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Creative Commons and Owl Multimedia Introduce the World’s First “True Music Search Engine”

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Creative Commons and Owl Multimedia Introduce the World’s First “True Music Search Engine”

10,444 Tracks Available Under Creative Commons License Searchable by Sound Via Collections From Magnatune and ccMixter

San Francisco, CA, USA and New York, NY, USA — December 6, 1006

Creative Commons, a nonprofit organization that provides flexible copyright licenses for authors and artists, and Owl Multimedia Inc., a leading music search technology firm, today announced the launch of Owl Music Search, a revolutionary music search engine that enables Internet users to discover new music using sound similarity instead of traditional text-based queries. The first-of-its-kind music search engine is the initial offering of a collaborative alliance forged between the two companies to develop and deliver a range of innovative music services to the Creative Commons community and the Internet at large.

The search engine, developed by Owl Multimedia, whose tagline is “finding music through music™,” enables music lovers to discover thousands of tracks released under Creative Commons licenses by comparing the sounds of songs they own with the sounds of thousands of new songs. It is available on Creative Commons’ website by visiting

Owl Multimedia and Creative Commons share the vision that the open exchange of musical works is integral to the creative process and to the growth of culture itself. By enabling search without text, the companies hope to increase access to music outside of the mainstream and facilitate the legal sharing and reuse of music.

“Our aim is not only to increase the sum of raw source material online, but also to make access to that material cheaper and easier,” said Lawrence Lessig, Creative Commons founder and CEO. “We hope that the ease of use introduced by Owl Music Search will further reduce barriers to creativity. Owl’s innovations in music search and discovery make them the logical choice for us to work with to realize this vision.”

There are currently over 300,000 tracks by independent and emerging artists that are released under Creative Commons licenses and hosted on sites like Magnatune, a “try before you buy” digital music store; ccMixter, a music remixing community; Jamendo, a free and legal music sharing community; and others. Owl Music Search aims to provide access to all of these tracks while eliminating the need to know what or who you’re looking for.

“Over the past decade, search engines like Google and Yahoo! changed the way people interacted with text-based information, but these systems have barely scratched the surface of what is possible in the music space,” said Frank Geshwind, CTO of Owl Multimedia. “This collaboration represents a giant leap forward for music search and discovery.”

While most existing Internet music search engines rely on text-based associations to generate results, Owl Music Search looks “inside the music” to extract hundreds of acoustic features and create a digital description which can then be matched against other descriptions, providing a higher degree of accuracy and granularity in its results.

Geshwind continued, “Our technology paired with Creative Commons’ commitment to the open sharing of creative works will bring greater opportunity to artists whether they are looking to distribute and share their work or looking to remix, reuse, and build upon the work of others.”

Owl’s intuitive search interface makes discovering music as simple as opening a file. Using the site’s browser-based application, which includes a built-in media player, a user can open a song, pinpoint a region of interest, and then search for tracks containing similar sounds. Owl’s search engine uses sophisticated acoustic analysis, audio description and similarity algorithms to create and compare digital descriptions of thousands of tracks, and return similar sounding songs.

The results returned to the browser can be further refined by the user, using filters on other attributes such as artist, album, genre, year, and Creative Commons license. Users can preview the results, get additional information about them, and optionally purchase or download copies of the tracks. The site also offers community-based features, such as tagging, which help train the company’s comparison algorithms.

“Music is an international language, but the language used to describe music is not. It is much simpler to search for and discover music with music than by recalling and typing complex search terms,” said Todd Carter, CEO and co-founder of Owl Multimedia. Owl Music Search is the first major innovation in the world of music search since the advent of the search engine. Web searches will no longer have to rely on text that may or may not be attached to a given song file.

“Owl Music Search will change the way consumers look for music online, enabling the next-generation of online music. Owl Music Search truly allows consumers to hear a great variety of music that matches their musical tastes,” added Carter.

About Owl Multimedia

Owl Multimedia, Inc. is a privately held company and was founded in 2005. Owl’s mission is to build the world’s largest online index of music and other content and make this information available to anyone with an Internet connection. Owl’s automated “finding music through music™” search technology helps people obtain nearly instant access to music from this vast online index. Owl’s main office is located 419 Lafayette St. 2nd floor New York, NY 10003. For general information, visit

About Creative Commons

Creative Commons is a not-for-profit organization, founded in 2001, that promotes the creative re-use of intellectual and artistic works—whether owned or in the public domain. Creative Commons licences provide a flexible range of protections and freedoms for authors, artists, and educators that build upon the “all rights reserved” concept of traditional copyright to offer a voluntary “some rights reserved” approach. It is sustained by the generous support of various organizations including the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Omidyar Network, the Hewlett Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation as well as members of the public. For general information, visit


David Furfero
Creative Director, Owl Multimedia

Eric Steuer
Creative Director, Creative Commons

Press Kit

Posted 07 December 2006