24 November 2009

Refreshing Holiday Music by snowflake and ccMixter

Please note this disclosure.

The next generation music label ArtisTech Media has just released what in some years down the road may just turn out to be remembered as an iconic holiday album. "Peace of Winter" represents some intriguing, yet accessible remixes in some of the best ccMixter.org tradition. From the beautiful and sublime, to the worldly exotic and even a refreshing hint of quirkiness, this album has it all. The spectrum ranges from inter-faith classics to new expressions of the joys of winter.

This compilation has been curated by exquisite songstress snowflake, who herself is impressively comfortable on both sides of the remixing console.

And in the holiday spirit of promoting peace and sharing between communities, half of the proceeds from this album will be donated to the Dalai Lama Foundation.

While the album can be listened to and even downloaded for free, those who want to express support for the music makers and their cause can also purchase a copy or leave an online "tip".

This is quite a milestone for the ccMixter community and the team at ArtisTech Media, who have just recently assumed the responsibility to operate the ccMixter community while keeping it free for everyone. Maybe one of many more to come?

09 November 2009

White Cube Remix Project at ccMixter

There's a very intriguing new remix project called The White Cube at ccMixter.org. Please note that remixes have to be licensed with the popular Creative Commons CC-BY license in order to be considered for use during the exhibition. So no remixing Cream or some band from Liverpool's double album or some song about nights on bed sheets! :-)

This all is in support of an upcoming exhibition in the RAM Galleri on Oslo which is celebrating it's 20 year anniversary and wants to explore "How to explode the white Cube".

Deadline for remix submissions is on the 7th of December 2009, just 3 days before an unrelated small party in that very city of Oslo. Hopefully our friends in the black limousines doubtlessly all over Oslo right around that time will not misunderstand the context and confiscate all the remixes!

The remix project is organized and the two source audio packages are provided by Gurdonark (whom I've had the privilege to interview last year and the ever lovely and talented (I always wanted to say that!) SackJo22, whom I've had the honor and pleasure to work with on one of her many projects.

Given that the very first LP (yes, it was vinyl!) I ever bought was ELP's "Pictures of an Exhibition", this kind of thematic project holds deep intrigue and I may just have to fire up my trusty DAW software and mess around a little. mmmhhh let's start with a little extra compression here and maybe some reverb there ...

28 October 2009

ccMixter.org - under new management

Big news from the world of open music: ccMixter.org is has changed hands from the Creative Commons to ArtisTech Media.

Victor Stone, ccMixter's heart and soul is endorsing this evolution wholeheartedly.

While change is always accompanied by uncertainty, I'm personally quite pumped about this particluar one.

However, let me start out by saying that there aren't enough words to describe how grateful I feel about the contribution of Victor Stone - one of the understated and under-famed giants of open music. As regular readers of this blog know, ccMixter has been the at the core of my musical life for a bit over 2 years now. This site continues to be one of the most amazing places for music makers to mingle and make noise together. While every member of the community deserves varying amounts of credit for that, there's one person who deserves a very largely disproportionate share of credit: Victor Stone. He has not only diligently and innovatively continued to work on the technical infrastructure of the site, but above all, he has set and enforced a tone of mutual acceptance, respect and even caring for each other, which reverberates throughout ccMixter and is extremely hard to find in any larger community on today's web.

So while it remains to be seen how much and which way Victor remains involved (I hope it will be a lot!), this is a good a time as any to say THANK YOU, VICTOR!

Looking forward, I'm am very excited about the new management being led by Emily Richards (at ccMixter she's known under the handle of Snowflake). She is amongst that very rare of combinations of being a great musician and an accomplished business person. She has shown in words and in deeds her passion for developing radically different business models based less on exclusion and greed and more on openness and sharing. It's always been really hard for artists to make a living from their art and maybe that's even more so the case today.

So I wholeheartedly cheer Emily, Alex, Jason, Derek, Kirsten, Dale and the whole current and future team at ArtisTech Media on while they try to figure out artistic and economic models that aren't evil or stupid. While they figure out how to evolve free and commercial side by side and mutually benefiting from each other. There will be bumps on the road. That's ok. Good and open minds combined with good and open hearts can overcome a lot of issues and build something special.

May ccMixter's next 5 years be even greater than the first 5!

