Midnight Voices (https://www.peteatkin.com/cgi-bin/mv/YaBB.cgi)
Pete Atkin >> Music >> New Feature: MP3 'previews' in the Discography
(Message started by: S J Birkill on Today at 21:18)

Title: New Feature: MP3 'previews' in the Discography
Post by S J Birkill on Today at 21:18
Ever since we began the Pete Atkin website in July 1996, I have offered a range of song clips -- usually full-length 'clips', if that's not too much of a contradiction -- so that visitors could gain a feel for the music. Back then, MP3 was already emerging as the de facto standard for Internet exchange of music files, albeit tainted by its popularity among advocates of 'free music' piracy and copyright infringement. To avoid this, I opted for the 'RealAudio' (since a subset of RealMedia) technology. RealAudio provided a means of streaming music tracks on line, but prevented the listener from simply downloading the files. A useful side-effect was its use of an early form of compression codec, which resulted in a rather low grade of fidelity, no substitute for the 16-bit 44.1 kHz sampling familiar from CDs.

Much has changed since then: it's possible to 'buy' recordings on line and download them to one's computer for replay at any time, subject to various schemes of digital rights management (which make the transaction more one of 'play it as you wish, while ever and on whichever machine we allow you to at the time' -- more of a constantly-controlled rental than a purchase, in my book. But no more on that: I don't use such services as iTunes ('tunes', for goodness' sake -- who's called them that since the 1950s!).

Another method has arisen: the ability of Websites to 'stream' audio tracks, usually in MP3 quality (actually a range of qualities depending on bitrate), by various methods including Shockwave Flash, HTML5 and others. These technologies may also be used effectively to hide the music file and so prevent the downloading (freeloading) of copyright-protected material. The ability to stream song samples on line without formality is now commonplace on artists' Web sites, and underpins the business model of enterprises such as Spotify.

So... it's time we joined 'em. I've begun the process of replacing the old RealAudio 'previews' with MP3-based streams, using Flash. This requires only the presence of a readily available plug-in to a standard Web browser. The Adobe Flash Player will already be a part of most people's Web browsing experience, so no further action should be required, but I shall be adding a help note covering download of the Player in due course.

All previews will be accessible from the Discography (http://www.peteatkin.com/disworks.htm) page. Where I've substituted an MP3, the RealAudio loudspeaker symbol in the fourth column of icons opposite the song title is replaced by a cyan PLAY/PAUSE button -- it does exactly that. One stab of the button starts the track playing; a second stab stops it. Try not to leave more than one song playing at a time -- it doesn't sound good!

If the button doesn't appear, or you see an empty square or missing plug-in icon, you may need to download and install the Flash Player from Adobe (http://get.adobe.com/flashplayer). I acknowledge that mobile devices will also have difficulties in this area -- something we'll address in a future upgrade.

So far, I've tackled A King At Nightfall and The Road Of Silk. Other albums will get the treatment over the next few days, and watch out for selected samples from the private albums and perhaps also some BBC Session tracks.

Give them a listen!


Title: Re: New Feature: MP3 'previews' in the Discography
Post by S J Birkill on 07.09.14 at 00:47
'ang on a minute. Service temporarily suspended -- inadequate security. Sorry about that -- will return a.s.a.p.


Title: Re: New Feature: MP3 'previews' in the Discography
Post by S J Birkill on 08.09.14 at 00:39
Issue overcome; service restored; Secret Drinker added.


Title: Re: New Feature: MP3 'previews' in the Discography
Post by S J Birkill on 13.11.14 at 14:34
Well, it's taken a while but now we're there. I scrapped the Flash idea because, to meet my objective of placing the 'Play' buttons in the button matrix accompanying each album in the Discography, the browser would have had to load dozens of separate instances of the player. Not a good idea as it would slow page loading out of proportion to the added functionality, and in some cases could crash the browser. Hardly the desirable user experience!

Instead I've exploited the HTML5 functionality built into current versions of the principal Windows Web browsers (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome and Opera), with a Javascript/CSS front end (you don't need to know) which provides a player and playlist for each virtual album. I haven't tried to incorporate the other song links (lyrics, chords, charts, annotations, parodies) into the player itself, rather I'm leaving the old button matrix in place for these and using a separate column at the right of the page to accommodate the players. Each song entry is accompanied by an individual image, though (the process being incomplete) many of these are at present still showing the default album cover picture.

For the time being I've placed players on both the entry 'Smash Flops' page, (www.peteatkin.com/pa.htm (http://www.peteatkin.com/pa.htm)) and on the Discography page, (www.peteatkin.com/disworks.htm (http://www.peteatkin.com/disworks.htm)). The first of these carries only the six original albums; the second adds bonus material including single versions, demos, BBC sessions and private-release albums (but only those songs with PA vocals).

So, it's now a simple matter to listen on line to all of Pete's out-of print recordings, and more. At present the system isn't working on Android devices -- I shall seek to fix this. And we haven't tested it on Apple/iOS products.

Please, use it, share it, invite your friends to listen. It's never been easier.


Title: Re: New Feature: MP3 'previews' in the Discography
Post by Mike Walters on 13.11.14 at 18:58
Seems to work perfectly on my iPhone, Steve. Really excellent stuff - thanks as always for your efforts.

Title: Re: New Feature: MP3 'previews' in the Discography
Post by S J Birkill on 13.11.14 at 20:46
Thank you Mike -- that's good to know. I've also solved it now for Android, so we've got pretty much all platforms covered!

Title: Re: New Feature: MP3 'previews' in the Discography
Post by Jan on 17.11.14 at 23:54
This is marvellous! Thank you Steve.

Midnight Voices » Powered by YaBB 1 Gold - SP 1.3.1!
YaBB 2000-2003. All Rights Reserved.