What is Royalty-Free Music and How Can I Use It?

Royalty-free music is audio that you can use in your productions, usually behind a voice-over recording or as part of a video, to add emotional impact and professionalism. There. Shortest article ever. Oh, you’d like a bit more information? Well, if you insist.

Is It Free?

Great question! This comes up a lot because the word “free” appears right in the name. The English language is a funny old thing. The word “free” does not actually mean “costs no money.” It’s just that English speakers have used it this way for so long, it has taken on that meaning to most people. According to Princeton’s on-line dictionary, the word actually means “not hampered; not under compulsion or restraint.” When we hear something like “free beer,” what it actually means is “beer that is free of charge.” This particular beer is “not hampered or constrained” by a “charge” of money. So what does this have to do with royalty-free music? Looked at in this way, the term becomes more clear as meaning “music that is free from the constraint of royalty charges.” That means the music can be used legally and the copyright owner of the music does not require royalty payments when someone else uses the music.

I encourage you to review copyright law on line for more information on royalties. But for now, you may be noticing that I didn’t answer the question of whether royalty-free (RF) music is free. The answer is…not usually. It’s like anything else. Providers are businesses who charge for their products, though sometimes they give them away. The same is true for RF music. There are many providers on the web. Once you have purchased the music from them, you are free (no pun intended) to use it in your media productions without having to worry about being charged more royalties or about being sued for copyright infringement. However, there is usually an agreement for the use of RF music forbidding things like turning around and selling the music to someone else, claiming copyright ownership of the music, etc. Be sure you understand the terms of your provider.

So How Can I Use It?

If you can’t sell it and you can’t claim it, what CAN you do with it? You can use it in combination with other media in your productions. For example, if you have a podcast episode that needs music for the intro and outro, you can add the RF music to your podcast audio. If you need background music for a video you’re producing, you can add RF music to your video.

No, I mean HOW Can I Use It?

Oh, you mean “how do I add music to my podcast or video?” If you’re doing video, you’ll likely find that your video program (even Windows Movie Maker) has an “audio track” underneath the video track. You simply paste or drag your audio file into that track. With audio programs, you have to make sure you have “multi-track” capability. For example, the free audio program called Audacity, allows you to stack multiple audio tracks on top of each other. So you put your narration on one track, then add another track and put the RF music on that one. Then you adjust the volumes of each track to mix it together. After that, you render the result as a single stereo file. Not all audio programs do multi-track, though. For example, audio editors typically focus on mono or stereo files with one track only. Make sure you check this.

So to summarize, royalty-free music is a fantastic way to add spice, emotion, impact, etc. to your audio or video productions. But it usually is NOT “free of charge.” You still have to buy the music most of the time. But once you own it, you’re free to use it in your productions without paying royalties to the copyright owner. If you’d like to try out some RF music “free of charge,” come to the Home Brew Audio website. You’ll find some free music and tutorials on how to use it in your own audio production.

Using Music and Rhymes to Help You Pick Up Vocabulary

Studying vocabulary, while fun, can also be exasperating. In fact, after doing it for extended periods, you can feel like you’re performing a chore instead of enjoying the process. As such, it isn’t uncommon to try and find ways to spice it up a bit, in order to keep it interesting.

One of the things I frequently do to kick things up a tad is to play with words by using music and rhymes. Put in that context, new phrases just become easier to remember, often staying in my head even when I’d rather not have it linger endlessly.

As such, songs and poetry, especially ones with memorable rhymes punctuating them are among the most effective ways to integrate a new vocabulary into your arsenal. In fact, I’ve seen some language classes done exactly with that, incorporating creative songs and poetry to craftily engage the students into learning.

Unfortunately, I haven’t seen this technique explored much in terms of educational products such as language learning software. For the most part, it is considered largely childish – as if it is more professional to learn language by being totally serious using a boring audio book. If you can find language learning materials especially for kids, I’m almost 100% certain they incorporate some form of songs and rhymes, so you may want to look at that option as well.

Alternatively, you can do what I do: I sing my vocabulary lessons along to my favorite songs on the radio (e.g. I just replace the lyrics with the words I’m trying to memorize, even if they have absolutely no relation to the song). I wouldn’t be caught dead doing it just because it’s so weird, but it’s almost been a staple activity every time I study on my own.