13 August 2009

spinmeister interviewed

File under "shoe on other foot" or "what goes around, comes around": After having been on the "safe" side of the virtual microphone of interviews, my very good long distance musical friend Jeremy Osborn from Houston's Wayside Drive has turned the tables on me, conducting an interview with spinmeister complete with a much-too-kind introduction. Thanks Jeremy!

21 July 2009

Catching The Waves of great free music

The Catching The Waves (or is it "sound the free trumpet"?) blog is an interesting place to go exploring for good free music. As the tagline says "Reviews of (legitimately) free netlabel and/or Creative Commons music. Yes, the music is completely free. Yes, the musicians know. Yes, they welcome donations and purchases. No, you won't be arrested. Dive in."

It has some excellent reviews of truly free and independent music and appears to be a genuine labor of love. Well worth a bookmark for friends of new independent music. I love days when I bump into sites like this! And maybe one day it will even feature a section for the creative commons remixing scene. :-)

10 June 2009

DJ Cary's Chill Podcast Extraordinair

For people who like chill and downtempo music there's are the most excellent chill/downtempo podcasts of DJ Cary (Cary Norsworthy). She is featuring mostly independent music makers in her podcast treasure trove of sonic goodness assembled from a wide variety of sources. Lovingly assembled in iTunes compatible AAC and generic mp3 formats, she offers a new podcast about once or twice a month.

Also worth bookmarking is Cary's list of sites for downtempo, chillout, nujazz and trip-hop artists and fans.

23 May 2009

Free Music Software and Discounts on Commercial Software

DontCrack.com is another interesting place to look for music making software. It lists quite the collection of free music software along with regular special deals for commercial software.

I've also previously mentioned some other good resources for free music making software:

FreeMusicSoftware.org - A blog by Crispin with the tag line: A collection of the best Free Audio and Music floating around in Cyberspace.

GERSIC.COM - the giant free audio plugin database

KVRaudio.com - The premier news site for everything related to audio plugins. Fabulous search engine for plugins and host software, which makes it easy to find only free plugins or also commercial one's.

18 May 2009

RemixFight.org a new contest every 2 weeks

UPDATE: MC Jack in the Box has been hosting this fun place for remix contests for what seems to be an eternity in Internet years (since late 2003): Remix Fight!: "Remix Fight! is a remixing community open to everyone. We get people to send us source files for their songs and then make that source available for download. People download that source, make a remix, and then e-mail an mp3 of their mix to us. Then, we post all the mp3s we’ve received and set up a poll so that visitors to the site can listen to the mixes and vote on which one they like the best. After a couple weeks, we close the poll and announce a winner."

RemixFight.org is technlogically delightfully old school, which also means it's easy to use. And it's not about prizes, but about bragging rights, so it's not for the materialistically motivated. :-)

Fourstones, who is the mastermind behind ccMixter.org has often said, that Remix Fight has been his inspiration for ccMixter.

10 May 2009

RemixComps.com tracks remix contests

I just found out about RemixComps.com, who's 20 second pitch looks like this: "Are you a musician, DJ, music producer that enjoys taking sound samples and loops of other musician's pieces of music, loading them into your favorite music production software and remixing them into your own track. Remix Comps lists remix contests found on the internet so that audio DJs and musicians can quickly and easily find a great music track to remix."

From my brief look at the site, this sure looks like the best effort to track remix competitions I've seen. For each contest it lists not only the place to download the stems (parts), but also the prizes, the deadlines, noteworthy rules and notes including IP issues like a contest, where remixes become the property of the contest holder. There's even a page for listing the winners of the various contests.

If you sign up, you can even rate the contests, and participate in forum discussions. There's a blog and they've just added the capability to run a remix contest through the site.

For the contest junkies in the remixing world, this looks like a great site and I can only congratulate Edward Cufaude, the man behind RemixComps.com and he also releases is own music under a Creative Commons license and finally, he also has an interesting site containing tips for audio production called RhythmCreation.com.

I don't think, that at this time he has a thriving business model, just a few of the links (not all) appear to maybe get him a little commission. So this looks like a labor of love, and I hope he'll enjoy doing it for a long time and/or maybe figure out how to make it economically self-sustaining over the longer haul.

12 April 2009

The Need for Public Domain

CBC Spark features an excellent episode featuring host Nora Young interviewing James Boyle, law professor at Duke University. As one of the original board members (serving from 2002 to 2009, in the final year as chair), of the Creative Commons he is one of the leading thinkers on copyright reform.

