nin

CC on the Free Music Archive

Cameron Parkins, August 12th, 2009

fma-logo
It has been just over four months since the Free Music Archive launched as a destination for high-quality, freely licensed music. Since that time, the site has developed an avid community and grown to include a number of fantastic curators all while expanding upon the site’s initial catalog to host over 11,000 tracks. All told, the FMA has, in a very short time frame, become an indispensable destination for music lovers looking for freely-licensed music to download, share, and reuse.

The FMA has always offered and promoted CC licenses as a means to share the majority of music uploaded to the site. Today we are ecstatic to announce that CC has joined the FMA’s curatorial ranks! We’re celebrating with 50 great tracks that will be both familiar to the CC community while hopefully offering some new names as well. The launch is split into two mixes – our FMA Inaugural Mix and The WIRED CD: Rip. Sample. Mash. Share.

We’ll be doing regular updates to our collection over the coming months and our next featured mix will highlight some of the great community-driven artists and collaborations found at sites like ccMixter, Jamendo, Beatpick, Sutros, and more. We are on continuous lookout for great CC-licensed music to add to our page and would love to hear your suggestions on tracks and artists in the comments.

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Trent Reznor on NIN’s Business Models and the Future of Music

Fred Benenson, April 9th, 2009

For Digg.com‘s fourth Digg Dialogg, Kevin Rose interviews NIN’s front man Trent Reznor with questions submitted by the Digg community. Not surprisingly, the top rated question refers to NIN’s choice to use Creative Commons licenses when releasing his two recent albums. One of those albums, Ghosts I-IV, topped Amazon MP3 as the best selling album of 2008.

Trent & Kevin

NIN’s experiments in music publishing were not accidents. In the interview, the soft-spoken Reznor carefully articulates the reasoning for his new forays as well as his advice for up-and-coming artists. NIN has a huge fan base and a lot at stake here; these are not academic rants with no practical interests at stake, but rather the actual beliefs of a working, career musician whose career depends on their success. If you watch one interview about the future of music, this should be it.

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NIN case study video: Connect with Fans + Reason to Buy

Mike Linksvayer, February 6th, 2009

Techdirt’s Mike Masnick gave a great case study lecture on Nine Inch Nails’ music business successes at MidemNet last month. He describes the “formula” as:

Connect With Fans (CwF) + Reason To Buy (RtB) = The Business Model ($$$$)

Toward the end of the video he explains CwF also means “Compete with Free” and RtB means “Return to Business” as an alternative to prosecuting fans.

Offering creative work under a CC license (as NIN has done with its last two albums) is a way to powerfully signal an intention to connect with fans and that the creator has returned to business. This doesn’t absolve a creator from the need to provide interesting reasons to buy that compete with (or perhaps rather complement) free, which NIN has done in spades.

Another good point Masnick makes at the end of the presentation is that the model works for large and small creators. A few years ago, often I’d hear people comment that tools like CC licensing were only useful for artists that weren’t well known and needed to take extreme measures to promote their works. Ironically, more recently, and especially following NIN’s successes, I see comments that open music can only work for bands that already have a rabid fan base. Obviously both can’t be true, and it turns out neither is. See some of Masnick’s previous posts on open music business models (here’s a recent one with lots of links back) for more.

If Masnick’s lecture inspires you as an artist to try the model, go for it — for additional inspiration check out Jonathan Coulton’s letter for CC’s recent campaign (because he writes eloquently about how essentially the model Masnick describes has worked for him, not because he’s asking for donations to CC, though you can make those too). If you’re inspired to help document and explain successful applications of the model, we’d love for you to help expand the CC case studies project, which is going to get much bigger this spring.

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NIN’s CC-Licensed Best-Selling MP3 Album

Fred Benenson, January 5th, 2009

NIN Best Selling MP3 AlbumNIN’s Creative Commons licensed Ghosts I-IV has been making lots of headlines these days.

First, there’s the critical acclaim and two Grammy nominations, which testify to the work’s strength as a musical piece. But what has got us really excited is how well the album has done with music fans. Aside from generating over $1.6 million in revenue for NIN in its first week, and hitting #1 on Billboard’s Electronic charts, Last.fm has the album ranked as the 4th-most-listened to album of the year, with over 5,222,525 scrobbles.

