This technical guide is designed for netlabel owners and independent artists interested in free hosting services provided by the Internet Archive, an organization committed to “universal access to human knowledge.” Forget all about Rapidshare and other clunky file-sharing solutions; the Internet Archive offers unlimited space and bandwidth to qualifying netlabels, defined as “non-profit, community-built entities dedicated to providing high quality, non-commercial, freely distributable music for online download.” If this describes what you are doing, great! Sign up for an archive.org account and let’s get started!
Request a Collection
The very first thing you should do is request a “collection” of your own. Instructions on how to do this can be found in this thread. All you need to do is email Jeff (firstname.lastname@example.org) and provide him with two critical pieces of information: the proper name of your netlabel and the email address of your archive.org account. Additionally, you may wish to ask for a collection identifier that is somehow different from the proper name of your netlabel–for instance, if you wish to drop the “Records” or other such verbiage to shorten your eventual URL. To see what I mean, visit the Netlabel collection to see how the names of netlabel collections sometimes differ from the URLs used to access them.
Technically, having your own collection is optional. If you are planning a one-off release or don’t care to take advantage of the collection system you can always dump files into the general Open Source Audio pool. I wouldn’t advise it, however. Having your own collection ensures your releases will be properly organized and accessible.
After you send an email to Jeff you will have to wait for a response to continue. Give it a few days–and be polite about it. Once your collection is active, follow these instructions to add a release or continue reading this guide to avoid a few of the less obvious pitfalls.
You can add a release to your collection by creating an item but the text on the Netlabel collection homepage recommends appending a “resource identifier” code to the item creation URL. Copy the following URL to your address bar:
Now change “ITEMNAME” to something unique to your release. The item name can be anything you like (as long as it is alphanumeric) but I strongly suggest going with a “catalogue code” unique to each release on your netlabel. For instance, Ektoplazm releases are coded as follows:
Albums: EKTLP01, EKTLP02, etc.
Compilations: EKTVA01, EKTVA02, etc.
EPs: EKTEP01, EKTEP02, etc.
To upload Ektoplazm’s debut compilation I navigated to:
And as a result, you can now find Organic Circuitry at the following URL:
How you want to identify your releases is up to you. Many netlabels simply choose a relevant prefix (a three or four letter short form of the netlabel name) and add a number to designate the individual release. There are no hard and fast rules–some labels experiment with exotic coding systems–but I would recommend making things as simple as possible here. No sense in making things difficult for prospective listeners! Whatever you choose, append the release code (or other identifier) to the end of the item creation URL and proceed to the next step.
At this point, archive.org automatically prepares a temporary FTP site (active for 48 hours) where you can upload your release. Instructions on how to upload should appear next. I suggest using an FTP client such as Filezilla instead of uploading through your browser. Scroll to the bottom of the screen and copy the highlighted FTP address to your FTP client. The account and password will be the same as on the Internet Archive web site. Connect with the temporary FTP and navigate to the folder named after your resource identifier. This is where you will upload your files.
A note about file naming conventions: the Internet Archive limits file names to alphanumeric characters (A to Z and 0 to 9) and hyphens/underscores (- and _). Brackets, quotes, commas, spaces, ampersands, and various other kinds of punctuation will generate an error if you try to upload files containing such characters. Be sure to name all your files correctly before attempting a transfer! It is also important to number the tracks to preserve their order. Try some kind of scheme like this:
Always be sure to upload the 16-bit WAV files of your release! The Internet Archive will handle encoding FLAC and MP3 files to your specifications. If, for some reason, you do not wish to release in lossless quality, upload the best quality MP3s you wish to distribute. The Audio FAQ has a chart indicating what sort of files will be derived from different source media if you would like to know more about this.
Now is also the time to upload any images you wish to associate with the release (covers, for instance). Again, upload the best quality media you wish to offer. It would be wise to include a thumbnail scaled to 160px on either side. Be sure this thumbnail file appears at the top of an alphabetical list of files! I suggest naming your images along these lines:
Once all your files have been uploaded, check to ensure that the file sizes on the FTP match what you have on your computer. This is very important as you will have to repeat much of this process should you wish to correct anything later on. If everything looks good, return to the instructional page and check in your files with the small link close to the bottom of the page. If you close your browser or lose track of where things were while uploading all your files, the URL is http://www.archive.org/checkin/ITEMNAME. Once the check in procedure begins you may have to wait a bit–particularly if you have uploaded a lot of large files.
All finished? Now click on the link to your release. The system will inform you that the release is not yet public and will ask you to select a collection. Make sure to select your collection from the audio drop-down list and hit “Submit audio.” Now you will be taken to the Metadata editor, a daunting form that is actually much simpler than it looks. Enter the title of the release, the creator (producer, compiler, or label–whatever you like), description (basic HTML formatting will make your promo text really stand out), and date. Make sure the collection field matches your collection name. The optional subject field accepts a semicolon-delimited list of tags or keywords (i.e. “psytrance; trance; techno; goa” and so on) to improve search results. I don’t know how useful this is but you might want to make the effort. Most of the rest of the upper fields are optional so I leave it to you to sort out what to play with. If you wish, highlight a release in the “Staff Picks” box in the bottom-right corner of your collection homepage by entering the number “1” in the pick field.
Choosing a licence should be fairly straight-forward; most netlabels opt for one of the noncommercial licences that requires attribution (BY-NC, BY-NC-SA, or BY-NC-ND). Creative Commons offers a variety of “ported” licenses specific to the legal systems of specific countries but “unported” is probably just as good.
Finally, skip down to the list of files and begin to enter artist and track details without all the underscores and other character restrictions. The title field is most important here; this is what appears in the file listing when your release goes public. For compilations I suggest entering both artist and track title into this field–otherwise you’ll end up with a list without artist information. The creator field is a little more elusive; I am not entirely sure where it comes up, but it couldn’t hurt to enter artist details in there as well.
Assuming all your data is correct, scroll to the very bottom, ensure that the “allow derivatives” option is selected, and hit “submit.”
Editing a Release
If you have made any errors, now is the time to fix them. From your release information page click on “Edit item” to open the Metadata editor to make your changes. If you need to add or remove any files, click on “Item Manager” near the top of the Metadata editor and select the second button to check out the release. Again you will be given a temporary FTP address where you may upload new files, rename existing files, and delete files as needed. The process is just as described above.
Spotlights and Headers
If you edit your collection you can specify an item for the spotlight frame. Just add the item name to the spotlight_identifier field when editing your collection. The release should appear in the box at the top of your collection after a few minutes.
Apparently you can also specify an image for your collection homepage. I haven’t done this so this might not work as expected. If you’re interested in trying, edit your collection and select “Add another field,” located immediately to the left of the Submit button at the bottom. Specify “collection_header” in the left-hand field that pops up and enter a URL to a 200×75 pixel JPG image in the right. That should do it!
Hopefully this has been helpful! There is really no need to use Rapidshare or any of the other ungainly file-sharing services on the web. Use the Internet Archive!
The text of this article is available for use under a Creative Commons BY-SA licence. Please credit “original article by Basilisk (ektoplazm.com)” with a link back to my homepage and be sure to note if you have made any modifications of your own.