Audio Quality: Good Sounds On Facebook/Myspace/Tunecore

Itunesimport.jpg

Listening to music on Myspace, Facebook, Pure Volume etc. can be like nails on a chalk board. You just spent a ton of time and money perfecting your songs and they are now reduced to having cymbals resembling gremlin- sounding creatures and a bottom-end like an anorexic Olsen twin. Worst of all, this is how many of your potential fans are going to hear your music for the first time. It’s enough to get you all Ian Curtis about life. Don’t fret, we will show you there is hope if you just know what you are doing.


You will have your music in a number of different possible formats once it is done being mixed. Each way has a few simple steps you can take to get optimal results. First, we need to figure out what form your audio is in.

Getting Audio From A Professional Mastering Engineer
If you were smart and brought your recording to its full potential by bringing it to an experienced, professional mastering engineer, you are in luck; it should be very easy to get a great sounding project from them. Some of the better facilities like West West Side Music offer packages where you can get everything you need from them on a DVD. Below we have a simple language you can use to communicate to your mastering house to get the files you need.

  • If you are going to be uploading your music to sites like iTunes/TuneCore/Amazon, simply ask for “A DVD or Internet download of 16-Bit 44.1Khz wav’s of each song”
  • If you are going to be uploading to social networking sites like Myspace/Facebook/Purevolume ask for “MP3′s with the highest quality bit rate possible, with file sizes not exceeding 15MB’s.” Many sites have a limit of 15 MB’s per song, which means that some songs that are longer than five minutes or so may need to be encoded at lower bit rates. resulting in lower quality.

Getting Audio From A CD You Already Have
If getting files from your mastering engineer isn’t possible and you need to work with a CD fret not, you can still get a very high quality result. It just involves you doing some extra work.

  • If you are going to be uploading your music to sites like iTunes/TuneCore/Amazon we need to get you on a computer that has iTunes and a CD port installed on it. The first thing we need to do is tweak iTunes preferences. Click on “iTunes” and under the “Preferences” option to “General” and then click “Import Settings” (note: iTunes changes this setting all the time, this is the functionality in the latest iTunes, but it has also been under the “Advanced” dialog under “Importing”). Now we need to select “Wav Encoder” under the “Import Using” dialog (see picture at top of article). Next step is to insert your CD, usually the names of the songs will not come up, now highlight all of the tracks and go under the “File” menu and select “Get Info” and fill in the appropriate information. Next we need to type in all the song names. Now you are ready to click “Import” in the iTunes window. In a few minutes you will have imported wav’s. Once the tracks are imported, eject the CD and find your imported files. Highlight the songs from your album and go under the “File” menu and click “Show In Finder.” Highlight all of the songs on your record and copy them to a new folder titled “Your Record Title WAV’s” this will be good safe-keeping in case you need them for compilations/licensing/etc.
  • If you are going to be uploading to social networking sites like
    Myspace/Facebook/Purevolume the first thing we need to do is tweak iTunes preferences. Under the
    Preferences dialog in iTunes go to “General” and then click “Import
    Settings” (note: iTunes changes this setting all the time,
    this is the functionality in the latest iTunes but it has also been
    under the “Advanced” dialog under “Importing”
    ). Now we need to select “MP3 Encoder” under the “Import Using” dialog(see picture at top of article). We now need to select a bit rate. iTunes highest bit rate is 192 which is a nice bit rate but not the highest we would like. Now highlight the wav’s we made in the previous step. Go under the “Advanced” menu in the top bar and select “Create MP3″ version. In a few minutes you will now see 2 copies of all of your songs in the iTunes window. Highlight the songs from your album and go under the “File” menu and
    click “Show In Finder.” Some of the files will be tagged .wav and some .mp3. Highlight all of the songs on your record with “.mp3″ and
    copy them to a new folder titled “Your Record Title MP3′s” and this again will be a good thing to have on backup.

If You Have Are Not Professionally Mastering Your Record
If you do intend to master your songs professionally (Tsk! Tsk!) you can choose to mix down to the audio formats you need. Whether you are mixing it yourself or at the studio with your mixing engineer, the following rules can be applied.

  • If you are going to be uploading your music to sites like
    iTunes/TuneCore/Amazon simply do a bounce or export your song as “16 Bit 44.1Khz Wav File”
  • If you are going to be uploading
    to social networking sites like Myspace/Facebook/Purevolume ask for
    “MP3′s with the highest quality bit rate possible with file sizes not
    exceeding 15MBs”. When mixing down select “MP3″ and the highest bit rate possible prefferably 320K. You need to not have files exceed 15 MB’s on these
    sites, this means that some songs that are longer then 5 mins or so may
    need to be encoded at lower bit rates(like 192K) resulting in lower quality. To see if your files exceed 15 MB click on them in your finder and click “get info” in your finder. If you have Pro Tools, you may wish to purchase their VERY high quality MP3 encoder. It is available through the Digistore for $19.99 and very well worth it if you are going to be doing this often. 

Hopefully this has helped you get your files on to the internet properly. If you have any further questions please leave them in the comments and we will adress them in future installations.
 

Jesse Cannon is the editor of Musformation. He produces records at his studio Cannon Found Soundation. Follow him on Twitter at @JesseCannonMusF. For more info please visit his website.

  • http://www.tunecore.com Peter Wells

    It’s true, we always ask for .wav format, and we send to the stores in .flac, so as to lose absolutely nothing. Of course, the stores don’t all sell in the same format, and just about all of them sell in some kind of compression, such as iTunes with their 256 .aac (iTunes PLUS).
    But we at least want to start with the best people can send us, in any reasonable way. We’re always looking for the future: if the stores start selling higher quality, we can resend them high quality originals. Be prepared!
    Thanks for the mention. Drop me an email if there’s any questions.
    –Peter
    peter@tunecore.com

  • james

    as a mixing engineer i’ve had artist ask me to upload songs before the song gets back from the Me.
    i ofcouse just add a little bit of subtractive eq and limiting and do so.
    even uploading a 320kbps mp3 from wavelab6 or bias peak after editing never sounds good enough imo b/c myspace and most of these other sites stream the music at 96k or lower.. doesnt mater if you uploaded a 320kbps file or not.
    i personally have artist that i deal with add a different player on their page that streams at a high quality if they want ppl to hear the quality of the song vs 40% of the songs sound.

  • Colin

    James, I find what you say very interesting. Do you know how to add a better quality player on Myspace?

  • Lesley

    You should get your music onto Spotify, http://www.dittomusic.com do it for free if you are unsigned.
    Worth checking out!