28 October 2007

Sources For Creative Commons Content

Mashable.com, the impressive and wildly successful blog about social networking has a useful list of Sources For Creative Commons Content. Remixers working in the creative commons realm, will find a number of useful audio resources listed there.

CalendarGirl does CalendarSongs

CalendarSongs is a great idea of a talented songwriter and singer from London. Appropriately calling herself CalendarGirl, she wrote and recorded 12 songs, one per month over a year and made the a capella tracks available on her CalendarSongs website as well as at ccMixter.org. The year is now up, but the remixes are still pouring in.

Her invitation is "I write one song a month. You remix and feedback. We make a record." While I have no idea what making a record really means in this age of iPods and mp3 files, that isn't the point. Her song writing is great, her voice is really nice to work with and in the end there are only winners: people who love music.

This is a wonderful idea, well executed and drawing remixers like moths to a flame, including this one:

03 October 2007

Radiohead's grand experiment

Usually I don't post about stuff that has plenty of coverage all over the media or in plenty of blogs already. But this one is just to interesting to not mention: Radiohead will be distributing their upcoming album online and are allowing their fans/customers to set the price for the download of the album. And they sell two versions: downloadable music only (with variable pricing) and a fixed price box set including a variety of Radiohead swag.

This is remarkable, not because it's totally unique (it is not), but because Radiohead is a band arguably still in it's commercial and artistic prime (although the forthcoming album may prove or disprove that).

If this grand experiment proves to be successful (however they define that), it could have a dramatic ripple effect in the recording industry. It will be very interesting to observe and hopefully they will share their experiences.

01 October 2007

Nine Inch Nails Open Source Remixes at Painful Convictions

Nice to see that there's a place to listen to the best remixes from the NIN remix site. From the site Nine Inch Nails Open Source Remixes at Painful Convictions: "After months of deliberation of nearly 200 fan submitted remixes, 'The Limitless Potential' open source remix collection is finally available. This 21 track collection of the very best Nine Inch Nails remixes can be downloaded absolutely free from Painful Convictions. Thanks to Trent Reznor for providing the Multitrack files to the public to do with as they will, and the many talented artists who remixed the tracks."

In an open source environment, music gets to be made primarily for the joy of it, rather than just being enslaved to money. I'm very much in favor of artists being able to make money, but not all art should be locked up. So I would generally recommend that artists license their art liberally for non-commercial exploitation, but maintain commercial rights for their work. You can always give specific commercial rights away for free to someone you like. :-)

Creative Commons licensing facilitates that approach very nicely, one of my favorites being the
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.

10 September 2007

mi7 hosts remix contest featuring DJ Rkod

mi7.com, which earlier this summer hosted the "Dream in Blue" remix contest, has announced another remix contest - this time featuring original materials from DJ Rkod, a long time friend of this site and "a minor theory". Submissions are accepted until October 05, 2007. The prizes are vouchers for samples from mi7.com's library.

I find this remix contest especially interesting, since the original material consists of instrumental songs, rather than songs with vocal melodies or rapping, which are more typically featured in the remixing scene. Will we hear any attempts at melodies or rapping? Or will the remixes all be instrumentals? We'll stay tuned to this fascinating experiment.

05 September 2007

a wonderful afternoon

It's been a little quiet around this blog for a bit too long. Part of the reason is, that I've been traveling for a while and therefore quite busy with other stuff, and partly because I haven't bumped into anything overwhelmingly exciting in remixing land.

However today that changed on a personal level. On my current visit to Toronto, Colab and I decided to meet in person over a couple of pleasant Belgian beverages. What a great experience to meet somebody in person with whom one has exchanged musical commentary on distant websites for a while. The couple of hours we spent together seemed very short. So much stuff to talk about in music and in real life. Reminiscing about Atari ST computers, about moving from Europe to Canada, about controlling music machines with hardware interfaces rather than via a screen based user interfaces, the rewards and perils of honesty when commenting on each other's music and many more topics.

And it was kind of ironic, but very cool to find out via a real life conversation about a couple of things I had missed in our common remixing stomping grounds on the web.

Over time I hope to have additional opportunities like this and can only wish the same for my other remixing/web friends. If you are traveling, you may want to think a couple of extra minutes about a potential opportunity to meet one of your online friends. It can be a very rewarding experience. It was for me.

18 August 2007

Loveshadow's blog

Multi-talented artist, remixer par excellence and very good friend of this site Loveshadow has just started Loveshadow's blog about "Music, Video, Remixing, Art, Writing, Photography". Having corresponded with Loveshadow privately and on public forums since a few days after posting my first remix almost exactly a year ago, I'm looking forward to his insight, experiences and opinions being available in a more public setting rather than just to us few who have interacted with him before. Welcome to the wacky world of blogs, comments and RSS, Loveshadow!

15 August 2007

Jamglue - T-Pain Remix Contest

This is interesting in several ways: Jamglue is hosting a Remix Contest for "Bartender", a track by Jive Records recording artists T-Pain. The tracks are creative commons licensed, and the winner will have their remix turned into a ringtone by Jive Records. However there is no indication, that the ringtone would be distributed commercially - so the prize may be more about fame than fortune :-)

However, Jamglue is a "remixing for the masses" site, with a browser based mixer right on their site. It is thus a pretty neat way to try our remixing without having any of one's own audio software.

The tracks can be downloaded as well for remixing in one's own audio software. The link for the download is towards the lower left hand side of the page for each published track.

Related: Splice is another site where beginning remixers can remix online.

14 August 2007

ccMixter quick tips 2

This is part 2. Part 1, which deals with listening to music can be found here.

These few quick tips deal with ccMixter features for remixers as well as for providers of tracks, loops and samples.

  • As a general rule, to upload content (including reviews, playlists forums posts, messages), you will have to register/login at ccMixter - to download stuff you don't have to.

  • ccMixter is not intended to host your original music like myspace or other "bands and fans" sites. If you have creative commons licensed original music and are looking for a place to host it, you may want to consider uploading it to the archive.org audio section. ccMixter is dedicated to the specific musical form of remixing.

  • ccMixter is remarkably spam free. That's not an accident, but a result of diligent observation of the uploaded content by the site administrators. Trying to spam the site is not only uncool, but pretty much a waste of time. This includes not so subtle "tricks" like slapping too many or misleading tags on uploads to try to show up in more search lists. That nonsense may work on youtube, but not on ccMixter. Whoever tries to be cute that way will find their upload deleted rather unceremoniously. Which keeps ccMixter more useful and enjoyable than so many other social networks. There's an acceptable place for on-topic self promotion in the pluggy plugs section in the forums. However, ads for medication, replica watches or too-good-to-be-true software deals don't stand much of a chance there either. :-)

Source tracks, samples, loops

  • Go to the ccMixter home page, and then click on one of the high level tab menu items on the top of the page: Samples or A Cappellas. On those respective pages, explore the sub-menu tabs. Good places to start are the Samples Browse page and the A Cappella Melodies page.

  • ccMixter generally makes a high level distinction between vocal tracks (a cappella's) and any other kind of sample. When uploading, you'll want to make sure, that you upload to the appropriate area, because currently you can't change that high level distinction after you have uploaded your file. One nice feature on ccMixter is, that you can re-upload a file in addition to editing the information associated with a file after the original upload. This is great for correcting errors or adding more useful information or tags after the fact.

  • There is a way of putting multiple files into a group, by using the "Manage Files" link on the right hand side of the page for an uploaded file. Although the purpose of that feature is mostly to allow more than one format for a specific file, it can also be used to group multiple files of a remix pack for an entire song together. Doing that creates less clutter in your upload page, however it makes all of the subservient files only accessible via looking for the main one. For example, I uploaded the instrumental loops for a song as additional files under the a cappella vocal tracks. This keeps all of the tracks/loops for an entire song together, but it makes it pretty much impossible to find the instrumental loops by themselves. Decide for yourself, what's more important to you: to keep the parts for a song together, or to make individual parts easier to find.

