International festival of electronic music and media arts, Manchester
The Futuresonic 2006 festival will explore the theme of Independence, looking at collaborative cultures and independence movements in art, technology and culture. Futuresonic was formed 10 years ago at a time when there was a emergent musical and digital culture that was outside the mainstream, collaborative and peer-to-peer. Today a centre of gravity has shifted towards the world of hackers, bloggers, free networks, open source, social software and civic technologies. What has remained constant has been the emphasis on social autonomy and independence of creative practice. Futuresonic 2006 will explore the state of independence today, and showcase independent music, arts and technologies that are open, emergent, collaborative and ad-hoc.
The next issue of Feedback will focus on participatory projects. Open Music Archive are hoping to contribute to this issue.
Artists Eileen Simpson & Ben White have recently initiated the Open Music Archive project to source and distribute music that has fallen out of copyright. The Open Music Archive is situated within the current discourse surrounding notions of authorship, ownership and distribution, reanimated by a porting of Free/Libre and Open Source software models to wider creative contexts.
Property rights are founded on the principle of limitation and because copyright removes works from the public domain, they deny the legal possibility of free creative use by others. The Open Music Archive is concerned with the public domain and creative works whose proprietary interests have expired; music that is not owned by any one individual and is held in common by society as a whole.
Under copyright law, a music recording has two automatically assigned propety rights: A musical compositon has a property right and a recording has a separate and independent property right. These rights are limited by term. In the UK, the term of copyright in a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work is limited to the life of the author plus 70 years, while the term of copyright in a sound recording is limited to 50 years from the date of recording.
We have painstakingly tracked down out-of-copyright 78rpm recordings, digitised them, and will distribute them via the Open Music Archive website. The full tracks will be available as source recordings for use and re-use as material for future creative exchanges (full site launch: 9th Jan 2006). The project aims to share this resource and to build a larger archive in open collaboration with others. The archive website will distribute this music freely, form a site of exchange of knowledge and material, and be a vehicle for future collaborations and distributed projects.
The next issue of Feedback will focus on participatory projects. Open Music Archive is built using an Open Source model. Users are able to interact with the archive by uploading and downloading recordings, and existing material can be tagged by any user, creating new ways to navigate and group material.
The projects area of the site uses a wiki engine. Unlike a standard wesite, a wiki allows any user to contribute, participate, and make changes to the content. Users can remix tracks from the archive, generate discussion, and post their new work to the website using Creative Commons licences.
Open Music Archive establishes a deterritorialised and autonomous zone constructed from material lying beyond the boundaries of property law. The archive does not attempt to interpret material in a fixed way but to make it available for participation and new possibilities. The archive can grow though open participation with no fixed boundaries or limits.
Capital looks for potential resource in everything. Open Music Archive, on the other hand, does not operate to harvest out-of-copyright recordings for money-profit, its motivation is enthusiasm for the enrichment of the public domain.
Open Music Archive presents Free Songs
Artists Eileen Simpson & Ben White have recently initiated the Open Music Archive project to source and distribute music that has fallen out of copyright. The Open Music Archive situates itself within the current discourse surrounding notions of authorship, ownership and distribution, reanimated by a porting of Free/Libre and Open Source software models to wider creative contexts.
Property rights are founded on a principle of limitation and because copyright removes works from the public domain, they deny the legal possibility of free creative use by others. The Open Music Archive concerns itself with the public domain and creative works that are not owned by any one individual and held in common by society as a whole. We have painstakingly tracked down original 78rpm recordings, digitised them, and placed them in a web-based archive. The full tracks are available as source recordings for use and re-use as material for future creative exchanges and is a vehicle for collaborations and distributed projects.
We propose to continue to reanimate the archive by inviting bands to respond to source recordings by performing cover versions of songs. The bands will select from a compilation of twenty source tracks from the Open Music Archive; mostly 1920s recordings of jazz, blues, and country songs (examples are included) The cover versions will be recorded and Creative Commons ShareAlike licences will be used to license the ‘new’ recordings so that their constituent parts become, in perpetuity, a legally protected creative resource.
From early in the 20th Century it was common practice among record labels to have singers or musicians "cover" a record that was a significant commercial hit. They would then release the song on their own label in hopes of cashing in on the tune's success. Today, covers continue to win audiences who like to hear a familiar song. New artists are often introduced to the record buying public with performances of well-known, "safe" songs; the chance of commercial success can be increased and credibility gained by using a proven hit. Popular tunes are relentlessly revamped by boy bands, a Stars in their Eyes contender, or Brenda from X-Factor.
Through our project, the commercial device of the cover version is negated; the tracks are unlikely to be familiar to the audience and they don’t generate money through royalties because their property rights have expired.
‘Open Music Archive presents Free Songs’ seeks to deconstruct the cover version, disrupt authority in the archive, and deny the legal and commercial structures of the music industry. We aim to enrich rather than deplete the public domain and reclaim what is public in an age of relentless privatization.
Example source songs from the archive