What's the best Winamp alternative now that it is shutting down?

Martin Brinkmann
Nov 21, 2013
Updated • Dec 10, 2013
Music, Music and Video

If you have visited the Winamp website recently, you may have noticed a banner at the top of the page stating that Winamp.com and associated web services" and "Winamp Media players" will be shut down as of December 20, 2013.

What this means is that AOL, the current owners of all Winamp properties, has made the decision to shut down the website, all associated services, and all versions of the media player Winamp as well.

Winamp was the go-to program back when it was first released and a lot of years thereafter. The music player had a lot to offer back then, thanks to its great list of features, plug-ins and skins support.

AOL acquired the Winamp team and technology in 1999 and things started to go downhill from then ever since. Updates were still released for the player, and a professional version was created to earn revenue, but innovation more or less stopped.

It was clear though that the player was neglected for the most part, and while it did earn AOL some money -- Ars Technica mentioned that it earned $6 million annually --  the player lost market share and users to other services and programs.

The shutdown won't have an immediate effect on Winamp installations on user systems. The player will work fine for the most part even after the deadline has passed. Updates however won't be released anymore for it, which means that bugs or security issues won't be fixed anymore.

It is therefore best to look at Winamp alternatives instead.

Winamp alternatives

The following alternatives are divided into Winamp-like media players,  full music management solutions, and other solutions.

I have listed a maximum of four in each category. If you think that one is missing, let everyone know in the comments please.

Standalone Players


One of the players that resembles Winamp on many levels is AIMP. The music player supports all popular formats, is lightweight, ships with a Winamp-like interface, supports plugins, and offers dozens of other interesting features.

This includes support for Internet Radio -- and an Internet Radio browser --, the creation and handling of playlists, an 18-band equalizer, file search, fully configurable hotkeys and more.



Foobar is another lightweight and highly customizable music player for Windows.  It supports all major audio formats, the ripping of audio CDs, tagging, ReplayGain and Gapless playback, as well as fully customizable keyboard shortcuts and plugin support.



Another player that resembles Winamp on many levels. What is interesting about it is that it supports some Winamp plugins, which means that you can load them into the player to make use of them. While it does not support them all, you may want to give this one a try if you rely on a particular plugin.

The player supports all major audio formats and a lot of other features including DSP, net streaming, gapless output, a library, or full Windows integration.

Music Management

Apple iTunes


Apple iTunes may not be the most obvious choice, considering that it is rather heavyweight when compared to Winamp. While that gets you a lot of additional features, like the integrated store, it also means that it may take longer before the program opens and music starts to play.

It is free on the other hand, comes with a player that can play local music files or streams, and options to sync data between devices.



A cross-platform music player that supports a wide variety of formats. It offers integration of several streaming services, including those from Spotify, Groveshark or Last.fm, visualizations, smart and dynamic playlist support, and options to download missing cover art.

Media Monkey

mediamonkey gold

Media Monkey is available as a free and commercial gold version. The free version enables you to manage your music effortlessly. This includes organizing, renaming and tagging music, maintaining libraries, synchronization, options to play and burn audio files, and to identify tracks among other things.

Not so obvious alternatives /  Other options

Besides the obvious choices, there are also players that may also be used as a replacement:

  1. Amarok - Another cross-platform player with a rich set of features.Various web services have been integrated into Amarok, including the excellent Kamendo and Last.fm. The player supports management features, dynamic playlists, scripts, and the option to import the database from iTunes directly.
  2. Banshee - Banshee supports a wide variety of operating systems including Windows, Mac OS X and various Linux distributions.  The music management software offers lots of features, including options to sync between devices, display cover art automatically or create smart playlists.
  3. VLC Media Player - VLC plays video and audio files. While its controls and features are basic compared to pure audio players, it is still a viable choice if all you want to do is play one or multiple songs on your system.
  4. Windows Media Player - It is the default media player that ships with every version of Windows. While it may not be the best or least resource hungry, it does the job just fine, especially if you have installed all relevant codecs to add support for some music formats that it does not support out of the box.

Closing Words

It is sad to see a program like Winamp being shut down, as it was part of the Internet for a long time. It is not clear why AOL made the decision to shut the service down, and not sell it instead to the highest bidder.

Another option would be to open source the technology, so that a dedicated community could improve and maintain the player and website instead. While it would not generate any revenue for AOL in this case, the company's overall image would certainly benefit from such a move.

What's your take on the shutdown, and which player are you using currently to play music?


Tutorials & Tips

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  1. Justin said on November 30, 2011 at 10:18 am

    The warning message about AAC streams when you load streams is because you don’t have the free Orban AAC/aacPlus Player Plugin installed.


    1. Martin Brinkmann said on November 30, 2011 at 10:56 am

      Justin, thanks for the information.

  2. santosh said on December 1, 2011 at 12:43 am

    does this support AAC ? or only mp3 streaming

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on December 1, 2011 at 1:43 am

      I’d say it supports all pls streams but I have not tried that so cannot verify it 100%.

  3. Barnabas said on August 3, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    Thank you Martin for a most informative and viable solution (it allowed me to play streams from a Netherland internet radio station in my WMP)! Continued success to you!

    Barnabas (USA)

  4. AppleRome said on October 7, 2012 at 7:31 am

    Your steps’ recommendation is still valid until 7th October 2012.. Thank you very much !!

  5. Laura said on December 1, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    Thank you!

  6. sak2005 said on December 9, 2014 at 8:03 pm

    You must convert file.pls to file.m3u
    because file.pls open with winamp and file.m3u open with wmp.

  7. Lithium said on February 10, 2017 at 11:10 am

    2017 still kicking on Windows 7
    Thx a ton

  8. Dennis said on April 18, 2017 at 4:05 am

    Hey, even i can do it, i stumbled through it and it works great! The only instruction advice i will add as i had to figure this out, when the wmp box opens that says save or open the bar on right says wmp click that drop down and select “open pls in wmp” once you do that it will work . Took me quite some time to discover that as i am no computer expert by any means. Having said that, previously i had downloaded codec packages and something about aac. None did any good. This rocks, i listen to a lot of internet radio and a number of them have dropped flash player and getting wmp to work had been a nightmare. So many thanks for this great solution to another problem that Micro-Hell will not even address. Peace- Out

  9. stephen marshall said on March 19, 2019 at 2:07 am

    openplsinwmp came in a zip file. I unpacked it, and didn’t find anything that looks like an executable, and even the files in the “doc” folder were in a format windows didn’t recognize. I’m not stupid. you said it would open effortlessly. It didn’t. This a rabbit hole I don’t want to go down.

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