  • For uploading high quality audio source files, use the FLAC format. It is the best of both worlds: The quality of an uncompressed WAV file at a significantly smaller file size. If you have several files, which are likely to be downloaded as a group, put them into a ZIP archive before uploading. You can decide to upload your source tracks in FLAC and in mp3.
    very cool: ccMixter will list the contents of your ZIP files on their download page.

  • If you are uploading an a cappella track, consider putting a link to a full mix into the description. Since ccMixter doesn't like uploads of full mixes, an external link pointing to a full mix is a nice way of giving remixers an easier starting point to work from. Try to make sure, the target location will really hold your full mix for a long time, because somebody may only bump into your song months or years later.

  • Make all of your file names as meaningful as possible. That's will make them more attractive to others. If it's a female harmony vocal to verse 1 of your song "I dream of fame", call it something like "I_dream_of_fame_vox_harmony_female_verse1". Of course, if the file is part of a ZIP archive containing various parts only for the song "I dream of fame", the file can be called "vox_harmony_female_verse1" and the ZIP archive can be called "I_dream_of_fame_vocal_parts".

  • Try to make life easy for remixers by cutting the beginning of tracks and loops at even bar boundaries. It's generally not very useful to have many bars of empty space at the beginning of a track, and most certainly not at the end.

  • If uploading instrumental tracks or loops, consider uploading a midi file in addition to an audio file. It allows remixers to make use of your playing or midi programming while using sound sources (hardware or software) of their own choice. That opens up an entirely new world of possibilities. For drum parts, it's the easiest to work with drum parts adhering to the GM midi standard kit note assignment. However if that's not possible, it may still be valuable to have the midi file of a drum part, if the groove is really cool. Midi files are currently a rare find at ccMixter, so uploading a few great midi loops may make you a ccMixter star in no time :-)

  • The best file format for complete remixes is mp3, because you want to make it very easy for listeners to enjoy your remix without having to do conversions. 192 kbps is a pretty good quality setting for most mp3 music files, sounding close to CD quality to most people. However, a single file upload has to be 10MB or less in size, so if your remix is very long, chose a streaming rate of 160Kbps or 128 Kbps. And use 44.1 KHz sampling rate (NOT 48KHz), because the site resident flash player can't handle 48KHz.

  • Don't forget to give credit for original source tracks used in remixes. ccMixter makes that very easy as part of the uploading process for remixes. It also allows you to add additional credits for other people's samples via the "Manage Remixes" link after you have already uploaded your remix.

All uploaded files
  • ccMixter has a kind of a "draft mode", which allows you to have files and their data already uploaded to ccMixter, but not yet visible to anyone else but you and the site administrators. In ccMixter terminology that is called "unpublished". This can be very useful while you are still assembling some of the descriptions for a file, or while you are uploading additional files. You can already see how the page with the file will look, proof-read everything, test all of your links, before making the page with that file and it's descriptions publicly available.

    You can also un-publish a file after it has been published. But try not to do that too often, because it will confuse the heck out of people, who are following links. But it can be useful, when people have already linked to your file, and you found a major problem with it. In that case, you can un-publish the file, upload a new version of it, and then re-publish it. And all the previous links are still working.

That's it for now. Happy remixing!

As always, comments and corrections are welcome.

13 August 2007

RSS in plain English

Thanks to the folks at Common Craft for the following video explaining RSS, why it's useful and how to use it quickly and easily. RSS is becoming more and more used at many music sites as well, and it provides the easiest way of quickly staying in touch with goings without having to visit each web site separately. Of course this blog has an RSS feed, too.

08 August 2007

ccMixter quick tips 1

ccMixter is refreshingly different than - and in my opinion superior to - many of the cookie cutter social networking sites on the web these days. Here are a few quick tips for new ccMixter users (note: some advanced features require registration - it's free and easy).

Searching and finding stuff (people, songs, samples, keywords)

  • It's pretty straight forward with one caveat. In the ccMixter databases, in terms containing spaces, these are converted to underscores. For example, the term "a minor theory" becomes "a_minor_theory".
  • Don't overlook the small link to an "Advanced search" just above the main search box on the top right hand side of each page.
Listening to music

On pages where you can listen to remixes on ccMixter, you will find one or more buttons:
  • Pressing the little speaker icon next to "Play", will play a song (or sample) in a little flash player applet inside your browser.
  • Clicking on the "Stream" button will begin playback in the default media player of your computer/browser pretty quickly.
  • Clicking on mp3, WAV or FLAC, will typically download a song before playing it.
  • Very cool: a larger blue button "Stream This Page" will stream all of the items on that page.
  • Ultra cool: To grab a podcast of the collection of songs on a page, open iTunes and then drag from the orange "Podcast" button on the ccMixter page onto the "Podcast" menu item on the left hand pane of your iTunes window. In iTunes, click on the little triangle to the left of the newly listed podcast labelled ccMixter to expand the list of individual songs, and then click on the little GET ALL button - and voilĂ , you are a a whole bunch of songs richer! You can now copy the songs of your choice into your main iTunes library.
One of the shining aspects of ccMixter is the myriad of ways you can find and organize remixes to listen to. Here are just few to get you going:

Newest Songs can be found under the "Remixes" main tab and then the "Latest Remixes" tab. Try the "PLAY this page" or "STREAM this page" buttons on the left hand side of the page. If you don't like a song, just use the regular controls to skip to the next one.

Remix Radio is found under the main "Remixes" tab and is a quick way of creating an instant randomized playlist of remixes from selection criteria.
  • Quick tips: Editor's picks are only very few - they get you to a quick list of songs that are pretty decent, but there are tons of great songs that never make the Editors Picks. Don't rely on star ratings either, since ratings are a weak indicator of quality at ccMixter (and at every other site I know). There's no way to program a fair and easy to use rating's system, because it's more of a social issue, not a software one. I could rant on about the difficulty to create decent ratings systems - effectively a voting system, which is a better topic for political science scholars - but I'll spare you the boredom. :-)

Favorite Songs
list keeping is another stellar feature of ccMixter (for registered users) via the concept of "Playlists". You can make many playlists - and your playlists are visible to others and vice versa. On pages containing remixes or lists of remixes, there is a button "Add to Playlist", which gives the option of adding a song to an existing playlist or create a new one. After creating a new playlist, you can rename it on the page for that playlist.When playing a playlist, the feature to open it in a separate window will keep the music going while you are browsing to other places.
  • Very cool: Since the playlist feature works for sample files as well, remixers can create playlists of sample files, essentially creating a bookmarking system for files they may want to come back to.
  • Ultra cool: Even if you are not a remixer, you can become a creator and maintainer of great playlists which other people can link to or subscribe to. If lots of people subscribe to your playlist, it will show up under the main "Playlists" tab in the "Hot Playlists" tab. If you've always dreamed of being a Radio DJ or station manager, here's your chance.
  • Fun: Record and upload your own "station identification" as a short sample and put it at the beginning of your playlist, and possibly a couple of other places, but not so often as to be annoying to your listeners. (Listen to ccMixter's own "Remixer Radio" for examples of that).
Friends type of relationship management is implemented philosophically differently (in my opinion much better) in ccMixter. It's not reciprocal, but when you are on a person's profile page (and are logged in as registered user), you can click on the link "Add ... to your favorites" at the bottom of the page or a bit higher up is a link next to Notifications "Get Notified About ...", which allows you to get emails when the person has uploaded a new remix and/or has been remixed. So you can keep track of other people remixing the same materials as you as well as keeping track of your remixers. So it's really easy to keep track of relevant happenings at ccMixter without even having to go there. Since ccMixter doesn't have an interest to always suck you to their site and click on ads, it is much more gentle with your time than commercially motivated social networking sites. And that's a good thing!
  • Very Cool: clicking on the Publicize link on a user's "Profile" page gets you to a page of html code snippets to include in your own website or myspace or similar sites. There are a number of different options - one of my favorites can make it look like this (yes, this player [invisible in some RSS feeds, though] is really included and piped in from ccMixter):

Private Messaging is implemented differently as well (philosophically and technically). Again, since ccMixter does not need you to click on advertising, it doesn't need to suck you to their site for every little thing. Registered users can send an email to a fellow registered user, by going to that member's profile page and clicking on the [email contact] link next to their name. That will send a message to the email account of that member. Note, that this will reveal the email address you have registered with ccMixter to the other person. So it's not private messaging like on some other sites, but facilitates making off-line connections.

