Magnatune

Update from pioneering Creative Commons and open source friendly music label Magnatune

Mike Linksvayer, March 17th, 2010

We’ve been following Magnatune since it launched in 2003 as a record label that embraced the net, including giving fans the legal right to do what comes naturally given the net — share an remix music noncommercially — by offering all label music under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license. At the time a fairly radical position. Fast forward nearly 7 years to Magnatune founder John Buckman’s update on the label’s business:

So really, it’s not so much that we’re changing business models, but rather that we introduced “unlimited memberships” two years ago, and they’ve been so successful we’re deciding to focus on that.

Some things that are not changing:

  • We’re still not evil: we have always paid 50% of membership fees to our musicians, been DRM free, and used Creative Commons licensing. All that stays the same.
  • We will continue selling commercial use licenses of our music, though in a few months we will be moving that business to a new music-licensing web site we’re building (iLicenseMusic.com).

I’m personally really excited with the change, because 4 years ago I noticed that our download sales were declining, and it wasn’t until 2 years ago that I finally figured out what people wanted. Magnatune has been going since 2003, and the future looks rosy.

Also see John’s immediately previous post with an update on the label’s work with and support of free software media players, which we first noted here in 2008.

We applaud Magnatune’s long-term commitment to CC licenses and their willingness to constantly innovate based on fan and customer feedback rather than the unfortunate standard practice — treat fans poorly and hope they continue as customers anyway. Recall Mike Masnick’s Connect With Fans (CwF) + Reason To Buy (RtB) = The Business Model ($$$$) formula for a general treatment.

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Iron Man and the Right Not to Be Attributed

Fred Benenson, December 2nd, 2008

When Jeremy Keith, a web developer living and working in England took a photo of at Cape Canaveral and posted it to Flickr under our Attribution license (which seems to be the flavor of the month around here), he had no idea it was eventually going to end up in the blockbuster feature film Iron Man.

After explaining the terms of the CC license to a studio representative interested in using the photo in the film, Jeremy was told that it would costs at least $1500 to be attributed in the credits. So the studio offered the next best thing in lieu of being attributed properly: cash. But Jeremy turned the money down and just signed the license release anyway.

Besides being another example of Hollywood utilizing CC licensed material, this story offers insight into why we developed the CC+ protocol. CC+ is designed to help creators negotiate rights outside the scope of the license. For a lot of cases, this turns out to be our NonCommercial provision — that is, musicians offer their music to their fans under NC and use CC+ to point commercial users to a 3rd party rights broker (like Magnatune) that handles commercial rights negotiation on behalf of the artist. But here we can see another right being negotiated, that of attribution, which shows just how flexible CC licenses are.

Remember, when you’re the creator and owner of a copyrighted work, you have ultimate say over who does what with your work; CC licenses merely help you negotiate the thicket of what that “what” is.

Thanks go to Jeremy for writing up such an important example of CC licensed works being used in the wild.

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The Growing Hybrid Business of Music Sharing

Fred Benenson, November 24th, 2008

One of the things we’ve become very interested in finding more examples of are creators who are using our licenses in combination with traditional business models. For example, many musicians (including our recent Commoner Letter author Jonathan Coulton) sell copies of their CC-licensed music. This may seem cognitively dissonant but in practice it makes perfect sense, as a CC-licensed piece of music simply announces what you can do once you get your hands on it, and it certainly doesn’t restrict the original creator from selling it to you.

Some of the most robust instances of this behavior are musicians who have released CC-licensed material on iTunes, Amazon, and Magnatune. Ambient Electronic artist Kirsty Hawkshaw has done this with her album The Ice Castle, which has a presence in all three stores, but also indicates that is under CC’s Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license. In the cases of iTunes and Amazon, the stores themselves are not using the CC license, but are selling the work via the rights they have under their direct agreement with the copyright holders – Hawkshaw and her label, Magnatune. For more about how CC licenses can work in tandem with other agreements, visit our page that describes CC+.

We’d love to hear and see more examples of this kind of hybrid business thinking utilizing our licenses. Do you know of any others? If so, just drop a comment on this post, or contact us any other way. Thanks!