The interview starts around the 7:50 mark right after the excellent winning remix of teru (at about the 6:00 minute mark) of the little contest I mentioned a couple of blog posts ago. Congratulations teru - well deserved recognition for your remixing prowess!

Back to Professor Boyle: His new book "The Public Domain" is not only available commercially, but also for free under a creative commons license. Professor Boyle is not against copyright laws, but is very concerned about the overreach of those laws, and makes an eloquent case, that this is not only robbing society of new art and science, but also a classic case of industries shooting themselves in the foot. With their strategy of locking every intellectual property up for longer and longer time, they are killing their own future revenue potential.

To quote the book's website: "James Boyle introduces readers to the idea of the public domain and describes how it is being tragically eroded by our current copyright, patent, and trademark laws. In a series of fascinating case studies, Boyle explains why gene sequences, basic business ideas and pairs of musical notes are now owned, why jazz might be illegal if it were invented today, why most of 20th century culture is legally unavailable to us, and why today’s policies would probably have smothered the World Wide Web at its inception. Appropriately given its theme, the book will be sold commercially but also made available online for free under a Creative Commons license."

05 April 2009

Brian Eno and David Byrne collaborate and publish online

It's good to see, that not all of my musical heroes have turned into grumpy old men since the advent of the Internet. Having listened to The Talking Heads as well as Roxy Music during the final golden days of vinyl, I was delighted to read a recent interview of theirs with the UK's Guardian headlined 'The business is an exciting mess'.

A couple of my favorite quotes: "It was simply made: two men in their home studios, Eno supplying the music and Byrne the lyrics, sending sound files back and forth across the Atlantic by email." and "When I finish something I want it out that day," says Eno later, in a phone conversation. "Pop music is like the daily paper. Its got to be there then, not six months later."

So us online music makers have pretty good company in the way we make music, including this urge to publish quickly after a work is done!

Their Album "Everything That Happens Will Happen Today" can be tracked down via David Byrne's web site. But here's where it gets really amazing: David Byrne's website invites the sharing of this album. It is with great pleasure and excitement that I'm taking Mr. Byrne up on that.

And for those who may not know, Mr. Byrne was one of the featured artists on the WIRED CD which led to the birth of ccMixter.org.

03 April 2009

MC Jack in the Box features Cool Music from ccMixter

MC Jack in the Box has an excellent blog which he calls CoolMusic - My flavs of the week from ccmixter.org in which he assembles some of his favorite ccMixter remixes on a weekly basis and presents them in the style of a relaxed radio show.

While open music is becoming increasingly plentiful, good curation (weeding out the signal from the noise) is relatively rare, so having MC Jack in the Box (a great remixer in his own right) do this with so much loving care is a real treat.

01 April 2009

CBC radio call for remixes of Kutiman interview with Nora Young

Talk about timing. Just a couple of days ago, I wrote about this amazing video remix by Kutiman and now CBC Radio’s Spark is calling for 1 minute long remixes of an Nora Young interviewing Kutiman. The deadline is April 6th, 2009 and the 2 source files can be found here.

Ladies and gentlemen, start your DAWs!

(p.s. there's supposed to be a little prize for the winning entry)

27 March 2009

Kutiman-Thru-you - Mother of All Funk Chords

remix, mashup, call it whatever you want - this is simply great:

25 March 2009

End The Loudness Wars

Much of popular music these days is overly compressed, by the motto, whoever screams the loudest gets heard. Music isn't supposed to be a shouting match -- maybe it's time to re-address this issue. I found this at KVRaudio:

"In January 2009, The Pleasurize Music Foundation launched a wide-ranging initiative for ending the "Loudness War" being waged by successive music releases. This initiative aims to introduce a dynamic standard through several phases. The free TT Dynamic Range Meter plug-in (and stand-alone app.) makes it possible to provide releases with a whole-number dynamic value to be printed on the recording medium as a logo, giving consumers an immediate means of knowing the dynamic quality of a recording. It is currently available as a VST effect plug-in for Windows with Mac OS X, RTAS and AU versions expected to be released later this year."

With the advent of so much amazing DAW software, overcompression is now also in the hands of independent music makers everywhere. So this issue is not only about the big bad record labels anymore, but about many music makers who are using mastering plugins.

I think I'll try this plugin on a few of my own remixes.

22 February 2009

4 chords 36 songs

A different kind of remix - something in it for every age group :-)

4 Akkorde - 36 Songs - WEB.DE Video

Thanks to Bo for the alert!

