Getting Your Music Department Online

If music be the food of love, play on.
— William Shakespeare

Music and in particular music technology has come a long way since the days of putting a vinyl on the record player and fast forwarding to your favourite song on your tapes decks. 

 

The digital music era has revolutionised how we can access and listen to music. We all now have digital music on our phones, iPods, iPads... you name it music is never too far away from you, it's usually in your pocket!  

With music becoming digitalised there are now a host of social networks and services dedicated to bettering music and making music more accessible. 

By using these services you can revolutionise your schools music department and move your schools music department into the digital age. 

 

Why's Music Education So Important? 

Music education is a vital part of the school curriculum. Although perhaps many people at school don't rank music as a core subject music education can have many benefits to a child's education.

  1. Children who study music tend to have larger vocabularies and more advanced reading skills than their peers who do not participate in music lessons.
  2. Children with learning disabilities or dyslexia who tend to lose focus with more noise could benefit greatly from music lessons.
  3. Children who study a musical instrument are more likely to excel in all of their studies, work better in teams, have enhanced critical thinking skills, stay in school, and pursue further education.
  4. In the past, secondary students who participated in a music group at school reported the lowest lifetime and current use of all substances (tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs).
  5. A recent study shows that music engages areas of the brain which are involved with paying attention, making predictions and updating events in our memory.
  6. Much like expert technical skills, mastery in arts and humanities is closely correlated to a greater understanding of language components.
  7. Young children who take music lessons show different brain development and improved memory over the course of a year, compared to children who do not receive musical training.

SoundCloud 

SoundCloud is a global online audio distribution platform that enables its users to upload, record, promote, and share their originally-created sounds.

In the same way that we’d be using Flickr for our photos, and Vimeo for our videos, we didn’t have that kind of platform for our music.
— Alexander Ljung (Founder & CEO of SoundCloud)

SoundCloud works on a very simple premise. As the founder and CEO Ljung, describes above. It's very simple to upload an image or a video to the internet, SoundCloud wanted to make it simple to upload music. 

Other social media music sites do exist such as MySpace but SoundCloud was built with the intent that it was to be solely about the music, giving everybody the opportunity to upload their tracks and to make sure the music is everything. 

  • 12 hours of music are uploaded to SoundCloud every minute. 
  • SoundCloud has over 200 million monthly music listeners. 
  • 40 million active monthly users.

Using SoundCloud in Schools 

In schools worldwide there are so many talented children, who can play such beautiful and inspiring music...why isn't this music being shared with the world? 

Your school may already use Flickr to upload photos of your students breathtaking art work or sporting events. Why not use SoundCloud and showcase how talented your pupils are to the world?

  The Leys School Cambridge  SoundCloud account. 

The Leys School Cambridge SoundCloud account. 

  1. Playlists: Playlists are a feature of Soundcloud that we urge schools to utilise. SoundCloud playlists are perfect for uploading several songs from one event. Upload the full setlist from the nativity play, the final GCSE performance, or even the big summer concert. There are countless musical events at schools. Upload them all as a playlist to easily share content from the events. 
  2. Portfolio for students: Students who are serious about getting into music after school, may require a portfolio are their musical talents. Schools can really help students who are serious about getting into music by uploading there performance pieces. Colleges, Universities, music schools will all be able to listen to the pupils portfolios. 
  3. Downloadable tracks for parents: Proud parents can download tracks and keep special memories of their children for life and show off their children's amazing work to their friends and family. 
  4. It's free: There is no charge for uploading your schools tracks to SoundCloud. You can upload 3 hours worth of content for no charge. This is ideal for starting out on SoundCloud. You can always turn to a very reasonable paid plan further down the line ranging from £26 to £67 a year. 
  5. Global Advertising: Bring awareness to the talent which lies within you schools music department. SoundCloud is a fantastic marketing opportunity for schools. Instead of saying how brilliant your schools music department is why not show it? Show your world class music department off to the world. SoundCloud brings your music department the attention it deserves 

We recommend firstly trying out the free version of SoundCloud to see if it's the right fit for your school. If it is then that's great news 😄. If it is the right then then subscribing to SoundCloud "Pro Unlimited" is the perfect subscription for your school.

This will entitle you to unlimited uploads and up to 1000 downloads a track. This should be ideal for your school and will give you the platform to best utilise SoundCloud. 

MIXLR 

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Mixlr founded in 2010 is an audio streaming platform allowing you listen to live broadcasts via the internet. The service that Mixlr offers is really unique and greatly benefits schools. As many parents know, many school events take place in the day or maybe even on an evening which they have to work. 

Wouldn't it be a shame to miss the whole thing completely? Mixlr will bring anybody, anywhere from around the world to your concert. 