There's quite a bit more, but you'll get the idea. Next time I'll try to mention a few ccMixter features for sample providers and remixers.

Happy ccMixter listening, and as always, comments and corrections are appreciated!

06 August 2007

7 good things about remixing

Preamble: The concept of music remixing is still evolving. It originally started mostly as an alternative version of audio manipulation techniques applied to a master stereo recording. For example different equalization, addition of effects like reverbs, delays and compression would be applied to the stereo track of a song, often done to make songs more dance hall ready.

However more recently, remixers are taking it much further, thanks to individual tracks (e.g. vocal, guitar, bass, drums) of songs being made available to remixers by the original music makers. This has enabled remixers to create much more dramatically different versions of songs, than before. In addition, this added freedom has made it possible not only to punch up a song for the dance floor, but also to mellow it out, or even to take it into different genre's. This in turn has made the distinction between a remix and a remake more blurred. I would therefore propose, that the distinction between a remake and a remix is becoming less relevant.

So here we go (the order isn't very important):

1. Remixing teaches composition and arranging
Since remixing starts with one or more given pieces of music, it is a less intimidating starting point than a blank piece of paper. The remixer can just re-arrange the given musical snippets, or cut them up some more before re-assembling them. Or the remixer can venture into more advanced compositional techniques, like adding their own parts, or even changing the chords around a given melody. The latter one is definitely one of my favorite pastimes!

2. Remixing teaches production techniques
With even entry level DAW (digital audio workstation) software featuring built-in equalization and effects, remixers get to use and therefore learn the same kinds of tools that professional recordings are made with. Instead of just pretending to be Paul McCartney or Nelly Furtado, you get to be like George Martin or Timbaland.

3. Remixing changes how you listen to all music
Remixers find, that their own compositional and production experience gained from remixing, makes them experience other people's recordings more intensely. Great music becomes even greater for remixers, because they start to hear subtleties in compositions, individual musicianship and recordings, through their ears and brains trained from their remixing work. Once you have dissected and worked with individual tracks of a song, you become better at hearing individual tracks in other songs, too.

4. Remixing is an additional way to become a music maker
Traditionally, music makers were mostly singers or instrumentalists. And to create something that sounded somewhat good, you had to be a good singer or a good instrumentalist. As a remixer you can create an end product exceeding your vocal and instrumental skills. Numerous music makers have come more from a DJ background than a musician background. And more recently, music lovers with limited (or rusty) musicianship are turning into music makers because of remixing. Regular readers of this blog will note my abundant use of the term "music maker". It is an acknowledgment of music being made not only by musicians in the traditional sense anymore, but also by people with turntables, Kaoss pads and computers.

5. Remixing builds musical community and collaboration
Remixing is a form of sequential collaboration, in some ways similar to certain aspects of open source software development, or creating art collages. Sequential collaboration hands off the decision making from one person to the next. Therefore it's collaboration without infighting, arguments and artistic hissyfits. Since most remixing is done at sites where more than one person remixes the same piece of music, it fosters dialog around a common theme. In some cases, remixers find musical kinship through their remixes, and end up collaborating in more traditional ways. In addition, there's something deeply gratifying on both sides of the remixing equation. Having experienced both, I can attest, that it's very gratifying and humbling as remixer to be able to work with somebody else's source materials. But it's also very gratifying and humbling to have one's song remixed. Both sides are giving musical gifts to each other.

6. Remixing increases understanding and appreciation across musical genres
A classically trained musician can take a rap song into a classical direction of their choice as much as an industrial hard core rocker can re-interpret a new-age piece. This cross genre appreciation is easiest to achieve when remixers with different musical leanings remix the same song. While one may not necessarily start loving extremely different music, most well intentioned remixers can't help but gain respect for music makers with different backgrounds.

7. Remixing increases cross-cultural appreciation
Remixing songs from different musical cultural backgrounds can be a good learning experience for different approaches to music. From different instruments, different singing styles to entirely different scales. My last four remixes have been for songs with a good helping of Asian and African backgrounds. Incredibly cool and ear-opening experience. World peace through remixing? We can only hope!

Do you have any favorite things about remixing? Agree or disagree with my top 7? I'd love to hear it in the comments!

04 August 2007

Freesound - sound sample collection

For music makers, one of the great sources for sounds is the Freesound Project. From the "what is freesound?" page: "The Freesound Project aims to create a huge collaborative database of audio snippets, samples, recordings, bleeps, ... released under the Creative Commons Sampling Plus License. The Freesound Project provides new and interesting ways of accessing these samples, allowing users to

* browse the sounds in new ways using keywords, a 'sounds-like' type of browsing and more
* up and download sounds to and from the database, under the same creative commons license
* interact with fellow sound-artists!"

A remarkable resource. Where else could you find a recording of a tire being rolled around on sandy pavement?

01 August 2007

Remix Commons

Thanks to Loveshadow for the following. He writes:

"Sometime ago on the Realworld Remixed site i posted in the forum there about the site extending its borders to include visual art. For those who liked a remixers work and were moved to add artwork to support it.

Well here is a vision of the future: remixcommons.org

It is an inspired UK based project embracing the Creative Commons ideal whole heartedly. You will find music, video, artwork, blogs, poetry, links to other sites and projects. There is also a full and simple explanation of the mechanics of the CC protocol.

I am sure there are other sites out there blossoming like it, but even if you don't get involved it's an entertaining way to spend a hour or two and worthy of your support."

More from the Remix Commons home page: "Remix Commons is a network of free culture projects in the UK. Our aim is to get artists (working with music, video, images and text) to come together and share their work, be inspired by each others' work, and ultimately to create 'remixes'. Our volunteers run local events promoting free culture, bringing the ideas and content to people across the UK who would never find this stuff online."

For some most amazing remixes, check out Loveshadow's realwordremixed page.

25 July 2007

ccMixter.org - First Impressions

I've finally just started to experience both sides of ccMixter.org for the first time - once as content provider and once as as remixer. And the first impressions are very positive. If you want to hop right over and skip reading my notes below, I would recommend starting with the ccMixter about page.

So you are still reading this? Ok here we go:

General Impressions
Being sponsored by the Creative Commons organization, ccMixter is not littered with advertising and assorted visual madness so commonly seen at social networking sites these days. While I consider that as an overwhelmingly good thing, some aspects of the user interface take a bit of getting used to, because it is so refreshingly clean, different and not yet another clone of so many other over-hyped so called web 2.0 sites. It's a bit like using Google for the first time, after having used Yahoo for a long time. ccMixter packs plenty of web 2.0 punch, many things implemented much cleaner than on other sites. How many sites have we all visited with more than one "play" button for various snippets of music, but when you already have one piece playing, and press on another play button, the first piece continues to play? ccMixter gets this right. A newly pressed play button switches off the previous piece and starts playing your newly selected one. And the site handles changing browser window sizes and/or font sizes about as elegantly as can be done these days. Just those two things - done better than so many high profile sites - are a couple of immediate tip-offs about the thought, craftsmanship and caring that is going into this site. Victor Stone is the gentleman behind most of the programming code and he goes by the handle of "fourstones" on the site. And being a very good music maker and remixer in his own right, he is an active participant in remixing as well as uploading samples in addition to hovering around the forums to answer questions and give guidance. I wonder, if he ever eats or sleeps. :-)

ccMixter (so far) doesn't have a "friends" mechanism. I don't know, if that is a philosophical choice or a question of maybe adding it later. Personally I hate the inflated friends thing (and on many bigger sites it quickly gets to be that way) - it becomes quite useless, once there are too many friends for each person. But on the positive side a friends mechanism is one interesting way to link-hop and can be a fast way to find people one already knows, because a friend may have already marked them as friend. So a friends mechanism has worked for me at times, but only while the numbers of friend linkages is reasonably small - maybe up to 30-50? However ccMixter offers fabulous RSS feeds for following the exploits of the people one wants to stay in touch with. In addition it's easy to see what comments (called "reviews") a site participant has made, so that is one way to to link hop, although those lists end up quite lengthy as well. Maybe the system could be programmed to derive a "friends" type of list from multiple comments having been sent back and forth between individuals? In any case, it's a fascinating problem to solve for social networking sites, regardless of topic.