09 February 2009

Work hard without being too hard on yourself

Wired Magazine's blog has an entry about a delightful message, delivered by author Elizabeth Gilbert, famous for her bestseller Eat, Pray, Love. Ms. Gilbert suggested Thursday that we kill geniuses by demanding super-human powers from them. While her speech was centered around artists who have produced extraordinary works of art, I would suggest that maybe everyone who's work is creative, can take something from the point she is making.

Loosely summarized, Ms. Gilbert suggests that emotionally returning to the ancient concept of "the muse" sometimes visiting and sometimes not, can be a good technique to channel one's sense of frustration and failure in the creative process.

I imagine that most of us who are trying to do something creative on a reasonably regular basis, whether it be in the arts, in science, or in technology have our own little tool-chest of techniques and tricks to massage our minds and emotions into a state of making creativity easier and to ward off bouts with creativity-killing frustrations. So stop reading this blog entry already, and head over to this short, yet uplifting article! :-)

UPDATE (2009-02-17): Or just watch the video:

08 February 2009

RIAA moneygrab helpful for Creative Commons Music ?

According to this interesting article at ars technica, the RIAA seems to be going after what some would consider to be their best marketing arm. From the article:

The "Performance Rights Act" has been introduced in both the House and Senate with the goal of forcing US radio stations to start paying artists whose music is played on the air. Labels are pushing hard for the idea, but radio stations could hardly be more upset.
I sincerely hope that the fee for playing RIAA music will be very high, and the paperwork exceedingly onerous. Because that just might make radio stations take a longer and harder look at alternative suppliers for recorded music. Front and center for non profit radio might very well be Creative Commons (CC) licensed music, even more so than it already is. And for profit radio stations with low profit margins might start taking a hard look at such music next.

If this takes place, low cost and easy to administer music licensing hubs might become even more attractive than they already are for many other commercial users of music. And the CC Attribution license might become more attractive for artists to get their music onto commercial over-the-air radio.

While I have deep admiration for Prof. Lessig and his justified drive for meaningful copyright reform, I also often wonder, what would happen if we all just let the dinosaurs legislate themselves into oblivion.

Maybe a hint of things to come: CBC, the Canadian public broadcaster is frequently (increasingly?) using CC licensed music in their programs (and announce that fact clearly) not only in their web offerings and the progressive CBC 3 channel, but also on their primary CBC 1 radio channel, which has excellent reach across the country (and beyond).

04 February 2009

ccMixter : A Memoir

For anyone with an interest in ccMixter, here comes a fascinating look at the first four years as experienced by the person in the middle of it all, Victor Stone a.k.a. fourstones.

A great read "ccMixter: A Memoir" are the reflections of an individual, who's choice of subtitle "How I Learned to Stop Worrying about the RIAA and Love the Unexpected Collaborations of Distributed Creativity During the First Four Years of Running ccMixter" hints at the sense of humor, passion and intellect that drives the man who drives ccMixter.

To find out a little more about Victor's story there's also the interview he graciously granted me last May.

And then there's a few video's floating about of an interview with Victor in the context of the Digital Tipping Point project. Here's the first one:

22 January 2009

A Musical Interactive Stageshow

Regular ccMixter participant and remixing surfer from down-under Scomber has taken the idea of a playlist into new heights. He is using the ccMixter playlist feature to essentially create a musical (script). The whole thing is obviously tongue-in-cheek and from what I've read so far may eventually only be allowed on cable television or as an adults-only off-Broadway play, but it is a really great idea and he is inviting participation to help create a musical which he terms a Musical Interactive Stageshow. At the point of this writing, the first 5 scenes are done.

Who knows how far this will go - but that's not even the point. It's a great concept!

(UPDATED: new links 2009-01-26)

20 January 2009

Should Emerging Artists Abandon Non-Commercial in their CC licenses?

Disclaimer: Any business decision is a kind of a gamble taken by the individual or company and can succeed or fail. As such, no-one can and should make the decisions about your future. All I'm trying to do here is to encourage ways of thinking about an issue. In the end, it's your call ... your gamble.

Does it make sense for emerging artists to license their materials via the Creative Commons Attribution License rather than the intuitively more obvious Creative Commons Non-Commercial?

Even people in searches of day jobs are increasingly doing unpaid internships in order to get additional experience and prove what they can do in a realistic environment. It makes it easier for employers to eventually give them a paying job.

