CC Talks With
Colin Mutchler is one of the original CC success stories. Back in 2003, he posted his song, My Life, to Opsound under a CC BY-SA license. A month later a violinist name Nora Beth added a violin track, calling the new work My Life Changed. It was one of the first instances of CC facilitating unsolicited collaboration, laying the ground work for the amazing remix culture we have seen develop over the past 5 years. Mutchler has since expanded his resume, working on photography and media production as well as his music. We caught up with him recently to find more about what he has been up to since we last checked in – needless to say, it has been a while.
Can you give us some background on yourself and your music? How did you get started as a musician? What are your major influences?
My first 7 years in Bellingham WA were filled with my parents’ sounds from the Grateful Dead and George Winston. But it wasn’t until I first started playing guitar in college that I began to write lyrics, initially inspired by people like Ben Harper, Ani Difranco, and Bob Dylan. Silvio Rodriguez was also an influence ever since I lived in Bolivia in 1998. Then when I saw Saul Williams in the movie Slam in 1999, it became clear that the most powerful voices of our generation would come through Hip Hop and spoken word. Other influential voices for me were Sarah Jones and Alix Olson. For a while I imagined myself becoming a kind of folk-hop version Mos Def and Talib Kweli (still do), but with a full time job in digital marketing and a vision for a crowdfunding media tool for social entrepreneurs, I’m still fighting that daily choice to actually be an artist and musician.
Brad Sucks, a CC license using pop/rock musician, recently released his latest album Out Of It for free online and under a CC BY-SA license. Brad is one of the most remixed artists over at ccMixter, runs an active blog, interacts with fans directly, and was recently interview by the Featured Commoners behind The Indie Band Survival Guide. Needless to say we needed to catch up with Brad and ask some questions of our own – read on to learn about Brad’s influences, why he uses CC licenses, and how he feels about his work being remixed and reused.
Can you give our reader’s a bit of background on you and your music? How long have you been creating music? What are your influences?
I started taking classical guitar lessons when I was 10 years old. I hated practicing and was never very good and quit because it was boring. Then when I was 14 or so I got into MOD/S3M trackers (Scream Tracker and then later Impulse Tracker) and was really into industrial/electronic music. I got an electric guitar a few years later and started trying to fit it all together as digital recording matured.
My influences were mostly classic rock as a kid. Pink Floyd, Rolling Stones, etc, the stuff my dad listened to. As a teenager I was into more aggressive stuff: Ministry, Skinny Puppy, Nine Inch Nails, etc. Besides being a lot harder, it had a real DIY ethic to it. There usually wasn’t much of a “band”, just one or two guys working on recordings. That was a huge inspiration because it seemed normal to me to think of doing everything myself. After that I mellowed out and de-gothed a bit but I secretly wish I could take myself seriously enough to rock like Ministry.
Randy Chertkow and Jason Feehan are true polymaths – founders of the pop band Beatnik Turtle, authors of The Indie Band Survival Guide, and a computer engineer and attorney respectively, they continuously have their hands in a bevy of different projects. Their most recent project, the wide publication of The Indie Band Survival Guide – originally and still available as a CC-licensed PDF – is a tome of knowledge that any independent musician, well-known or budding, would do well to have. We caught up with Chertkow and Feehan recentlly to find out more about the Indie Band Survival Guide, their experience as CC-license advocates, and how they manage to juggle their various roles with seeming ease.
(IndieBandSurvivalGuide.com logo (c) IndieBandSurvivalGuide.com, LLC, All Rights Reserved)
Can you give our readers a bit of background on yourselves? You are both active musicians, have jobs outside of music making, and are now published authors. How did you get to where you are today?
Jason Feehan: We’re both indie musicians who are in an active Chicago band called Beatnik Turtle. We’ve been writing, recording, and playing live for over 11 years. But beyond that, professionally, I’m an attorney and Randy has a Master’s in Computer Science: Data communications.
Randy Chertkow: Our fields really influenced how we ran the band, and, later, what we wrote about in the book. There was an advantage that neither of us were in the same field. So I was able to help put the legal stuff into human-readable form, and Jason was able to tame my technical jargon and into friendly explanations. Regarding music, I’ve got a formal music education, starting in grade school. I am a reeds player (primarily sax, but I double on flute and clarinet, which is very common for sax players.) I had a lot of training in music and jazz theory, and improvisation. Jason didn’t learn formally at all, yet is an incredibly prolific songwriter and natural talent. He’s written over 1000 songs.
