Publish your music online in five steps

Cheer up Thom, your online album's doing really wellIn days of yore, getting airplay for your songs meant sending off demo tapes to countless record companies and pestering radio stations morning, noon and night. Now though, thanks to the Net, it’s much easier to get your work out there, as the likes of Arctic Monkeys, Sean Kingston and Lily Allen will tell you. Of course, MySpace is an obvious place to start, but then your music will only be available within this community. If you want to publish tracks for the whole world to listen to, as Radiohead have done with their new online-only album, simply follow these steps:

  1. Record your song – You’ve probably done this already, but if you haven’t, don’t worry because you can do this using a simple audio recorder. Programs such as the excellent StepVoice Recorder will let you record from any sound source, such as the microphone or line-in port.
  2. Import tracks to your PC – If you’ve got a CD with your music on it then you’ll need to run it through an extractor in order to convert the tracks on it to audio files. My favourite is CDex for its sheer simplicity and the fact you don’t have to pay for it.
  3. Make it Web-friendly – Because large files take a long time to download over the Internet, you should ensure that your audio files are converted into a Web-friendly format. Switch is a great piece of freeware that will convert your original file into one of 12 formats. Mp3 and Ogg are probably the best options to go for because they result in small audio files with good sound quality.
  4. Create a home for your songs – This step can be as tricky or as simple as you choose to make it. You could design a completely new site in an expensive professional authoring tool such as Dreamweaver, or use a free web editor to do the job for you. Once your page is created you can embed the audio files. Most decent WYSWIG web editors include an option for adding sound files for you.
  5. Put it online – Now it’s just a case of getting your finished site and audio files onto the Web. Your web editing program should have a built-in FTP client, but if not get yourself a copy of SmartFTP, which is probably the best in its class.
  6. As an optional step, or if you just can’t be bothered to create your own site then find an online distribution service such as Tunecore, which adds your songs to music download sites such as iTunes, Amazon MP3, and Napster.
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