Music - Converting and Processing

Getting Started

There are a few things that will be needed to start giving or obtaining music from the internet. I have listed a few of these definitions below, and will proceed in a step by step process of each of them listed in their own sections. If you are looking to download music, this can be done one of a many numbers of ways. You can download via an internet browser, a FTP client, or through the use of Bit Torrent. As with downloading, you can upload in the same manner. There are a few key pieces of software you will need to have in order to proceed. Lucky that there is at least one free version of each type of software available for download on the net. Please make sure you have properly installed the needed software on your computer before moving on to the upload and download stages of this page.


  • B & P - This stands for "Blanks and Postage." It is somewhat of an outdated concept, as streaming and mp3 have become much easier to obtion. The idea behind this is a free way to get music for someone who doesn't have the ability, whether it's due to lack of high speed internet connection, lack of something to trade, or is maybe confined to a work PC. They can ask someone who has the ability to transfer them a copy of the requested music. It goes without saying, that in order to make it easiest on the person so kind enough to do this for you, that you fully prepare your package. That means not only sending them the discs to burn and return postage, but to have already filled out a return envelope with the stamps already applied. You then stick that package in another package to be mailed. It will help you understand all the details and specifities so that you get it right the first time.

  • SHN - This is a lossless compression algorithm used to shrink audio files without affecting the actual quality of the music. When downloaded and uncompressed, it gives you the exact same file before it was originally compressed, unlike mp3. Some audio playing software these days will now play this format.

  • FLAC - Another, slighly better than SHN format of lossless compression, used to shrink audio files without affecting the actual quality of the music. When uncompressed, it gives you the exact same file before it was originally compressed, again, unlike mp3. Some audio playing software these days will now play this format.

  • FTP - Stands for "file transfer protocol." It is a procedure of either uploading or downloading information through the use of a specialized software browser, such as SmartFTP or Filezilla.

  • Bit Torrent (BT) - This is similar to FTP in that it is used to upload and/or download information via a specialized piece of software, but it is founded on a peer to peer principle. In other words, you are not logging onto a server and transferring information between you and that server. Instead you are downloading a little bit of information from many unknown people who all have, or are in the process of obtaining, the same file. It is asked that if you are downloading, that you stay connected to your BT client until you upload the same amount of size of file as you downloaded. In other words, if you downloaded a 1 GB recording, that you stay connected until you have uploaded a 1 GB file. It is sometimes required, depending on which site's tracker you are connected. There is also the rule that if there are no other seeds, you stay connected until everyone else has finished downloading.


  • Exact Audio Copy - This piece of software extracts audio from CDs. It is suggested that you convert to FLAC or SHN files from their original source, before they are put to CD. If the original source is not available, you can use this software to rip the disc to your hard drive. It can be downloaded here.

  • SHN / FLAC encoder/decoder - You will need at least one of these pieces of software if you are up or downloading either SHN or FLAC files, in order to either encode or decode these types of files.

    • Trader's Little Helper - This is my personal software of choice. While it is Windows-based, it works for both SHN and FLAC files and can be downloaded onto Windows Vista platform, something the other two seem to have problems with.

    • MKW Compression Tool - This is a very simplistic piece of software that you basically drag and drop the files holding certain keys on the keyboard in order to encode or decode to SHN or other certain types of files.It is used once you have already downloaded a show or before you get ready to upload a show. Please follow the instructions carefully in order to correctly install it onto you computer.

    • FLAC FrontEnd - This is the same type of software, except it is used for FLAC encoding or decoding, instead of SHN files. You browse for the files, as opposed to drop and drag. It's very easy to use and is mostly self explanatory.

  • Bit Torrent Clients/Trackers - Here are a few BT clients you can install to be able to download using Bit Torrent. They're all really easy to use. Once it installs, the only thing left to do is click on a .torrent file and download away. torrent Spy is a small piece of software that allows you to create a .torrent file so that you can upload bit torrents to a bit torrent site.

  • FTP Clients - Here are a few FTP clients you can install to be able to download using FTP. Once you install this software, you will need a username and password to access, either someone's private server, or a public server (like the LMA).

  • CD Burning Software - Here are a few Cdburning programs you can install to be able to burn to CD.

Downloading Music

Brief Overview of the Process

Once you have a high speed internet connection established and a computer with plenty of hard drive space, you will need to install either the FTP or Bit Torrent (BT) software, SHN or FLAC conversion software, and possibly CD/DVD burning software. Most people today, with how cheap hard drives have become, and the variety of music players available, tend to keep their music stored on their computers, and then transfer it to their players as they feel like updating what they're listening to. Trading legal live music has become as simple as dumping your music onto a thumb drive and handing it off. If I were you, I would download one of each, if this is something in which you plan to make a habit. From there, pick your site where you would like to download from, and download it in FLAC or SHN format, via BT or FTP. Once the download is done, if you downloaded in FLAC or SHN format, you convert it to .wav or .mp3 format using a FLAC/SHN decoder, and then burn if you want it on CD, use your CD burning software.