Richard Stevens, known to many as simply rstevens, has been a major presence in webcomics for the better part of a decade, gaining notoriety through his popular webcomic Diesel Sweeties. In March of this year, he chose to release the entire archive for DS (nearly 2,000 comics) under a CC BY-NC license, opening up a collection of incredibly witty and sharply designed comics to the masses. We recentlly caught up with rstevens to learn more about his comics and work in general, why he chose to use CC, and what kind of effect it has had on Diesel Sweeties.
Can you give our readers some background on who you are and what you do? How long have you been working in the webcomic world? How did you end up there?
I’m a comic book nerd born a few months before Star Wars who studied and taught graphic design, but wound up getting to be a cartoonist. I’m a big Mac fan, even though they’re popular again and I spend most of my time walking around writing or making coffee.
I’ve been doing Diesel Sweeties on the web since early 2000 and it’s been my job since 2002. I did a parallel version for newspapers that ran from 2007-2008.
Epic Fu is a web-based show that focuses on “the coolest art, tech, and music from the online and offline world”. Formerly known as JETSET, Epic Fu is the brainchild of Zadi Diaz and Steve Woolf – they post new episodes every Tuesday and Thursday released under a CC BY-NC-SA license. We recently caught up with both to learn more about Epic FU as an entity, the importance of their user community, and why they chose to use CC.
Can you give our readers a bit of a background on Epic Fu? How did it begin? What kind of topics do you focus on?
EPIC FU began as Jet Set Show on June 1, 2006. When we first launched the show was targeted for much younger viewers, and it was more of a variety show with sketches, interviews, and mashups. One of our main goals was to have the audience interacting with us and contributing to the show as much as possible, and as time went on we realized that the people who were making media on the web were older. Over a couple of months we changed the content of the show to appeal to an older audience, and in the Fall of 2006 we tweaked our name to JETSET. At that time we started shooting Zadi at her desk, and we started making direct calls to action to the audience which resulted in several successful collaborations with viewers.
In the Fall of 2007 we changed the name of the show from JETSET to EPIC FU because we needed a name that we could fully own, in every sense of the word. That change really helped solidify our identity and the perspective we were trying to bring the the news and artists we talk about.
The topics we are most interested in involve individuals, artists, and groups who are using technology and the web to define a new idea of what it means to collaborate with each other and distribute their ideas globally. Especially if it’s something that flies in the face of old ways of thinking. That’s what the web is: the new underground culture. EPIC FU, after all, is about the EPIC “Eff You” (even though we pronounce it FOO).
CASH Music, an acronym for ‘Coalition of Artists and Stakeholders’, has been an impressive member of the CC community since they debuted late last year. Part music label, part creative community, CASH Music has major plans to change the landscape of contemporary artistic output with a particular focus on the dialogue between content creators and consumers. They already have some amazing projects out under their moniker and with more on the way, we decided to catch up with CASH Music partner Jesse Von Doom to learn more about CASH’s goals, their business model, and what they have in store for the future.
Can you give our readers some background on CASH Music? How did it begin? Who is involved? On a broad level, what are you trying to accomplish?
CASH is an acronym for Coalition of Artists and Stake Holders. The name was chosen to reflect the goals and the people involved. The idea was born in a simple conversation between Kristin Hersh and Donita Sparks about achieving sustainability in the currently volatile music world. Their managers, Billy O’Connell and Robert Fagan respectively, continued the conversation and became the first two partners in what would be CASH. At the time I was running a graphic and web design firm with my business partner, Jack McKenna. A few business connections and friends-in-common later, Jack and I started working for CASH and quickly became partners ourselves.
Since then we’ve won the support of seasoned advisors, organizations like Creative Commons, and some talented artists. But it still goes back to that first conversation between Kristin and Donita. We’re trying to help find healthy sustainability for artists while giving listeners more of a stake in the music for a new and better experience.
Jamison Young is a musician who records endlessly and plays live as often as he can. Young releases all his music under a CC licence, some through ‘fairplay’ label (and former Featured Commoner) Beatpick, who helped get Young’s track “Memories Child” into the soundtrack for new feature film “The X-Files: I Want to Believe“. We Caught up with Young and asked him some questions regarding his decision to use CC licences and what his current and future plans are – read on to find out more.
Can you give our readers a bit of background about yourself and your music?
I’ve been writing, performing and recording songs for a while, yet its only in the last five or so years that I have settled down enough to get some kind of career going with what I do. I play live, although mostly based in Europe and that is where I’m based – I’m originally from Australia.
What are your influences?
Any song that lets me escape, songs from the 60′s, 70′s, 80′s of all types and also contemporary artists like Beck. I like songs that I can listen to again and again yet still stay fresh. Learning about copyright and Creative Commons has given me a new view on my influences though.
