(Warning: boring tech stuff ahead. Go here if you just want free mp3's of live Choral music.)
My youngest brother recently inquired as to whether I was ever going to write about anything interesting again! I suppose the details of Linux installation and programming language features aren't absolutely riveting to everyone, so perhaps he will like this better.
I recently needed to find a place to host a complete album of live recorded music. Bandwidth is a lot cheaper than it used to be, but 70MBs of media is still a substantial sum. Rather than paying for it, I thought I could find someplace free to host it. Now if only it was video content. Youtube, Google Video, the options are rich and varied for video. Mp3 hosting, though seemed a more difficult matter. As any geek would, I immediately thought of the internet archive and it's "Audio" section. I created an account, ftp'ed my files to the temporary directory, clicked on the link to publish them ... and nothing ever happened. Error messages about busy servers showed up, there is no (obvious) interface to find files you've uploaded in your account, and I eventually gave up in frustration.
Ah well, I thought, I'll go see ourmedia.org. It's supposed to be putting a friendly face on the internet archive and I don't mind CC licensing this music. This seemed more promising initially with better looking website and easy signup process, but the web upload tool errored out on me, the Help page had multiple broken links (I reported them) and I wasn't about to download Windows only software to share my media. Argh.
Well, with a little googling (yes, I verbify, so sue me) I found esnips.com. Esnips lets you sign up for a free account with 1GB of storage and upload pretty much any kind of media. The have a tagging interface so people can search for content and a pretty snazzy multiple file upload page. Most importantly, it just worked (see the results here).
My need for media storage space is occasioned by my previously mentioned youngest brother. He recently got his Masters Degree in Choral Conducting and asked if would rip, master and host the recording of the concert he conducted for his graduation. My knowledge of audio mastering is pretty limited, but I ripped the CD he gave me to .wav and used Audacity (a very nice open source cross platform sound editor) to do a little tweaking to the tracks. Many track's loudest point didn't come close to saturation, so I amplified a lot of them. Frequently even then, the quiet parts were too quiet, so I applied some compression to balance the levels a little. Finally, on a few tracks i did a little noise reduction. I was most proud of the last one - Track 13: The Dream Isaiah Saw - because it has a deep organ part that rendered the vocals nearly inaudible. I used the equalizer plugin and managed to bring the vocals out to a nearly understandable level.
Now that I've listened to all the tracks, I'm impressed. I particularly enjoyed the "Eclectic Mass" portion of the program (tracks 6-10). I once sang the solo in the Agnus Dei from Robert Ray's Gospel Mass in a concert Jozadak organized, so I can't help but love it, but I also enjoyed the ominous piano accompanyment in Schubert's Credo and the world premiere of Joshua Kalichman's Sanctus. Give it a listen!
Update: eclips had a hiccup and for a while the .mp3's were unavailable. This made me unhappy. I looked at the company blog, saw that they were experiencing "technical difficulties" and commented that my account was unavailable. Now my account is back up (which makes me happier) and the ceo emailed me, including a telephone number and skype contact, to thank me for my comment and to tell me that service had been restored. This makes me very happy. Advantage eclips.com...