Thursday, October 14, 2010

Should my music be free?

Yeah, I am saying "my music" in the title but it could be yours, really.

I used to offer all my tracks totally free of charge (like many other "amateur" musicians) at the internet archive under the Creative Commons licensing umbrella but not anymore. Back then, I chose the "ok to use non-commercially with proper attribution" for everything I made. It's not that I thought my tracks were gonna be used commercially any time soon but it seemed that the "non-commercial" check box was the one that made the most sense at the time. I am pretty sure most people choose that option to somehow protect their work against commercial use even though they are pretty much giving it all away. Anyways, the point is that all my music was downloadable and/or streamable for free on the internet. The "commercial" vs "non-commercial" license thing is just a side issue (I could have easily ok'd commercial use if it meant more exposure) that seems to make people talking a lot in music making blogs.

Then, it hit me like a brick: Why should I give away all my stuff as if I really don't value it at all? One may say: Well, by giving it away, you can expose your music to a lot more people. Oh, really? Nah, not really. I don't think it makes a whole lot of difference in terms of audience whether the music is free or not. Since the beginning, I have put all my music on youtube because I really felt that it was the only way to get a tiny bit of an audience without a lot of promotion. The quality is not as good but the exposure is definitely there (btw, I'd like to thank matrixsynth and palmsounds for embedding my videos on their respective blogs). Without youtube (and especially the Korg DS-10 niche), there would probably be next to zero interest whether my stuff is free or not (it's pretty much a fact). I am in fact learning this the hard way with my non DS-10 musical venture at Ugo Capeto Music.

So, I took all my stuff out the internet archive and I now have gone the physical and home made CD route. I've also put the "Raspberries" album (and all subsequent ones) on AmazonMP3 for the people that can't wait and don't mind pure digital goods (albeit at a lower price). Hopefully, one day, I'll make one sale :) but it really doesn't matter.

And then, it hit me like a brick (again): Why not give away all the proceeds to charity? I would still value my work and you, the buyer, would get a CD and do a good deed, all at the same time. Yeah, that's it, all the proceeds from the sale of my music are going to charity!

This post is not about Creative Commons but I am gonna give you my 2 cents anyways. My view on Creative Commons is quite simple: It's nice if everybody is playing by the rules but unfortunately, a lot of people are not. When I am talking about people not playing by the rules, I am talking mainly about the small time webmasters who take the stuff (whether it's been ok'd for commercial use or not) and serve ads on their blogs. I don't think a whole lot of money is made but the principle bothers me a little bit. You might ask: How about the big time players that are not playing by the rules? There aren't too many as I personally don't think it makes any sense for a reputable commercial entity to touch anything that's under the CC licensing umbrella (even if ok'd for commercial use) as it's pretty much playing with fire. For one, you can never really tell if the guy that uploaded the stuff is actually the guy that made the stuff. It just opens the door to too many problems. To me, CC is there for webmasters to fill their websites with content they don't have and as easily as possible (without asking for permission, which is the whole point of Creative Commons). Again, it can be used wisely or not. All in all, I am not a big fan of the Creative Commons thing but I totally respect the people (givers and takers) that play by the rules of the various CC licensing and have actually read the fine print.

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