What licenses do you use and why?
I licensed the songs from the album “Shifting Sands Of A Blue Car” under a Creative Commons Attribution license. When I look at the amount of self published art that is used commercially compared to published content and then look at how much quality self published content is available online, less restrictions for my music makes more sense for me. Also, a lot of home creators that use a song might want to use the content in conjunction with a services like youtube or myspace, and who can say if these services are a commercial or non-commercial from the user of the contents point of view.
Curt Smith, solo-artist and co-founder of Tears for Fears, presented at the most recent CC Salon LA on why he chose to release his new album, “Halfway, pleased“, under a CC license. He spoke so eloquently we wanted to commit his words to text – as such, we bring you the latest in our Featured Commoner series.
Can you give us a bit of background on your musical/artistic trajectory? Many of our readers may be familiar with Tears for Fears, the band you gained notoriety in, but may be less familiar with your equally impressive solo career. Please speak to both.
Roland and I have been in bands together since we were 13 years old. We signed our first record deal at 18 with a band called Graduate, which lasted all of a year until we decided we didn’t like being in a band and left to form Tears For Fears. I left the band in 1990 as I wasn’t enjoying it any more and moved to New York.
After a few years on the periphery of the industry, in radio and TV, I met Charlton Pettus through a mutual friend. He convinced me to start writing and performing again and a band called Mayfield was born. The idea was to get back to the basics and rediscover the pure enjoyment and musicianship that attracted me to this career in the first place. We primarily played in New York and released an album cunningly entitled “Mayfield”.
In 1998 my wife’s work brought us to Los Angeles, Charlton would follow about a year later. Around the time of the birth of my first daughter in 1999 I started writing the songs for what would later become “Halfway, pleased”.
LegalTorrents, “an online community created to discover and distribute Creative Commons licensed digital media”, recently revamped their website to include a stronger community focus as well as a more fluid user experience. We caught up with Jonathan Dugan to find out more about what LegalTorrents can offer those in the CC-community and why CC-using content creators should look to LegalTorrents as a means for online distribution.
Can you give us some background on LegalTorrents? When and why did it start up? Who’s involved?
Simon Carless started LegalTorrents in 2003 and focused on hand-selected, high quality content that was legal to share and distribute. In November 2007, I partnered with Simon to rebuild the site under a new company called Matson Systems.
Since then we’ve grown a small team to build and maintain the site. In addition to our initial goal of distributing high quality content, we also plan to build a community of people interested in finding and sharing this media, and supporting content creators though voluntary financial sponsorship.1 Comment »
Behance is many things – a creative network, an online magazine, a producer of creative tools, an index of creative professionals, and a purveyor of methodology for getting creative projects done. Perhaps it is better to think of Behance then as an organization that, in their own words, “designs products and services that empower the creative world to make ideas happen.”
The Behance Network is particularly compelling, acting as a means for creative professionals to meet and collaborate successfully in an online space. To better understand what Behance does we recently caught up with founder/CEO Scott Belsky and asked him some questions, in turn illuminating Behance’s overall philosophy, why they chose to include CC-licensing in their creative network, and what Behance can provide for those in the CC-community.
Firstly, can you give our readers some insight into your personal background? You graduated from Harvard Business School, spent some time working on Wall Street, and then made a jump into the creative world. What inspired this move?
I have always been fascinated by how people, teams, and networks are organized. I think that the importance of “organization” and productivity are underrated – especially in the creative community. There is so much emphasis on idea generation and innovation, and so little energy focused on how people get organized to actually make ideas happen.
Back in college, I did an independent study on “redesigning the resume” for creative professionals. During this experience, I realized that most creative potential is never recognized in the corporate world. And in artistic pursuits, creative people often fail to adequately represent their ideas and push them to fruition. After college, I spent about five years on Wall Street but in a rather untraditional job focusing on “leadership development and organizational improvement.” Eventually I left my job and starting searching for a way to apply my love for organization and productivity in the creative community.
In September 2006 I started to assemble a team – around the same time as I started business school. I am truly honored to work with such a talented and committed team – we design and develop all of our work ourselves. The first thing we did was interview hundreds of “uber productive” creative people and teams across industries (many of these interviews can be found at BehanceMag.com). From all the research, we identified some of the MAJOR OBSTACLES to making ideas happen. We recognized a major need for a robust online platform for the creative community to organize itself. We also recognized the need for more productivity on an individual and team level.
For the past few years, our team has been developing products and services that empower the creative world to make ideas happen. Our mission, as a company, is to organize the creative world.