Modiba Productions is an international music production/publishing company and record label that aims to combine a love for music and a fervor for activism. Focusing primarily on ‘afrocentric’ music, Modiba has been the source for two great CC-based contests over the past year and a half, one with Malian artist Vieux Farka Touré and the other with Brazilian band Nation Beat. We recently caught up with Modiba co-founder Eric Herman and were able to get some background on Modiba, what they aim to accomplish, and how CC-licenses have helped facilitate their goals in combining their passion for music and zeal for social activism.
Can you provide us with a bit of background on what Modiba Productions does? How did it get started? Who is involved?
Modiba Productions is a social activist music production company, record label, and publishing company focusing on international – primarily what we dub “afrocentric” – music. Our mission is to use the best in international music as a vehicle for the empowerment of Africa and its Diaspora. Jesse Brenner and I founded Modiba while we were seniors at Wesleyan University as a means of combining our passions for music and activism. We have grown into a working family that includes an operations manager, a graphic designer, a lawyer, and a staff of interns.
Modiba is focused primarily on African music styles and culture. How has that background informed your outlook as a production company? In other words, is there something unique in Modiba’s content that is reflected in its business plan?
On a creative level, Modiba is unique in that we work to bridge the gap between foreign and familiar musics, highlighting their compatibility and the universal nature of music and art — we try to dispel preconceptions that people in our market have about “world music” (a term we despise – what isn’t “world” music anyways?!) and bring it into the mainstream consciousness. On a structural, business level, we are unique in that we direct much of our proceeds to charitable causes relevant to the music and artists we work with (for example, a fight malaria campaign in Mali with Vieux Farka Toure and a community center in Recife, Brazil with Nation Beat).
Modiba has run two prominent contests that use CC licensing at their core, the Nation Beat Animation Contest as well as the Vieux Farka Touré remix contest. What was the motivation behind using CC licenses in these contests? Can you talk about any interesting instances of reuse that have arisen from your choice of CC licensing? What benefits have you seen from using CC licenses?
We employ CC as a means of expanding our audience and allowing the global community to interact with the art we produce in fun, original, groundbreaking ways. It is proof in the pudding of the universal connections between us all that we work to demonstrate through our productions. We are proud to help promote and facilitate the sharing of art and music as a means of breaking down the barrier between “artist” and “fan” and allow everyone to participate in a creative process. After all, we are all artists and we are all fans.
Our last contest on CC, the Vieux Farka Toure remix contest, produced roughly 80 entries, the vast majority of which were inspired and inspirational. We selected two of them for inclusion on Vieux’s remix album UFOs Over Bamako which was an underground hit. It also led us towards connecting with several of the DJs on a personal level. We were thrilled with the results!
What does the future hold for Modiba productions? Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know?
Aside from the release of Nation Beat’s remarkable album Legends of the Preacher this July, Modiba is currently in production of the debut international release of Bajah and Dry Yai, Sierra Leone’s biggest pop stars. Several of America’s top hiphop producers and MCs are rallying behind the project… its beyond exciting!