Online Music- May Drown Your Message?
Thomason, NetMechanic, Inc.
Wednesday, March 24, 2004; 3:30pm EST
Online Music by itself isn't controversial: virtually everyone likes to
hear or perform it. But they like to choose when, where, and what to
listen to. A Web site is rarely the ideal presentation method.
Visitors may just tune out if music is turned on.
MIDI Makes It Possible
MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) is a method for storing
music in a small amount of space. That space-saving feature tempted
many webmasters to include MIDI files on their sites. During the mid
to late-1990's, it seemed that virtually every Web site had a song to
sing - and sing they did.
What was once cool soon fell out of favor. But now, visitors are
experiencing the return of music to Web sites, this time combined with
Flash animations and other interactive media. Designers also have the
option of including music in different formats too: WAV files or MP3s
are the most common.
It's also possible to convert WAV files to MP3 format or convert MP3
format into WAV files.
Problems With Music
Not everyone is pleased with music's resurging popularity on Web
sites. The reasons vary, so consider each issue carefully for the good
of your Web site.
download time. Remember that not everyone has a high-bandwidth
Internet connection. An MP3 song file that loads in 14 seconds over
a T1 line will take 10 minutes or longer to download on a 56k
connection. How much patience do your visitors have? Check page
download time using HTML Toolbox's Load Time Check tool. It will
alert you to slow-loading pages that may annoy impatient visitors.
effect. In a laudable effort to decrease music file size, many
designers play just a snippet of a song instead of the entire work.
So if visitors remain at your page for long, they hear the same
section played over and over. If you're old enough to remember vinyl
records, you'll flashback to a time when your favorite LP got a
scratch and stereo repeated the same few bars until you intervened -
sometimes forcefully. Web site visitors "intervene" by leaving your
site, vowing never to return.
usage. Of course, you can't compensate for the broken record
effect by using a larger musical selection. That annoys visitors
with long download time. Just as important, it may really annoy your
Web host! Most virtual hosting accounts include a set amount of
bandwidth per month. Sites that exceed the limit get charged extra
hosting fees and may be taken down.
differ. Don't ignore the importance of this one! You may think
it's the best tune around, but visitors may consider it about as
appealing as the sound of a good, rousing cat fight. There's no way
to please everybody. Choose your selection carefully and know your
infringement. Unless you wrote and recorded the music yourself,
you need to be very careful about including it on your site. Using
music without permission hurts the artist who produced it and may
violate your Web host's terms of service.
If caught, the best resolution is that you'll have to remove the
music. But you could lose your hosting account or even end up in
court for violating someone's copyright.
Your Site May Need
Still interested in playing music on your site? Good! Some sites
actually need it and benefit from it.
selling music. Visitors expect to be able to sample the product
before they buy. Most online music sites allow shoppers to listen to
snippets of songs before they decide to purchase. People know
they'll have to wait for the clips to download, so size isn't such a
selling your talent. If you're a professional musician or singer
looking for work, you should always showcase your talents with
musical clips - just make sure you're actually the one performing!
That way, when people contact you, you know they're seriously
interested because they understand what you have to offer.
Give Visitors A
Even if your site requires music, be kind to your visitors and don't
play it automatically when the page loads. Let them choose when to
People surfing while on the job will be particularly grateful. Lots of
people work in cubicles where privacy is non-existent. Sites that open
with blaring music annoy co-workers and may get the hapless employee
in trouble. Other visitors may already be listening to an audio CD on
their computer. They won't enjoy the resulting cacophony when your
tunes compete with their personal selection.
Include prominent buttons that clearly indicate how to turn music on
and off. That gives your visitors control over their own experience at
your site. They'll appreciate it and you won't waste precious
bandwidth just to irritate your visitors.
About Source of Article
The author of this
article is Larisa Thomason, Senior Web Analyst with NetMechanic, Inc.
NetMechanic is an online service specializing in html code checking,
search engine optimization and web site maintenance and promotion. For
more information visit