The Digital Age, It’s Here, Learn How To Use It

By Jason Wellwood, Witchfinder General

Last week marked the big PIPA and SOPA blackouts in the U.S. in opposition to bills being passed south of our border which would essentially censor the internet. The government is trying to sneak these bills in under the guise of helping to stop online piracy, but what they are really doing is trying to gain control over something that they shouldn’t be involved in, namely the internet. This starts with the guise of preventing piracy but continues into censoring the web altogether. I’ve noticed a lot of folks who are commenting that we Canadians shouldn’t be too worried about it because it’s happening down south but…take a look at the bill that Congress here is trying to get passed with regards to copyright reform. It would make things VERY difficult for folks to use digital music, video, etc. even if they purchased it legally. And these new more stringent measures were put in place, essentially, to please the U.S. who has been pressuring Canada for years to do something about its ‘lax’ laws. Not to mention the fact that many of your favourite sites may be gone because of U.S. law. If they take them down there, you won’t be able to see them here.

Anywho, I don’t mean to go off about politics, it’s not my bag and I really don’t have a head for the dealings that go on, but if it effects my music or my musical knowledge getting, it concerns me!

What I really wanted to talk about is something that really gets up my skirt (and not in a good way) and that is digital music. Let’s face it, digital music is here to stay and although we might never see the end of CDs completely and the welcome resurgence of vinyl won’t change much for the everyday music consumer, it’s time for everyone to face facts and get on board. What irks me in particular is that labels and promotions companies are now sending more and more digital files to stations, but don’t seem to know how to rip a CD properly or the difference in MP3 quality. So, here are a few quick tips for record labels, artists and those of you just generally curious, about submitting things to a radio station for airplay in the modern digital age:

1.    If you rip a CD, rip it at a decent bit rate. By compressing the songs to anything smaller than 192kbps, you are not only depriving the listeners of a good sounding song/album, you are also seriously messing with your artist’s (own) sound and livelihood. Putting low quality MP3s on the air makes songs sound awful, and who the hell needs to buy awful sounding music?

2.    Check your rip. Listen to the album/song yourself BEFORE you send it out to people. Almost as frustrating as low quality digital rips is bad rips. This is completely avoidable, and if you can’t manage to rip a CD without blips, farts, squeaks, squonks, etc. then ask the 7 year old down the street to show you how.

3.    Know who you are sending things to. I can forgive having something sent to the wrong name, or even messing up the call letters for the station, but if you are sending me your attempt at being the next Brittney Spears or LMFAO, then chances are I’m going to delete your email without spending too much time listening to it.

4.    Include some relevant information with your music. Yes, yes, it’s an AMAZING album recorded deep in the darkest depths of your mother’s basement but…what will really help people to get it on the air is much simpler: what type of music it is (without all the hyperbole), what tracks have profanity, what tracks should we focus on and what artists is the music comparable to. With that info, we can get the your music through the system and to the right people much quicker.

5.    A .pdf of the liner notes and decent quality shots of the cover art are more important that 15 band photos, regardless of how pretty you are.

That’s really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to digital music and servicing though. I know it’s a new format still and people are still finding their way around but if no one tells you that you’re messing things up, you’ll never know!

I am the station manager and loud rock director for CILU, 102.7fm in Thunder Bay. I also host four weekly 'loud rock' shows: Blowing Up The Lakehead: Monday 10pm-1am EST which plays loud rock from around the world, regardless of genre, subgenre or label affiliation. CanKnuckle Tracks: Tuesday 10pm-1am EST, plays Loud Rock by ONLY Canadian Independent bands.Anarchy In The TBay: Wednesday Midnight-1am, all punk. The Happy Go Lucky Old Time Metal Hour: Thursday Midnight-1am, old school loud rock, nothing newer than 1990.

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