What to Remember When Renting TV and Audio Systems

Audio and visual equipment forms an integral part of literally all events, formal or informal. For business conferences and marketing events, you may require something as basic as a standing mike to a more complex system like a public address system. For parties and get-togethers, music from high-end audio systems can create the right mood. Audio systems are quite expensive buys, especially the high end, advanced models from leading manufacturers. For short-term needs, you are better off renting them from an audio rental company to keep costs low.

Here are some things that you should remember when renting televisions and audio systems:

Discuss what you need

When you approach an audio video rental service, make sure you tell them what you exactly need. Give them a detailed idea of your event – the venue, the number of people attending it, and any other factors that will determine the type of audio systems you need.

Identify the TV and audio system

A wide variety of television and audio systems are available in the market these days. After talking to the vendor, take a look at the inventory and see if the vendor has the systems you are looking for. If not, check if they can source it for you.

Flexible offers

Most of the video and audio rental companies offer packages that can be customized according to your requirements and budget. Choose a rental company that offers you a flexible package that can accommodate any last-minute changes in your plan or event. Enquire at a few places and get an idea of the rental charges. Don’t pay anything more than the average market price and make sure the equipment gives you your money’s worth.

Take professional help

Hiring technical equipment can be a little confusing at times. When approaching an audio video rental service, make sure that there are qualified customer representatives who can guide you in selecting the right TV and audio systems. If you are not convinced with the information provided, it’s possible that the staff does not really have any ‘professional knowledge’. It is best to avoid such rental providers to avoid renting sub-standard systems.

Delivery and installation

Choose a rental service that offers equipment delivery services. Arrange a convenient time for delivery and installation of the TV and audio systems. Also check if the company’s technicians set-up the equipment and take it down after completion of event.

Technical support

Make sure that the company you rent from has adequate technical support levels. Not all customers will be familiar with how to operate high end audio systems or fix technical glitches, if any. It is important that qualified technicians from the company troubleshoot all equipment related problems over phone or in person. Also see if a technician from the company can remain on-site and manage the audio equipment during the event.

Compare different audio rental companies to make an informed decision. Browse the internet to find local listings of such rental companies and request for quotes online. Ensure that the rental company offers you your money’s worth by carefully looking at the services provided and the rental rates charged.

Music Production and Audio Engineering Schools Guide

Pursuing a career in music and entertainment is definitely something exciting. With the growth of all the technology today, the music being produced in the industry is something completely different from the days of old. Now everything is fresher, of higher quality, and is always aimed to be better than the last creation. Because of this, professions in this field require the most skill from any individual working as an audio engineer or in sound production, and choosing the school to get the education from is no joke. This guide provides you with insight on the top music production schools and audio recording schools around the country to further help you with that critical, life altering decision.

Nowadays, music and sound production is already a recognized field. There are tons of career opportunities for those who are naturally interested and inclined to creating and engineering music whether it be for musicians in their albums, scores in a movie, or the soundtrack of a commercial. In this profession, it is all about creating something that can outdo the others before it and that all boils down to skill. But how exactly does one gain all that needed skill and training? The answer is: the education you receive.

So what exactly are those schools that are note-worthy? Here is a few of the top music production schools open today:

1. Institute of Production and Recording
The Institute of Production and Recording started in 2002 with four founders: Terry Mhyre, Jack Robinson, Lance Sabin, and Tom Tucker, Sr. There are two core programs in the school, namely the following: Associate in Applied Science Degree Program for Music and Entertainment Business and the Associate in Applied Science Degree Program in Audio Production and Engineering. IPR also offers certification courses and programs in Digidesign which are designed to build proficiency in using Pro Tools System, and an Apple Logic Pro Certification Training to get proficient in Logic Pro.

2. Musicians Institute
The institution is a music production school that offers students programs that can help build careers in the professional recording industry. MI incorporates its comprehensive, in-depth education with state of the art labs and studios. Aside from audio and music production, they also tackle post production in film and television. Studios at MI are updated, state of the art and use equipment such as Neve, SSL, DigiDesign, and Neumann.

3. The Los Angeles Recording School
The Los Angeles Recording School began in 1985 and was at first a job training school for recording engineers. The school aims to provide its students with the best training and education on today’s industry’s constantly changing equipment and techniques through a faculty of experienced engineers and music industry professionals. The LARS program concentrates on music production, digital recording, and audio post-production for film and television. The school also allows students to attend on either a full time or part time basis, with an average of 25 or 19 hours each week, respectively.