Arguably an emerging artist is in a similar position. So by giving away their work with just their name attached to it, they make it more attractive for others to use in their work.

So let's say someone now uses that work in an advertisement without paying the music maker. There are two ways of looking at this scenario for an emerging artist:

a) I "lost" the revenue I "should" have made, or
b) I have an additional item in my resume, in my quest for eventually getting paid for making music.

But does point a) even really apply, if the song was only used, because it was free?

In a routine scenario, like a theoretically lost couple of hundred dollars, euros, or whatever - this is not a life changing thing you'll be kicking yourself forever for. But how would you feel, if your free song became an international sensation, maybe performed by an established star, or used in a Coke or McDonalds commercial around the world?

As unlikely as that is, you should think this case through, and consider, if that would be a positive or a negative scenario for you. Would you have ever gotten that gig, if your song wasn't free? Established artists may very well and very legitimately say "yes" to that answer, but this article isn't for them :-)

With a worldwide hit to your credit, do you think you could maybe now get paying gigs to write jingles in your local market, get a gig in a trade-show, or maybe sell some t-shirts or ringtones, or a song for Guitar Hero 17 or The Sims "Retirement Home 2" expansion pack? All this because of your now obvious credibility as a hit maker?

Maybe even that wouldn't be so terrible after all?

Imagine yourself at 85, in your fusion-powered rocking chair, with your in-ear iMusicTalkNoiseThingy and looking across your video integrated tri-focals showing beach while you're actually sitting in room 23 of the Shady Pines retirement home in Winnipeg, Canada -- in January.

And someone interrupts your daydream about the good old days asking about your life. Would you rather say: "I recorded 5 jingles for a couple of hundred bucks each. And my CD made 500 bucks on amazon.com" Or would you rather say: "In 2010, Coke used my song for their commercial during the Olympics. And then I was on Letterman. Right after the guy with the animals...".

Again: this may not apply for established artists in a given field of music creation, but it may potentially apply for those wanting to be considered in a new field. And if releasing with an Attribution license, what if they don't attribute you properly? Would the courts give you damages for that? How much does it matter? Or maybe one needs to think about how to ensure that you can prove that it's your song. Because whatever happens, you'll want to be able to take credit for the credit that's due to you. Quite possibly publishing your work on the Internet where you give yourself proper credit is actually a good mechanism for making your claim.

And to preempt an obvious question: But doesn't giving things away for free make it harder for those currently making a living in that field? Answer: Yes it does, and so does your very effort to enter that field.

Once you have achieved a certain amount of notoriety and credibility, it might make more sense to switch to non-commercial licensing, just like you might not be interning once you've had a paying job or two under your belt.

Feel free to argue for or against in the comments section for this article.

19 January 2009

Good News: Youtube Mutes Videos with Unauthorized Copyrighted Music

This might just turn out to be a pretty big turning point: It looks like youtube is starting to mute the audio of video clips with unauthorized copyrighted music. This article discusses some of the obvious implications.

But, much more importantly, if (and only if) this ends up being the case for a majority of the mainstream commercial songs being "featured" in user-generated youtube videos, this could just turn out to trigger the biggest boost to creative commons music adoption in the mainstream we've seen yet. Assuming uploaders want music with their videos and that they'll not want to go through the trouble of licensing it from the likes of companies who sue their customers and/or organizations who once tried to make the girl scouts pay for music by the camp fire.

So for example, what if youtube (Google owns youtube) adds a feature to make it easy to search for and find creative commons music for people looking for an appropriate song or sound track for their user-generated content and better yet: even automatically inserting it? If they don't, somebody will.

Music making Ladies and Gentlemen: Start your DAWs! And start thinking about the titles and tags for your music to make your music easy to find for the right video context.

And how about writing and recording a catchy creative commons licensed replacement for this Warner-Chappell owned song?

17 January 2009

Copyright Refrom

Maybe now is a good time as any to clarify, that I'm not an opponent of copyright in principle. I'm not necessarily an opponent of trademarks and patents either. But in my opinion laws and precedent setting court cases have gone overboard in quite a few cases.

Intellectual property laws - like any other laws - should balance the benefits of society overall with the rights of individuals. When that balance is disturbed too much, bad things are prone to happen in a country.

For example, if intellectual property laws are so tight, that only a few companies can create new products and services, because everyone else gets sued for for building a new idea on a protected old idea, then new products and services will be created less and less, since many really great new ideas come from new companies, not established ones.

