how to stream your music into Second Life — six software source clients compared

You can stream your music into Second Life using the same technology as internet radio. This requires a Shoutcast source client, which sends your music to a streaming server, which subsequently rebroadcasts your music to all the listeners in Second Life.

This post lists the leading choices in Shoutcast/Icecast source clients. This source client is the piece of software that runs on your computer, connecting the music you play with the streaming server.

The leading tools are contrasted and compared. After reading this post, you should be prepared to choose a streaming source client that meets your needs.

In this previous post, I explained how your music can be streamed into Second Life using the same technology as internet radio. I also explained that it required a Shoutcast source client, which sends your music to a streaming server, which subsequently rebroadcasts your music to all the listeners in Second Life.

This post lists the leading choices in Shoutcast/Icecast source clients. This source client is the piece of software that runs on your computer, connecting the music you play with the streaming server.

What it does

The Shoutcast/Icecast streaming source client takes audio input from a program or hardware device, encodes it into a media stream, and sends the media stream on to a streaming server. Each step of this process requires configuration, and each program differs in the specifics of where you may find these settings. However, the settings themselves are fairly universal.

Music source

The input to the source client may come from a media player such as iTunes, Winamp, or Windows Media Player, or it may also come from a hardware device connected to your computer — such as a mixer connected to a sound card or even an integrated laptop microphone. Your chosen source client will present a list of possible inputs from which you can choose to broadcast.


Some source clients may be able to encode into multiple media formats. However, for compatibility with Second Life, you will need to use mp3. The Second Life viewer on your listeners’ end does not support WMA, AAC, Ogg, or other formats. Further, you will find that if you try to use the most pristine mp3 encoding settings, your listeners will experience skips in the stream. It is best not to use anything higher than 44.1 kHz, 64 kbps, stereo. You should be able to find these settings grouped together.

Specifying the stream server

Lastly, you will need to specify the Shoutcast/Icecast streaming server to which the source client will connect. This will be in the form of a URL or an IP Address, a Port number, and a Password. Some streaming clients allow you to build a ‘library’ of servers, each with their own URL, port, and password. This is handy if you regularly perform at a number of venues. Each venue will have its own server. This allows you to, once configured, merely select a given venue’s server from a list, and have all the values set at once. If your source client does not have this feature, you will need to manually enter this data every time for each venue.


For each listed software streaming client, I list the price, where you can obtain it, what platform it runs upon, and other attributes. After reading this post, you should be ready to choose a streaming source client that meets your needs.

Before I list the choices, I will first define what the various attributes mean.

Operating System (OS) – This tells you what operating system the streaming source client is compatible with. There are choices for Windows, Mac OS, Linux, and other UNIX-like OSs.

Plugin vs. Standalone – Some Shoutcast/Icecast source clients are ‘plugins’ , which operate inside of other programs. An example is the Shoutcast DSP Plugin, which installs ‘into’ Winamp as a host. Other source clients run in their own window, providing all needed functionality themselves.

Record functionality – Some source clients will also record (or ‘archive’) your stream. The stream is not only sent on to the streaming server, but it also is written to disk as an mp3 file. This allows you to play back your stream at a later date.

Presenting the candidates

butt (broadcast using this tool)

This relative newcomer provides all the functionality that you would need or want. The fact that it is free, and runs on almost any computer, makes it a great choice.

Winamp with Shoutcast DSP Plugin

This solution has been the mainstay in the Windows arena, mostly due to its price.


For years, this has been the standard in the Mac arena. Full featured.


This selection comes from a company with a full line of professional internet radio tools.

Reaper with Shoutcast plugin

Reaper is a full-functioned DAW, from a company founded by the guy who first invented Shoutcast technology. Extremely powerful, with complexity to match.


Both EdCast and its precursor Oddcast are from the same developer, along with a number of other useful music tools (including a stream recorder).

The envelope, please

If you are just getting started in streaming your music into Second Life, I recommend that you start with butt. Silly name, I know. However, it is free, does everything you want it to do, and runs the same way on any computer you’re likely to have. Plus, it is an open source program, meaning that its future is pretty much assured.

Any of the other choices would be fine as well. They all work pretty much hiccup-free. If your needs are unique, there may be some reason to prefer another over butt.

Myself, I use Reaper with the Shoutcast plugin. Reaper is a full-featured music production DAW like Pro Tools, Logic, Sonar, etc. In fact, it was my DAW before I started streaming into Second Life. The fact that Reaper is from the guy the guy that invented internet radio (as well as Winamp, Gnutella, and other modern necessities) holds strong sway with me.

Get going!

You really can’t go wrong with any of the above. Just grab one, grab the free Second Life viewer, create a free Second Life account, log on, and start performing for the eager Second Life audiences!

Questions? Comments? Let me know if there is any specific aspect of being a Second Life musician that you’d like me to cover!

