s is Napster. Although it’s hardly recognizable from the dotcom bubble of years gone by, it’s now part of the subscription service of Rhapsody, which still uses the Napster brand to help expand in overseas markets.
So, if you’re one of those nostalgic users that currently don’t have a copy of Winamp, be sure to visit their website and download your copy before December 20th, before they ‘whip their last llama’. If you turn down the volume low enough on your Winamp player, you just might hear ‘Mike the llama’ and all his llama friends rejoicing.
By Brent Matsalla