• Common Sounds

last modified June 10, 2017 by strypey

What I'm Doing to Get Started

For years I've been somewhat overwhelmed by the number of websites offering CreativeCommons licensed music online, sites like Jamendo and Magnatune where music fans can stream or download music released under CreativeCommons licenses, free from DRM (”Digital Restrictions Management”). I decided it was finally time to just dive in, and keep notes on any good tunes I find. I've been using the #ccmusic hashtag to post about my finds on Quitter.se (a microblogging site running GNU Social) . More recently I've been sharing my finds with federated groups accessible from any app in the GNU Social federation, including the !listening group and the !ccmusic group. I'm logging these mentions for easy reference at ccmusic on GNU Social .


I've been musing on how best to encourage more kiwi musicians to use CC licensing, and how to better support those that already do. I've got lots of ideas, based on the various tools and platforms that are already available, and lots more ideas based on building new platforms, or news forms of interoperability between existing platforms. Evaluating what exists from a music fan POV, and getting musicians friends and acquaintances to evaluate them from their POV might be a good place to start. 

In late 2015 I was celebrating that I’ve finally got some decent speakers set up in a room where I can crank them up a bit, by listening to a lot of bass-heavy dubby music like ’Kinetic’ by PhuturePrimitive and LubDub’s self-titled album are favourites (both on BandCamp) but sadly both are ARR (All Rights Reserved) not CreativeCommons. I also spent some time sifting through the music on LibreFM, but found it a bit hard to tell what license the music I found there was under. A lot of what I posted at first was electronic stuff. However, I also found a handful of guitar albums I liked, and being a sonic magpie, I hope to cover all the genres on offer over time. Most of the tunes I’ve posted so far have been from BandCamp and Jamendo, but I’m looking forward to searching for juicy CC sounds on other sites on the Guide to DRM-Free Living like Magnatune, as well as more mainstream sites like SoundCloud, MixCloud, and YouTube. 

Quitter is a federated platform for publishing short posts (”microblogging”) running on the GNU Social software. In a previous life GNU Social was called StatusNet, and was the software behind Identi.ca, which has now switched to the Pump.io software. As well as #ccmusic, I started off using tags for the particular license (eg #CC-BY-SA), as well as the the kind of music (eg #electronic #guitar), genre and subgrenre, to help anyone following my musical Queets find music they might enjoy. Quitter (and Twitter) seem to get a bit confused by hashtags with more than one dash in them (eg #CC-BY-SA), so I started doing them without the dashes (eg #CCBYSA). I'm particularly keen to highlight music by kiwi musical acts, which I'll mark with the #kiwi tag, and within the first few days I found CC licensed music by the likes of Episilon-blue, Tom Cosm, Alphabethead, Disasteradio, and Secret Knives.

Wikipedia has a number of lists and comparison tables for online music; a comparison of online music stores, a list of online music databases, and a comparison of online streaming music services. I'm going to use these as a reference for a table that covers the qualities I'm most interested in. Wikimedia Commons itself has a large collection of music in the public domain, and under libre licenses, as does the Free Music Archive, and Archive.org (for example the Live Music Archive).

BitTunes is a fascinating proposal to create revenue streams for both musical artists ('Music Makers' in their terminology) and fans who seed their music on P2P networks ('Music Movers'), using a micropayments system based on BitCoin.

Proposed Project: Common Culture

Project Summary

A audio-visual livestream show, specifically promoting work licensed under CreativeCommons or other free licenses (eg Free Art License), and especially kiwi works, with a CreativeCommons / software freedom news, interviews etc.

Definitions - Inclusive not Exclusive

As always, putting a clear boundary around kiwi culture is difficult. Does work made in Aotearoa by visitors or immigrants count? Does work made overseas by kiwi creators count? Does work made by a collective which includes kiwis count? What about work written by a wiki, but made by a foreign production company, in Aotearoa? Fortunately, my goals is not to exclude anything which doesn't count as kiwi, but to actively include anything that does have a kiwi connection. Before I start making the show, it would be good to have an overview of work released under libre licenses involving kiwi creators. Also, an overview of the various sites covering kiwi music such as the AudioCulture archive, NZ Music Commission, NZ Musician magazine, UnderTheRadar, Muzic.net.nz, and the Amplifier store and music news site.