Generally speaking, ccMixter doesn't try to re-invent all kinds of wheels or make itself the hub of your entire life on the Internet. So while it clearly is a social networking site around musical collaboration (remixing being "sequential collaboration"), it's not there to handle your entire online life, promote your band or other stuff so common amongst the social networking clones out there. It's a place where reasonably serious music makers meet for the purpose of remixing. Overall ccMixter doesn't try to suck you into visiting the site all the time for ad revenue or to drive the hit counters up for a future takeover by one of the dot com giants. How refreshing!

The licensing of source materials is straightforward creative commons based - this means content at ccMixter can be freely remixed, sampled, mashed up and re-published non-commercially (some content even allows commercial re-publishing). This type of licensing allows the music to flourish and is becoming recognized by more and more visionaries in the arts as well as in business.

Maintaining an Identity
Signing up to the site was straightforward and fast. One can create a profile page with a single small image (remember ccMixter doesn't try to be a promotional site for bands or general hangout for buddies), a link to one's home page, some "about" text and a couple of other informational items. A great feature is the ability to send emails to other users without knowing each other's email address. I much prefer that over the PM (private messaging) systems, which force me to log on to the hosting site to see what the message was. The PM madness out there is like a return to the stone age of multiple disconnected email systems. ccMixter scores big points in my book for its approach to messaging. (Even the software we're currently using for the a minor theory site gets this wrong - Note to self: fix that!)

Uploading content
This worked straightforward as well, but this is where I spent some wasted time and bandwidth, because I didn't read the upload page properly. While the initial distinction between acapella tracks and other loops is sensible, it would have saved me some time and ccMixter some bandwidth to be able to switch my uploaded files from "sample" to "a capella" after the first erroneous upload. To get the tracks into the right category I ended up deleting them and re-adding them through the right link. Similarly, it might be nice to switch a regular remix upload into a contest entry later on, or vice versa.

A ccMixter limitation, which I have a lot of sympathy for is the 10MB limit on uploads. I have sympathy for it, since in my own experience with our "a minor theory" site, uploads of more than 10MB's often fail. Combinations of web host limits, slow Internet connections and browser timeouts can make uploading larger files a difficult proposition. However, this limitation makes it quite a bit of extra work to upload entire remix packs. For example the remix packs for our a minor theory songs even in FLAC format are between 36 MB and 64MB. So I ended up just uploading a capella tracks and creating a link to the full remix packs hosted at our own site. Maybe it's just fine that way, too.

Submitting my remix to the Salman Ahmad remix contest was overall a very straightforward and pleasant process, but it did ask for a bit too much private data for my liking. Why does one have to part with that data just for entering the contest? I understand that some additional data may be needed for the winners of contest, but that would only be a small subset of the contestants and could be collected only from the winners at the time that it becomes necessary. Fortunately that additional private data isn't shown publicly on the site, but in the age of identity theft, I am a bit hesitant to submit private data to a website, because even the best designed, programmed, managed and well meaning website can suffer from a programming bug or an attack. In ccMixter's defense, one doesn't actually have to enter that data at the time of uploading the contest entry, but can fill it in later - could that be after one is notified of being a winner?

Finding things and staying informed
There's a useful general search function, although one needs to keep in mind that the underscore _ character is used instead of a space in most name and keyword fields. There are lots of links - you are always only one click away from any provider of content. There's a useful forum for more public group dialog and to get help. All content is tagged with system selected as well as uploader definable tags, so for example, one can quickly find content with tempo 125 to 130 bpm. Or a female melody a capella track. As mentioned before, there are RSS feeds all over the place. Maybe one nice addition might be to be able to get separate feeds for just one forum area rather than only a combined feed for all forum traffic. I find RSS indispensable to keep in touch with a lot of stuff, and can only highly recommend learning how to take advantage of subscribing to such feeds.

Listening (New paragraph added 2007-07-26 GMT)
In addition to having a really nicely implemented ccMixter Radio, editor's choices, and user ratings, ccMixter's playlist feature is a great way to remember, organize and track favorite remixes, or the worst of the worst, if you are so inclined!. You can have many playlists and listen to or subscribe to other user's playlists, including the omnipresent RSS feeds, so you can stay informed of other user's updates to their playlists.

So even for pure music listeners ccMixter offers a superior experience to most social networking music sites. As the quantity and quality of the content grows, there is little doubt in my mind, that ccMixter will become one of the legendary music destinations on the web. And because of the creative commons licensing, it is immune to a lot of the nonsense affecting internet radio and online music in general. As the corporate players in the traditional music business are becoming ever more aggressive in locking up music, sites like ccMixter will continue to bring music makers and audiences together. There is already quite a bit of quality music there - and even some of the less refined stuff has a raw charm to it, which reminds me of the magic of experiencing music more personally. intimately. The web version of musical performances in a small coffee-shop or club. Instead of leaving a tip, you can leave a review for the online performer. A nice comment makes any performer's day whether it be after a live or after an online performance. On a site like ccMixter it's much easier to avoid listening to crap than on most commercial radio stations with it's corporate rock bands, mickey mouse club alumni and television contest winners. And ccMixter doesn't have advertising blemishing the music experience.

Bottom Line (for now)
These are just my first impressions, and so far there is a lot to like about ccMixter - and in my opinion it's the overall best remixing site I've found so far. I hope that most of my remixing friends will start joining ccMixter. The site has the potential to become the best remixing treasure on the web - in many technical ways it already is, but a continuing influx of talented music makers will really fulfill it's potential. I recommend starting with the ccMixter about page

In addition, I've seen talk about additional collaboration features being added. That would be a great addition indeed, since remixing and collaboration are highly related and many remixers end up collaborating (heck, that's how a minor theory started!)

I'll try to actively participate at ccMixter by providing more samples from a minor theory and some of my own as well as remixing some other content from there outside a contest. It will be interesting to compare the experience of a site without a "friend" mechanism to other sites with friend mechanisms.

After having given ccMixter a first good spin (pardon the pun!) , I have a little bit of the same feeling, when I first bumped into Wikipedia or the Internet Archive. This has the makings of becoming one of the very special destinations on the web.

Any errors, omissions, or other thoughts, please leave a comment. - Thanks!

22 July 2007

12 Things to Like and Dislike about Remix Sites

Love it when remix sites feature:

  1. creative commons licensed (e.g. attribution, non-commercial) remixed packs, which allow remixers to post their remixes to other places
  2. real singing (decent singing a capella vocal tracks are rare, rapping is more easily found)
  3. users can upload sample packs and tracks as well as remixes (peer to peer remixing)
  4. listeners being able to comment on submitted remixes (compliments and constructive critiques are the real reward for publishing one's remixes, otherwise why bother?)
  5. remix packs being made available using FLAC compressed audio files (smaller file sizes without loss in quality)
  6. remix contests (a bit of friendly competition can be fun and educational)
Hate it when remix sites:
  1. take remixers for granted (yes it's a privilege to remix someone else's creation, but it is also a great privilege to be remixed)
  2. demand full commercial rights to remixes without compensation (I still can't believe that some are actually trying that!)
  3. disallow publishing of remixes anywhere else but on their site (it essentially buries the remixer's work on one site)
  4. have remix contests where you can't listen to all contest submissions (listening to other remixers work is inspirational as well as educational)
  5. disqualify remixes from being posted because of some unpublished selection criteria (that is wasting the time and emotional energy of the remixer)
  6. feature ratings systems, which can be too easily subverted or hijacked (if it's too easy to subvert the system, might as well not have it)
In the end, there is only one way to make remix sites "behave well": Remixers have to vote with their feet - I mean vote with their browsers. That means abandoning sites with bad policies and congregating at sites with good policies - even when the musical quality might suggest otherwise. If good remixers congregate at sites with good policies, good original content producers will follow.

