30 January 2008

A Few Teething Problems

Posted by Alex at 9:59 pm

My housemate just brought it to my attention (about five minutes ago) that we have been accidentally serving up Gay Death Probe‘s brilliant The Night of Long Knives twice. Though the zip file was differently named the files were the same for both of their EPs as MP3 zip files.

So if you’d like to grab The Other Side Of Fabulous Florida go right ahead. Or you can navigate to the files via any of the usual means. We apologise for any disappointment caused.

If you find anything around this site that seems odd or wrong like this, please do not hesitate to drop me an e-mail. We are only human and mistakes can easily happen with 10 releases and many GBs of files flying around our servers. With enough eyes, all bugs are shallow.

24 January 2008

How We Release A Record Digitally

Posted by Alex at 7:40 pm

Some Records...I am proud to announce that we have almost, but not quite, reached the 300 downloads of our releases that I asked you to help with last week. One more push and we should be over that cliff!

In our manifesto we say that “Anyone could do what we are doing”. This is almost certainly the case, and like many labels before us, we are going to let you know, in the DIY spirit, precisely how we do what we do in a series of posts focused on technology and otherwise.

So how do we do it? First off, how do we get a record ready for digital release?

  1. We either receive CDs through the post from our artists, or our artists upload their albums as lossless FLAC files to their FTP accounts on our server. FLACs are, as you might be aware, the same as CD quality, but somewhat compressed. With a CD I carefully rip it to FLAC using Max. Max is a free and open source Mac OS X program that rips CD and converts audio files from format to format with the absolute minimum of fuss. The well regarded Windows equivalent is Exact Audio Copy. I use it instead of using iTunes as a ripper even for importing CDs normally to add to my library. But more of that in a second.With FTP I just grab ’em from the server. I use Cyberduck for FTP, which while not perfect, is very good, and quite acceptable in comparison to similar (but sexier) commercial applications like Transmit.
  2. I tag the FLAC files with a program called Tag! It’s also open source and free and from the same programmer as Max. I ensure the files are tagged correctly with track names and other details and then use Max to automatically convert them to the four different types of music file we use on this site and do neat filenames and tagging. On Records On Ribs we have high quality variable bit rate MP3 (-v 0 --vbr-new LAME for you MP3 snobs out there), FLAC and Ogg Vobris for downloading, 128 kbps constant bit rate MP3 for streaming. To set Max to produce very good quality and potentially transparent MP3s at -v 0 --vbr-new follow these instructions. Originally the plan was to do all this in Ribcage on the server-side using command-line tools (the *nix versions of FLAC, LAME and Ogg), which we did with a couple of records. But our artist’s often odd song titles prevented the script from working properly without an extensive re-write and debug, so I opted for this method.
  3. These files then wing their back over the internet via FTP to the site. To avoid too much carting huge files around around, I create the zip files in a SSH shell logged into our site rather than upload them. I just type in the command and bish bash bosh they are done.
  4. All the details of the release gets added into Musicbrainz and then into our own Ribcage database with relevant copy. Within the next few days I’ll update Ribcage so I’ll only have to enter it on Musicbrainz and it will be slurped into our database with a single click. Artwork is scaled to different sizes and FTPed to the site. Once we click go, it appears live on the site.

Potentially the time between receiving the files over FTP from the artist and having the release live on the site is under two hours, dependent only on internet connection speed. The thing which takes the longest is writing copy about the record, which can sometimes take days if one if having a spot of writers block.

For example, I am assured that a certain artist will be sending a record over to me, possibly even tonight. I’ve got to cook dinner and watch Torchwood, but if he does it should be probably around and about, ready for me to write some copy and post it tomorrow morning, all going well.

Photography by Dan Machold.

20 January 2008

A Lament

Posted by Dave at 8:54 pm

‘Forever and ever endeavour, To be together, forever,and ever…together at the altar with a stake through my heart.’

All good things have to end. But that doesn’t make it any less sad that they do. And on Friday night, The Butterfly (a very good thing indeed) bid their farewell to the world in spectacular fashion. It was an occasion of much merriment- as their gigs always were- but tempered by an enormous sadness for myself, Alex and many others.

Still – we must not get too upset! We console ourselves in the hope that the multiverse theory is true and that in one of these other universes The Butterfly’s bombastic songs of Camus, Freud and the ancient Greeks are filling Wembley stadium. Joy is also to be found in the fact that a brand new The Butterfly EP will be out soon on this here label.