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Magnatune announces interesting additions to “post-scarcity” business model

Eric Steuer, November 18th, 2008

Magnatune, the terrific sharing-friendly record label that we’ve talked about many times before, has announced a transition from a per-album purchase model to a “DRM-free, all-you-can-eat, pay-what-you-want” model. Label founder John Buckman spelled out the details in a blog post today.

Memberships to Magnatune are now:

1) no commitment: one month at a time, whereas previously the minimum was 3 months

2) pay what you want: you fill in the amount you want to pay (no drop down box), though there is a $5/month stream membership minimum, and $10/month download membership minimum.

3) paypal recurring payments: use paypal recurring payments instead of a credit card, so you are completely in command of your membership, and can cancel it from Paypal if you like.

4) non-recurring and recurring both available: you choose whether you want your membership to auto-renew, or if you want to renew it by hand yourself

5) DRM free, Creative Commons licensed, and perfect audio quality: so you are free to enjoy our music as you wish

6) shareable music with your friends: you can share music you’ve obtained from your membership with your friends, though we ask you to be mindful of our business model and recommend you share no more than one album per friend per month

7) Everything: complete access to all our music. Downloads, 4h podcasts, streaming, iTunes & Amarok & Rhythmbox & Songbird support, and more.

8) Musicians get paid: with everything you do, 50% of your membership fee goes to the musicians you listen to. Magnatune remains fair to the musician.

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Tonight: Creative Commons Salon SF w/ PLoS, Digg, Magnatune

Eric Steuer, August 9th, 2006

Just a reminder that CC Salon is happening tonight from 6-9pm at Shine in San Francisco. CC Salon is a free, casual monthly get-together focused on conversation, networking, and presentations from people or groups who are developing projects that relate to open content and tools. CC Salon SF is now being presented in conjunction with CopyNight SF.

This month’s line-up of speakers includes Hemai Parthasarathy and Barbara Cohen of the Public Library of Science, Owen Byrne of Digg, and John Buckman of Magnatune. Shannon Coulter will be DJing a set of CC music from Magnatune’s catalogue.

For more information, visit this event’s Upcoming.org listing.


This Flickr photo of CC Salon was taken by sloanro and is used under a CC BY 2.0 license.

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Creative Commons Salon SF 8/9: PLoS, Digg, & Magnatune

Eric Steuer, August 3rd, 2006

Please join us for another CC Salon!

CC Salon, San Francisco
Wednesday, August 9, 6-9pm
Shine (1337 Mission Street, between 9th and 10th Streets)

CC Salon SF is now being presented in conjunction with CopyNight SF!

This month’s line-up:

* The Public Library of Science (PLoS) is a not-for-profit organization comprised of scientists and physicians committed to making medical and scientific literature a public resource. Hemai Parthasarathy (Managing Editor of PLoS Biology) and Barbara Cohen (Executive Editor of PLoS Journals) will discuss PLoS’s mission, its publications, and some ideas about the future of scientific publishing.

* Digg is a popular user-powered news site with more than 400,000 registered users. Owen Byrne (Co-founder and Senior Software Engineer) will talk about the site’s history, its unique features, and its use of CC licensing.

* Magnatune is a Berkeley-based record label with 470 albums in its catalog. The company’s mission is to treat its musicians and its customers fairly. John Buckman (Founder and Owner) will discuss how the company uses CC licensing as a part of its business model.


This Flickr photo of CC Salon was taken by DNSF and is used under a CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license.

Details:
Please join us on Wednesday, August 9, from 6-9pm (don’t worry if you’re late; there will be stuff happening all night) at Shine, (1337 Mission Street between 9th and 10th Streets). Note: Since Shine is a bar, CC Salon is only open to people who are 21 and older.

About CC Salon:
CC Salon is a free, casual, monthly get-together focused on conversation, networking, and presentations from people or groups who are developing projects that relate to open content and tools. Please invite your friends, colleagues, and anyone you know who might be interested in drinks and discussion.

About CopyNight SF:
Since March 2005, CopyNight has helped organize a monthly social gathering about restoring balance in copyright law in San Francisco and now 16 cities across the US. The San Francisco CopyNight will now be hosted right alongside CC Salon on the second Wednesday of every month. Welcome, CopyNighters!


This Flickr photo of a CC Salon flyer was taken by shizhao and is used under a CC BY 2.0 license.

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