Playing Audio Files

Sometimes, you’ll want to let readers play an audio clip (or several) without using a
full-blown video window. An obvious example is if you’re a music artist promoting
your work. However, audio files are equally well suited to the spoken word, whether
that’s an interview, talk show, sermon, audio book, or motivational lecture. Audio
files are particularly useful if you want to join the Web’s thriving community of
podcasters—sites that provide downloadable, long audio files that users can listen
to on the go (for example, on their iPods or smartphones).
You might expect that adding audio to your WordPress site is easier than adding
video. After all, audio files are smaller and simpler than video files. But you’ll face
many of the same issues. In the following sections, you’ll consider three strategies
for getting audio into a web page.

Adding a Basic Audio Player

The simplest approach to hosting audio is to upload the file to your website. You
can then provide a link that readers can use to download the file or (even better)
a tiny audio player that lets them listen without leaving your site (Figure 10-20).
Before you get started, you need to upload your audio file. Ideally, you’ll upload
an MP3 file to ensure that it plays on most browsers. Technically, Internet Explorer,
Safari, and Google Chrome play MP3 files, but Firefox and Opera don’t. However,
most websites get by using the Flash player to fill the gap. Essentially, the process
works like this:
• If the browser you use recognizes both MP3 files and HTML5 markup, WordPress
creates an HTML5 <audio> element that points to your MP3 file. The browser
then creates a miniature audio player, like the ones shown in Figure 10-20.
• If a browser doesn’t play these two standard file types, WordPress uses a small
Flash program that creates a tiny audio player. The end result is the same—your
guests see a simple music player.
• In the unlikely event that a browser can’t meet either of these requirements,
WordPress swaps in an ordinary HTML link. Guests click the link to download
the audio file, where they can play it using a desktop music player.
The Flash fallback solution is a good one, but it’s a bit too messy to implement
on your own. Fortunately, WordPress does all the work for you with the
shortcode, which is every bit as straightforward as it should be. You simply add an
attribute named src that points to your audio file. Here’s an example that launches
an MP3 file on another web server:

You can also use the shortcode to play music files stored on your own website.
But before you go any further, there’s a significant catch that applies if WordPress.com
hosts your site. Unless you buy a space upgrade or have a Premium account (page
359), WordPress.com won’t let you upload any audio files, even if you have plenty of
space left in your initial 3 GB storage allotment. Instead, you can play only audio files
stored on other sites.

Depending on what you’re trying to accomplish, this limit might be a minor inconvenience
or completely unworkable. If it’s the latter, you have two options. You can buy
a space upgrade for as little as $20 a year (click the Store menu in the dashboard to
sign up), or you can use a music hosting service.

To play an audio file directly from your site, you need to upload it to the media library
and then embed it with the shortcode.

Adding a Playlist

You can use the shortcode to add as many audio playback bars as you want.
Figure 10-20, for instance, has three. But if you want to give your visitor the chance
to peruse a group of related tracks—like a concert of songs performed by your trombone
quartet—there’s a better way. You can group your tracks together in a playlist.
A playlist is a list of audio or video files with a single playback bar or video window
(see Figure 10-21). Your visitor can click a specific track to play it, or let the playlist
move automatically from one file to the next.
Here’s how to add an audio playlist (see the Note below for video playlists):
1. Click Add Media.
2. Drag your audio files onto the Insert Media window,
3. Once you’ve uploaded all your files, click Create Audio Playlist on the left.
4. Click each track you want to use in your playlist, and fill in its details on
the right.
5. Click the “Create a new playlist” button.
6. Configure your playlist.
7. Click “Insert audio playlist.”
8. Publish your post.

NOTE You can create a vdeo playlist in much the same way as an audio playlist. The difference is that you
upload video files instead of audio files, and you click a link named Create Video Playlist instead of Create Audio
Playlist. The finished result is a bit different, too—it looks like a standard video window with a playlist attached
underneath.

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Playing Audio Files

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