Precedent: New It Make

New It Make was a free culture/ software freedom radio show produced by Floyd Wilde, and originally broadcast on Community Radio Hamilton. Episodes are available in the Community Audio collection on Archive.org.  (GS)

CreativeCommons Aotearoa/NZ

Arts and Culture intro

Case Studies

 Music  Graphic  Audio-Visual
Novel - Thomasin Sleigh

 Jon Lemmon

 Comics - Dylan Horrocks  Manifesto - Vertical Cinema Manifesto

 Disasteradio  Comics - Jem Yoshioka  Competition - Outlook for Someday

 Knives at Noon
 Illustration - Vicky Holloway  

Mermaid Guitar
Illustration - Judith Carnaby

 Dan Untitled
 Photography - Meen Kadri  

Sculpture - Bronwyn Holloway-Smith

Other Kiwi Artists Using CC Licenses

 Music  Graphic  Audio-Visual

Amos/ Anon

Dub Terminator

  Secret Knives    

Tom Cosm

 NZ-Related Music Labels With Some CC Artists

| Postmoderncore | ALowHum | Ilk Ither | Sonorous Circle | Skirted Records | Home Alone Music |

More labels can be found on Muzic.net.nz, Archive.org and a few others places, which I will trawl through for CC music in due course. See also Kiwi CC Music Compilations .


Potential Follow-up Projects

Media Flood

See the separate pages on our proposed MediaFlood project, for using P2P to distribute the storage and bandwidth costs of sharing songs and albums, and other large media files, which includes the CommonsTracker proposal.

Music Wiki

Wikipedia has many pages on musical artists, bands, albums, and songs, but they're quite selective about what they consider "notable" enough to not get deleted. A dedicated music wiki, using the same MediaWiki software, and CC-BY-SA license, could start by importing all existing music content on Wikipedia. It could pull data from music databases like MusicBrainz and Discogs into the standard music page templates developed by Wikipedia, creating stub pages for any musical artists, bands, albums, and songs that Wikipedia doesn't have pages for, which could be built on by wiki editors.

Online music magazine

  • Based in Aotearoa
  • Focusing exclusively on artists who release music under CreativeCommons licenses:
  • Specialist reviewers for each major genre
  • Articles about how the different CC licenses can be used, and what they mean for musicians
  • Articles about technical stuff; tools for musicians (especially free code software and open hardware), pros and cons of different audio formats
  • Using crowdfunding models to get set up, and some kind of subscription model to cover costs, and pay writers
  • Donate surpluses to music-related crowd-funding efforts, or to kiwi musicians releasing music under CC licenses

Free Code Music search application

  • web interface with cross-platform support for both desktop and mobile OS, across as many browsers as possible, with first priority given to free code OS and browsers
  • installable app with cross-platform support for both desktop and mobile OS, with first priority given to free code OS
  • comes with an extendible database of online music database (stores, archives etc)
  • can search for music:
    • in a specific genre (tag system like Jamendo)
    • under a specific license (each CC license, ARR, other licenses)
    • for specific purposes (eg documentary music, podcast music); can I use it legally for commercial purposes? Can I use it legally in a mash-up?
    • from a specific country
    • from a specific artist


What am I looking for as a music fan, when I search BandCamp or Jamendo?

  • music by an artist I'm already aware of
  • music in a specific genre, style, mood
  • music from a specific part of the world (eg looking for local acts I might be able to see live) 

What am I looking for as a free culture activist?

  • music under libre licenses
  • music under CreativeCommons licenses (some of which are libre, but no any with NC or ND)
  • the ability to search for and play music using 100% free code software

What am I looking for as an artist?

  • music I can remix or use in videos or mash-ups
  • music I can use as part of a work I want to make money from (remix, film, game or some other work) 

Libre Music Alliance

Establish a free culture organisation specifically focused on music (a sort of 'Musical Freedom Foundation'). Its goal would be to build critical mass around existing music-related projects built around free code, CC (and other open licenses), federated platforms, libre standards etc.

Members (and member organisations) could include:

  • musical artists: people who release music under CC, and particularly those who would, if they felt there was more support from the libre community to help them promote and make a living from their work
  • music hubs: networking hubs for musicians like OpenSourceMusic, CommonEdits, CreateDigitalMusic,
  • music repositories: online music database projects like the Free Music Archive and Jamendo
  • music magazines and other publications who are supportive of libre music
  • open source communities whose projects are music-related
  • open hardware communities whose projects are music-related
    • portable music players
    • effects pedals
    • networking and documentation hubs like OpenCircuits


A CC music distribution platform that allowed artists use 'influence' tags to list the musicians they like to listen to, and who they think have influenced their music, would make it easier for them to be discovered by existing fans of those acts. But musicians can't know what their music sounds similar to from an audience perspective. If the platform allowed a folksonomy of 'influence' tags, added by listeners to gratis streams, this would allow similarities to established musical acts to be tagged, but also similarities with other emerging acts. Mapping the musical commons using familiar reference points, and by reference to other parts of itself.