Similarly, great art has been built on the shoulders of previous generations of art. For example, how many Disney classics have been built on the shoulders of the Grimm brothers and others?

A second thought, is, that if a good part, or even a majority of a population routinely breaks the law in a significantly punishable way, a society arguably becomes something like a police state. Since obviously not everyone can be thrown in prison, only those people get prosecuted for their law breaking who don't have enough "friends in high places". Ask anyone who has actually lived in a seriously oppressed country, how brutal that is. Even if you don't go to prison, but live in constant fear to have a good chunk of your possessions taken away, because you have to pay large fines, it creates a similar environment.

So the irony is, that the so called democracies seem to be working their way down a rather slippery slope towards something rather backwards and dark. And that concerns me.

While I have never participated in the file sharing world of movies and music (maybe because by the time that started being possible, I could afford to buy the stuff - in my days we taped things off the radio!), I don't think a situation where a significant majority of a generation is essentially criminal is a good thing for society. And older generations telling younger one's just to stop doing something doesn't really seem to work all that well.

My very simple argument is, that since commercial, artistic, technological and knowledge cycles seem to be happening in shorter time frames in our current world, copyrights and patents should probably expire sooner, rather than being lengthened. (Trademarks are a bit of a different thing, and I've not observed quite as much across the board nonsense in court cases, although some corporations have tried to trademark letters of the alphabet, numbers, colors and shapes - and occasionally some court has sided with them, only to be overturned later like in the case of guitar maker Gibson going after PRS.)

So rather than shortening the cycles of copyrights, there seems to be a copyright extension law passed in the US, every time Mickey Mouse is just about to become public domain. And then the hoards of industry lobbyists and US ambassadors are let loose on the rest of the world to make the applicable laws in other countries resemble US law, like we experienced in Canada just in 2008. I was depressed that our minister in charge of such issues seemed to favor closed door meetings with such lobbyists over public forums.

So I support a re-thinking of what appropriate intellectual property protection should be in a modern society. What should be "protected" and for how long needs some really good thinking by some really smart and not too selfish people. Whatever the right answer may be, this topic should NOT be discussed in private lunches and closed door meetings, but in public forums.

While maybe not quite up there with drafting a constitution, it is an important enough topic, that lawmakers and ministers and secretaries of whatever should really treat this topic as the foundation for commerce and art in our modern post-industrial societies. And I would argue, that it's therefore not far behind a constitution in importance.

I'm not an intellectual property specialist, but I'm working and playing in areas deeply affected by such laws, so I do care.

I'll leave it at that, since there are many more qualified sources on the web for reading up on these issues than my blog. Search terms like "copyright reform" are a good starting point.

In the mean-time many of us have decided to work and play in what we hope is a preview of a more wide-spread environment. We don't use the stuff that others don't want us to use, but we're creating our own pools of music, images, movies, writing, software and more that we share with each other in various ways to varying degrees.

It's ok, Disney and Sir Paul - keep you mouse and your Let it Be forever. We may just forget them, because you are the only one's controlling who builds upon them. But we still remember Snowwhite and the Toccata and Fugue in Dm, arguably because others could build upon them. Remixing is okay! :-)

16 January 2009

Copyright Violation by Şanli Collection

A couple of days ago one of my favorite remixers, Loveshadow mentioned, that his remix (jointly copyrighted by him and CalendarGirl), which had been previously properly licensed by fashion house Kalchmann, had been subjected to what appears to me to be a classic cloning rip-off by a company called "Şanli Collection".

According to Loveshadow, they aren't answering email inquiries.

I'm not sure what exactly this says about that "Şanli Collection". Are they evil? Or just stupid? Or incredibly lazy? There's lots and lots of music available which would be perfectly ok to use in a commercial context for the price of giving credit to the creator(s) of that music.

10 January 2009

Do NOT Remix this Interview (wink, wink)

Professor Lawrence Lessig is the founder of the Creative Commons, which has created the possibility of a creative sharing environment amongst music makers and other creators of art, content, or whatever you want to call people who write, paint, draw, play music, sing, compose etc. (note: I publish my writings, music, images under creative commons licenses.)

And since the Creative Commons is the creator and sponsor of my favorite remixing community ccMixter, it was with great excitement, that I watched Prof. Lessig appear on the Colbert Report, one of the popular and valuable voices of reason (all packaged into blazing satire) in an often depressing mainstream media scape.

