14 August 2007

ccMixter quick tips 2

This is part 2. Part 1, which deals with listening to music can be found here.

These few quick tips deal with ccMixter features for remixers as well as for providers of tracks, loops and samples.

  • As a general rule, to upload content (including reviews, playlists forums posts, messages), you will have to register/login at ccMixter - to download stuff you don't have to.

  • ccMixter is not intended to host your original music like myspace or other "bands and fans" sites. If you have creative commons licensed original music and are looking for a place to host it, you may want to consider uploading it to the archive.org audio section. ccMixter is dedicated to the specific musical form of remixing.

  • ccMixter is remarkably spam free. That's not an accident, but a result of diligent observation of the uploaded content by the site administrators. Trying to spam the site is not only uncool, but pretty much a waste of time. This includes not so subtle "tricks" like slapping too many or misleading tags on uploads to try to show up in more search lists. That nonsense may work on youtube, but not on ccMixter. Whoever tries to be cute that way will find their upload deleted rather unceremoniously. Which keeps ccMixter more useful and enjoyable than so many other social networks. There's an acceptable place for on-topic self promotion in the pluggy plugs section in the forums. However, ads for medication, replica watches or too-good-to-be-true software deals don't stand much of a chance there either. :-)

Source tracks, samples, loops

  • Go to the ccMixter home page, and then click on one of the high level tab menu items on the top of the page: Samples or A Cappellas. On those respective pages, explore the sub-menu tabs. Good places to start are the Samples Browse page and the A Cappella Melodies page.

  • ccMixter generally makes a high level distinction between vocal tracks (a cappella's) and any other kind of sample. When uploading, you'll want to make sure, that you upload to the appropriate area, because currently you can't change that high level distinction after you have uploaded your file. One nice feature on ccMixter is, that you can re-upload a file in addition to editing the information associated with a file after the original upload. This is great for correcting errors or adding more useful information or tags after the fact.

  • There is a way of putting multiple files into a group, by using the "Manage Files" link on the right hand side of the page for an uploaded file. Although the purpose of that feature is mostly to allow more than one format for a specific file, it can also be used to group multiple files of a remix pack for an entire song together. Doing that creates less clutter in your upload page, however it makes all of the subservient files only accessible via looking for the main one. For example, I uploaded the instrumental loops for a song as additional files under the a cappella vocal tracks. This keeps all of the tracks/loops for an entire song together, but it makes it pretty much impossible to find the instrumental loops by themselves. Decide for yourself, what's more important to you: to keep the parts for a song together, or to make individual parts easier to find.

  • For uploading high quality audio source files, use the FLAC format. It is the best of both worlds: The quality of an uncompressed WAV file at a significantly smaller file size. If you have several files, which are likely to be downloaded as a group, put them into a ZIP archive before uploading. You can decide to upload your source tracks in FLAC and in mp3.
    very cool: ccMixter will list the contents of your ZIP files on their download page.

  • If you are uploading an a cappella track, consider putting a link to a full mix into the description. Since ccMixter doesn't like uploads of full mixes, an external link pointing to a full mix is a nice way of giving remixers an easier starting point to work from. Try to make sure, the target location will really hold your full mix for a long time, because somebody may only bump into your song months or years later.

  • Make all of your file names as meaningful as possible. That's will make them more attractive to others. If it's a female harmony vocal to verse 1 of your song "I dream of fame", call it something like "I_dream_of_fame_vox_harmony_female_verse1". Of course, if the file is part of a ZIP archive containing various parts only for the song "I dream of fame", the file can be called "vox_harmony_female_verse1" and the ZIP archive can be called "I_dream_of_fame_vocal_parts".

  • Try to make life easy for remixers by cutting the beginning of tracks and loops at even bar boundaries. It's generally not very useful to have many bars of empty space at the beginning of a track, and most certainly not at the end.

  • If uploading instrumental tracks or loops, consider uploading a midi file in addition to an audio file. It allows remixers to make use of your playing or midi programming while using sound sources (hardware or software) of their own choice. That opens up an entirely new world of possibilities. For drum parts, it's the easiest to work with drum parts adhering to the GM midi standard kit note assignment. However if that's not possible, it may still be valuable to have the midi file of a drum part, if the groove is really cool. Midi files are currently a rare find at ccMixter, so uploading a few great midi loops may make you a ccMixter star in no time :-)

  • The best file format for complete remixes is mp3, because you want to make it very easy for listeners to enjoy your remix without having to do conversions. 192 kbps is a pretty good quality setting for most mp3 music files, sounding close to CD quality to most people. However, a single file upload has to be 10MB or less in size, so if your remix is very long, chose a streaming rate of 160Kbps or 128 Kbps. And use 44.1 KHz sampling rate (NOT 48KHz), because the site resident flash player can't handle 48KHz.

  • Don't forget to give credit for original source tracks used in remixes. ccMixter makes that very easy as part of the uploading process for remixes. It also allows you to add additional credits for other people's samples via the "Manage Remixes" link after you have already uploaded your remix.

All uploaded files
  • ccMixter has a kind of a "draft mode", which allows you to have files and their data already uploaded to ccMixter, but not yet visible to anyone else but you and the site administrators. In ccMixter terminology that is called "unpublished". This can be very useful while you are still assembling some of the descriptions for a file, or while you are uploading additional files. You can already see how the page with the file will look, proof-read everything, test all of your links, before making the page with that file and it's descriptions publicly available.

    You can also un-publish a file after it has been published. But try not to do that too often, because it will confuse the heck out of people, who are following links. But it can be useful, when people have already linked to your file, and you found a major problem with it. In that case, you can un-publish the file, upload a new version of it, and then re-publish it. And all the previous links are still working.

That's it for now. Happy remixing!

As always, comments and corrections are welcome.

2 comments - add your comment:

DJ Rkod said...

Some good point there. I'd like to point out that it's also very helpful to note key, time signature and tempo when you upload. It makes things that much easier for remixers.

oldDog said...

These quick tips are very useful, and beautifully clearly set out.

I've been posting to the wonderful ccMixter for the last 6 months, but you've drawn my attention to a few things I'd missed. Thanks, I'll be keeping an eye on your site.