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It’s Time to Migrate Your Audio and Video to MP3 and MP4

Written by Paul Steinbrueck

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video-formatThere are lots of audio and video formats. Most don’t work on all devices and browsers.

Common Proprietary Audio/Video formats

  • Windows Media – Windows Media Audio (.wma) and Windows Media Video (.wma) are formats developed by Microsoft. Microsoft includes audio and video tools with its Windows operating system, and often makes them save media files as .wma or .wmv by default. If you put these files on a website, they work well for people using a Microsoft web browser (Edge or Internet Explorer), but people using Chrome or Firefox can view/hear these files without a plugin which is often difficult to install.
  • Quicktime & M4A – Apple developed its media formats Quicktime (.mov) for video and M4A (.m4a) for iTunes audio. Like Microsoft, Apple makes their software save media files in the .mov and .m4a format by default. And like the Microsoft formats, the Apple formats only play without a plugin in Apple’s Safari web browser. So Chrome, Firefox and IE/Edge users have to try to install a plugin to view/hear them.
  • Flash & Shockwave – Flash (.fla & .flv) and Shockwave (.swf) are formats developed by Adobe. Flash became popular because it enabled to people to create animations quickly and easily. However, Flash has never been supported by the Safari browser so its never worked on iPhones, iPads, and Mac computers. Chrome stopped supporting Flash in 2015. Firefox users have to install a plugin to view Flash.

MP3 and MP4

MP3 is a non-proprietary audio file format. Because it’s not proprietary, anyone can use it and create software that uses it without having to pay royalties. As a result it has become the most popular audio format in the world and is supported by all web browsers without the need for a plugin.

MP4 is an extension of MP3 format but it can include video in addition to audio. It’s also non-proprietary As a result, it has become the most popular video format in the world and is supported by all web browsers without the need for a plugin.

Stop Trying to Use Proprietary Formats

For years we have had clients contact us for help, telling us their audio or video files aren’t working on their website, or telling us someone in their organization told them they went to their website and could see/hear the media. We usually try to both help the client with their existing media files as well as encourage them to convert to MP3 and MP4. It seemed like the most helpful approach.

I’ve come to the conclusion, however, (and this is probably long overdue) that it really is a disservice to help organizations set up ,mov, .wma or Flash on their websites. Even when its “working” it’s not going to work for many of their website visitors.

So, if you still have one of these proprietary media formats on your website I encourage you to convert your media files to MP3 and MP4 as soon as possible.

Even if the audio/video works for you (because you use the device, browser and plugins that make it work), it’s not working for most of your visitors.

If you are in the process of migrating your website to our WP-EZ Website Builder, the “tweaking” step (between migration and activation) is the perfect time to convert your media files to MP3/MP4.

How to convert media files to MP3 and MP4

There are a bunch of free websites that will convert files to MP3 or MP4 for you. There are also software solutions where you can download and install a converter program on your computer. The challenge is that while these sites/programs are free to the user, they are usually filled with ads and/or adWare. It’s tricky to use any of them without accidentally clicking or installing something you don’t want.

Personally, I use the freemake.com converter software. However, I am reluctant to recommend it because it has lots of junk bundled with it. If you check the wrong options during setup you’ll end up with stuff you don’t want, so download & install AT YOUR OWN RISK!

If you know of a good mp3/mp4 converter (free or for fee) that is not filled with ads & adWare , please post a comment and let us know.

Discuss

  • Are you still using proprietary media formats on your website?
  • If not, when did you decide to go with MP3/MP4 and why?
  • If yes, why? What’s keeping you form switching to MP3 and MP4?

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    About the author

    Paul Steinbrueck

    Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck.

    4 Comments

    • I use mp3 files for our sermons, but I've still had people tell me they were not able to play them on my NE1 website. I'm hoping the problems will be eliminated with WP-EZ.

      Another option for videos is to use YouTube. You can create a free account on YouTube and have the privacy of your video uploads set to "Unlisted." Then your videos won't show up in a search but they can still be viewed if you share the link, and they can be embedded into your site. This will free up storage space on your site, too.

      • Hi Jean. Good suggestions to use YouTube for video. OurChurch.Com does that. 🙂 Only downside is YouTube does show ads on your videos.

        >>I use mp3 files for our sermons, but I've still had people tell me they were not able to play them on my NE1 website. I'm hoping the problems will be eliminated with WP-EZ.

        Please let us know if you hear of any issues listening to mp3 sermons on your WP-EZ site.

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