Maybe your daughter is the star of the summer recital. With Mixlr, grandma can listen live from her retirement home in Australia, dad can listen live from work, nobody will have to miss your daughters moment in the spotlight with Mixlr. 

  1. Broadcast to the world with just one click:  Starting your first broadcast is easy, just hit the big button and go live. It really is as simple as that. Mixlr is incredibly quick and easy to user. 
  2. Share on Twitter/Facebook: Of course Mixlr is a very small social media network, so it fully supports Twitter and Facebook functionality. Just simply share your livepage, friends or followers can listen directly on Facebook and Twitter.
  3. HQ Recording and easy export: Seamless recording, right inside the app and on desktop. When your live broadcast is over, one-click export to SoundCloud, Dropbox, Mixcloud and more. When your broadcast is over you could upload the recording to Soundcloud preserving it for life 😄
  4. Schedule events: Unlike many other live streaming services, Mixlr has great scheduling functionality. Parents can get reminders about upcoming live streams and you can share your schools schedule on Facebook and Twitter with a click of a button. 
  5. Build a community: Turn your live audio into a shared social experience. Chat, engage and interact with your listeners in real-time. This can bring a whole new dimension to the live streaming experience allowing you to interact with viewing parents. 

What about Spotify? 

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You are probably thinking at this point, why haven't we mentioned Spotify? Everybody uses Spotify right? It's true that Spotify is a massive music streaming service.  Even on the Spotify website they say "You don't need to be signed or have a record deal to get your music on Spotify".

The truth is your school doesn't really need to use Spotify. Spotify is for artists, not institutions. However it can be done:

There are some schools using Spotify but a very, very small handful in America. To get music on Spotify you need to use an artist aggregators service.  Prices are usually somewhere between £5-20 to upload a single for a year. 

If your school is really desperate to get on Spotify it can be done. There are 60 million monthly Spotify users which is slightly more than SoundCloud's 40 million.  However on SoundCloud you can create your own schools page and profile we do recommend SoundCloud over Spotify.

The Equipment  

Your school is ready to use SoundCloud or Mixlr and to record some of the beautiful music being made by your pupils 😙🎉. There is one small problem. Some kind of equipment is needed to record the music. So what kind of recording equipment should you be using for what and when? 

The traditional way of recording a group, if you go back far enough, is to use one microphone. The musicians simply arrange themselves around the mic at appropriate distances to achieve the correct level balance between the instruments. You'll still find this technique used in professional studios today.

 An Omnidirectional Microphone pattern.

An Omnidirectional Microphone pattern.

You'll get the best results using a condenser mic with an omnidirectional pickup pattern (as seen above) and preferably a fairly flat and even frequency response.  An omnidirectional microphone record at a 360° radius meaning all sound will be picked up. 

Blue Microphones Snowball Omnidirectional/Cardioid USB Microphone - Bands / Choirs 

Create studio-quality recordings with Blue Microphone's Snowball, a USB microphone with exceptional sound-capture capabilities.The Snowball produces crisp, clean recordings that are free of feedback and distortion. A unique pattern switch allows you to toggle between three different settings, giving you the flexibility to record vocals, instrumental music, podcasts, interviews, and more. With a plug-and-play design that is both Mac and PC compatible, the Snowball requires no additional drivers and is ready to record straight out of the box.

The 'Snowball' is ideal from recording from any desktop so you can live stream to Mixlr or quickly record an audio file to upload straight to Soundcloud. Plug and play microphones are ideal for saving time. 

The microphone is available for £49.99 (Amazon UK). For the price the microphone will cover all of your recording needs and is a really smart piece of software. The recording quality will astound you! This is the essential microphone for your schools music department.  

Omnidirectional Condenser Microphone for Apple iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android and Windows Smartphones

 

The Movo PM10 Lavalier Clip-on Omnidirectional Condenser Microphone is designed for vocal or video use and provides clear and accurate voice reproduction. Newscaster-style design provides effective omni-directional pickup pattern. 

Extremely lightweight, designed for optimum portability and comfort, and delivers some of the clearest recorded sound you can find. The Movo PM10 Lavalier Clip-on Omnidirectional Condenser Microphone is compatible with the Apple iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android & Windows smartphones
 

This microphone is ideal for simply attaching do your smartphone. This will make it easy to record various performances and quickly. You may not always have the time to be setting up a recording so this portable mic for your smartphone will be a great asset and for a bargain price of £17.95 (Amazon UK)

 

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Your schools music department needs a voice. Pupils at your school are making beautiful music and it needs to be showcased! The music department is one of the most creative and magical departments in your school, share their story with the world. 

We would love hear how your music departments shares it's stories!

Share your thoughts in the comments below...