14 July 2007

FLAC - the file format for audio collaboration

This is a very useful technology for musical collaborators and remixers: Free Lossless Audio Codec (FLAC) is a popular file format for audio data compression. Being a lossless compression format, FLAC does not remove information from the audio stream, as lossy compression formats such as MP3, OGG and AAC do.

This makes it ideal for Internet based audio collaborations and audio source files for remixes, where numerous audio files need to be up and downloaded between participants.

Standalone FLAC conversion software is free to download and not encumbered by patents as well as multi-platform, so Mac, Windows and Linux users can all benefit from this. In the future, Digital Audio Workstation makers will hopefully incorporate the ability to import from and export to FLAC directly into their software, like some of them have started to do with the OGG Vorbis lossy compression format (a non patent encumbered and free alternative to mp3).

So while using FLAC will introduce one extra conversion step for most people in the short term, it is really worthwhile for those, who want to shorten up and download times dramatically without loss of audio quality. For a typical project I've seen compression rates of better than 50%. Impressive stuff for audio.

One more thing: FLAC compression does not suffer from the few milliseconds of silent audio at the beginning and end of mp3 files, which is a pain in the neck to manually fix.

10 July 2007

The 20 things you MUST know about music online

Andrew Dubber's New Music Strategies is an interesting blog for people interested in new business models for music. The article The 20 things you MUST know about music online is a pretty good read.

I very much like his first point: "Don’t believe the hype: Sandi Thom, the Arctic Monkeys and Lily Allen are not super famous, rich and successful because of MySpace, and nor because they miraculously drew a crowd of thousands to their homegrown webcast. PR, traditional media, record labels and money were all involved."

And while you're over at Andrew's blog, you may want to have a look at his insightful Manifesto as well.

05 July 2007

Hometracked - Our process for online musical collaboration

Regular readers of this blog will know, that I'm involved in Internet musical collaboration as well. So this very nicely and detailed description (complete with audio samples) of someone else's collaborative process caught my eye.

From the (very interesting and useful) blog hometracked.com comes the article Our process for online musical collaboration: "I’m a member of the band Gert. Until we played together in person this summer, our year-long collaboration was entirely virtual. 6 song writers, a continent apart, connected by musical tastes and the Internet. We’re still a band in the general sense, but in place of schedule conflicts, angry neighbours, and ego clashes, we deal with time zones, bit rates, and ego clashes."

04 July 2007

SellaBand - What is it really?

On first glance, SellaBand looks like a very interesting and rather charming concept in crowdsourcing the financing of a band's/artist's recording.

The main How it works page looks promising: "No Strings Attached. At all times during the SellaBand program, you are free to leave".

However after reading through some additional details on other pages, one finds out a significant publishing rights component: "for the songs you will record with SellaBand you must sign a Publishing Agreement with SellaBand." And the publishing agreement (pdf) contains "The Artist shall exclusively transfer the music publishing rights in relation to the Works to SellaBand."

So it looks like as an artist, you can leave, but the rights to your songs are signed over in a publishing deal.

And the way I understand the materials on the web site, the "believers" / investors do NOT get any cut of the publishing revenues, while SellaBand gets a good chunk and the producers of the CD get some as well.

Am I the only one, who feels like someone is trying to sneak something by artists as well as "believers"/investors?

Some of the founders have considerable roots in the traditional recording industry.

Let me put it very mildly: Given the observations outlined above, I do not find SellaBand an attractive proposition as an artist or "believer".

02 July 2007

Music licensing made easier - Pump Audio

Pump Audio provides online music licensing. They've just been acquired by Getty Images, a big player in the digital stock photography licensing business. From their about page: "Founded in 2001, Pump Audio is a new kind of agent for independent musicians, digitally connecting them with buyers in the mainstream media. With Pump Audio, artists can license their music into productions without giving up any ownership, while TV and advertising producers can discover new music ready for use."

While the ability to make money with music sales to the listening public may very well be shrinking rapidly, the possibility to make money through music licensing for television advertising may continue to exist for a while longer. However, it will be interesting to observe, if good music will soon be licensed even for such purposes for free. Will music makers in the ever increasing competition for exposure start giving away their work for free even for commercial purposes? If most of the money is being made through live performances, then arguably everything else becomes valuable advertising for one's live performance.

28 June 2007

The Record Industry's Decline

Rolling Stone as an interesting article about The Record Industry's Decline.

I think the article is a bit simplistic, since it only addresses one dimension of several issues, which are coming together for a "perfect storm" in the recording industry. Unauthorized file-sharing is only one of the problems, and the recording industry likes to point at that as being the overwhelmingly predominant issue.

However I would like to offer additional reasons for the decline:

More and more, better and better music is becoming available legitimately for free
For very little money artists can create music on their own computers or standalone recording studio machines. The large capital expenditure of a studio - or the rental thereof - isn't a prerequisite for making good recordings anymore. If you have skill and imagination, you can make a great recording at home.

This free music can be distributed over the Internet, for very little or no money
The recording industry does not own the distribution channel anymore. Music makers and consumers can find each other without the help of a traditional supply chain. Anyone with a little marketing skill and imagination can.

I don't even want to get into some of the misbehavior by the traditional recording industry. Let me just put it generically: Being abusive to your customers bites you when you loose your monopoly on the supply channel. And being abusive to your suppliers bites you just the same, when you loose your monopoly on the distribution channel. Those principles hold true for any business.

And there's one more thing: There is so much opportunity to make music. Instruments are inexpensive, recording gear is inexpensive. I don't know if there is any good data on this anywhere, but many people are becoming busy making music rather than listen to it, never mind buying it. With the advent of inexpensive and user friendly recording technology, you don't even have to be in a band or ensemble to feed your music hobby. You can socialize on-line with fellow music makers, maybe even collaborate over the Internet. You have a band without having met. Actually you are likely in more than one band. You don't really make albums - just songs or pieces. You share them freely with others just for the joy of making music, comparing experiences, learning from each other. You still buy the odd piece of music - but you spend more time, energy and money being a music maker than a music consumer.

I used to be a purchaser of music. A lot of it. But I never switched to Napster or other P2P technologies. Yet still I slowed down my music buying dramatically. As a consumer, I was turned off by the recording industry artistically and commercially. And coincidentally, but simultaneously all of the new wonderful technology and the Internet turned me into a music maker again, rather than just a consumer. My music money has gone to Roland, Korg, Yamaha, etc. rather than to Warner, EMI, Sony/BMG, etc.

So yes, I agree, the business of making a living from recorded music is pretty much a dying proposition for most of the established participants, and a non-starter for most beginning music makers. Niche businesses for recorded music (especially as an adjunct to movies, TV, video, advertising, etc.) will probably exist for quite a while yet, but there is generally an oversupply of competent to even outstanding recording talent compared to the needs of the market place.

It's kind of ironic: Bands used to go on tour to promote their albums. Now it seems bands make albums to promote their tours.

UPDATE 2007-06-30: Thanks to audiotechnica for alerting me to this breaking story about Prince giving away his latest CD with a newspaper.

And the arguably most iconic record store in Canada Sam The Record Man on Yonge Street in Toronto is closing.

25 June 2007

a minor theory remix contest at MI7.com

MI7.com is holding a remix contest featuring the song "Dream In Blue" by "a minor theory: "We know there is a wealth of talent here at mi7.com, so we thought it was time to bring some of it together. So today we proudly announce what we hope will become a regular feature: our first User Remix contest! MI7 members A Minor Theory have be kind enough to allow the use of the original files from their song Dream of Blue."

