Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Mechanical Turk

Amazon's Mechanical Turk ( is a web service I've used, many times, over the years. It perfectly fulfills a hole left by Criagslist is specifically designed to enable two people to meet for work, fun, etc. Mechanical Turk, on the other hand, is designed for paid work to be done that doesn't require two people to meet (the work is done anonymously).

I've used Mechanical Turk to record news articles for podcasts, answer survey questions (like every lean startup entrepreneur should do), transcribe letters, edit photos, beta test websites, etc. Today, I used it to hire a worker to split a continuous live recording into individual tracks for $2.00 (plus a 50¢ tip).

Getting Results

The key to getting results on Mechanical Turk is to set an appropriate payout and head off any potential miscommunications with detailed, yet simple, instructions.

Here's the description I used for today's task.

I have a (approx.) 1 hour (62 MB) M4A raw, live recording from my jazz jam sessions that needs to be sliced up into individual tracks (songs):
  • Download this file:
  • This file contains about six jazz jam sessions separated by applause, pauses, speaking, and breaks in the music.
  • Split up the music file up into multiple tracks at the end of each session. A jazz jam session ends when you hear the applause or no music is playing (not to be confused with applause after a solo while the music contiues playing).
  • When possible, each track should have a few seconds of lead in before the music plays and a few seconds of applause at the end. Discard the remainder of the applause, pauses, speaking, silence, etc.
  • Each track shall be saved as a separate file either in M4A or MP3 format.
  • Each track filename shall be named JazzJamMay2015Track1.mp3 (or m4a), JazzJamMay2015Track2.mp3, etc.
  • To complete this HIT and get credit, either e-mail the tracks to or provide a link to each track where I can download the tracks.
  • No need to enhance or further compress the tracks, once they've been separated. Audio quailty shall not be compromised.
  • Note: Don't worry that the opening of the first song is cut off.
  • Questions? E-mail me at or use Mturk.

1 comment:

Matt Gibson said...

Damn it. Yet another reminder of this cool-sounding service that's *still* not available to use from the United Kingdom, apparently :(