A Plea

We wouldn’t normally ask for donations, but such a calamity befell myself on Friday night that I throw myself upon the kindness of your hearts. For in our attempts to record The Butterfly’s farewell show, I had taken a quarter-inch jack to phono lead up to Leeds with me. I do not have a good history with these leads. For months at university my good friend and housemate Mr.Joel Wright did steal my lead in order that he might listen to music from his laptop via his stereo. My lead soon gave up under the strain of continuous yanking. A replacement was hastily bought, but was lost when I moved house. The replacement for that proved to be of ill-quality and soon packed up. This lead left in Leeds was of superior quality and had been mine for a mere 3 weeks. I’m sure you will sympathise when you understand that now I find myself in the position of having to by another lead, or face not being able to listen to my record collection. Any donations to my ‘new lead fund’ can be made via the donations page.

We thank you.

18 January 2008

The Butterfly

Posted by Alex at 9:30 pm

The Butterfly

This post is set to publish at the time when The Butterfly take to the stage for their last show. I don’t think the final curtain for The Butterfly could have passed without me saying something about it. Or without us, that is, me and Dave, saying something about it. It’s maybe a bit long, but I think necessarily, so you’ll have to click on more to see it all. They will hopefully be releasing two records with us posthumously. These are, of course, much anticipated.

The Butterfly’s music is utterly unique, the cause of much foundering for reference points by journalists and promoters alike. Jump cutting innumerable genres and ideas effortlessly, its bold, arch and confident eclecticism is never cynical and always clever – from a throughly insane racket to a graceful chord change. Songs were stunningly worked, fully equipped with a nuanced sense of dynamics, a wink to grand theatre and an eye for pop. Each and every one is piled high with sheer invention. It is an uncompromising musical vision, an awkward fit to any pigeon hole or scene you would attempt to ram them into.

Read the rest of this entry »

17 January 2008

Thanks and Statistics

Posted by Alex at 2:20 pm

Records On Ribs is a place where downloads happenAs I write this post we have had 1,682 odd hits since our launch, 134 records in total have been downloaded. Hits have come from as far afield as China, Russia and Canada. So, we’d like to thank everyone who has visited, downloaded, listened and hopefully loved our music in the last three days.

If you like the music we are giving away and what we are trying to do here, and have a spare moment over the weekend, why not write an (MP3?) blog, send a Myspace bulletin, post a Facebook link or make a post on a message board about us and the music we provide?

Some of you have already done so already, and we thank you a great deal for it.

The more people that know, the much merrier. Let’s harness this Web 2.0 madness to get free music and new ideas to people! Let’s try and see if we pull together that we can’t get those release downloads up to nearer 300 by this time next week!

Its not all about the launch though. No sir. We have much, much more in the pipeline. Details of new releases from those already on our roster and of releases from new additions to that roster will be announced in the next couple of weeks.

I’ll also be writing a series of posts on how precisely we did this, mainly from a technical angle, but featuring general tips and tricks along the way. We’ll also be rolling out a few new features on the site, including hopefully a Podcast push of our releases that ensures you will never miss one in future, Twitter and Pownce integration and maybe a Facebook application if I really roll up my sleeves. Jell and Dave will be posting too. So keep checking the site, and keep listening!

Thanks again!

(Photography by dweekly)

15 January 2008


Posted by Dave at 12:00 am

Christening the good ship.Well well. The moment is finally upon us. The Queen’s cracked a bottle over our bow and we’ve been slung down the slipway into the murky waters of existence.

Which is a metaphoric way of saying hello, we’ve arrived. And if we may allow ourselves a moment of immodesty, we believe we’ve done so in rather spectacular fashion: no fewer than 10 (count ’em) albums/EPs are available for free download from today. In total that’s 109 tracks in total and many hours of happy listening.

Many of the releases will shortly be available in physical form (two are already) and it is our intention to produce limited edition vinyls and CD-Rs in the future.

To find out more about what we’re doing and why, please read our manifesto.

We’d like to take the opportunity to thank all those who made this possible. Tom Jackson for his designs and patience. Eric Lee for helping with some PHP that had us scratching our heads. Tamsin Worrad for tea and data entry. WordPress. And our brilliant artists, of course.

We welcome comments, suggestions, debates and compliments.

Thanks for your time and merry downloading to you.

Love from all @ ROR.