Working in Concert

Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it to the Creative Commons Concert in New York City last weekend. All proceeds for the concert went to Creative Commons.

Now I may be wrong about this and will happily stand corrected if I am, but, as far as I can tell, none of the artists performing at the benefit have ever released an album or a major piece of work under a Creative Commons license — even the restrictive and non-free licenses.

The free culture movement needs some things more than money. For example, it needs high quality creative works under permissive licenses. We’d be better off with the good press associated with one hit single under a CC BY-SA license than all of the proceeds of a benefit like Friday’s. It might also be nice to highlight the great work being done by artists who are risking more secure economic models in favor of releasing their works under free licenses.

Or perhaps this reminds us of another important conversation: Why are many popular musicians who are willing to support CC unwilling or unable to use the licenses? More importantly, how are we going to change this?

8 Replies to “Working in Concert”

  1. Most working musicians are effectively indentured servants to their record companies, locked into contracts that basically mean they are working for hire.  They don’t have the power to use a CC license, because they are in most cases committed to long-term deals to produce a certain number of records for their label.  In many cases they don’t even own the copyright, the label does.

  2. There are labels, like the UK’s Magnatune, that use CC licenses. Artists choose not use them for a variety of reasons but they are making a trade off.

    Both decisions can be justified on certain terms. I’m merely suggesting that CC use benefit concerts to highlight the work of artists who make the decision that involves embracing CC philosophy and tools.

  3. Just a wording note: “[R]isking more secure economic models” sounds like you think free licenses necessarily mean economic doom for the creator.  We’ve seen from free software that this is far from the case.  Traditional or familiar are probably better words.

  4. I know I am melding issues but I think it is somewhat related, musicians locked into contracts
    and afraid to move.

    Tickets for this concert were sold via TicketMaster,
    part of Clear Channel, which is controversial by
    itself (see wikipedia page).

    I already discussed the matter several times in Belgium, both about Creative Commons and Clear Channel, and I got no answer to your final question “how are we going to change this”; no answer but “step by step, artist by artist”.

  5. > More importantly, how are we going to change this?

    How successful is Magnatude? Do they have the cash to take over major label contracts?

    How ’bout if Magnatude tries to go after up-and-comers like, for example off the top of my head, Sandi Thom? (prolly not her tho, since she’s already with Sony BMG)

    Maybe Magnatude (and/or similar labels) needs a marketing campaign. Maybe Magnatude can benefit from something like the Spread Firefox campaign.

    Maybe CC artists should unite under the banner of a single organization. Not to subsume to yet another label, but to gather strength.

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