Learning Music Monthly
In the world of music, Creative Commons licenses continue to be used by upcoming and established musicians for everything from remix contests to album-a-month projects. And since CC-licensed music may be blaring from outerspace for the first time in history on NASA’s Endeavour mission, we thought it would be a good time to do a round-up of the recent developments in Creative Commons music land.
Learning Music Monthly
Two years ago, L.A.-based musician John Wood and CC-friendly record label vosotros launched Learning Music Monthly, an album-a-month musical series. Every month, John Wood wrote, recorded, mixed, and mastered an album—and made each album available as part of a tiered subscription service that ranged from a donation-based digital option (available for download under a CC BY-NC-SA license) to a $60 package that included handmade albums delivered to your mailbox, limited edition stickers, bonus albums from friends of LMM, and even personalized birthday songs! These extras inevitably evolved as the project scaled, but the albums kept coming, an impressive feat for John Wood and his friends.
After three seasons and 36 albums, LMM has finally come to an end. In celebration, vosotros has created an excellent 37 song Learning Music compilation entitled, “An End Like This,” blogged over at the Free Music Archive. Additionally, all of the albums are archived for continuous discovery and remix at the LMM site.
A great example of new, open distribution models, LMM is only one of many musicians and projects encouraging participation and remix under CC licenses. Earlier this year, R.E.M. launched a CC remix contest for “It Happened Today” on SoundCloud, one of the web’s easiest platforms for sharing your CC-licensed originals and remixes. Stems from the song were released under CC BY-NC-SA, and remixes were uploaded to SoundCloud under the same license. You can check out all remixed versions of the song here and read more about what went down at CC Australia’s coverage of the contest.
Indaba, a hub for musical collaboration online, also continues to work with an expanding and interesting array of musicians for its artists remix contests. A recent contest featured Paul Simon’s latest single “Love Is Eternal Sacred Light,” soliciting fan remixes under CC BY-NC-ND.
Nighty Night by 8in8
And the latest treat is Nighty Night by 8in8, an all-star collaboration between Ben Folds, Amanda Palmer, Neil Gaiman, and Damien Kulash from OK Go. The group set out to make eight songs in eight hours, and released the resulting album under CC BY-NC. You can read Neil’s account of the song-making process at his blog and buy the album at Amanda Palmer’s bandcamp page. Initial proceeds will go to berkleecitymusicnetwork.org, a charity dedicated to fulfilling kids’ musical potential.1 Comment »
Beginning this past March, John Wood has written, recorded, mixed, and mastered an album a month. Distributed under the moniker Learning Music Monthly, the music arrives on the first of the month as CDs in subscribers’ mailboxes and MP3s in their digital lockers, all released under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike license.
Offering a tiered subscription service (amenities include stickers, bonus albums, a song written for you on your birthday, and much more depending on price), Learning Music Monthly is a great case study in figuring out how independent artists and labels (LMM is released through CC-friendly label vosotros) are approaching distribution in today’s current music climate.
We were able to catch up with John and pick his brain about the project, including his thoughts on writing and producing an album a month, a subscription/donation-based distribution model, and his decision to release all the music, cover art, promotional text, mix-stems, sheet-music, and lyrics under a CC license.
Learning Music Monthly @ Machine Project – 01, cameronparkins | CC BY
Can you give our readers some background on yourself and the Learning Music Monthly project? What has your career as a musician been like? LMM monthly has existed previously – what is different this time around?
LMM really began in November 2006. I had spent the previous two years doing a fair amount of touring with other bands, and assisting on a film score, all of which was really fabulous and fortunate to experience. That month, I turned down a bunch of work and created the first Learning Music album. For me, it was something very much apart from my professional musical experiences. I get paid mostly to create what other people hear or see, which I’m very lucky to do. When I set out to complete that first album, there was a deep spiritual need inside me, which I had been aware of for a long time, to create something more personal. The payoff, instead of a check, was the pleasure of handing to friends this little secret disc, weirdly wrapped up in reclaimed cardboard. LMM is a little different from that now, in that we actually sell subscriptions. I think I’m still in the process of learning what that means creatively. It’s also much different now because of all the support from John G and Vosotros. The first year, my audience was mostly my friends. Now I’m making music for people I’ve never met. And they’re paying for it! Part of me of course wants to only create what I think these people want to hear. Hopefully I will eventually be able to give them something that they never expected, but that’s really good for them. Sometimes I feel like I lack the confidence to do that, but then ultimately there’s no time for doubt.
Learning Music Monthly, the subscription-based, album-a-month music series from L.A.-based John Wood continues to grow from its initial launch four months ago. Produced in conjunction with CC-friendly label Vosotros, the latest installment of LMM is a video album, with Wood producing music to videos from ten different LA filmmakers after their creation – an inversion of the traditional approach to music videos.
You can download (ZIP) silent versions of the films from the LMM website, stream the videos at a variety of destinations, or become a subscriber to access downloads of the videos (as well as the rest of the LMM music archive) in hi-quality formats. Subscriptions are tiered from a donation-based digital option to a $60 deluxe package and all the material is released under CC BY-NC-SA, allowing you to build upon and share the bevy of work created by LMM.Comments Off
Learning Music Monthly is a new subscription-based, album-a-month, musical series from L.A.-based musician John Wood. Launched yesterday in partnership with CC-friendly record label vosotros, Learning Music Monthly grows out of a previous and similar project that began as an album-a-month project for John Wood and his musical cohorts, resulting in releases that ranged from a record made entirely on a hand-held cassette recorder to “an autobiographical musical written by a robot.”
Building upon new methods of music distribution, LMM is being offered as a tiered subscription service that ranges from a donation-based digital option to a $60 package that includes, amongst other amenities, a handmade album delivered by mail each month, limited edition stickers, bonus albums from friends of LM, and a song written and recorded for you, delivered on your birthday. The band is also offering a lifetime VIP subscription, which includes a private performance anywhere in the world. From LMM:
Learning Music Monthly is a collaborative, subscription-based album-a-month series. As a subscriber, you receive a brand new full-length album of original music every month. You can choose to receive your monthly issues on CD (delivered to your mailbox in beautiful handmade packaging, with cover art by a different artist each issue), or in downloadable high-quality mp3 format. Subscribers also receive unlimited access to our online archive of music, including a newly re-mastered album from the original twelve Learning Music albums released each month. Additionally, you are invited to collaborate in the creation of Learning Music Monthly, with remixes, covers, and sound donations, regardless of whether you are a subscriber or not.
As one of the primary foci of Learning Music Monthly is collaboration, the website features numerous ways for the LM community to get involved. Found sounds, remixes, cover versions, and videos are all encouraged and LM has gone so far as to begin filling the section on their own, including audio stems for the first installment’s single Short Tempered. All of the material – from the original music to artwork to samples – is released under a CC BY-NC-SA license, an essential aspect of the project that makes this kind of digital collaboration legally sound and clear.
The project has just begun, so be sure to head over to the Learning Music Monthly homepage and learn more about what is happening. Similarly, the project has launched with a page at CASH Music, the CC-using music nonprofit “dedicated to improving the music experience for artists and listeners alike.”Comments Off