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From his column Church Tech

church-tech-03-13-1One of the major trends in technology over the last 10 years has been the digitization of everything. Magazines have forsaken their paper shells, movies have lost their cases, and books have slipped from their covers. All this and more are moving from our shelves and onto our screens as physical media is left behind. Music, in particular, has had a storied history in the physical realm, from vinyl to reel to cassette to 8-track to CD. In this article I want to take a look at how to “rapture” your music into digital files, and why you would want to do so.


Every personal computer sold in the last few years comes with a great media player. For Windows PCs it’s Windows Media Player, for Macintosh computers it’s iTunes (which is also available for Windows PCs and required for Apple devices). To get started, run your software. But before digitizing a CD (also known as “ripping”) let’s change a couple of the default settings.

If you have a significant collection of music and intend to make it available to other people who use this computer, you will want to change the location of the music files you will be creating. Instead of storing them in your personal documents folder, go into settings or preferences and change the location to a shared folder to which all users of this computer have access. This will allow other family members, or church staff to use their own login and access the music.

The other default setting I would recommend changing is the type and quality of the digital music files you will be creating. If you want to be able to use the files you generate with a variety of phones, tablets, and music players, then I would recommend choosing MP3 as the file format. It is nearly universally useable, meaning you can play the files with any brand of equipment. Second, I would recommend setting the quality to 192 kbps. This makes each file bigger, but the sound quality is much better.

Once you’ve done this, you are ready. Insert an audio CD into your computer. The software will either automatically begin ripping the CD into digital music files, or it will ask you if you want to. Once you choose to proceed, it should take less than five minutes to complete. Now your disembodied music is cataloged, filed, and ready for use. You can copy it to your phone, sync it to your iPod, play it through your stereo, and more.


One of the reasons to go down this path is that digital music is more portable. If you have 1,000 CDs in your library, you cannot carry them around with you. But once you have ripped them you can easily do so. You can load them onto a phone, tablet computer, or portable music player and always have them at your side. So, if the church Rook tournament gets a little dull, just connect your phone to the soundboard and crank up Oppa GangNaz Style

This portability provides more flexibility and discoverability with your music. When tied to their physical source, songs can be in only one place at a time. If you are at home working on a plan for children’s church, it may be difficult to remember if “Arky Arky” is on Kids Praise 234 or WOW Worship Chartreuse. And you may not want to carry your whole church kids CD collection back and forth and risk losing or damaging it. But you can easily take a copy of your songs home on a portable music player, search for the ones you need, build your song list for Sunday, and be ready to go when you get there. No more CD shuffle. Just be sure to respect the intellectual property of the music creators and don’t make copies for others.

Reap Your Reward

Once you move into the world of digital music, you also can buy individual songs easily without having to purchase entire CDs. So if you want to buy You Raise Me Up, without purchasing Si Volvieras A Mi or other tunes that may or may not be of interest, you can easily do so, and it only costs about a dollar from Amazon or Apple.

So fear not! Move beyond the medium and experience the rapturous benefits of digital music. It’s a bad thing to be left behind!

Mark Evilsizor has worked in Information Technology for more than 20 years. He currently serves as head of IT for the Linda Hall Library in Kansas City, Mo. Views and opinions expressed are strictly his own.

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