November 30, 2012, 8:00 AM —
Music streaming services have been around for some time. With the arrival of Spotify and Google Play Music in the US, the average user is able to listen to a huge amount of music on the go. There is an overlooked segment of users that these services do not cater to however, those with vast music collections stored on their hard drives. True, Google Play Music allows you to upload your tunes to their servers for streaming purposes, but that is not the best option when you're dealing with 100GB+ of music.
Subsonic is a free media streamer that makes your music collection available from anywhere you can get an internet connection. Once you set up the Subsonic server on the computer where all your music lives, you get immediate access to your entire library on the go. You can connect using any web browser, no installation required (perfect for at work etc.), or using apps for just about every platform and mobile OS.
Not only can you listen to all of your music from anywhere, so can your friends and family. Subsonic supports user accounts and permissions so you can give access to anyone you like. Each person can control their own player simultaneously. You can even chat with them using the web interface. Subsonic is even able to stream your movies and TV Shows as well. Additionally, freinds are able to upload and download music from your server if you allow them. I've gotten into the habit of creating folders on my server specifically for my friends to load their own music on to for easy access.
Installing the Server
To begin, download the proper Subsonic server for the operating system where you store all of your music from the download page.
Next, follow the installation instructions for your operating system to get up and running.
With the server installed, the first thing you should do is sign into the web interface by visiting http://localhost:4040 using the default credentials:
Once you've logged in, go to Settings -> Users to change the admin password.
Setting up your music folders
With the server running you'll want to add some music to the system so you can start streaming it. To do so, you need to tell Subsonic where your music is stored.
Log into the Subsonic web page again and navigate to Settings -> Music folders. Add one or more folders of music that you want to be accessible. If you add more than one music folder, a list will appear on the left side of the screen where you can select the active folder.
Subsonic will now index your music to make it available for search and streaming.
Setting up remote access
What good is all this streaming if you can't get at it from outside your house? There are a couple things that need to take place for remote access to your server. First you'll need to direct the traffic from your home router to the subsonic server properly using port forwarding. Then you'll need to give your server an easy to remember domain name. If your router supports the UPnP or NAT-PMP protocol (and most do) this is very easy. Detailed instructions for configuring automatic or manual port forwarding and setting up your personal subsonic.org address can be found here.
Test it out
The easiest way to confirm that everything is working is to open up a web browser on your phone and type in the URL of the personal subsonic.org address that you've configured above. If you reach the login screen, you're all set! If you don't, take a look at the troubleshooting tips or this extremely thorough guide for PC installation from Shane Monroe.
While most of the features of this software are free, there are some significant ones that expire after 30 days, most importantly mobile streaming. Mobile streaming is probably the single most useful component of Subsonic, you're definitely going to want access to it. To register your copy of the Subsonic server, log into the web interface and click the Donate button. The minimum donation is only 10 Euro (~$14) which is extremely reasonable for a lifetime subscription to a tool that will free your complete music collection. You'll get your registration key via e-mail which you can then paste into the donate screen on the web interface.
Need more reason to check out Subsonic? Take a look at the long list of features including the ability to transcode and resample on the fly to reduce your bandwidth usage if you're concerned. With Subsonic, you'll never need to sync up your music to a low capacity player again. You'll never have to sacrifice your favorite music to make room for something new. You get your entire library, always up-to-date, everywhere you go. I've been using Subsonic going on 4 years now, and as a music lover, it has truly changed my life.