18 January 2008

Free sources for cover art

Whether publishing music on the web or via CD, it's always nice to have a bit of a visual imagery accompany a song. That goes for remixes as well as for fully original work. Just like recorded music, more and more good stock photography is becoming available for free. This can be a nice resource, unless of course you are a visual artist yourself. Here are a some sites, which host free stock photography:

MorgueFile doesn't even require you to log in to download images.
SXC.hu is one of the largest and best quality sources for stock photography on the web.
PixelPerfectDigital has over 5000 free images.
Flickr's Library of Congress image collection has some great historical images. (HINT: follow the persistent URL at the bottom of the description of a particular image for high resolution versions of the images)

Some music makers have used pictures as inspiration for their music. And some others have sort of remixed that. :-)

Note: Pictures with individually identifiable people on them can be a bit of a tricky issue. To be on the safe side, a "model release" may be a good thing to have when publishing a picture of a person.

A great simple to use free Photo manipulation image editing program for Windows users is paint.net. Almost as easy as MS Paint, but way more features. Mac users have been spoilt for years with iPhoto which ships with iLife as part of a standard Mac OS/X system.

And for the really ambitious, who have the appetite, but not the budget for Photoshop, GIMP is an amazingly feature rich image manipulation program to be run on one's desktop.

Mashable.com has a great compilation of more than 90 Online Photography Tools and Resources including many online tools for image manipulation.

This is an update of an entry originally posted in July 2007.

12 January 2008

Uploading remix packs to ccMixter.org

I've gotten this question a few times, so I'll just post my answer here for reference:

There's a 10 MB per file limit on uploads at ccMixter. So there is a very good chance, you'll have to split your sample pack into smaller chunks of less then 10 MB each. In addition, I would recommend using FLAC as a compression tool for the whole bunch before submitting them. Explanation of FLAC here: http://blog.emxr.com/2007/07/flac-file-format-for-audio.html

The exact sequence of steps would be like this:

  1. Use a FLAC compression tool to create .FLAC versions of all your WAV files
  2. Group the FLAC files into groups of less than 10MB each and create a ZIP file for each group
  3. Upload the first ZIP file, creating the ccMixter page with all of the info for the song (name, description, bpm, tags, etc.) in the description also put a link to your original version of the whole song, so people can get an idea what is in your sample pack before downloading the whole thing.
  4. After the first ZIP file is on ccMixter, open the page for that one, and click on the link called "Manage Files" on the right hand side of the page.
  5. On the resulting page start uploading the remaining ZIP files (containing the FLAC files) of your song one by one. Don't worry about the textual description about the Manage Files being intended for different formats - many people are using the multiple file upload for the purpose of having a complete song sample pack.

If you're curious what such a page with multiple uploads looks like, have a peek at one of the a minor theory remix packs: Dream In Blue remix pack;
  • on the right hand side of the page, you will notice the multiple files to download
  • at the bottom of the page, you will notice the detailed breakdown of the contents of each ZIP file (ccMixter does that automatically)..

NOTE: You don't have to do the thing with the FLAC compression - you could really do the same thing with groups of ZIPd WAV files, but FLAC is a lossless (no quality loss) compression. But WAV files themselves can get rather large (over 10MB, sou you would possibly have to split some WAV files at a bar boundary somewhere to make them under 10MB each even when ZIPd.

Alternative: make ZIPd groups groups of a very high quality MP3 (320kbps) format - that one is technically still a lossy compression, but it sounds very good.