You may or may not have noticed that at the bottom of the Bandcamp page for each of my albums and tracks, instead of the little copyright symbol, there’s a ‘Creative Commons’ license note, with a symbol and the phrase ‘some rights reserved’.
Creative Commons licensing is a way of putting a legal framework around allowing people the share/remix/reuse your work for non-profit/non-commercial purposes while maintaining your right to license for-profit usage as you always have done. So if you want to give a copy of one of my albums you downloaded to a friend, it’s perfectly legal to do so. Ditto if you do a slideshow of your favourite pictures for friends and family and use my music as the soundtrack. If you want to make a documentary for school, or even for film festivals that you’re not getting paid for, that’s also legal, so long as the work remains unchanged (I might shift this at some point, still working up to it ) and I’m credited as the author/performer.
If you are making a TV Show, Film, Commercial, Corporate video, then we need to sort out proper licensing terms, in which you pay me an agreed fee for a license to use the music for that purpose.
The reason for this is simple - I want people to share my music with their friends. The internet is an awesome sharing platform. It’s a great environment in which to discover new music, and I want to make it as easy as possible for people to discover my music. I also try as hard as I can to make it easier to get directly from me than it is to get from anywhere else.
The vast majority of the sharing of my music happens by people forwarding links to the places on MY site where you can download it. Why? Because it’s easier! How does it benefit me? Well, people are then in my space (not MySpace, no-one should ever be there ) – they’re on my site, with all that that entails:
- links to my other things,
- an opportunity to hear my other music,
- read my blog,
- and of course to pay what they think the music is worth…
Pricing doesn’t get in the way of discovery, it just allows people to be a part of the ongoing economics of making the music happen.
I don’t want to force people to break the law just to share my music with their friends. I don’t want to drive people away from my site looking for a free source of my music – I’d rather they got it from me, and came back, so that if and when their emerging sense of the value in what I do gets to the point where they put a cash value on it, they’re getting it in the place where they can express that and pay for it in the simplest way. They are also doing it in a place where they can thank me, and send the links to their friends simply.
Sharing is good.
I want my music shared.
I want people to find it.
And, through it, to find me.
I want to connect with them, and to build ongoing relationships between my musical journey and the lives of people who choose it as their soundtrack.
Creative Commons licensing allows me to do that without disprespecting the law, or handing my creative work to others to exploit for their financial gain. It’s the best of every world, for me.
Footnote: You may have seen (especially if you’re an american songwriter) the ‘attack’ on Creative Commons written by ASCAP – it was, frankly, insane, and there have been a couple of marvellous responses. This one on the CC site, and this one from Larry Lessig. Bottom line – use CC licenses if they work for you, or don’t if they don’t. They ARE a Copyright license. You are in control of how your work is used, and if you want people to share it, this is a great way to make that possible.
…and here’s a great CC-licensed album, from Ben Walker: