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36 monthly albums & more new music under Creative Commons

Jane Park, May 2nd, 2011

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.

R.E.M.

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.

Paul Simon

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.

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On CBC podcasts and CC-licensed music available for commercial use

Mike Linksvayer, October 10th, 2010

On Friday, Michael Geist broke the story that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation had apparently banned use of CC-licensed music in its podcasts. This seemed odd, given that the CBC’s Spark podcast has long used, promoted, and done interesting projects with CC-licensed music.

It is always gratifying to see CC supporters (superheroes even!) quickly respond — see stories on Boing Boing, Slashdot, and Techdirt.

CBC Radio’s program director responded with a comment on several of those stories, excerpted here:

The issue with our use of Creative Commons music is that a lot of our content is readily available on a multitude of platforms, some of which are deemed to be “commercial” in nature (e.g. streaming with pre-roll ads, or pay for download on iTunes) and currently the vast majority of the music available under a Creative Commons license prohibits commercial use.

In order to ensure that we continue to be in line with current Canadian copyright laws, and given the lack of a wide range of music that has a Creative Commons license allowing for commercial use, we made a decision to use music from our production library in our podcasts as this music has the proper usage rights attached.

Everyone can rest easy– there are no “groups” setting out to stop the use of Creative Commons music at the CBC, and we will continue to use Creative Commons licensed music, pictures etc. across a number of our non-commercial platforms.

It is good to know that the CBC will continue to use CC-licensed works in some cases, and their explanation of why not in others. And it is true that only a minority of CC-licensed music is released under a license that permits commercial use — for example, about 26% of the nearly 40,000 CC-licensed albums on Jamendo.

However, as Michael Geist, Cory Doctorow, and many others have subsequently pointed out, CC-licensed music that does permit commercial use ought be allowed. Geist:

A better approach – one that respects the choices of both artist and producer – would be to require that programs only use music with the appropriate rights, which could include some CC licenced music.

Bigger picture: finding, sharing, and supporting music under CC licenses permitting commercial use

Hopefully the CBC will listen to the feedback of Geist, Doctorow (both Canadians, as it happens), and others. However, the incident is a good reminder of the opportunity for music under CC licenses permitting commercial use, sites and curators that facilitate finding and sharing such music — including letting people know about the many that do exist.

(Note that many musicians have chosen to release music with CC licenses containing the NonCommercial term with good reason; this post is meant to point out the opportunity for others, not a critique of those who have chosen to limit commercial use.)

Jamendo may host the largest current collection of CC-licensed music permitting commercial use. See (and contribute to) our wiki article with tips on finding commercially usable CC-licensed music for much more at sites ranging SoundCloud to Wikimedia Commons to Libre.fm.

If you’re an artist with experience sharing music, including for commercial purposes permitted under an appropriate CC license, or the developer of a site or other service for discovering, distributing, supporting such music, or otherwise add to this ecosystem, please let us know — and thank you!

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December CC Music Happenings

Cameron Parkins, December 14th, 2009

Three stories from the Creative Commons music world came across our radar recently, each showcasing a different facet of how our licenses are used to expose artists, encourage collaboration, and promote commercial avenues for freely-licensed works.

everybodyCoverCCFirst comes news today that The Everybody, a new project from Joey Santiago and David Lovering (guitarist and drummer of the Pixies, respectively), have released their latest album Avatar with a CC-licensed twist. Available in both MP3 and lossless formats, a deluxe version of the album can be purchased ($40) that includes CC BY BY-SA licensed stems for each track. Beyond the legal freedoms this choice allows, The Everybody are asking for submissions of re-worked tacks to include in a forthcoming release which will be submitted the band through CC-friendly music community Soundcloud:

Once David and Joey have had a chance to check out all of the tracks they’re going to choose the best of the best of these new creations and turn them into an album called The Everybody Else and release it as a limited-edition gatefold vinyl alongside the originals in Spring 2010.

Phlow Magazine is currently running a month-long feature called The Best Creative Commons Music Moments in 2009. Every day until Christmas, a new post goes live from one of “the worlds most active Creative Commons music freaks,” featuring their favorite songs, netlabels, and albums from the open music universe. The series gives a great overview of how diverse and expansive CC-licensed music has become, unearthing a bevy of musical gems in the process.

The Monome Community Remix Project is a collaborative project in which contributors create samples, upload them to a community pool, and make remixes from the community collection. In keeping with its namesake, all remixes must utilize the monome, an open-source hardware controller, as a compositional tool. The first round of the project is now complete, with a CC BY-NC-SA licensed compilation of the final remixes available for download and stream at the MCRP website. The second iteration is currently underway, although the initial deadline for contributions has passed. Thankfully, a third round is planned for January.

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SoundCloud Integrates CC-Licensing

Cameron Parkins, October 17th, 2008

SoundCloud, a new media sharing site aimed at musicians, has been receiving heaps of great press since going live last week. SoundCloud allows musicians to post their works easily, share them securely, interact with other musicians in a collaborative fashion, check stats on song listens/comments, and utilize a bevy of other useful features. Excitingly for the CC-community, SoundCloud announced today that users can now upload their works under a CC license or a public domain declaration. From SoundCloud:

The CC license support on SoundCloud is pretty straight-forward. You can pick a license when you upload a track, and you can set a default license in your settings. There are three main modes; All Rights Reserved, Some Rights Reserved, and No Rights Reserved. The default is All Rights Reserved, which means you own all rights to the works you upload.

You can also select the Some Rights Reserved-option which will give you a nice interface where you can assemble your Creative Commons license. You can select whether Commercial use is ok, whether derivative works are ok, or whether derivative works should be “shared” alike, meaning derivative works should be shared under the same conditions. Read more about CC licenses here.
[...]
Lastly, there’s the No Rights Reserved-option if you want to let anybody do anything they like with your music.

A cool thing is that we’ve also got RDFa support so that all license information will be properly encoded for machine-reading directly in the track pages.

We are super excited to see this sort of support happen as it should greatly increase the functionality of SoundCloud for CC-using musicians and open the doors for a new repository of CC-licensed music. That SoundCloud has successfully implemented RDFa (making them one of the first CC-using content directories to do so) is similarly exciting. Learn more about SoundCloud here and if you are CC-using musician, try it out for yourself.

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