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Short Question
Does a free or reasonably priced solution exist to setup an audio streaming service like Pandora or better yet an iTunes shared library that operates over a LAN rather than the internet?

Background
I am always seeing questions on how to block streaming audio sites on company networks. I fully agree that 20+ users streaming Pandora could choke out important traffic such as VOIP systems or remote users (VPN etc..) and should be blocked. However, I have a hard time working in complete silence and would rather not load my work machine down with a large music library so ... I would like to turn the tables a bit and see if there is something the company could provide to replace the streaming audio service. I realize that this will still eat up network bandwidth, but the largest bottle neck tends to be the available bandwidth for the internet connection. If wifi bandwidth becomes threatened, it could quickly addressed by requiring a wired connection to stream.

While in college it was nice seeing 100's of shared iTune's libraries available to listen to. At the moment this seems like a viable solution, but I would really like to know if anyone has successfully setup or used an audio streaming or sharing solution that fits in a corporate environment. Note that our company has < 100 employees and I would guess that only 25 people would be streaming / accessing the service at a given point in time.

Edit
Just to clarify, if a solution does exist, it must be completely legal (tried to imply this by saying a business solution). To keep it legal the services could contain adds like Pandora, or have subscription fee for N users.

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5 Answers 5

You're looking for the wrong solution. An enormous music library of thousands of songs can be stored on one DVD or flash drive. Don't stream at work.

Hell, an MP3 player containing thousands of songs can cost $20. Setting up a huge corporate-wide streaming solution to avoid having those employees who listen to music buy cheap MP3 players is ... let's say it doesn't accord with my idea of good business policy.

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This is what I am using for personal use at the moment (external USB HDD). How cheap the hardware never entered the equation for me, it's more of the content of that $20 MP3 is what I am after. The use of Pandora for example, provides with a much larger library and a wider variety than I could ever hope of owning. In addition, this solution would not have to be 'huge'. It's really an attempt a personal version of Pandora (ads included). –  Adam Lewis Sep 7 '11 at 15:26
    
You should really ask about this on the nonexistent "intellectualpropertylaw.stackexchange.com" because your problems will be more legal than technical. It may be worth mentioning that I listen to Pandora at work all the time. I use the BlackBerry app. There are also versions for iPhone and Android. –  CarlF Sep 7 '11 at 15:58

You are potentially setting yourself up for a world of hurt doing this. In most places it's illegal to stream musik and let people listen to it. And a workplace with up to 100 people would probably count as large enogh that rights holders might think it's big enough to go after with legal action.

Now that I have warned you..

A few years ago I was in a similar situation, we solved it by setting up our own Shoutcast Server. I was not involved in the actual setting up of the server but they told me it was pretty easy.

Below is one of the links I found when i googled, hope it helps.

How to setup a shoutcast server, nice and easy tutorial


The cheapest solution is probably to give each emplyee a radio.....

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I agree that it could (and probably would) get us into trouble streaming music as if it were only 1 person listening to it. Check out my edit to see a clarification. –  Adam Lewis Sep 7 '11 at 14:13

Adding to CarlF's answer and other comments: To be completely legitimate with such a system, you're probably going to have to pay licensing for the songs. This can very quickly become rather costly.

If your company is very interested in this service, they should offer a credit to the purchase of an MP3 player for each person. Then that person is responsible for the legality of the songs on their device and I'd imagine that offering a $25 credit to each employee would be much cheaper over the long run than paying licensing fees. Another benefit of this method is that each person gets to choose their own "station programming" and nobody suffers from can't-stand-the-neighbor's-noise issues.

Another solution may be Satellite radio, such as is used by stores. I'd imagine some such services could be connected to a network streaming server as they advertise themselves as being capable of being connected to standard audio equipment.

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Regarding the licensing, I was fully expecting this to come up. I was hoping to find, like the new title says, a Pandora-like solution that would use adds to offset the costs. As a disclaimer, I am in no position to roll anything out, I would mainly be an end user and possibly a maintainer. –  Adam Lewis Sep 7 '11 at 17:03

What you should do is get an older computer and load all the music you want on that computer, then share the iTunes library from that computer. Just make sure that the computer isn't too old.

You could also install VortexBox on that machine and stream music from that way. VortexBox is a Linux distro that streams music. Note that I have never used it; it looks really interesting though.

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The OP asked for a legal system. Unless you use these systems to stream only public-domain or free-license music, it would not be legal. –  CarlF Sep 7 '11 at 19:06
    
@Carl iTunes streaming is legal. And I think VortexBox is legal, because you're only streaming on a local network. You are also not making money off of it. –  daviesgeek Sep 7 '11 at 19:43
    
Making money is totally irrelevant to the question of making copies of copyrighted material (although it affects damages). I very much doubt that iTunes streaming is legal in all and every circumstance, such as within a large business. –  CarlF Sep 7 '11 at 20:38
    
@Carl Well, according to the US iTunes agreement, you can use it "for personal, noncommercial use." So this would be legal. VortexBox may not be. –  daviesgeek Sep 7 '11 at 22:00
    
@Carl Whoops, I didn't mean that this would be legal. I meant that it's possible that it may be legal. Anyhow, it's up to whatever you decide. My personal opinion is that it's a personal choice. –  daviesgeek Sep 7 '11 at 22:26

Services do exist - obviously, since just about every retail store and many businesses have music playing and they can't all be doing so illegally. There are floors of my office building that, when the elevators stop there, we can hear good music playing throughout.

Perhaps http://www.muzak.com/products/systems (or their competitors, but I don't know who they might be) is a place to start. They're not just "lame elevator music" any longer.

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