Disclosure: spinmeister is half of "a minor theory". :-)

licensing your work to upload sites

When uploading your work to sites, you may want to have a good look at what you are agreeing to. Different websites have very different licensing agreements. Some websites only ask you to agree to a license to host and display you material while you are keeping it in your user controlled area. They will stop hosting and displaying your material when you decide to delete it from your user area. That seems sensible and fair.

However, there are other sites, where you have to give them a much broader license. One that may give them the right to re-distribute your songs forever, maybe even charge for it, or to create derivative works, even long after you deleted your song from their site. This may be ok for you, but I would not be happy if someone created a ringtone from one of my songs, and started to make lots of money from it without giving me anything.

One such example of a very broad license is at mp3.com, which used to be a very cool site for musicians to host their songs, but has changed ownership and now is something very different. The site now belongs to a publisher of many paper based and web based publications, called CNET.

From the terms and conditions at mp3.com: CNET Networks - Editorial - Site Terms of Use: "You hereby grant us, our affiliates, and our partners a worldwide, irrevocable, royalty-free, nonexclusive, sublicensable license to use, reproduce, create derivative works of, distribute, publicly perform, publicly display, transfer, transmit, distribute, and publish Your Content and subsequent versions of Your Content for the purposes of (i) displaying Your Content on our sites, (ii) distributing Your Content, either electronically or via other media, to users seeking to download or otherwise acquire it, and/or (iii) storing Your Content in a remote database accessible by end users, for a charge. This license shall apply to the distribution and the storage of Your Content in any form, medium, or technology now known or later developed."

I generally do not like to upload any of my original work to sites like that. In any case, as original artist, always try to make sure to read and understand not only how the site licenses materials to you, but also how you license your material to them.

19 June 2007

Indaba Music Remix contest

Indiba Music is a potentially interesting site for musical collaboration. In addition, they have just launched three remix contests with several interesting source songs by "Some Velvet Morning", "Stephen Kellogg & the Sixers" and "Mason Proper".

From Indaba Music's Blog: "Today Indaba Music launches the first in a series of Studio Access Collaboration Contests. The debut contests will feature the audio tracks of three rising young bands, all members of the Indaba community. Indaba Music members will be able to add to and remix tracks from recording artists Some Velvet Morning, Stephen Kellogg & the Sixers and Mason Proper.

Contest submissions - original songs created from tracks comprising the bands' current singles - will be featured on contest pages and voted on by the community."

18 June 2007

Salman Ahmad "Natchoongi" Remix Contest

This contest may be interesting for remixers, who enjoy world music - from ccMixter.org: Salman Ahmad "Natchoongi" Remix Contest: "Creative Commons and Magnatune are extremely proud to be working with international multi-platinum recording artist Salman Ahmad and are pleased to offer the audio source files from Salman's Natchoongi online under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, so that producers worldwide can use the sounds in remixes and new compositions. As a way to celebrate we are sponsoring a remix contest using those sources."

I like the licensing terms much better than those at sites like realworldremixed.com, since remixers are allowed to publish their remixes non-commercially in other places than the sponsoring site.

14 June 2007

broadjam - independent music promotion

Broadjam is another interesting take on independent music promotion. From their about page: "Broadjam helps its tens of thousands of musicians and bands promote their music online. Musicians use Broadjam to:
* Sell music downloads (Sell for $.99, Keep $.80!)
* Deliver music to film & TV supervisors, radio stations, and pro reviewers
* Build a fan base of Broadjam listeners
* Enter contests to win prizes and exposure
* Get a musician's website"

Some services are free to music makers. some of the more interesting one's cost a fee.

12 June 2007

Rumblefish Song Licensing

Rumblefish is a one-stop (song writing and mechanical) music licensing agency alternative to some of the traditional country specific agencies. To get signed up as an artist is free, however they do select whom they want to represent. From their artist membership page: "Consider licensing your music through Rumblefish. We offer a non-exclusive agreement that you can opt-out of if necessary. We will not be your promoter, manager, agent or publisher, but we will license your music into projects like TV and film, videogames, commercials, and an incredible variety of creative marketing and branding campaigns. And we will share the license fees equally with you."

Does the word "equally" imply a 50/50 split of revenues?

To apply for inclusion, one needs to send a physical CD of one's materials to them.

The Music Licensing Store is their online licensing outlet.

09 June 2007

YouLicense - Online Music Licensing Marketplace

The creative commons licensing mechanism is a very efficient, and thus our favorite way of dealing with giving away selected rights for music. However, music creators, remixers, aggregators, distributors and institutional consumers everywhere still need much more efficient licensing and payment mechanisms to create modern business models for recorded music. The old models with their country specific legislation, regulations and payment mechanisms are failing the technical and commercial realities of today's global music economy.

While a number of evolving sites and services are targeting the retail consumer market place, it is much harder to license materials for remixing, distribution, soundtracks, and institutional use.

This is where YouLicense may be able to fill a much needed role. From their "about" page: "YouLicense is an online music licensing marketplace. We have developed a platform which enables artists and those seeking musical content to conduct business directly with one another in a safe and secure environment. Our unique search engine and standardized contracts allow for a quick and easy process."

It's clearly still early days - as of this writing the site is still by invitation only. And to do this well is not trivial by any means. But if this effort even gets a few things right, it could become a much more efficient wholesale / institutional market place for recorded music than we have now.

08 June 2007

mix2r.fm - online music collaboration

Here's another interesting concept in online collaboration. From mix2r.fm: "We set out last year to build a community site around musical collaboration. The vision that we, the founders, or mix2r.fm have is that artists (that's you) will upload their music, often in an unfinished state...and other members will come along and give you critique, or *gasp*, actually add elements to or remix your tracks (we call that 'collaboration')."

07 June 2007

The Old Time Radio Network

A pretty amazing collection of old radio programs - I think pretty much from the US only: OTR.Network Library (The Old Time Radio Network): "The OTR.Network Library is a free resource for Old Time Radio (OTR) fans. We have over 12,000 OTR shows available for instant listening, with 100 more added each week." An excerpt from their Legal Notices page: "... We believe that the copyrights of the Old Time Radio shows we host on this site have expired. ..."

One of my favorites has to be this great American comedy classic from Abbot and Costello recorded in 1947. Note, that the link leads to a realmedia audio file, so you'll need a thus capable player or conversion utility. Start playback at around 22:22 for the sketch in question. Just before that a lengthy advertisement for a certain well known brand of cigarettes. How times have changed!

Disclaimer: Copyright law varies between jurisdictions, and I'm not a lawyer, so mentioning this or other sources of audio materials here is not intended to be legal advice.

06 June 2007

Magnatune - label of the future?

This is a really interesting label - for remixers in more than one way: As a potential source of remixing materials as well as a destination for distributing one's music. In their own words: "Magnatune is a music/business experiment that has never yet been tried. We're doing our best to make it succeed, but it may not. If we don't make you any money, we think we can get you some exposure, it won't cost you anything, and we won't limit your future options."

And explaining the concept of Open Music: "Open Music is music that is shareable, available in "source code" form, allows derivative works and is free of cost for non-commercial use. It is the concept of "open source" computer software applied to music."

I have no idea if this model can generate meaningful revenue, but it most certainly looks like it can facilitate the creation of great music. But there's a lot that seems right about this. Definitely worth checking out: Magnatune

04 June 2007

Remixing each other

The musical talent pool now has technology in their own little studios, which only a few years ago were only accessible to artists who had good financing (by record companies or other sources).

That means many more people are learning how to record, produce, remix, etc. with rather little money spent. This in turn spawned the evolution of a high end amateur producer scene, blurring the boundary between amateur and professional. Similar events have disrupted and shaped other areas including computer software, photography, astronomy to just name a few.

And it means the arrival of large numbers of producers on the music scene. Once you have a moderately decent home studio you can become a producer. Producers who aren't always performers. Or great performers who love producing. These producers can make remarkable music. Some are arriving from a DJ angle, some more from a performer angle.