The Details

To Download FLAC/SHN Files From the Internet (such as the Live Music Archive (LMA))
  1. Create a folder on your computer. I usually make multiple folders within the original folder. After labeling the first one "Music" (unless you're deicating an entire drive to it), I usually label it by the name of the band, then a folder labeled by date, llocation, and source (i.e. dead1995-07-09- sbd -flac16).
  2. Now you're ready to start downloading. Go to the web browser where you wish to download from and right click on each file and go to "Save target as". Do this for ALL of the files, saving each track (and text and md5 file) to the folder you created. If you're using Firefox as your browser, they have a plug-in called "download them all", which allows you to right click and donload all of the contents on that page. You simply check the files you want to download, hit go, and it does the rest.
  3. Once complete, the files are all now saved on your hard drive in your requested format.
To Download FLAC/SHN Files VIA a Bit Torrent Client
  1. Follow Step #1 from above.
  2. Once you have Bit Torrent Software installed on your computer (I use uTorrent), go to a website (like and simply click on the .torrent link. It will open up the program, prompt you as to which folder you would like to store the music you are downloading, you select the folder you have created, and hit go. That's it. Just remember to leave your BT client running in order to share, at minimum, the amount you have taken.
To Download FLAC/SHN Files VIA a FTP Client
  1. Follow Step #1 from above.
  2. Now click on the FileZilla icon on your desktop. If not, go to the Start Menu-> Programs-> FileZilla.
  3. Under the address bar, enter the ftp site you wish to download from (such as You will either need to click the anonymous button if they allow anonymous log-ins, or you will need to enter a name and a password given to you by the administrator of the FTP site.
  4. Hit the "Connect" button.
  5. Once logged in, you will see the files available for download. Simply drag the folder you wish to download into the folder you created on your hard drive.
  6. Once you have done so, the actual download will start and take hours to do, so it's best done when you're not planning on being on the internet for a while (i.e. before you sleep). Once complete, the files are all now saved on your hard drive in your requested format (along with a text and md5 file).

Transferring Music

A Brief Overview

There are a few different formats to choose to decode to and from, but they're basically all the same. You can decode from FLAC/SHN/WAV to mp3, or FLAC/SHN to WAV. Depending on what you want to do, will decide which part of the program to choose.

The Details

  1. Create a folder on your computer and label it WAV or mp3 Files. Within the folder or drive, label a folder with the same date and band (i.e. dead1995-07-09wav).
  2. Open up Trader's Little Helper.
  3. Under the "decode to your choice here" tab, you can either choose the Output Location. I tend to keep it in the same directory.
  4. Click the "add" button to choose the files that you wish to decode.
  5. Hit "Decode" and off you go.
  6. Once it's done, either dump the folder into iTunes, or onto a thumb drive, or you can burn it to CD.

Uploading Music

A Brief Overview

This section is meant for the folks that actually bring you the music. The standards of which, should not include mp3. When uploading to the web (in whichever fashion), you should upload at the highest quality possible - FLAC or SHN. mp3 is meant to put the files onto a music player (iPod, etc.) You will take your original files from your recording, rename them to the current file standards (band, date, source disc number, track number, encoding format), convert them to either FLAC or SHN using the conversion software (including the checksum file and/or fingerprint), and either upload them via FTP, through a browser, or create a tracker file using software such as Torrent Spy and upload it to a bit torrent site.

The Details

  1. Take your show and cut it into tracks using a program like CD Wave, Adobe Audition, or Soundforge. Save each track in a folder that you create on your hard drive (i.e. - gd1995-07-09.wav. When cutting into tracks, it is still customary to keep in mind where the disc split will occur. Once all the tracks are split and in the folder, you will need to rename it using uploading standards.
    • note on labeling: each track should be labeled so that the track has certain viable information - including the band abbreviation, the date, the disc, set, and track number, as well as the source (i.e. - gd1995-07-09s2.sbd.t204 (gd is the band abbreviation for Grateful Dead(. The 1995-07-09 is the date (July 9, 1995. The s2 means Set 2. SBD means it's the SBD source, and the 204 means it's the 4th track on disc 2.)
  2. Once the tracks are renamed and properly labeled, it's time to encode to either FLAC or SHN. Open Trader's Little Helper.
  3. Under the "Encode Wav Files" tab, click the "Add" button and find the wav files you are looking to encode. Select "FLAC" for format, and select at least a minimum of 6 for the level. Click on "test encoded files" and the "Create Checksum File", choosing "ffp" from the dropdown list.
  4. Once the files are encoded and tested, hit "OK" for the naming of your ffp file (FLAC fingerprint file - which is the same thing for a md5 file in SHN).
  5. You now have your fingerprint file and all your encoded files to be uploaded. You now need a text file that gives the list of the following:
    • band's name

    • the date

    • where the show was performed

    • track listing by disc

    • the source

    • who recorded it and how

    • any other pertinent info you deem necessary

  6. Once this is complete, you need to choose how you're going to circulate it - via Bit Torrent, on the WWW, or by FTP.
Via Bit Torrent
  1. You take your folder of information and drop and drag it into a torrenting program to create a torrent file. I use Torrent Spy.
  2. This creates a .torrent file. You then must go to a Bit Torrent Site, such as Dime-A-Dozen, the Trader's Den, or and file your information with them through a log-in page. Once this is done, you must finally upload the torrent file.
  3. After all of this is complete, you must then go to the .torrent file you created on your hard drive (usually in the same directory as your files you are wanting to upload) and click on the file. This will trigger yourt Bit torrent client if it's not already in use and you will then be prompted to find the folder where you would like to store everything. Point it to your folder with the files in it. It will then scan everything and tell you "download is complete." You are now ready for someone to download from you. That's it!
  1. Find a site that allows uploading via FTP and gain your username and password.
  2. Once you have gained an address and your username and password, you basically log in and drop and drag your folder into the FTP browser and wait until all files have finished uploading. I usually do this right before bed so that it is finished when I wake.
Via the WWW
  1. The site you have chosen will depend on what you need to do. In the case of the Live Music Archive, you go to the page and in the upper right hand corner you hit the upload button. Log in if you haven't (or sign up), and follow the instructions. You will have you fill out the criteria so that it is available to the public. Once you "fill out the paperwork", the information becomes available once it is approved and derived. That's it!

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