Zipped Music Files

What does ZIP mean?:

  • A ZIP file contains one or more files that have been compressed, to reduce their file size, or stored as-is. The file extension is .zip

  • When a file is zipped, it's like being in a sealed box. You must open up the box (or the ZIP file) to get at the contents.

What does one do with a ZIP file?:

Instructions for PC/Windows... Mac users and those with other operating systems will have to figure this out on their own.

  • When  you click on a link to a ZIP file, you will get a window that asks you what you want to do. I suggest you choose, "save to disk". (Which means: save to your harddrive)
    (Alternately, you can right click on the link and choose, "Save Link As".)

  • The next window asks where you want to save it. Pay attention to and remember where you put the file. (It bears saying that you get to choose where this file is saved and you can create a folder just for it if you wish.)

  • Once the file is downloaded, go to that location on your harddrive. Right click on the file. I like the option, "Extract Here". That should pull the contents out of the box and plop it down next to the ZIP file. At this point, you can delete the zip file. The extracted material, in this case an MP3, can be played on the MP3 player of choice from your harddrive.

  • I believe that the program that extracts info from ZIP files is loaded with Windows. If you don't have one, you can do a Google search for
    > ZIP files extract <

Why are soundclips at A Magpie's Nest zipped?:

This is a lot of work to be able to listen to a 20 second soundclip.
Why the bother?

ZIP is mainly used for two reason:

  • to bundle a bunch of files together

  • to reduce the file size for storage or transmission

I don't need either of these features. There is only one file in each of my ZIP files... not a bundle... and MP3s are highly compressed files to begin with and only minimal reduction in size is achieved by zipping.

My biggest concern with offering soundclips (besides staying inside the fair use boundaries) is bandwidth. My site allows for a certain amount of information to be downloaded (displayed, listened to) - whether that be text, images or sound. Displaying text doesn't require a lot of bandwidth. Playing sound requires more. If I exhaust my allotted bandwidth, the site goes offline. I don't know how quickly that would happen but I know I don't want it to happen. There were two things I was especially concerned would drive up my bandwidth usage:

  • Hotlinking - Hotlinking is when someone finds an image or soundclip they like on a site... decide they want it for their own site... and they write a code such that their site displays that image (or plays that soundclip), leaving the original site to supply the storage area and the bandwidth. It costs money to host a website (yes... it costs me money and I have been the victim of hotlinking). Hotlinking is theft. The material on a site is there to support that site. If you want someone to see a picture or hear a sound, send them to the original site. Then that site reaps the benefits from the visitor.

  • Multiple listens - If someone is interested in a theme, they might listen. But what if they didn't quite get it? Perhaps they'll listen again. Maybe they want to compare that music to something else. They might listen a few more times. Every time they listen, they have used bandwidth. If they download the clip onto their harddrive, they can listen as often as they like and it costs me nothing beyond the initial download.

I'm more worried about hotlinking than I am multiple listens. But preventing one prevents both. By zipping the soundfiles, one is forced to download the clip onto their own harddrive and then listen from there and prevented from hotlinking to the file on my site.