Remixing is essentially a form of producing. Originally remixing was an afterthought - a second production, a remake with at least some of the tracks of the original production.

But I think remixing can be more than just an afterthought - it can be a refreshingly different model of creating recorded music.

Remixing is a form of sequential collaboration, allowing more people to make something into a better overall product, without having to be at the same place simultaneously and without having to agree all the time. Remixing avoids band internal fights. Remixing allows simultaneous parallel versions. Remixing makes the whole participating community better.

Some of the big acts these days are produced technically in a remixing way. But it's still very much a controlled process with a lot of licensing control and issues. But what if we would give up control and make remixing much more open? What if we didn't predetermine, who was going to produce what and when? What if we started recording song sketches and then let the remixers at it? Songs could become many different things simultaneously. Some of them will suck - just like much of the stuff we get fed by former MMC members, TV contest winners and corporate rock bands. And some of the remixes will be amazing, something we would have never thought of, special pieces of music. Maybe we could call that "extreme mixing". The opening up of the production process to wide participation.

What's wrong with remixing? Only one thing: It's not easy to craft a somewhat fair, yet efficient economic model around it.

So remixing has tremendous artistic value potential, but we don't know (yet) how to handle the economics of it.

I submit: Let's NOT have the economics stop us from pursuing a good thing.

So I encourage everyone: write and record songs, make remix packs for others, and remix others. Writing songs and making remix packs is hard, but it puts you into the most valuable part of value chain! So there's an upside for the extra work.

If you want to reserve the right to make money later, you can protect potential future economic interests by licensing under creative commons non-commercial, attribution, share-alike type of licenses. Or even allow commercial exploitation -- if your work gets a great reputation, money has a chance of following in a variety of ways.

In the software business this has become quite common with open source licenses. And many people and companies who are opening their stuff up have still found ways of generating revenue. Not everyone, but many. There will always be people who do stuff for a living and others who do it without making money at it. So that doesn't change. But whether you want to make money with it, or not, at least try something new! In software, one of the key successes was that open source licensing allowed people to build upon each other's work or to take a piece of work into a new direction. That created a body of excellence previously unknown. The Internet became what it is, in large part, because of open source software. Will remixing do the same thing for music? I think it can!

Of course, if you are already have a major label deal, abandoning your currently successful business models is a scary thing to do. And maybe it's not the right thing for your individual situation. However for most of us, what do we have to loose?

Therefore I say, let's remix each other and see what we can do. Build on each other's work and make something brilliant!

03 June 2007

DJ Rkod - "Pulse" Remix packs now available

One of the excellent remixers from over at realworldremixed.com, DJ Rkod has just made one of his original tracks available as a remix pack. Here is his announcement from MI7.com:

DJ Rkod - "Pulse" Multitrack Files Now Available!: "For the remixers out there (and I'm sure there are many) I've just released the source files for the first track off my debut album, Pulse! I'm looking for a couple of remixes to use as B-Sides to the upcoming single. Since I don't release any of my material at any cost, I can't offer any prize beyond my gratitude. As with all my original stuff, the source files have been released under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license, which means that you can remix and even sample this song with only one restriction: you must credit me as the original author."

I hope he'll get many takers!

p.s. If you are or know of anyone else, who is publishing remix packs, feel free to let me know, so I can post it here, too!

Internet Archive: Audio Archive

I should mention one of the significant audio resources on the web, the Internet Archive: Audio Archive: "This collection ranges from alternative news programming, to Grateful Dead concerts, to Old Time Radio shows, to book and poetry recordings, to original music contributed by users."

This site is significant as source for some very interesting audio material as well as a place to host musical works. Much material there is under a variety of creative commons style licenses, which make it easy to understand, which material can be used for remixing, and under what conditions. Advantage of having one's audio materials hosted there include the fact, that the free hosting includes well more then the common 4 or 5 song limits of many other sites. However, one needs to be a bit more technically comfortable, including the use of FTP to upload ones' materials. The site isn't as much a social networking site, but more like a library. And some of us may find that a welcome relief. :-)

01 June 2007

Curve music Remix Contest

A new excellent source of high quality audio materials from two different acts for remixing over at ccMixter:

Curve music Remix Contest: "... the audio source files from several tracks from Zone's 'MADRUGADA' and Tamy's 'Sou Mais Bossa' albums online under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, so that producers worldwide can use the sounds in remixes and new compositions. As a way to celebrate we are sponsoring a remix contest using those sources."

The material is from: Enzo Torregrossa AKA ZONE (featuring Manola Micalizzi) and Tamy.

The contest runs from June 6 to 28, 2007.

27 May 2007

7 Ways to Send HUGE Files

Mashable.com gives a quick review of services, which allow the sending of large files - very useful for people collaborating on a mix or remix. 7 Ways to Send HUGE Files: "Gmail users can now send up to 20MB of attachments to each other. But we want more! Here are 7 awesome services that let you send files of more than 500MB."

The good news: quite a bit of large file sending can be done for free.

25 May 2007

Remixing contests and licensing

Just a quick note of caution for artists submitting any work to websites for contests or even just for hosting; Always read and understand the "terms and conditions", "rules" or whatever else it may be called. You may be agreeing to give up any rights to your work whatsoever.

Some sites essentially state that a mere submission/upload makes that site the full owner of the submitted piece. For example over at peak hour music's rule page, there is language deeming any contest entry (not just winning one's) as a "work made for hire".

I'm not a lawyer, but how one legally gets to "work made for hire" without any compensation for that work is mysterious to me. Oh yes, there's language covering for the case, that a court may throw the "work made for hire" clause out, by stipulating full and unconditional copyright assignment from the remixer to the contest site. Personally I would really hate having made a piece of music, assign all the rights to that music to someone else without any compensation and have someone else profit from it.

Note: No direct link to that site. It's easy to find via Google, if you really don't mind creating and submitting a remix under licensing conditions like that.

16 May 2007

Information Society: Beat Mutation Syndicate

InSoc Beat Mutation Syndicate | Information Society: "The Insoc Beat Mutation Syndicate provides you with an opportunity to make your own remix of and InSoc song. Using the DOWNLOAD link to your right, download a Remix Pack (either as a zip file or as individual .mp3’s) and create your new musical masterpiece. When you’re finished, use the UPLOAD link to send it back to us. If we like it, we will post it here and/or on our myspace page."

Their license doesn't seem to specifically forbid non-commercial posting of remixes based on their remix packs. Overall the licensing looks rather remixer friendly, i.e. less restrictive than for example realworldremixed.com. However the licensing is not specifically creative commons based, like for example aminortheory.com.


SampleSwap.org: "Download 4.6 GB of free audio samples (drum loops, vocals, synths, instruments, sound fx...) Free professional quality audio samples. Zero advertising.

This AIFF/WAV collection is currently 4.6 GB (9,823 sounds) including 1,860 techno, hiphop, trance, and drum 'n' bass loops / breakbeats, 2700 drum hits, 2040 sound FX, 570 instrument samples, 810 vocal samples, 748 melodic loops, and more."

Looks like a great resource for mixers and remixers.

opsound: free love, free music

opsound: "Opsound is a gift economy in action, an experiment in applying the model of free software to music. Musicians and sound artists are invited to add their work to the Opsound pool using a copyleft license developed by Creative Commons. Listeners are invited to download, share, remix, and reimagine."

Gotta love their tag-line!

Funky Remixes

This one looks very interesting: Funky Remixes: "A Free and Legal Music Source | Free Remixes... Listen, Download, Rip, Remix and Share: artists like the Beastie Boys, Chuck D, David Byrne, Paul Westerberg and many others are mixing up the copyright laws of music. They want you to have free access to music.

Why? To allow fans and musicians to rip, remix and share music, free and legally, in support of ongoing music creation, promotion and evolution.

A copyright revolution, fueling a music evolution."

