The Morning After The Day You Saved The World
The story so far. 18 months ago my songs were skinny weaklings. Girl songs didn’t want to hang out with them, the Internet used to kick pixels in their faces. Today they’re rippling hunks of mp3s loved by multitudes. Let me tell you how they did it – for free!
Step 3. Get a blog
Your mp3 is prepped and set. Your Box.net account is humming like a well-oiled Panther. All you need is a shop window for your songs, where people can come in and browse and see what you’ve got on offer.
Something like a website. But…
Not a website
Websites are great, but if you’re looking to me for advice you’re probably not ready for a website. And here’s a funny thing. Many major artists aren’t ready for a website either. Any time you go to an artists website and it’s two years out of date, takes forever to load, has broken links, needs you to download software to make it work properly and even then you can’t find anything, they’ve bitten off more than they can chew. (Usually it’s the label that’s failing to chew on their behalf).
You want something simple for you to set up and maintain and simple for the visitor to find their way around.
That’s it. So for me it’s a blog and definitely…
In case you haven’t noticed Myspace is a digital swamp. There are a million reasons to delete your account, but here’s two – your fans can’t download music and you can’t send anyone a link to your song.
Back to blog
Sign up for a free Blogger account. Lots of people swear by WordPress (which has a free and a paid version) and one day I may swear just like ‘em, but I opted for simple and free and it’s working so far. You can set up more than one blog so if you’re not sure what to do just set up one for practice first.
Once you’re comfortable with your blog, set up…
A post for each song
Write a little about the song including some of the following,
what it sounds like/influences
the story behind you writing the song
Then the important part. At the beginning, the end (or both) put “download this song for free!” And paste in the secure code you’ll find on your box.net page.
Click publish and hey presto – now people can find, and download your song for free!
When you’ve got four or five songs start including a link to an older song at the end of each post. “Here’s another free song!”
You could also create a sidebar using a ‘link list’ (Design>Page Elements>Add A Gadget>Link List) with links back to each individual song page, so people can see all your songs at a glance.
Later on you can even create a master page/post with links to every song post. Here’s mine.
Making the Net work
So your song’s there on the net. But how are people going to hear about it?
If every song has a page then it’s easy to email a link to a friend “hey check out my new song” or put it on Twitter, Facebook whatever.
It’s also easy to paste it into a comment on other blogs and forums. “hey you were saying there aren’t enough Christian songs about assassination and poop. I wrote one. Check it out” and include the link.
The beauty of this is it allows you to be relevant to other web users. You’re not saying “love me and my entire recorded back catalogue” but rather “here’s a song that’s relevant to the discussion” (Just make sure it is relevant). Practice on me – leave me a comment and a link to one of your songs.
That’s all for now. Leave me a comment if it’s been helpful, if you have questions or if you violently disagree.
Other popular posts: First Black President
More free songs by Matt Blick (see what I did there?)
I spent decades trying to reach an audience with my music using conventional methods and got nowhere. But in the last 18 months I’ve had my songs downloaded over 1000 times using the very simplest (and free) online tools.
Yesterday I kicked off a short series explaining how. Step 1 was Get your mp3 web ready.
Let’s get onto step 2.
Get hosting for your files
So your have your underground classic on mp3. It’s bright and shiny and sitting on your hard drive just waiting to be adored by the unwashed masses. But they can’t get it off your computer! And even if they could rummage around in your hard drive (through some peer to peer deal) would you really want them to?
Your songs need to be on a computer that’s always switched on, and always online. You just don’t want that computer to be yours. That’s why you need hosting.
Fresh out da box
The lovely people at Box.net will give you lots of space on their computers.
Go to Box.net and sign up for a free account.
There are probably lots of other charming hosts out there (feel free to leave comment) but I said I would tell you how I did it, and I’ve used box.net from day one. I’ve had very few problems with them and (here’s the clincher) when I have had issues, customer services actually answered my emails within 24 hours! And remember I’m a non-paying customer.
So once you have your own account you upload your song. It won’t be accessible to anyone till you select share on the file you uploaded. Once you ‘share’, the site will give you a secure link/URL. This is what you will paste into your blog, but don’t worry about that now – you can go back and get it when you need it.
And as that’s step 2 completed, put your feet up!
(And as that’s only a fraction of the length of step one, let’s touch on two other things).
Why stop at songs?
You can host any kind of file ready for downloading. So how about some of these?
Mp3s – Alternate mixes, vocal-less karaoke tracks, isolated tracks (for remixers)
PDFs – Lyrics, chord charts or TAB
Word Doc – if you write songs for for Churches, supplying the lyrics with clearly labelled sections (verse 1 chorus etc) & copyright info, ready to paste into lyric projection software, will be really useful.
JPGs – Photos in screensaver, desktop and icon sizes.
Call me Mr Small Potatoes
In the kingdom of free 1000 songs downloaded in 18 months is nothing. But 1000 in 24 hours will crash your account. If it happens to you try not to panic – it’s not fatal or permanent and you won’t get arrested. But if the internet suddenly decides to love you you will have to start paying for hosting. Ditto if you enjoy this whole online thing so much you decide to make your 20 year back catalogue available.
Congratulations! Your song is on the internet!
But no one knows it yet.
You’re ready for the final step – Get a blog. See you tomorrow!
What do you mean you haven’t read part one yet? sheesh!
Othe popular posts: A letter to my pupils
My blog grew out of a regular email update I used to send to about 20 people in my church music team. In the 18 months since I started my songs have been downloaded over 1000 times from my blog by people all over the world and it hasn’t cost me a penny.
