Media Tips, Tricks, and Hints
This Month's Top Question:
How do I add my stream to Second Life?
How it all works:
Land owners in Second Life can stream music to their parcels to be enjoyed by anyone who visits their land. If you own a parcel of land, you can set a "Music URL" specific for your land. This "Music URL" can be MPEG-audio (.mp2, .mp3) and Ogg Vorbis (.ogg) from streaming servers or a basic web server. Anyone visiting your land in Second Life will automatically hear the music you wish to share with them.
I'm a musician and want to perform my music live to an audience in Second Life. Where do I start?
There are many musicians who regularly have concerts in Second Life. This is done by sending a live music stream from your own computer to a Shoutcast or Icecast server, and mapping the server's stream URL to a parcel of land in Second Life. People who visit the parcel in Second Life will immediately hear the live music stream. Musicians are also typically logged into Second Life at the same time as they are performing, so they can chat with the audience between songs and even take requests! There are also many Residents in Second Life who run clubs and venues specifically to host and feature live musicians, so you don't necessarily have to own your own parcel of land to get started. When you are in Second Life, try joining and talking with people in the "Live Music Enthusiasts" Group to find venue opportunities.
I'm a DJ. Can I spin my music live to fans in Second Life?
Absolutely! It basically works the same way as described above for musicians. There are many popular clubs in Second life full of Residents who socialize and dance the night away, listening to live DJs who can take requests from the audience during their set. Or you could build your own club on your own land, creating not only the musical experience for your audience but also the entire virtual venue.
I'd like to listen to some live music going on in Second Life. How do I find it?
Log into Second Life, click the "Search" button, and under "Events" select the category "Live Music." Click the Search button and you'll immediately see a list of upcoming Live Music events and venues. Click on one you find interesting, and you can teleport right to it. Be sure you have have the "play streaming music" option turned on in our Audio Preferences (press control-P). When you are on a parcel of land that has streaming music, a small Music Control window will automatically pop up on your screen. Click the play button, and you're listening to music...live!
I need some technical help in streaming audio to my land in Second Life. Where do I look for more information?
Please read below for many more details!
- Using Streaming Audio -
Setting Up Streaming Audio:
1) Right-click your parcel of land and choose About Land.
2) Click on the Options tab.
3) In the Music URL textbox, type the full URL to the streaming source. (e.g.: http://somafm-sc.streamguys.com:8066 )
Please keep in mind that the audio streams come directly to your Second Life viewer, they do not get streamed by Linden Lab's servers. None of this content comes via Linden Lab's servers at all, so performance issues with streams are completely outside of Linden Lab's control. Some streams reach a maximum number of listeners and then accept no more. Some have poor connections and may stutter or stop.
Most internet radio stations will provide a playlist link (.pls) file, which will will trigger your local mp3 player to start up and stream music on your computer. In SecondLife you cannot use playlist file links, instead you require the specific address of the music stream. This information is contained within the playlist file, therefore if you open the playlist file in notepad or similar, you can see the actual mp3 or ogg music stream (usually listed as File1= or File2= in the file). For a list of some of the public available stations, try visiting Shoutcast's homepage and looking at the radio directory.
A few important things to remember:
* Legal Issues: If you choose to stream your own music into SL directly or using a streaming relay host, the content and any copyright/royalty fees and any other possible issues are your responsibility.
* To hear streaming audio, remember that you need to enable the options on the Audio/Video tab of your Preferences (ctrl-P) in the Second Life client.
* If there is an invalid URL in the "Music URL" field on the land, you won't get an error message in Second Life (you'll simply won't hear anything). Try double checking the stream in an external player such as Winamp or iTunes to make sure it is the correct URL and actually broadcasting, and that it has not run out of available streams for listeners.
* You can only change the Music URL directly on land that you own or on group land when you are an officer.
* You can stream MPEG-audio (.mp2, .mp3) and Ogg Vorbis (.ogg) from streaming servers or a basic web server.
* Streaming directly from a audio file URL (as opposed to a live streaming URL) will play the file once, but not loop it.
* It is possible for a land owner to create a scripted object that anyone can use to change the streaming music URL. (See: llSetParcelMusicURL() )
* Can't get your shoutcast stream to work? If your stream url looks like http://xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx:8000/ remove the trailing slash: http://xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx:8000 Stream URLs typically have a port number like :8000 in the example above. And remember, currently you cannot use playlist files (.pls/.m3u) in Second Life.