This is but one article in a series on opportunities for musicians in Second Life. Further articles will cover resources, technical issues, groups and organizations, revenue streams, publicity outlets, and more. Next up, however, will be a step-by-step guide to installing and configuring butt, and testing your stream inworld. I hope you join us in this journey to a strange and wonderful new world. In the meantime, you may wish to do some early exploring on your own — it is free to get started! Just click the link below:

15 thoughts on “how to stream your music into Second Life — six software source clients compared”

  1. Nice article, thanks a lot. I have a question about the ‘BUTT’ program, it seems perfect for what I want to do, but the download seems to be in a Linux form, it is a sh. file- I don’t know much about these files, and it will not open or install on my WinXP os. It says it runs on windows, and I know people using it, it there a trick to installing it?
    Thanks for the great info, Michael

  2. Sorry for the delay, Michael – but I see you’ve located a suitable download.

    BUTT comes in flavors for Win, Linux, and Mac OS X.

  3. Realize this is older post, but edcast is dead for all practical purposes.
    The creator has left SVN available for those who want to compile it but no further development is likely to happen.
    I found your site whilst looking for an edcast replacement (on a linux system) to use with the Rivendell radio system.
    “Butt” looked promising but there is no mention of jackd compatibility or what linux sound systems are supported.

    I would also mention, for those who want to stream to Second Life on Linux, to look into IDJC, the Internet DJ Console.

  4. Hi Wolfear – thanks for your thoughts.

    I’ve not done much with EdCast. If there’s a subversion repository freely available, that’s great for the community as a whole. Whether or not it gets picked up in active development, it would likely be a great learning tool for coders, if nothing else.

    Since adopting Live as my streaming DAW, I’ve had to switch streaming clients. I ended up with BUTT. Currently, I do most work on OS X. I know Jack is available for OS X, but I’ve not tried it. However, I can tell you that BUTT sees Soundflower without any issues. Or rather, Soundflower sees BUTT. Soundflower is another ‘virtual patch cable’ like Jack, written by cycling74.

    If I get some time, I’ll fire up a Linux/Jack/BUTT install, and let you know how it goes.

  5. I use Winamp at the moment. But can’t talk on it and SAM4 is not something I want to spend the money on right now.Do any of the above programs let you voice i know alot of clubs in second life want there DJ’s to talk.

  6. Hi David.

    Well, this post is focused upon streaming source clients. This is the part that gets your audio shipped up to a streaming server, so the guests at your venue can pick up your stream, by means of the Parcel Media URL. The fact that WinAmp has the Shoutcast plugin streaming source client, rather than a standalone streaming source client, kind of muddies the picture. However, the music/audio creation application and the streaming source client are functionally two different things.

    You are likely bumping up against a limitation of WinAmp as a music/audio creation application. WinAmp was originally designed merely as a means of a computer owner to listen to mp3’s on that computer. The original vision likely did not include any sort of DJing. Accordingly, it handles a single audio source at a time, with no ability to mix in (e.g.) a mic signal alongside the music.

    What you are needing is a more full-featured music/audio creation application. There are many from which to choose, which I’ll cover in a bit. However, I should point out that your current solution of WinAmp with the Shoutcast plugin is both a music/audio creation application (WinAmp) with an integrated streaming source client (Shoutcast plugin). Accordingly, you’ll need to address both these requirements.

    Any of the standalone streaming source clients listed above should work for you. As mentioned, the job of the streaming source client is to take the pre-mixed audio generated by your music/audio creation application, encode it into mp3, and send it to the streaming server up in the cloud. Butt would work fine for this. However, your music/audio creation application needs to generate a pre-mixed stereo signal — music and mic — with which to feed butt.

    There are many configurations that would allow you to do this. One way would be to employ a hardware mixer external to your computer. You could continue to use WinAmp (but not use the Shoutcast plugin with it).
    – Run a cable from the headphone/speaker out on your computer to a stereo input on the mixer.
    – Feed your external microphone to another channel on the mixer.
    – Then run a cable from the output of the mixer to the line in on your computer.
    – Lastly, configure butt to get its input from the computer’s line in.

    In this manner, butt would be seeing the pre-mixed audio from WinAmp and the mic, and sending it on to the happy listeners in SL. You could pick up a small mixer from craigslist or a pawn shop suitable for the job in the $10 – $20 range. Add another couple dollars for cables, and you’d be in business.

    As I said, this is merely one scenario that would work. There are many other options.

  7. Okay I’ve installed Butt, my question is how you put music so it plays, still have’nt finger that one out yet, any help would be appreciated.

  8. Hi rketman. I can probably help you out, but I’ll need more info. What operating system are you using? Keep in mind that, as a streaming source client, butt is only part of the way to stream music into Second Life, or to the internet in general. Butt forms the connection between the music playing on your computer and the streaming server up in the cloud that in turn distributes a separate stream copy to everyone who wants to listen.

    What music do you want to stream? Do you have an app you’re DJing from, or producing live music from? Do you have access to a shoutcast server?

  9. I am on a laptop, using vista. I have winamp 6.5 and shoutcast 2.2.3 plug in. I am a DJ, and have a stream through Hotspot streams. The club uses a shoutcast board. I can grab the club stream just no tunes, yet people can hear me typing. So I realize that part of the problem is something with the laptop, or I am assuming so.

    Once again thank you, for the help.

  10. Hi Snake –

    I’ve not used Slukebox. I went and checked out the website. It looks like it may be a simple solution for someone who just wants an inworld media player. However, my needs are for something that allows live content. As Slukebox does not seem to support this, it seems inapplicable to my needs.

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