4. Columbia Academy
Since 1967, Columbia Academy has been providing high quality education to students considering a career in the music and entertainment industry. Columbia Academy provides courses that train students in the fields of broadcasting arts, music recording, sound design, post production audio, and video and film production. The school facilities include 3 recording studios to accommodate the courses’ hand on training and practical applications. In the Columbia Academy program, students may choose between two streams, whichever suits them best – either music recording or post production for film and television. The Recording and Sound Design Program runs for 11 months (44 weeks), with supervision from instructors who have earned years of experience in sound design. The program is comprised of four modules that are made up of 80 hours of combined classroom theories, practical instruction, and supervised hand on lab/studio time. Classes run 5 times a week, 4 hours a day.

Choosing who to provide you with the best education for your future career is no easy task, especially with all the audio production schools to choose from nowadays. For the serious student looking to pursue a career as a music or audio engineer, or any track in sound production, the most important thing is to find a school that offers a comprehensive curriculum and extensive training to get you experienced in all aspects of music production. And in this constantly evolving field, it is crucial to look amongst all the audio engineering schools for an institution with programs that can keep up with the changing times.

The task of choosing your music producing school is no joke. It’s an important decision that will greatly affect your future career. Read up, ask questions, call offices and make the decision that’s right for you.

Simple Steps to Sell Music and Audio Files On Your Website

Audio files are a popular medium for people to stay up to date with new books, to learn new skills, be entertained, find motivation in all aspects of life and more. Whether you are a musician, a teacher, or a writer at some point in time you will likely decide to include digital audio files of your work so people can pay and simply download your creations rather than wait in the mail for a physical cd.

Praise for Digital Audio Files

With digital audio files, there is no cd cover….no art…no physical item to hold in your hand. Instead, it is in the simplicity and remarkable convenience where the beauty lies. It is in the ability to sunbathe on the beaches of Brazil while listening to the newest music from home. It is the ability to close one’s eyes, relax and tune in your ears to learn a new skill or be entertained with a story. It is in the fact that cell phones are rarely created nowadays without the ability to play music whenever and wherever you please.

How to Sell Audio Files on Your Website (Step by Step Guide):

1. The first step is coming up with a domain name. This should be something that is easy to remember and type into the address bar. It is generally recommended to avoid symbols and numbers whenever possible. Short and memorable is best.

2. Once you have your domain name, you must see if it is available by going to any domain name service online and typing in your choice. If it is not available, then you will usually be given some alternative options.

3. Purchase your domain name and a web hosting service. There are literally thousands of web hosts available to choose from. Look around, read reviews and then make a choice. You can always change.

4. Buy and install music vendor software, which allows you to sell your audio files on your website.

5. Begin playing with your software and add individual tracks and entire albums.

Streaming – Music and Movies on Demand

Streaming technology has made listening to music or watching movies on the Internet as easy as turning on the radio or TV. Here’s how the technology works.

The first music and movie files you could find on the Internet were just short clips because you had to download the whole file before you could play it. Nowadays, however, you can start playing the file as soon as the first bytes begin to arrive… thanks to streaming.

This immediacy is possible because streaming does not send files on the Internet the same way as most other files are sent. It uses a different protocol.

User Database Protocol

A protocol is a set of rules defining how two computers connect with each other and how they send each other data.

Most data that is sent through the internet is first broken up into packets (small blocks of data). The packets are sent separately and are the rejoined at their destination so that the receiver gets the whole file.

The sending of most data on the Internet is governed by a set of rules called the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP). Streaming however uses the User Database Protocol (UDP).

These two protocols are quite different. The crucial difference is in how they check for errors.

If one packet gets damaged when downloading is being controlled by TCP, downloading will be suspended while that packet is resent. That way, once the download has been completed, you can be sure that you have the entire data file.

When you are streaming files, however, UDP allows packets to get lost now and then without interrupting the downloading. This is fine because, when an occasional packet is lost, you are unlikely to notice any interruption to the music or movie. But if everything froze very briefly while a lost packet was being resent, you probably would notice the interruption.

With streaming technology, you don’t have to wait for files to be downloaded entirely before you can begin listening to audio or watching a video. You can listen to a concert on the other side of the world in real time, make a video call or watch a movie just like on TV.

