• Hey MagnaTune, Don't Be Shy About CreativeCommons!

last modified April 6, 2017 by strypey


Hey there MagnaTune. First things first, props to you folks. You were one of the pioneers of creating a social enterprise around the distribution of CreativeCommons music on the web, launching the year before Jamendo. You were on the web a year before YouTube began accepting uploaded video as a tiny start-up, and three years before BandCamp went live.You offered downloads in a range of formats so people wanting music in patent-free formats and lossless formats (and patent-free lossless formats) could access the music from your site, and the range of formats you now offer for album downloads is truly impressive. You offered streams in a range of formats as well, always doing your best to move towards patent-free formats as the default, in a world where the stagnant MP3 rules portable music players like the Caligula of audio formats (with iTunes and the iPod as its Incitatus), although thankfully there are a few portable music players that support patent-free formats like Ogg Vorbis (lossy) and Ogg FLAC (lossless). Most importantly, you shared your revenues with your artists 50/50 in an industry where it's not unusual for new artists to end up owing the record company money.

As it happens, you were also online for two years before users were able to to start uploading and sharing their ARR copyright music on GrooveShark. I mention them because like Napster, Grokster, MegaUpload, and so many others, their work was stolen by the very RIAA copyright mafia who so freely accuse music fans of "stealing" when we freely share music online. Their co-founder and CTO (Chief Technology Officer) Josh Greenberg, like Kim Schmitz, had years of work pulled out from under him, and like Aaron Schwartz, was hounded by aggressive corporate copyright lawyers until the stress of it killed him. Officially, his death was not the result off "foul play or suicide", but 28 year olds do not usually just drop dead for no obvious reason. It's conceivable, if not likely, that facing financial ruin and intense legal intimidation played some part in his death.

What you do MagnaTune, selling music under CC licenses, and making sure artists get their fair share of what you bring in, is the sane alternative to demolishing people's lives, with obsolete laws designed around distribution of dead tree products. What you do really matters. We must replace the bully boys of the RIAA with more businesses like you, built around CC and other free licensing schemes, so that eventually we can reform (or even abolish) copyright, so that not one more Aaron, not one more Josh, has to die for the profits of Big Media. To do that, we need to shout about CC from the rooftops at every opportunity. We need everyone to help.

So here's the thing. You're all about CreativeCommons music. I'd love to see those words writ large on your front page, maybe with a link to the license chooser at CreativeCommons.org. I'd love not to have to go two clicks away from your front page to find the 'Creative Commons licensing at Magnatune' page. I'd love to see you upgrade to the latest version (4.0) of your chosen CC license too, which has had some major improvements over version 1.0, not least a major internationalization that does away with the need for country-specific "ports" of the CC licenses.

I'd also love to see the 'album info' tab on your album pages featuring prominent information about the default CC license you use (ideally including the license icon linked to the license text on CreativeCommons.org)

,so I don't have to scroll down to the bottom of the share tab on the album page), rather than having to grub around to find the license for the music I'm browsing at the bottom of . Today I found the album 'Difference' by Mystic Crock on your front page, which is some gorgeous dubby ambient by the way, but I can also listen to the whole album on YouTube, or BandCamp. Of the three sites, is BandCamp is the only one that mentions a CreativeCommons license (CC-BY-SA 3.0) on the same page where I can play the music.

Oh, and your's is the only site of the three where my enjoyment of Mystic Crock's music is constantly interrupted mid-tune by voices hassling me to give you money. The between song ads you could almost get away with, but playing them over the music? BandCamp doesn't do this, and Jamendo and the FreeMusicArchive don't either. Even if I couldn't listen to any of the music on your site anywhere else, there's still a multiple lifetimes worth of music I can listen to on the web. The ads don't make me want to give you money. They make me want to go somewhere else, and if I go somewhere else, I'm unlikely to feel the appreciation of your collection that is more likely to make me want to give you money.

A couple of technical things. Even though you started a major website makeover in 2010, it still seems to be asking me to allow its filthy Flash in my browser. Props for working towards replacing Flash with VLC Multimedia Plug-in integration, the player is nice. Unfortunately, it didn't always work, maybe a clash with the Flash? To be fair, the site seems mostly functional without either plug-in working, just not as pretty. Except when I started listening to an album on the front page, and when I got tired of the ads interrupting the music between and within every song, the only way to stop the music was to close the browser tab. This is not the way to keep visitors on your site, or encourage them to come back.