by Alex Cosper (11/18/12)
People who make low budget videos don't want to pay thousands of dollars to use a song in their video, especially if it's independent music that no one has heard of. Free music licensing is what many videomakers are looking for to use as background music for their videos. The best place to look for such music is Creative Commons, which issues various licenses. Not all of their licenses are for free but many of them are. It's a place that simplifies the licensing process instead of getting deep in legal talk.
If you are an artist looking to license music for money, it can still be done through Creative Commons. Another website to check out for licensing music and media soundbites is ProductionTrax.com. The site takes a lot of the mystery out of licensing and makes it easy to establish a business model based on music licensing.
The concept of free music is becoming a big topic in the 21st century. Now that anyone can enjoy music whenever they want for free online there's less reasons to buy music. It raises the question: should all music be free? From a fan's viewpoint, the answer is yes, but from a commercial artist's view the answer is usually no. What's interesting is how both sides take their own views for granted, even though for most of human history musicianship was not really a high paid profession, except for composers that were commissioned by the elite.
Only in the era of recorded music, which began in the late 19th century, has the monetization of music been such a huge concern among the professional music community. For the most part, music written before the 1840s was not copyrighted or marketed to the masses in any way. Folk songs were handed down from generation to generation as cultural anthems while classical pieces were considered luxuries furnished by the elite. The idea of people paying for concerts is a relatively new concept in the history of civilization.
Some people still make music for the sake of sharing art that inspires. Others want to use music to complement projects like slide shows or videos. Copyright law was not clearly defined until the Copyright Act of 1976, which went into effect January 1, 1978. The law amended the Copyright Act of 1909, which superseded the Copyright Act of 1790. The development of new distribution methods of music is what influenced changes in the law, leading ultimately to the the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998.
So will music always be commerical from now on? Many musicians only make music for a hobby. Even though copyright law protects creative works, not everyone worries about it. Music has many purposes that can integrate with different projects, which is why there is also a need for nonprofit organizations and hobbyists to have access to music for their projects. When you consider that most music on the market never turns a profit, it opens a discussion on how much of the 95 percent of music that doesn't sell was a waste to record and distribute in the first place. It's a good idea for every songwriter and musician to think about these issues to avoid a lifetime of debt and despair.
There's nothing wrong with trying to make a living from composing and performing music. But the way the mathematical puzzle works out, not everyone can be a rock star. There's simply not enough money to go around to feed millions of starving bands. That's why musicians need to take a serious look at freeing themselves from this economic curse that surrounds music. New creative ways to make money with music need to be invented. Interestingly, free music eliminates a lot of this stress and confusion.
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