Since I set up the Newfrontiers Underground page a short time ago a few people have asked me for advice on how I did it and in the next few posts I’m going to show you how you can get your songs online for nothing even if you’re the most web phobic musician out there. If you’re reading this blog, you already have enough know-how!
There are 3 basic steps
1) Get your mp3 web ready
2) Get hosting for your files
3) Get a blog
Web Ready mp3s
Before you throw anything up on the web you want to make sure it’s worth putting there. Web ready means two things.
Having the right type of file and including the correct info with it.
It isn’t enough to have your music ‘available’ online. You want people to be able to find it, and once they’ve found it, be able to play it and to know what it is and who it is.
And if they like your song they need to be able to find where to get more.
Make sure it’s an mp3
It’s no accident that I’m talking about mp3s. Not WMA, not AAC not WAV files or anything else. Mp3 is a universal format – others aren’t. WAV files are HUGE. Unless you’re some ultra mac-snob make sure your music is in a format everybody can play.
When you save your music from whatever program you used to record it, it should give you the option to save it as an mp3. Ditto for if you’re ripping it from a CD. If it’s stuck in another format and you no longer have access to the original master, free programs like Wavepad or Audacity will allow you to change file types.
Rename the file
Do you know what the most covered track in the history of the world is?
No it’s not that one. It’s ‘Track 01”. Seriously I’ve got hundreds of versions on my computer. Closely followed by ‘Track 02’, ‘Finished Mix’ and ‘Hi-quality’.
Before it gets out into the big bad world rename your file with the real title (and you could add your name or website for good measure).
If you download my song The Greatest Commandment you’ll see the file name is
Metadata is all the info that magically appears in your media player when you rip a CD by Jellyfish or download the Black Sheep track from the hamster ad. Album artwork, who wrote the song, track numbers – it’s all there!
How did it get there? Well it’s either typed in by an infinite number of monkeys (iTunes store) or by one old guy in Norway (Gracenote used by Windows). Guess what? Neither Olaf nor the monkeys know about your music. Don’t know and don’t care. So you’ll have to input it. Here’s how.
- Open the mp3 in Windows Media Player.
- Right click on file and click on Advanced Tag Editor.
- Type in your info.
- Don’t forget to click ‘Apply’ when you’re finished.
- Open the mp3 in iTunes.
- Ctrl+click on the file and click on ‘Get Info’.
- Click on the ‘Info’ tab at the top.
- Type in your info.
- Click ‘OK’ when you’re finished.
Try to fill in all the fields. That probably means typing your own name repeatedly but that’s OK Dahling – you’re a star!
Upload a ‘cover’ (a nice photo of your face is fine – but remember how teeny it will be) using the ‘Get Info>Artwork’ tab on the mac or ‘Advance Tag Editor>Pictures’ tab in Windows.
Give your ‘album’ a name even if it’s a solitary track. It could be as simple as ‘2010 Songs’ but why not have fun? The Eglon Song is apparently from an album called “Singalong Assassination Songs For Kid’s Vol. 2”. Dang! Even I want to hear the rest of that album!
The bottom line is, anything you don’t fill in will appear as a big fat empty space in someone’s iPod. Even if they know the name of you or your song without metadata, they just be searching for you among a million other anonymous tracks.
Over to you. Go get your song ready.
I’ll see you back here tomorrow for step 2 when we’ll get hosting.
If you’re way beyond excited about this series you can get it the second it appears by subscribing (it’s free) via email or feedreader (like google reader), or by become a follower. See the right hand sidebar for details.
Which one will make it to the blog (and you) first?
Whichever one you say giddyup to!
I had a small milestone this week – Song of the Redeemed made 50 downloads! It’s actually been one of the more popular ones I wrote for Grace Church (we even sung in our community group the other week) but it hasn’t really taken off on the blog. Maybe it’s because it’s an acoustic unplugged demo of a full band rocker, or maybe it’s because most of Grace Church already had the song by the time I started the blog (I used to email them everyone – can you believe that!).
Maybe I’ll do a full band demo one day.
Maybe it’ll get it a new lease of life through this post.
Maybe I will change my mind about the ending of Inception being lazy.
But for now you can read the new improved ‘behind the song’ post here or just jog your memory with the lyrics…
Rev 14:3 / Rev 7:9-10; Eph 3:10
Are you sure you don’t want to download the song right now?
Related Posts: A week in the life
Marc James‘ song Surrender is one that I’ve loved ever since hearing it on the 3rd Vineyard UK album. We sung it to death at Grace Church but recently I’ve dug it out and been singing it on my own.
You never grow beyond the need to lay down your ‘rights’ before God.
Marc shared some thoughts about the song on the new Kingsway Worship site, including how the song was started in the UK and finished in Hawaii!
Back in 98 I was working as a schools worker in St Albans England. God had moved in my heart that I should go into high schools and share my faith with whoever would listen. I was also traveling with the band, leading worship, running 2 youth groups, and hanging out in pubs annoying people by trying to convert them..
It got to Christmas time and I was completely burned out and tired . I felt like I had nothing left to give. It seemed that despite all my efforts to share the gospel nothing was really changing. I had really taken to heart prophetic voices that had blown through our town,through our nation, people were talking up revival….I had taken it upon myself to make that happen!
It was in that context that one night I sat down with my 3/4 size nylon string guitar and sung to God “I’m giving you my heart and all that is within I lay it all down” I really was at the end of myself and felt so disappointed, discouraged and more than that I felt damaged (A true artist!!!) I wasn’t sure If God had let me down or If I had let him down..