This is a little guide on how to stream music from your Nextcloud instance to a computer or Android phone.
Currently there are two different music apps available in Nextcloud, and both support playing music from our browser
Of the two, I recommend Nextcloud Music because it also provides an Ampache backend, but I will provide more detail about the two in the last section.
Ampache is a music server written in PHP with a web interface frontend so that we can stream music to our browser. It has been around since 2001, so there are a lot of supported clients that are able to access our music through the Ampache backend, such as VLC, Kodi, Plex, Amarok and others.
Instead of actually installing an Ampache server, we can use the Ampache API that the Music app exposes to connect to those clients. In order to stream to our phone, we will use Power Ampache for Android.
Install the Music app from your Apps panel. Then, open the app and scan your music folder, which can take several minutes for large collections. After this you will be able to stream to any computer.
In the Music app, name and generate a token for the Ampache backend.
Copy the password somewhere because there will be no way to retrieve it if you navigate away. We will use this password to access from our Android phone.
Install Power Ampache from F-Droid. Like everything else in F-Droid, this is a free and open source app.
In the app, login with
- this URL: <cloud_url>/index.php/apps/music/ampache
- your Nextcloud username. Not the token name, the nextcloud user name.
- the token that we copied earlier.
That’s it! Now we can also stream to our phone through the Ampache backend.
Music or Audio Player
When it comes to comparing both apps, we have to say first that both do the job and they are quite similar. I thought that the Audio Player is more usable because you can filter your collection by genre, artist and others which can really help if you have a big collection. You don’t have this option in the Music app, so I opened a feature request for this in their Github page.
Regarding the Music app, it integrates into the Files app, so you can browse your music by folder according to your own folder hierarchy, and a player will pop up. Audio Player does play a song if you click on it from the Files app, but it doesn’t offer reproduction controls so it is not very practical for real use.
The web interface can be quite slow to load for big collections because it loads everything in one long scrollable box in the browser, but nothing too dramatic. The authors mention 50,000 file collection to be about the higher limit the app backend can handle.
The Music app was able to scan my 35,000 file collection, even though it took a bit, whereas the Audio Player failed to recognize more than 250, and threw the following warning (reported on github)
But the bigger deal winner for me was Ampache support. The Audio Player author wants to keep the app simple, and prefers to extend functionality through plugins or combinations of apps. For instance, you can install an additional app to make Audio Player capable of editing ID3 tags. So far nobody has come forward to provide an Ampache plugin.
I couldn’t even scan 10% of my collection, plus there is no way to stream to my phone, so I decided to stick to Nextcloud Music.