I received an email from a fan this week asking how I use the Creative Commons license and what it really means for me as an artist and getting paid. This is a good chance to answer this question not only for him, but for anyone else who’s curious as to what it means and why I do it.
The argument is regularly made that Creative Commons is good for exposure – I can’t argue that. It’s true: your work becomes more readily available for others to use in their own projects, often videos in need of music. If whoever is making this video knows how Creative Commons licenses work, they’ll know where they stand with regards to what they can and cannot do with your work. I’m a fan of this not just for the exposure, but there’s something wholly fulfilling knowing that, with any luck, I’m providing some inspiration for someone and helping them move forward with their own work. In other words: it’s just Karma.
I do get paid to do this sometimes – actually quite frequently. Once in a while someone will send me an email asking for commercial rates, but it’s usually resolved through Jamendo as it’s fair and universal. Once in a great while, I’ll be commissioned to create original work. The real advantages I’ve had in this method of distributing and generating income off of music are:
1) I make many different styles of music.
To be honest, this isn’t totally deliberate. There’s always a new story to tell and I’m not totally married to telling it one certain way. Sometimes the story is slower, sometimes it’s faster… sometimes louder, sometimes softer. It has always sort of just happened this way, but it’s turned out to be helpful when licensing for other projects.
2) I’ve made a lot of music already, even before finding CC.
The first three albums I made were before I was totally aware of what the internet could do for me as a musician (aside from provide access to new music, software… pretty much everything essential to what I do today) and I just had a lot of music laying around. I’m glad for this because, even if I think a lot of it sucks, not everyone else does. If nothing else, you can see the progression of how I came into myself (and I continue to do so) as a musician over time. I suppose there’s some value in this…
If you check the Videos section of this site, you’ll see some of the results of this and I didn’t chase after any of them… frankly, most of them just happened and I found them later. Jamendo licensing will show you the name of the studio that licensed your work, but that’s almost always a separate company, so it’s often hard to tell what your work was actually used for until it’s been used. I imagine this is something that will get better with time as Creative Commons licensing is very new.
My music career has been lucrative, fulfilling and quite an adventure. It doesn’t look much like what I hoped it would when I was young, but neither does the “music industry” – which I’m glad I can get around. Everyone can make music now and everyone does.I do feel fortunate to live in a world with so much music, art, new ideas and experiences… and that they’re so easily shared at any moment. I’m also not very competitive, so perhaps that’s why I’ve stuck so religiously to the Creative Commons license.
I’m far more interested in contributing to culture than I am in making money.