The site seems young still, but looks like it will be worth following, although I prefer sites with remix packs rather than only finished mixes. Found a great David Byrne tune there.

10 May 2007

OurStage - let the fans decide

Loveshadow just made me aware of OurStage, a slick community and music sales site with monthly contests for independent artists in music as well as video. It appears the contests are open only to US residents, but the remainder of the site may not have that restriction.

Popfolio.net - pay for play - advertising model

Here's another interesting business model being attempted. According to the FAQ on their site, Poptopus is intended to work like this:

"Registered artists contribute their original songs to our system, which we then enable registered bloggers to play on their website.

Bloggers choose what they want to play on their blog from our selection of songs. They are then given a snippet of HTML code for the Poptopus player that they can easily copy and paste into the code for their site. From then on, everyone who reads their blog can also listen to their selection of music powered by Poptopus.

Like most other 'free' services, Poptopus income comes from advertising. We think it's only fair that we split the revenue with you as artists and you as bloggers.

Of course, Poptopus isn't limited to blogs. It will run on virtually any website. All that is required is for the browser to have the latest version of Flash player and speakers!"

So another attempt at combining music with ads. I wonder if there's much in it for advertisers or hosting web sites. It's still in private beta testing, so it remains to be seen, how this idea will take shape and if this business model has a chance of succeeding.

09 May 2007

As Other Music, Others Embrace Downloads, is Big, DRM-Laden Online Music Out?

Peter Kirn has a very interesting entry in his "create digital music" blog: Create Digital Music » As Other Music, Others Embrace Downloads, is Big, DRM-Laden Online Music Out?: "Listen to the mainstream press, and the story goes something like this: most online downloads have DRM. Then, major label EMI announced it would drop DRM from iTunes songs (for an additional per-song cost, at a higher bitrate). EMI, says this mainstream narrative, is the exception to the rule.

That’s missing an entirely separate narrative that’s unfolding, which is that many, many smaller labels are embracing new, smaller music stores."

The article and especially the discussion that follows in the comments section is quite interesting to follow in the context of business models for recorded music.

08 May 2007


ACIDplanet is a community site mostly geared at users of Sony Acid software. There are regular remix contests and users can upload their own original work as well. Looks like a technically accomplished and well featured site.

I don't find the licensing terms very attractive though. I'm not a lawyer, but here is how I understand some of the relevant parts of the terms and conditions:

All contest entries become the property of the site owners (Sony Creative Software) - including their ability to re-publish the remix in any medium they please without compensation of the remixer. The remixer doesn't get to do anything else with their contest submission, not even post it for free somewhere.

Uploading original material gives the site owners a permanent license to republish that uploaded material in many ways including as an included free item in an otherwise commercial offering. It would appear that they could very well release a CD with one piece of crappy software and 20 fantastic tunes from the uploads to acidplanet.com, charge 20 dollars for the software and include the songs for free. So people might actually buy the CD just for the music and the original creator would never see a penny.

I generally won't cover remix contests on sites with such one sided licensing terms.

05 May 2007

Medl remix contest

From vocoid.com : "Medl is giving you a chance to make a new melody with medly. Using the great Creative Commons tools at ccMixter, we're releasing the parts from all the tracks on our album, Medly, for your mixing and mashing pleasure. Use the raw audio to come up with a new take on our track, and if we like it, we'll include it in a remix compilation."

ccMixter - best general purpose remixing site?

This remixing site may very well be the best general purpose remixing site out there at the moment. I think the licensing concept is spot on. It allows music to flourish legally, while optionally preserving commercial rights for original artists and remixers alike:

ccMixter "... is a community music site featuring remixes licensed under Creative Commons, where you can listen to, sample, mash-up, or interact with music in whatever way you want.

Remixers If you're into sampling, remixing and mash-ups grab the sample packs and a cappellas for download and you can upload your version back into ccMixter, for others to enjoy and re-sample. All legal."

DNTEL remix contest

Sub Pop Records is running a Dntel remix contest until May 29th, 2007. The "remix pack" is just an mp3 file of the vocal track. They are allowing creative commons style distribution of the remixes.

04 May 2007

MI7.com contest features prize of 3 days at Real World Studios

MI7 has announced a song contest. From the news item on their site: "... mi7.com, one of the fastest-growing communities on the internet, today opens an incredible new contest for musicians everywhere. In conjunction with the world-famous Real World Studios, MI7 is offering one lucky artist the chance to record in this legendary studio, where music history has been made over the past 20 years. Not only that, entry to the contest is free! All you have to do is create a profile at mi7.com, upload some songs, and let the other members vote on them."

More adventures in voting ahead? The top prize looks very nice, though ...

02 May 2007

Peter Gabriel gets into ad supported music downloads

Peter Gabriel is involved with a site called we7.com, an interesting attempt at a new business model for music makers and consumers. Downloads are free, financed by advertising. Music makers get paid proportionally to how many times their product is downloaded by consumers. A subset of consumers on the site are intended to become "tastemakers", who pre-screen all submitted music and with their votes determine if a submitted piece of music will be accepted into the we7.com catalog.

The fundamental premise sounds sensible enough, however it's success will not only be determined by market acceptance, but by how well the site can avoid being manipulated. Let's hope they will have better success at eliminating such manipulations than realworldremixed.com, which is also closely associated with Peter Gabriel.

29 April 2007

Music collaboration for virtual bands and creative commons online music makers - Kompoz.com

This one looks interesting - I'll have to check it out some more: Kompoz.com: "Kompoz is a social workspace for musicians. Use it to compose new music with other artists around the world. Got an idea for a song? Record a track. Upload it. Then invite others to add drums, bass, vocals or anything else!"

NINRemixes.com - Official Nine Inch Nails' Remixes

Trent Reznor clearly is becoming a leader in the remixing movement amongst better known artists as he says on the page with remix packs: "...there is no agenda here other than for you to explore, experiment, and have fun with it. depending on how this goes we may construct a more formal community for remix postings and/or possibly some sort of "official" endorsement by means of an EP or something."

Many finished remixes can be found here. >NINRemixes.com: The official list of remixes of Nine Inch Nails' open source songs."

While the remix packs are conveniently pre-packaged in formats suitable for several different types of software, there seem to be no generic WAV or MP3 packs available. That makes it a bit harder for some remixers.

a minor theory

a minor theory is "...the playground of vox, spinmeister and some of their friends. It's about songs with synths."

These guys make remix packs of their songs available. Licensing is Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike

Remixing Peter Gabriel

Real World Remixed: "This site allows you to download our 'sample packs' - multitrack recordings from Real World Records and Peter Gabriel. Use the 'sample packs' to create remixes of the original tracks using whichever software, technology and techniques you want,"

28 April 2007

Contact / submit story

To get in touch with me or to submit a story for inclusion in this blog, you can post in the comments below this post, or click here to email.

About eMXR.com

This is spinmeister's blog about remixing, collaboration, independent music and a few things that I think are just plain cool.

Over the last few years the dramatic evolution in computer based music studios - often called DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations) and the parallel evolution of the global reach of the Internet. Music production has been shifting from expensive music studios to the homes of musicians and DJs all over the world.

This has contributed to increasingly blurring boundaries between professionals and amateurs, between musicians, DJs and producers, between remakes and remixes, between free and commercial music.

Long held business models for recorded music are crumbling not only because of unauthorized file distribution, but also because of the increasing supply of free or inexpensive music of excellent quality created in homes rather than recording studios. Long held country specific IP (intellectual property) and licensing models are made obsolete by the global reach of the Internet for music makers and consumers alike.

Independent music makers are mixing not only tracks anymore. They are mixing original and pre-made components (remixing), they are mixing amongst each other over long distances by collaborating online. They are operating in an increasingly mixed environment of free and non-free music. Writers, performers, producers and DJs are joyously intermingling, interacting and collaborating with each other and very importantly: learning from each other. Looking down on each other is so yesterday! Everything is getting mixed with everything: people, music, ideas, genres, skills, geography.

Comments, suggestions and just saying "hello" are always welcome!