Posted by Alex on January 24, 2008 at 7:40 pm in DIY, Technology

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.

1 comment

Leave a Reply