What file size and type?

So you’re putting your music online. You’re going to make it available to people, and now you have to make a decision about what file format you’re going to use, what encoding rate, and what sort of file size you’re going to subject your customer’s bandwidth to.

There are two answers to this question. The first is the ‘it depends’ answer. You can do a whole lot of calculations about your own bandwidth and budget, expected download popularity, server space, etc. You can make allowances for all the different online retailers and the file types they use.

The second answer is really simple and it applies when you’re selling your music from your site. It doesn’t depend. And while I’m buying myself another argument here – I’m going to say that right now, I reckon this is the best answer for online music file types.


How can I keep coming up with ideas for my blog?

Blogging: such hard work

Blog inertia is a real problem for a lot of people. You start writing and updating on a regular basis, but even though you understand the importance and benefits of the practice for your music business, sooner or later you just kind of run out of stuff to talk about.

But it can actually be a breeze, rather than a dreaded chore – if you just take a few minutes to develop a bit of a strategy for those down times when the inspiration seems to be in short supply, it can be something you can do easily, quickly, and at times when you just don’t feel like it.

There’s a simple solution, and it’s one that I’ve recently implemented myself.


Q&A at Content Agenda

Content agenda

I did an interview by email for a website called Content Agenda. Some really great questions too.

I decided in advance that my answers should, for once, be succinct and to the point rather than try and go into too much depth and end up writing entire essays on each point – but I feel like I just come off as a bit abrupt and irritable. Oops.

CA: The music industry has gone through format shifts before, as well as shifts in how music is consumed (i.e. sheet music to recorded music), and emerged intact but changed. Is the current upheaval likely to follow the same pattern, or is their something fundamentally different about the digital revolution?

This is not a format shift. It’s not like when we went from records to CDs. This is more like when we went from printed sheet music to recorded music. It’s a change in the whole media environment as it relates to music. Recorded music will still (obviously) exist – but it may not end up being the main way in which we engage with music economically.

Go read the full interview. And please excuse my terse manner – my mission was to be coherent, not snippy.

How can you sell mp3s at gigs?


I’ve had this question in a number of forms. The most common one is the artist who doesn’t really sell many CDs through retail, but every time they perform live, they go through 20, 50 or even 100 CDs over the merchandise table. The question is – if I make the leap to mp3, who’s going to buy that to take home as a souvenir?

A similar question is the one about music as a gift. The simple fact is that it’s quite difficult to gift wrap an mp3. CDs have long been a great present to buy. Simple, personal, and always well received. Buying someone downloaded music doesn’t have the same give-ability.

I’ve even heard this question as ‘I’m essentially a busker. But I make decent money selling my CD wherever I play. Should I change what I do?’. These are all essentially the same questions: when the physical characteristic of the recorded medium is the main point of the purchase (ie: tangible souvenir, presentable item), how can digital files replace physical products?


Which video service should I use?

We’ll return to our regularly scheduled series of ‘questions I keep getting asked about music online‘ after the weekend. In the meantime, I just wanted to follow up this thread of video services. I tried all the ones that were suggested to me – and a couple of others too. I’ve ended up at blip.tv.

I like the interface, I’m happy with the video quality, it has some nice podcast-friendly applications – but it’s also very simple and very user-friendly. I’ve grown to like the idea of the 90-second “long photograph” of Flickr – but for my purposes, this will do me. And besides – quite a few readers reported problems with the image embed in RSS readers.

And to those who’ve asked “why not Vimeo?” (the closest contender): It’s the typography. The font they put over the videos themselves is kind of ugly. Until something better comes along (or unless this proves to be a feed-reader unfriendly move to make), I’m hitching my video blogging wagon to blip.tv.

I’m looking forward to putting some whole seminars up there. Next addition is the tripod and a decent mic to attach. Recommendations?

Michael Arrington is NOT an idiot

money for music

You may have encountered talk online about Billy Bragg complaining that musicians aren’t getting money from the $850m Bebo payday. If so, the talk you’ve most likely encountered is that of TechCrunch‘s Michael Arrington, who pretty much denounces Bragg and barely stops short of calling him a greedy and deluded fool for wanting artists to earn money for the inclusion of their work on social networks.

It’s quite easy, from the perspective of a musician or the music industries to dismiss Arrington as an idiot on this basis. Not only is he morally and ethically in the wrong for supporting the idea of Bebo making millions without compensating the artists whose work drove so much traffic to the site in the first place, he’s actually opposed to artists making money from their recordings at all.

On the other hand, Bragg is going around saying things like ‘social networks are stealing from artists in the same way that music fans are‘. Which, if you’ve ever encountered this blog before (or, actually, if you’ve ever encountered common sense about music online before), you’ll know I consider to be an outrageously ignorant thing to assert.