Getting Your Mixes Out
For years, the only way to get your music to the masses was through radio, TV, and record stores. Agents, lawyers, and contracts were all a part of what made the music industry go. You needed to have someone believe in you before you could reach ears around the world. Sure, people produced recordings locally and had albums, cassettes, or CDs manufactured to sell at shows. Some even had local airplay, but getting beyond the local market was extremely difficult on a good day. The chances of having someone on the other side of the world hear your music were almost nonexistent. That's all changed.
The first things you need to do to get your music out are to mix and master your songs. To mix your songs, you need to set the levels and panorama of your tracks so that they sound as you want them to sound when others will play back the final mix on their computer, MP3 player, or stereo. You can add effects to individual channels and on the master channel to achieve the sound you desire. Make sure none of your tracks are clipping, and then you're ready to bounce the track down to a single stereo audio file. Every DAW has a bounce function for this reason. Once you have bounced down all of your songs, you should master them. This involves creating a consistent sound and volume level from one track to the next, so that they sound like they all belong together.
One way to help ensure that your tracks stand out is to normalize them. During this process, the application you are using analyzes an entire audio file, finds the highest peak, and raises the level of that peak to the maximum volume possible before clipping. It then raises the volume of the entire audio file relative to that peak. Check out Chapter 17 for more in-depth mixing and mastering techniques. Once you have done all of this, you're ready to get your music out!
Distributing Your Tracks
The world is getting smaller. The Internet age has completely changed how we communicate.
For example, a small news item can be sent from one person to another almost instantly, and it can gain a life of its own, becoming a huge story within a few hours. Music benefits from this kind of worldwide access too. Someone can browse the Internet from their home in Anytown, USA and discover brilliant artists from parts of the world they've never even heard of. People all over the world find new music online everyday. Your music belongs out there too!
Formatting Your Music
On the Internet, most music is distributed in MP3 or AAC formats. MP3 is the standard format that most people use on their websites and on social networking sites, while AAC is the format that is used in the iTunes music store. Both are compressed audio formats. This means they don't require as much storage space on your hard drive as WAV files do. When you convert an audio file to a compressed format, the application uses complex algorithms to shrink the file size by removing some of the information, mostly sub- and ultrasonic information, to reduce it to about 10 percent of its original size. This makes the file easier to distribute on the Internet because it takes much less time to upload and download.
You can use the iTunes application to convert your songs to MP3 or AAC. First you need to decide which format you want to use.
MP3 is best for most Internet uses. You can select MP3 by opening iTunes preferences and clicking on the Import Settings button. In the Import Using menu, select MP3 Encoder. Now when you add music to your iTunes Library, it will automatically convert it to MP3.
Once you have added a track, right-click on it and select Get Info. This opens up a window that gives you the ability to enter information about the song—its title, artist, genre, and so on. When you are done adding the information you want to add, click OK. All the information you added in that window is embedded in the MP3 file, so other people will be able to see it when they download your song.