Once upon a time, the only way to play audio from a web page was to link to it and wait for it to download to the hard drive so it could be played. With this method, once the file finishes downloading, the browser either launches an external player or uses a plug-in to play the audio.
Downloaded audio has a few distinct disadvantages. First, because the file needs to download to the hard disk in its entirety before it can begin playing, users may be faced with a very long wait before they hear any sound. In addition, because the audio file is copied to the hard drive, it is more difficult for artists and publishers to limit distribution and protect copyrights.
Although it is still possible and common to deliver static audio files in this manner, it is far more effective to use one of several streaming media technologies. Streaming media (be it audio or video) begins playing almost immediately after the request is made, and continues playing as the audio data is being transferred. Streaming audio technology was developed to address the problem of unacceptable download times. It can even be used to broadcast live programs, such as concerts or baseball games.
The following are some advantages to streaming audio:
Audio begins playing soon after the stream begins.
Using new technologies and formats, sound quality doesn’t need to be as severely sacrificed.
Artists and publishers can better control distribution and protect copyright because the user never gets a copy ...