The new Winamp update adds features, fixes and (sigh) support for “music NFTs”.

Winamp/Andrew Cunningham

If you had asked me in January to make some predictions about what 2022 would bring, I don’t think “several significant updates to the Winamp player” would have been on the list. However, the version 5.9.1 release candidate of the software builds on the August 5.9 update to fix some bugs and add new features to the revived music player. Most of these are simple updates or improvements to existing features, but as it’s 2022, one of the only new features is support for music NFTs.

My rudimentary understanding (mainly from sites like NFT Now, which focus almost entirely on the supposed benefits and not the cons) is that music NFTs work like NFT images, except that the NFT includes a link to a digital music file instead of a Provides links to a JPG. The benefits, according to proponents, are that artists can make more money by creating scarcity (e.g. by releasing unique or limited-edition tracks) and by getting a share of the NFT’s secondhand sales that occur between fans.

However, being an updated version of a Windows 98-era music player, NFT music support in Winamp is a bit cumbersome. People with NFT music libraries need to export them from whatever platform they use and then import them into Winamp as a .m3u playlist. Winamp has provided a video of this process which we have included below.

“The latest version of Winamp allows music fans to link their Metamask wallet to Winamp via Brave, Chrome or Firefox. She then connects her favorite music NFTs to her trusted player,” the company said in a press release provided to Ars. “Winamp supports audio and video files distributed under both the ERC-721 and ERC-1155 standards and introduces this new feature for Ethereum and Polygon/Matic protocols.”

Winamp’s still mostly outdated innards make downloading and playing NFT music a clunky, cumbersome affair. Video Credit: Winamp

This detour is a place where Winamp’s current ambitions (creator platform, NFT marketplace) collide with its actual shipping product (a music player whose cultural relevance peaked during the George W. Bush administration). According to the release notes, to directly display websites needed to download these NFT playlists would require an updated rendering engine for Winamp’s in-app browser, which is currently based on Internet Explorer 10.

There’s still a lot to like here for older Winamp fans, and it’s nice to see that all the modernization work done in the 5.9 update is paying off in the form of faster updates. Among many other fixes, the new version includes a “disk space reduction”, a bandwidth increase for streamed music, an update to OpenSSL 3.0.5, and a few other updates to the underlying codecs and other software that Winamp uses to do its thing. As for NFT support, Winamp developer Eddy Richman (who goes by the name “DJ Egg” on the Winamp forums) wrote that people who don’t want it can either disable it during the installation process or after installing Winamp can remove.

Perhaps anticipating that the remaining hardcore Winamp fans wouldn’t have a great fondness for NFTs, Richman also tried to keep the comments in the Winamp 5.9.1 release notes thread on topic.

“Please do not post rants about NFTs in this thread,” he wrote.

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