Are you a “they”? - MP3 Etiquette

by Richard Stroobant

As most radio producers know, the world of mp3 is upon us. (For those of you not yet swallowed up by this phenomenon, be prepared.) For the last couple of years, mp3s have replaced those damn reel-to-reel dubs, DCI/DGS, DATs, CDs and god forbid the occasional normal bias cassette. In most cases it has been a great thing for radio, in other cases it is the thorn in my side. The convenience and cost effectiveness of mp3 is unmatched, but the usage by some producers has left much to be desired.

The things I hate about mp3 are varied, and in most cases avoidable. But like a dog, some users must be trained over and over until they get it. Who are “they”? In most cases, “they” are the outside production houses that produce spots and email the mp3s to the radio stations. But some of the “they”s just might be you. So answer this little quiz and see if you are a “they” or not?

1. Do you encode mp3s at a bit rate lower than 192kbps ‘cause it takes to long to encode a higher bit rate?

2. Do you wait ‘til YOUR day is almost over before sending out the mp3s? After all the internet is instantaneous, right?

3. Do you put several spots on one mp3 file cause it’s easier for you?

4. Do you encode only the spot, and not leave a couple of seconds at the end so the announcers last word or the music don’t get chopped off?

5. Do you put traffic instructions at the beginning of the mp3 file?

If you answered “YES” to any or all of the above questions, then I am sorry to say, you are a “THEY.” But there is hope young Skywalker. You can avoid the clutches of the dark side. But it will take some work. You must stop your lazy habits, and you have to let the other “theys” know that their way is not acceptable.

Whenever I get a spot that is encoded at a low bit rate, or if it’s cut off, or whatever, I send a polite email informing them that we received their spot and letting them know that higher bit rates are preferred, or the late arrival causes problems on our end or whatever. In most cases, they are more than glad to amend the way they are doing it. WHY? Well, they see us as the EXPERTS in this new technology. Tell them they way you want it and they will come, I mean, do it. Remember, it is not costing them as much to email their spots out now, as it would have been not so long ago with a bike courier.

So, don’t be a “they.” And rap the knuckles of the “theys” whenever you get a chance. Because if you don’t, I guarantee that you will hear, “But that’s the way we’ve always done it.” Live long and prosper.

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