What is Streaming Audio?
Streamed audio, be it MP3 or any other types of audio you may want to stream enables you to start listening to audio long before the file has downloaded completely. It's a bit like reading a letter while someone is still writing it!
What are the advantages of Streaming Audio?
There are several advantages to streaming. Firstly, your visitor will be able to listen to your audio very quickly. This is important, as we all know how impatient web surfers are. Visitors to your site want to be able to listen to your audio as soon as possible.
Let's look at what happens when a visitor arrives at your web site and wants to listen to an MP3 audio that isn't set up to stream.
In a non-streaming set up the link on your web site points directly to the audio file on the server. When the link is clicked, a window will appear asking where the file is to be saved, and once that's been decided, the download commences. Audio files tend to be large so the chances are it's going to take some time to download, especially if the visitor is using a slow Internet connection. The end result is that if your visitor waits around long enough for the download to finish - all well and good, but the downside is they have a copy of your audio saved on their computer.
This may not be what you want, as it could be your copyrighted material you have given away. Although it is much easier to record streaming audio with readily available software these days, there's no point in making it easier than necessary for people to save your audio, plus they may not want large files saved on their computer.
If you were to set that same file up to stream, and someone clicks on the link, Windows Media Player, Real Audio Player, or which ever player your visitor uses to listen to audio would open, the file would start streaming, and within a very short time your visitor would be listening to your audio. NB; The time taken between a visitor clicking on the link and hearing some sound will still depend on their Internet connection speed but it will be much quicker than a non-streamed file.