The Save Winamp alliance and Change.org are plugging away at AOL, which announced the sunsetting of Winamp and ShoutCast as ongoing products, as of December 20. (See RAIN coverage here.) Yesterday in RAIN, Jennifer Lane commented that the Winamp closure was inevitable. But thousands of Change.org petitioners want Winamp to continue, either as an open-source project or with a new corporate owner (rumored to be Microsoft).
In its latest gambit, Change.org has composed an open letter to AOL, formally addressed to CEO Tim Armstrong. (The letter would be better targeted to Jay Kirsch, head of AOL’s media and service brands.) The letter argues Winamp’s value to its many diehard users, and pleads for continued life by one route or the other. Interestingly, the letter cites radio stations which use Winamp for their music automation. The open letter is supported by a 40,000-signature petition.
If you’re not a Winamp user, you might wonder why there’s so much fuss. Here in the RAIN editorial office, Winamp has been installed in all computers since version 1.0 came out 15 years ago. While we can relate to the sad sentiment surrounding Winamp’s demise, we also observe its increasing obsolescence as a music-playing interface. As ownership gives way to access, and local storage yields to cloud storage, Winamp fades in the shadow of music services like Rhapsody and Spotify.
Winamp remains a stalwart production assistant not only for some radio stations, but for file conversion tasks -- Winamp was demonized in its early days for the facility with which it rips and burns audio tracks. But for the new generation of always-on mobile listeners, ripping and burning are quaint artifacts of a previous era.