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Web Design Workshop: The Sounds of Music

In a Previous tip, I went on and on about the perils of having music play automatically when you design your website. Now, of course, I’m being inundated with questions about how to put music on your site. I should have seen that coming. Okay. I’ll tell you, as long as you promise to give the viewer the choice to listen to it or not.

First, let’s talk about the different type of music files used on the web.

Midi (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) – Midi files are very common, have very small file sizes, and load quickly. However, they often sound like the music is being played out of tin can. Their extension is “.mid”.

Audio File – Audio Files are also very common files. They sound decent, but the file sizes are typically large and cause slow page loading. Their extension is “.au”.

Wave – The wave file was created by Microsoft and has become a standard PC audio file format. The sound is high quality, but the file sizes are large. Their extension is “.wav”.

MP3 – (MPEG – 1 Audio Layer-3) The MP3 format compresses music into a very small file without losing the quality (at most compression levels). Apparently this type of compression gets rid of the redundant parts of the sound signal, which the human ear isn’t able to hear. So I guess only dogs will be able to tell that the sound quality has been reduced 😉 Their extension is “.mp3”.

The first step is to get the music. If you’ve bought a CD, that purchase doesn’t usually include the right to re-publish the music on your website. Some bands have free use clips on their websites. Otherwise, get permission first!

If you have music to use on your site that isn’t in one of the above formats, then you will need to convert it. There are a lot of free conversion programs out there. Simply go to your favorite search engine and type in “free music conversion program” and you’ll get quite a few to choose from. Pick one that strikes your fancy, make sure you read the user agreement policy and be sure to check out the help menu for info on how to use it.

To include music on your site, you need to upload the music file to your site’s server and then link to it. Your link can read something like “Listen to great music”, “Listen Now”, “Cool Music” or anything like that. This clip is also an example of the midi tin can sound:

Listen to some Cool Music [1]

The above sentence is linked to the music which I put on a server where it can be accessed. The actual link looks like this:
Listen to some Cool Music [1]

I’m giving the viewer the choice to listen to the music or not. If they want to listen, then they can click the link. Otherwise, the music won’t play.

~ Kim Ganues