Here’s how.

Listening to music

Streaming audio, or listening to music or speech on the Internet, is bringing joy to many. How audio streaming works is easy to understand.

When you click on a link to an audio file, your web browser will contact the relevant server on the Internet. The server will then send a metafile to your browser.

Metafile is a general term for a file format that can store multiple types of data.

The metafile will tell your browser where it can find the audio file you are looking for. This may be on the same or a different server. The metafile will also deliver instructions on the type of audio file that will be delivered and how it should be played. The file will tell the browser to launch the particular audio player needed to play the sound file.

The player that you need will be a plug-in, an app or mini-program designed to work with a particular browser such as Chrome, Internet Explorer or Firefox. Well-known plug-ins for browsers include Adobe Flash Player, QuickTime Player and Java.

If your browser does not have the particular plug-in needed to play the sound file you want to hear, you’ll have to download and install it before you can listen to the audio.

Once it’s ready to go, the plug-in will contact the audio server that is going to send the audio file and will tell it how fast your Internet connection is. The audio server will use this information to decide which version of the audio file it will begin sending.

If you have a fast connection, ie, you have plenty of bandwidth, the audio server can send you a high-quality sound file. However, if your connection is slow, it will send a lower-quality sound file.

Once it knows which version of the sound file to send, the server uses the UDP rules to send the audio in a series of packets.

Buffering

A buffer is a part of a physical memory device where data is stored temporarily. For audio and video files, it is a section of your computer’s RAM (random access memory) where the data can go in and out quickly.

When the sound packets arrive at your computer, they are decompressed and decoded, and placed in the buffer in RAM. This buffer can hold a few seconds of sound.

Once the buffer is full, the audio player starts using your computer’s sound card to turn the data into music, voices and other sounds. As the audio is played, the data in the buffer empties while the audio server continues to refill the buffer by sending the rest of the sound file.

The flow of the audio data through the buffer can go on indefinitely. However, the flow can be interrupted occasionally when, for example, the buffer has not received enough data to replenish it.

This can happen if the speed of our connection starts to drop or Internet traffic suddenly becomes very heavy. The buffer can also end up empty if you are processing other files or otherwise using up a lot of your computer’s resources, while you are listening to music.

When the buffer empties, the audio will pause for a few seconds while the buffer is being refilled. Once the buffer is full again, playing will resume.

The effect of a pause on your listening pleasure will depend on the source of the sound file. If you are listening to music being broadcast in real-time, ie as a concert is actually taking place, you will miss a little bit of the music. But if the sound source is a pre-recorded concert, the music will resume from the point where it stopped.

Watching a movie

Streaming video works in a similar way to streaming audio, except that the video has to be divided into its separate audio and video components when it is in the buffer in the RAM.

The server that holds the video for streaming will have a video capture expansion card which can capture either a live feed from a video camera or a pre-recorded video. The capture board turns the analogue signals it receives into digital data and compresses it.

At the same time, it employs a trick to avoid having to capture more data than it needs in order to make transmission easier.

When the camera used to record the video is stationary, ie, it is not panning, the amount of data created can be reduced. This can be done because all moving images are made up of a series of frames (still images) that change in rapid succession to give the illusion of continuous movement. The rate is usually 30 frames a second which gives the video a smooth look.

The compression system reduces the number of frames needed by comparing adjacent frames and only taking account of pixels that change from one frame to another. It does this by establishing what the background looks like.

As long as the camera remains still, only the changes in the frame, such as the movement of the actors, have to be transmitted. The background only has to be transmitted again once the camera starts to pan and the background changes.

Video streaming will also skip frames when your Internet link is slow, which may make the video jerky. Thus the faster your connection, the smoother the video will be.

When your computer receives the video signals, it will decompress them and load them into a small buffer in RAM as it does for audio.

At this point the signals are split into separate video and audio components which are sent to the video card and sound card respectively, whence they are output to your monitor and speakers so you can watch the movie and hear the sound-track.

Entertainment on demand

We’ve come a long way since the Internet began as a text-only medium. Though streaming technology is relatively young, millions of users flock to streaming sites every day to watch and record all sorts of multi-media.

Thanks to streaming, you can listen to good music… attend a lecture… watch the finals of the 6-nations cup or a baseball game… get training in a practical skill… attend a conference… make a video call… watch breaking news… and so on… in real-time as it happens.