The segment was about Prof. Lessig's book called REMIX, a quintessential work in making the case for copyright reform. Actually, the absence of such reforms is one of the great indictments of the current generation of politicians in the western style democracies. It's downright depressing how special interest group money rules.

While Prof. Lessig has a great sense of humor, he's not necessarily to be confused with being a professional comedian. (Sorry Professor!) So he plays it rather straight in making the case for Copyright Reform to the fake belligerent Colbert persona, which is a parody of Bill O'Reilly's tv program:

UPDATE (2009-01-14): As if to make Prof. Lessig's point for him, Viacom has forced youtube to pull this video off their site from Prof. Lessig's account. How magically insane! Fortunately I have met some incredibly smart and insightful lawyers, and obviously Prof. Lessig is one. None of them works for Viacom.

UPDATE (2009-01-19): But it's still there in other youtube acounts. Thanks to MC Jack in the Box for finding it.

The interview closes with an "argument" between Lessig and Colbert. Lessig says "remix this interview" and Colbert says "do NOT remix this interview".

So the fun has begun. ccMixter features the audio source of the Stephen Colbert interview with Lawrence Lessig. For those more famliar with indiba music, there's also a session in progress there.

In the past Colbert has featured little snippets of his favorite remixes in a future episode. Assuming that he'll do that in this case, it will be a nice feather in the cap for a few remixers.

UPDATE: Good eMXR friend essesq, in the comments pointed out a more in-depth interview of Prof. Lessig on NPR's "Fresh Air" with Terry Gross.

08 January 2009

Music is Wallpaper

The always articulate and insightful fourstones has an interesting blog entry to kick off 2009, entitled: Music Doesn’t Matter, where he describes some of the fundamental generational shift from the boomer generation to generation Y in their relationship to music and musicians. It's a good read and I fundamentally agree with what he's saying and maybe put my little "spin" on it.

Music is more omnipresent today. Maybe the Walkman, and later the iPod are to blame. Or maybe that the boomers fundamentally got their way and their revolution became the new standard. Maybe it's that Rock'n Roll died after all. But the "why" probably doesn't matter that much. What matters is - as fourstones points out - music is something totally different to the post 80s set than it was to the boomers.

Maybe these days music is just wall paper. Sure, you have some interest in whether it's dark or light - or if it's floral or striped or plain. But it's not like a painting or a piece of sculpture. Music has become background which underlines, supports and contrasts other stuff. I find amongst Gen Y even if they are quite avid and excellent music makers themselves, favorite bands are changed much more frequently, while for the boomer generation a favorite musician or band ended up becoming enshrined in sort of a personal "hall of fame" with often a life long emotional attachment.

Also, I don't find music is really significant as cornerstone of a generational rebellion anymore. It still may provide some sort of a soundtrack (video games, advertising, movies, videos), but it's not even close to the core. Arguably things like bodily modifications from piercings to tattoo's represent more of a kind of rebellion. Or the fact that today's younger set seems to be multi-tasking all the time. Having a conversation while listening to an mp3 player and texting all at the same time. Boomers think they aren't paying attention, but they are - to several things simultaneously.

If indeed music has become wallpaper, it has significant implications in many dimensions: there are business model implications, but also artistic one's. It's different to design a good background compared to designing a good piece of art.

It's kind of strange coming to this conclusion, because as a music maker myself, I still think of my music as paintings rather than wallpaper. And I think there's someone that needs chasing off my lawn. Oh - it's just a Raccoon. I call him "Rocky"...

05 January 2009

The piano roll is dead -- Long live the piano roll!

The Buffalo News features a story about the end of the piano roll. Before mp3, before CDs, before MIDI, before vinyl records, even before radio. Player pianos and other automated music machines arguably represented the first "recorded music". While there may still be some manufacturers in other places around the world, it would seem intuitively obvious that the days of the piano roll are numbered.

However, unlike the headline of the article misleads, the music is alive and well. Partly thanks to the International Association of Mechanical Music Preservationists, who are making devices to allow the transfer of piano rolls into more modern technologies like midi files.

And the piano roll metaphor lives on in numerous music software applications as a way of visually representing midi data. Even Apple's "Garageband" found as an included music production software in Mac computers displays midi data in a piano roll style.

All I can say is, "The piano roll is dead -- Long live the piano roll!"

... mmmhhh, I wonder if one could remix one of these ...