Since some of you seem to be digging the free samplesposts I’ve been putting up maybe this one will be right up your alley as well. There’s a bunch of music-sharing websites out there by now, or simply sites that allow in one way or the other to put your music up there in a play-list like Myspace. A newcomer on the internet block is Soundcloud however and it’s picking up like a twister. All the cool kids are on it I see. Chaps like Moby and A Guy Called Gerald for example and this guy. Or collaborative stuff like Tara Bush’s free mp3 Mondays.
Soundcloud feels a bit like the Flickr of music. It’s slick, works smooth and allows you to share your tracks with the world, create or join groups, comment and get commented on, you know the drill, the whole social web 2.0 deal. Cool thing is that it also gives you a neat graphical view of the tracks you’re playing, allows for super-easy embedding in your own website with the same graphical splendour. If you want to comment on that awesome second drop in a track, that’s possible. Just click the second where it starts and enter your comment. “OMGWTF” for example. The author will appreciate it.
Looking for a easy way to share and host music, or just feel like browsing through an already impressive collection of free music by genre? Soundcloud is the place to be it seems.
So the free vocal samples for your tunes post turns out to be quite popular. It just happens that in the meantime I ran across some more of these nice free sample resources and so I thought that it would be neat to share them here online with you again.
This time it’s not about vocal samples alone. The last post wasn’t either really. You can find tons of other samples there as well, but it’s just one of those places I end up at when I am looking for an interesting vocal snippet. But anyway, here are some more wicked cool free sound archives:
pdsounds.org or public domain sounds: their goal is to record everything and make it available for free. Sounds good doesn’t it? Volunteers sample whatever they want and post it to this site as public domain. The archive is still limited but it contains a nice selection of original samples already which is great. If you’re looking for some unique ambient noises and sounds, this seems to be a good place to start. If you feel like it, you can volunteer as well and upload your own samplings.
SampleSwap: a large archive of already 5.5 GB of sounds available under a Creative Commons license. Contains about everything you want like breakbeats, loops, drum hits and kits, sounds effects, instruments, vocals etc.
The forum at the bottom isn’t where you’ll find the samples btw which is a bit confusing. If you can’t find your way to the samples right away look at the top of the page. There’s a search box there, and a link to browse the directory by category. That’s where you want to be to explorer the many subfolders of the archive.
For the 60×60 Buzz Compilation I was looking for a place where I could host pretty large files, and also host them without having to worry about bandwidth problems if it would end up getting downloaded a few thousand times. There are always a bunch of options but choosing Archive.org to host this project was definitely a good thing to do.
So what’s so good about it? How about starting with the things that are no so good, so we can keep the good news for last.
The website doesn’t look fancy. If that’s what you are looking for you will be disappointing. No neat web 2.0 style gradients or shiny surfaces there. Just plain oldskool solid HTML. But look further for a way to fix that.
If you’re not a geek, you might find it hard to manage your content. The easiest way IMO is uploading files using FTP. You can use the web interface for single files, or for smaller files, but you need to use FTP when your files are over 100 MB. There’s also a nice Creative Commons Publisher tool as an alternative to FTP that looks pretty easy to upload content with. I didn’t use it because I wanted more control over the uploading process (bandwidth throttling mainly).
And now, on to the good stuff!
Free bandwidth. They host your files, and you don’t have to pay a cent for it.
Free web space. You can upload a huge amount of files, with a huge size, and it’s all free free free.
Embed your files on your own site or blog. So you can make it as fancy as you want, without spending a single byte on bandwidth. They even have a flash applet you can use. You can also link to the links they provide for streaming. No problem.
After uploading a FLAC of WAV file, the system automatically encodes your files into a variety of commonly used audio formats such as mp3 and ogg, at several bit rates. That way, people with low bandwidth can choose to tune in to the 64kbps stream, or download only the lower bit rate versions. Others can opt for the high quality original FLAC file, but no matter what you don’t have to bother with doing these tedious conversions yourself. In case of video, we’re talking conversions to DivX, MPEG and QuickTime format. You can also opt not to do this, if you like.
Feedback: people can leave comments, and apply a rating. You get an email when someone leaves a comment, so you don’t need to check yourself. But you probably will anyway. I do.
Your downloads are counted. Stats!!! I love em.
Artwork, CD covers, text, whatever you feel should be published as extras, it’s up to you.
Work out your own concept. Want to publish a single file, an EP or a full blown album? No problem. You can even set up a net label .
Your stuff is indexed in the archive.org search engine, making your findable not only on their own site, but it’s quickly indexed in Google as well. Oh, and probably in those other search engines as well, but who’s using those right?
You content is updateable. Now this one is really handy. Whatever you put up there, you can update it afterwards, add new files, or delete files. Nothing is permanent, so whatever screw up is in there, it doesn’t have to be in there forever.
Which brings us to the next point. It’s there forever! Well, that’s the idea behind the whole archive anyway. You put stuff up there for future generations, and they make sure it doesn’t get lost. Like a big internet library.
The Internet Archive isn’t controlled by a commercial company either. It’s a non profit organisation working on donations, so you don’t have to fear that sudden policy changes will require you to cough up cash to keep your files hosted. You’re free to donate however, in case you have some money lying around.
Most of these above points also work for other formats such as video and even text, as they are quite flexible over at archive.org you know. But since I don’t have any experience with those, I focused on audio in this post.
As you can see, Archive.org has a lot more to offer than most other free file hosts. You have to own the content you publish of course, and be prepared to license it under a Creative Commons license. But then again, if you are thinking about publishing something on the internet, it makes sense to use some sort of CC license.
A project that has been sucking up quite some time lately, but was well worth the investment is something I thought of doing after running into the Subvert Central 60×60 compilation.
I thought it would be great to have a similar compilation with tracks from people using Jeskola Buzz as their music software. I thought this would be great because I use Buzz myself, and it would be a way of forcing myself to actually write and release something again. Another reason is that I know there are a lot of people writing great stuff using this underrated piece of free software, and this would be an excellent way of getting some of that stuff out there.
After launching the idea on several mailing lists, spamming some folks over email, bending a few arms, and getting other volunteers on board to make some cover art and do the mastering, the final result is now online on archive.org. It turned out into something I’m quite proud of. The quality of the tunes submitted by the contributing artists are in general outstanding, ranging from poppy tunes, to chill ambient, crazy breakcore, techno and some industrial rock. I’ve listened to the compilation for a few weeks now and I have to say it still doesn’t bore me. I can’t help but cranking the volume up to insane levels with some of those tunes. They are simply t3h awesome!!!!11.
One of the best things about this for me personally is getting to know a lot of people from the Buzz scene by doing this. I found the Buzzchurch forum to be a real driving force for this project, as it’s full of positive energy and open-minded people. Props to you all, this wouldn’t have been possible without you guys.
So if you feel like downloading a quality compilation of 60 tracks, each 60 seconds in length by a ton of artists using Jeskola Buzz in one way or another… then get your butt over to archive.org and start downloading that free hour of sweet sounds!