Color Within New Lines

This is a letter I wrote to my contact at ASCAP in response to this article in the Huffington Post.

Creative Commons licenses are beneficial to artists and listeners alike.....and I've experienced this personally.  They actually protect me as a songwriter!  I can choose my license, and let people use my music for noncommercial purposes (without criminalizing them for including me a in school project, amateur YouTube video, etc.) long as they Attribute me!  I can also give them rights for commercial use, but personally I do not generally chose that.....but that is my prerogative as an artist.  Here is a link to the licenses themselves:

What has been lost at iTunes, Amazon and everywhere else is exactly that - Attribution.  When you buy a track at iTunes, there is no data on their site (or tags in the file), crediting the songwriter, publisher, producer, musicians, etc.  This has been one of the biggest losses in the digital age.....loss of information.

Giving music away has always been a promotional tool for artists and labels.  Remember how FM radio started?  ASCAP now collects fees for radio play because through its growth, FM radio started generating revenue, and when revenue is generated, well, it seems only fair to share that with the artists.  That is likely to happen again, but we're all still figuring out, what are the new ways to make revenue in this changing, evolving world?

We are still learning, but one thing is certain.  The files people get on the internet are lower quality than CDs or vinyl, have no artwork, have no information and are usually limited to their iPod/iPad family (imagine if the CD you bought could only play in a SONY walkman that you had to carry around to plug into your car, your home stereo....with lower sound quality than your home stereo).  This is where a cooperation between hardware, software, high-tech, new labels, old labels, etc.....well, would help a lot more than this current bickering, IMHO.

I believe in music.  I want to see it grow beyond this time of decline, and believe it will.  But I believe instead of tightening the noose, and suing potential fans and partners, the industry would be wise to learn from and work with innovative me, the CC and others! ;)

On our site,, we're making sure key information/credits for each song is included in each digital release -- both online and in the actual file itself.  Oh, and the files are CD quality.  You can see an example of the Holiday Album we did, its actual creation/production made possible through Creative Commons licenses, here.  If you click 'credits' next to each track, you will see all of the info there, currently missing on nearly every other digital music platform.  At TuneTrack, you can stream for free, but if you pay the artist, you can download the lossless tracks and all the info is still there (if only iTunes had better tag-reading capability......).

Before we mastered the files for Peace of Winter, compiled them and packaged them, the artists signed a separate agreement with the label....allowing non-exclusive, distribution and commercial use.  We're actually working to get the album in Starbucks this holiday season, and were considering registering the songs with ASCAP to enable radio play and other 'public performance' -- (we want to help artists that want to take their careers to the next level to get paid!).   Clearly we cannot do that if ASCAP takes this stance against the Creative Commons and EFF.

The company co-founded, ArtisTech Media, acquired from the Creative Commons on October 28, 2009. has reinvigorated my music career, and has already brought me at least a half dozen commercial licensing opportunities in the past few months (I had greatly scaled back my personal music career around 2005 when I became the President of MP3tunes). 

As my strength as an artist continues to grow, made possible by Creative Commons licenses, I am starting to have more commercial opportunities now.....opportunities I would never have had without the exposure and circulation Creative Commons licenses give me.  I actually need someone like ASCAP more now than I ever did before....but an ASCAP that is adapting to the new environment, not locked into the old ways.....seeking ways to innovate, color within new lines and work in cooperation with Creative Commons, not against it.  I don't think suing high-tech companies, that could be the very key to the innovation needed to save the music industry, is going to help any of us! 

Think of CC licenses as providing a forum for the NCAA of music, with ASCAP providing the forum for the NBA, as a metaphor.  The NCAA feeds the NBA - it doesn't cannibalize it. 

Here is a link to a blog by one of the ccMixter artists, spinmeister, wherein he shares his feelings.

These just are my stream of consciousness thoughts.....thanks for your time.  Again, I want to help!  I've been with ASCAP since 1995 :)

Unknown Title by Unknown Artist from Unknown Album