Music on-demand / Playing one-off music files
Rather than streaming music live into SL (playing prerecorded music from your computer into SL), you can place prerecorded music on an internet website and place the link to the single file in the Music URL box in About Land/Options window. Currently you cannot use playlist files (.pls/.m3u) in SL. Remember that many internet providers will restrict placing music files on their systems due to copyright and other issues, and that any copyright/royalty fees and any other possible issues are your responsibility
Streaming your own music into Second Life
It is possible to stream your own music from your computer into SL. Unless you have a large amount of bandwidth available, using your own machine as a streaming server is not really an option. With around 5 users connected you would using most of the bandwidth of a standard DSL line.
Therefore to stream your own music you would require a streaming relay provider. You would send a single stream of music (around 6-8k/s) to the streaming relay provider. The relay would then stream multiple copies of the music into SL.
The two most common streaming server systems at the moment are a Shoutcast and Icecast. You can either set up the server software on one of your own servers or pay someone to host it. Due to the amount of bandwidth required for multiple streams, the price of streaming can vary. Try searching Google for a list of available hosting solutions.
Options for Mac users
Check out Nicecast for a way to set up your own music streams in OS X.
Sending your live stream to a streaming relay server
There are several methods for sending your music to a streaming relay provider.
Using the WinAmp? MP3 player and the Shoutcast DSP plugin, you simply play the music you want with the encoder plugin active and configured. The encoder plugin connects to the relay and sends your live stream. The relay then streams the music onto the listeners.
Once WinAmp and the Shoutcast DSP plugin are installed:
* Run WinAmp?
* Press CTRL P to bring up the preferences menu
* In the plugins menu, click on DSP/Effect
* Select Nullsoft ShoutCast? Source DSP
* Then click Close
* You should then see the ShoutCast? DSP Plugin appear.
* Click on the Encoder tab you need to set the quality of the live stream (eg. MP3 - 64Kbit Stereo)
* Click on the Output tab and enter the streaming relay information
* Then click Connect in the Output tab to connect to the relay
* Playing any music in WinAmp? now will cause the music to be streamed to the relay.
As well as playing recorded music in Winamp, its possible to stream actual live music to a relay using the sound input/line in on your soundcard. If you are using the Line In option, you will need to set the encoder to use the soundcard's input rather than the WinAmp? player.
Alternative to using WinAmp? - SimpleCast?
If you aren't using WinAmp? to play the music files you can use SimpleCast. Again you play the music you want to stream via any sound application and have the SimpleCast? program active at the same time. It encodes and streams any sound playing on the computer to the relay. SimpleCast? is free to download and is fully functional (although after 4 hours is displays a message about registering).
Once SimpleCast? is installed:
* Run SimpleCast?
* Click Config
* Under General Options, make sure your soundcard is selected
* Close Config
* Click Encoders
* Click the Plus (+) icon
* Choose the format for encoding (MP3/MP3Pro/OGG/Other)
* Set the quality for the stream (suggest 64Kbit/s Stereo)
* Click Server Details tab and enter the relay information
* Click OK and close Encoders
* Click the Play button for your encoder setup, and it should connect to the relay
Once SimpleCast? is configured and encoder is running click Start in SimpleCast? and then open your music application of choice and simply play the music as you would normally. The music will then be streamed to the relay. You should see the volume levels in SimpleCast? moving, if not see the troubleshooting section at the bottom.
Settings for your streaming ShoutCast? plugin or SimpleCast? program
The streaming relay provider will provide several bits of information which are required for the configuration of the streaming encoder (plugin or SimpleCast). These are IP Address, Port Number, Password and possibly Username (if you are using an IceCast? server solution). These are simply entered into the configuration page of the ShoutCast? plugin or SimpleCast?.
Also within the configuration page or encoding page you will be able to set the format of the music stream (mp3/mp3pro/ogg/other) and the quality of the stream. The higher the quality the more bandwidth used and so the higer the cost. I've found 64kbit/s is perfect for mp3/ogg streams within SL.
TroubleShooting: I can't get any sound input/output into the encoder/plugin/program
After configuring the encoder plugin or program you will need to do the following:
* Open the Sound Mixer/Volume Control on your computer.
* Click Options
* Click Properties
* Select Recording within Adjust Volume for...
* Make sure either Stereo Mix, Wave Mix, What you Hear are selected (depends on your system and soundcard) and are turned up.
* You should now see that the encoder plugin/program is getting a sound level.
(Thanks to Jamie Otis and Second Life for providing a great deal of this information!)