This is a very useful technology for musical collaborators and remixers: Free Lossless Audio Codec (FLAC) is a popular file format for audio data compression. Being a lossless compression format, FLAC does not remove information from the audio stream, as lossy compression formats such as MP3, OGG and AAC do.
This makes it ideal for Internet based audio collaborations and audio source files for remixes, where numerous audio files need to be up and downloaded between participants.
Standalone FLAC conversion software is free to download and not encumbered by patents as well as multi-platform, so Mac, Windows and Linux users can all benefit from this. In the future, Digital Audio Workstation makers will hopefully incorporate the ability to import from and export to FLAC directly into their software, like some of them have started to do with the OGG Vorbis lossy compression format (a non patent encumbered and free alternative to mp3).
So while using FLAC will introduce one extra conversion step for most people in the short term, it is really worthwhile for those, who want to shorten up and download times dramatically without loss of audio quality. For a typical project I’ve seen compression rates of better than 50%. Impressive stuff for audio.
One more thing: FLAC compression does not suffer from the few milliseconds of silent audio at the beginning and end of mp3 files, which is a pain in the neck to manually fix.
Regular readers of this blog will know, that I’m involved in Internet musical collaboration as well. So this very nicely and detailed description (complete with audio samples) of someone else’s collaborative process caught my eye.
From the (very interesting and useful) blog hometracked.com comes the article Our process for online musical collaboration: “I’m a member of the band Gert. Until we played together in person this summer, our year-long collaboration was entirely virtual. 6 song writers, a continent apart, connected by musical tastes and the Internet. We’re still a band in the general sense, but in place of schedule conflicts, angry neighbours, and ego clashes, we deal with time zones, bit rates, and ego clashes.”
Indiba Music is a potentially interesting site for musical collaboration. In addition, they have just launched three remix contests with several interesting source songs by “Some Velvet Morning”, “Stephen Kellogg & the Sixers” and “Mason Proper”.
From Indaba Music’s Blog: “Today Indaba Music launches the first in a series of Studio Access Collaboration Contests. The debut contests will feature the audio tracks of three rising young bands, all members of the Indaba community. Indaba Music members will be able to add to and remix tracks from recording artists Some Velvet Morning, Stephen Kellogg & the Sixers and Mason Proper.
Contest submissions – original songs created from tracks comprising the bands’ current singles – will be featured on contest pages and voted on by the community.”
Here’s another interesting concept in online collaboration. From mix2r.fm: “We set out last year to build a community site around musical collaboration. The vision that we, the founders, or mix2r.fm have is that artists (that’s you) will upload their music, often in an unfinished state…and other members will come along and give you critique, or *gasp*, actually add elements to or remix your tracks (we call that ‘collaboration’).”
Mashable.com gives a quick review of services, which allow the sending of large files – very useful for people collaborating on a mix or remix. 7 Ways to Send HUGE Files: “Gmail users can now send up to 20MB of attachments to each other. But we want more! Here are 7 awesome services that let you send files of more than 500MB.”
The good news: quite a bit of large file sending can be done for free.
This remixing site may very well be the best general purpose remixing site out there at the moment. I think the licensing concept is spot on. It allows music to flourish legally, while optionally preserving commercial rights for original artists and remixers alike:
ccMixter “… is a community music site featuring remixes licensed under Creative Commons, where you can listen to, sample, mash-up, or interact with music in whatever way you want.
Remixers If you’re into sampling, remixing and mash-ups grab the sample packs and a cappellas for download and you can upload your version back into ccMixter, for others to enjoy and re-sample. All legal.”
This one looks interesting – I’ll have to check it out some more: Kompoz.com: “Kompoz is a social workspace for musicians. Use it to compose new music with other artists around the world. Got an idea for a song? Record a track. Upload it. Then invite others to add drums, bass, vocals or anything else!”