The Winamp music player still exists – and it’s reinventing itself in the age of streaming

Do you remember Winamp? The iconic desktop music player revolutionized music consumption in the 1990s, but disappeared as music listeners switched to smartphones and streaming.

Now the app is back with a new product for the modern era. Its Belgium-based owner, Llama Group, is launching a new version that will be available for Android and Apple devices, which he presents as a versatile app for music connoisseurs.

(Although to hear group of llamas say it, Winamp never left; the company says the existing desktop app has 83 million users worldwide.)

The new mobile Winamp will be able to stream podcasts and radio stations online, and later this year it will be able to integrate music streaming subscriptions like Spotify, allowing subscribers to access their playlists through Winamp. And like the old Winamp, it also plays music files stored locally on a device.

But Llama Group’s ambitions are bigger than that; they want the player to “unlock the relationship between artists and fans, while allowing creators to become their own merchants”.

To that end, the app includes a feature called Fanzone, where creators can set up tiered subscription plans through which their fans can access exclusive content and purchase artist merchandise.

“Creators are finding it increasingly difficult to take advantage of streaming services, making it difficult for them to maintain their art and grow their careers,” Llama Group CEO Alexandre Saboundjian said in a statement.

“In this environment, artists have to take their future into their own hands – they have to supplement their income by becoming their own merchants. … With the new Winamp Player, our goal is to empower creators to make more money, when they really need it.

The Fanzone will be accessible to independent artists, artists signed to labels and even the labels themselves, Llama Group said in an email to MBW.

“We are in advanced discussions with independent labels looking to open a new type of marketplace to get even closer to their fans – the fans of the artists and the music they produce – and offer them exclusive content and experiences. unique,” the company said through a spokesperson.

“The Fanzone is the service, the tools and the opportunity for artists and labels to become better sellers of their content.”

Llama Group is clear that it does not aim to compete with music streaming services.

“Winamp does not have the ambition to become a DSP, and indeed the idea is to be complementary to the existing streaming music ecosystem,” the company said.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about Winamp’s leap into the world of smartphones and streaming is how long it took to happen. After all, it’s been 16 years since Apple launched the iPhone and changed the way the world consumes media.

But for Winamp, the road to the mobile era was strewn with pitfalls. In 2013, the app narrowly avoided being shut down by its owner AOL, before being rescued by Belgian radio aggregator Radionomy. After a merger and a name change, this company is now Llama Group.

(The company name refers to the fact that Winamp uses a llama as its mascot. The original Winamp came with a default audio file called “Winamp, he really whips the llama’s ass.”)

“Winamp does not have the ambition to become a DSP, and indeed the idea is to be complementary to the existing streaming music ecosystem.”

group of llamas

Saboundjian announced as early as 2018 that the app would be relaunched for smartphones and would offer the ability to integrate streaming services.

The company is finally ready to put a date on that promise: streaming integration will begin in Q4 2023.

Llama Group’s goal is to grow Winamp’s user base to 250 million people and bring one million artists into the Fanzone.

“A new generation of superfans are looking for new ways to spend money and engage with their favorite artists. The Winamp Fanzone gives them the opportunity to do just that,” Saboundjian said.The music industry around the world

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