Even more exciting, however, is that Ghosts I-IV is ranked the best selling MP3 album of 2008 on Amazon’s MP3 store.

Take a moment and think about that.

NIN fans could have gone to any file sharing network to download the entire CC-BY-NC-SA album legally. Many did, and thousands will continue to do so. So why would fans bother buying files that were identical to the ones on the file sharing networks? One explanation is the convenience and ease of use of NIN and Amazon’s MP3 stores. But another is that fans understood that purchasing MP3s would directly support the music and career of a musician they liked.

The next time someone tries to convince you that releasing music under CC will cannibalize digital sales, remember that Ghosts I-IV broke that rule, and point them here.

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VIA Releases OpenBook, Opens CAD Designs under CC BY-SA 3.0

Jon Phillips, May 27th, 2008

VIA OpenBook Press Photo

Today VIA launched their OpenBook, an innovative subnotebook platform. You can buy it now and also download the raw CAD files released under a Creative Commons Attribution ShareaAlike 3.0 license, meaning you can get the raw machine files to make whatever case or version you want, as long as you release your modifications under the same license and give attribution back to VIA. The VIA press release today states:

The VIA OpenBook mini-note reference design introduces a host of new innovations, including the next generation of VIA Ultra Mobile Platform, based on the VIA C7®-M ULV processor and the new all-in-one VIA VX800 digital media IGP chipset. Together, this ultra compact, power efficient platform delivers richer computing and multimedia features, including a stunning 8.9” screen and greater video playback support, in a compact and stylish clamshell form factor that weighs just 1kg.

The VIA OpenBook features a flexible internal interface for high-speed broadband wireless connectivity that provides customers with the ability to select from a choice of WiMAX™, HSDPA and EV-DO/W-CDMA modules appropriate to their market. In addition, under a unique collaborative approach, the CAD files of the external panels of the reference design are offered for download under a Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0 license to give customers such as OEMs, system integrators, and broadband service providers greater freedom in tailoring the look and feel of their device to meet the diverse needs of their target markets.

And, some blogs are praising its coolness like what crunchgear had to say (which hints at business strategy of companies like VIA):

Do you own a small fabricating plant in Taiwan? Do you have an engineering team of ten PhDs? Do you want to make small laptops? Has VIA got a deal for you. The VIA OpenBook reference design is not actually a product — it’s more of an idea. Because it is ostensibly open (the CAD plans are available on the VIAOpenBook site) you simply buy the chips from VIA and use the plans to build your own cases, keyboards, and I/O systems.

Here is my quote about the release :)

“VIA is a forward thinking company that has realized that sharing enables a healthy ecosystem which helps them provide an innovative product which supports their core business,” commented Jon Phillips, Business and Community Manager for Creative Commons. ”Making the actual raw CAD files available under a Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 license is a brilliant first step that clearly and legally allows others to emergently build upon VIA’s open innovation.”

I’ll add that this is a very interesting project that ups the “Open” ante of the ASUS EeePC’s involvement in free and open culture beyond the software that ships on the platform, it competes strongly against the One Laptop Per Child XO-1, and the Intel Classmate, which are the predecessors of this generation of subnotebook. In fact, it appears that chip companies are realizing that in order to sell more chips, it is good to give away some parts of a product for free, or ship a free operating system which further reduces the cost barrier to selling more silicon. As an aside, this also mirrors what Nine Inch Nails did by releasing part of their product as an entry into more specific and special packages.

It should also be noted that this valiant efforts follows up the great work that FIC’s Openmoko, Open Source Cellphone, did by releasing their CAD designs, which has already led to multiple efforts to create different cases and a great set of community pages on howto get your designs manufactured. Also, we worked with Keith Packard at Intel to release some specifications of graphics chips by Intel around the same time, which has helped for more companies to realize this same level of openness, and more importantly has allowed for developers, other companies, and people to more easily support and buy more Intel chips.

If you have a product similar to the above, or something you think could benefit from Creative Commons licensing in this way, please do contact me (Jon Phillips), contact us, or comment on this post. Let’s *open* it up.

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