To make your music available to viewers on the Internet you have to convert your audio file into an electronic file that can be either downloaded by the viewer or accessed as streaming audio. There are several different audio file formats that can be used. The following is a partial list of the more important file types:
My personal view is that for showcasing your original musical it is preferable to use the RealAudio format. Viewers can preview your music without having to test their patience. Sound quality is good enough for reviewing the music, and if they like it they can request your tape or CD. RealAudio has really become the standard streaming audio format and is widely used in the Internet community.
Another recommended alternative, is to provide your music in multiple audio formats. You can have RealAudio and one other file format (MP3 or .wav) to allow for higher quality files.
In order to create electronic files from your music, you'll need the right software program.
Converting to RealAudio -- Here's another advantage of RealAudio. Real provides a free program--called Real Producer--that has an easy interface for converting from a variety of sources. It will convert from CD, .wav files or even from the line input of your sound card (in the event your music is on tape). Get Real Producer here.
Converting to .Wav -- To convert to .wav files you can use, to a limited extent, the Windows Sound Recorder that's probably already on your computer. For more advanced creation and editing of .wav files, check out the Multimedia Shareware available on Netscape or CNET.
Converting to MP3 -- To convert to MP3 you will have to get an MP3 encoder. Once again, check out the Multimedia Shareware on Netscape or CNET. You'll also need a good MP3 player. Though there are many around (and RealPlayer now provides for playing of MP3 files), WinAmp has by far been the most popular pick (and in my estimation is the best).
It is important to note that audio software programs are not all the same. When choosing between various programs, you'll need to use them and judge for yourself which ones you prefer (based on such considerations as sound quality and ease of use). If you want to save yourself some time, you might consider my own recommendations.
Note: These are all free shareware programs.
Converting to RealAudio -- Real
Once you've created your electronic audio files, you'll need to know how to put them on your Web page such that visitors can either download them or access them in streaming audio. I will provide an overview, and provide links to pages that give more detailed instructions.
STEP 1 -- Upload your audio file to your Web site. You'll need an FTP Program, such as Cute FTP. Real Producer provides a Web publishing wizard, but I've found it easier to just upload the required files manually.
STEP 2 -- Insert HTML language on your Web page that points to the file location. The user's browser will automatically bring up a screen to prompt for downloading.
EXTRA STEP for REALAUDIO -- Accessing streaming RealAudio requires one additional step. Instead of the HTML pointing directly to the audio file, you have to create a RAM file, which in turn will point to the required audio file. You can point directly to the RealAudio file (.rm), and the Web browser will download that file (which can be previewed by Real Player), but it will not be streaming.
Here are links to sites with more detailed instructions: