What music file format is the best for my master recordings?

Daily Tip #104

There are really two categories of file formats – compressed (small file sizes) and uncompressed (larger file sizes) – and each have their unique use.

The most well-known compressed file formats are MP3 (MPEG layer 3), WMA (Windows Media Audio), and M4A (Apple’s proprietary format). Because of their small size, they’re great for emailing, sharing and Internet-streaming purposes. By far the most common, and universally compatible of the compressed formats in the music industry is MP3, which also has the ability to have song information like genre, album and writer details embedded right into the file.

Of the uncompressed files, there are two that matter: WAV and AIF. Both are considered “lossless”, meaning that no real fidelity is sacrificed from the original recording for the sake of file size. While WAV seems to be more ubiquitous, its shortcoming is that it does not support the embedding of metadata in the file.

As a rightsholder concerned about getting paid for uses of your music, you should steer clear of WAV (when practical) and favour AIF for your master-quality recordings. Magnetracks supports the upload, conversion and distribution of files in MP3, WMA, AIF and WAV formats.

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