ascap vs creative commons? seriously?

It seems like that last post of mine detailing my selfish reasons for making my music available for free couldn’t have been better timed. ASCAP has launched an attack on Creative Commons, the EFF, and Public Knowledge, asking its members to donate to a fund that will be used to campaign against copyleft licencing in the US Congress. The letter it sent to its members reads like the kind of FUD you’d expect from 90s Microsoft:

“They say they are advocates of consumer rights, but the truth is these groups simply do not want to pay for the use of our music. Their mission is to spread the word that our music should be free.”

This could not be further from the truth — Creative Commons gives artists tools to control what they wish to allow other people to do with their own work. It’s not aimed at tearing down traditional copyright, and it’s certainly not aimed at providing free access to existing copyrighted works. I’ve talked about the fact that I use CC because it’s in my best interest, but I wouldn’t claim that it’s the best option for all artists.

I can only think that ASCAP is targeting Creative Commons because it’s becoming a credible alternative to the old performance royalty model. If a cafe owner wants some background music for their customers, they can play any appropriately-licenced CC music; that is, any work not using the “Non-Commercial” clause. As more music becomes available under these licences, and awareness of its existence grows, it will be increasingly practical to work with CC music rather than pay ASCAP fees.

my selfish reasons for making free music with free software

People sometimes ask me why use free and open-source tools for my music production, when there’s such an incredible wealth of commercial options out there. More often, the subject of selling music comes up, and people ask why I give mine away for free. I’d like to say that it’s a selfless promotion of free culture, but the reality is far more pragmatic, and perhaps a little selfish. Using free tools and releasing my music for free is simply what works best for me.

Continue reading

sketchbook: a sooperlooper jam

SooperLooper is proving to be a lot of fun! Last weekend I fired it up and did some impromptu jamming, following this basic formula:

  • Slap together a basic four-bar drum pattern in Hydrogen
  • Export that pattern as a loop and import it in to SooperLooper as loop 1
  • Play a bunch of random crap over the top, and if it sounds okay, grab a loop of it
  • Lather, rinse, repeat

I saved those sessions, and had a quick stab at turning one of them in to a proper track, which I call “sl3”, by importing the loops in to Ardour and moving/coping them in to an arrangement. I also threw in some effects for good measure: EQ, a couple of delays (can’t help myself with those!), and an insert out to Rakarrack to add some guts to my fairly limp bass loop. I’m sure I could make it more interesting by re-recording a few parts — replacing the drum loop with a properly programmed part with a bit of variety, for instance — but hey, for an hour-and-a-half’s work, I think it sounds okay!


mp3 | vorbis | 2:27

hayabusa returns!

Hayabusa, the little spacecraft that could, defied the odds last night when its sample return container safely parachute-landed in Woomera. Launched by the Japanese space agency, JAXA, back in 2003, Hayabusa spent two years travelling to an asteroid named Itokawa, where it attempted to collect samples from the asteroid’s surface to return to Earth. The Hayabusa mission has been plagued with problems — pre-launch delays, failures during the Itokawa encounter, and engine and communication failures on the return trip — but after five years, it finally managed to limp home.

It’s been really interesting to see how Japanese people celebrated the return of Hayabusa — cuteness was out in full force:


There was even a Hayabusa cosplayer at JAXA’s public viewing area! JAXA is doing some very cool stuff at the moment — its recently-launched IKAROS spacecraft will hopefully prove the potential for solar sails for space travel — so I can’t wait to see what they, and the Japanese public, come up with in the future.

congratulations to spacex, but sad pandas for humanity

Saturday morning marked a significant milestone in spaceflight: the successful maiden launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. For years, spaceflight has been ruled by governments and the military, but SpaceX is shaking things up by developing rockets on a purely commercial basis, and at a fraction of the price of competing offerings. SpaceX has had success in the past with its smaller Falcon 1 rocket, but the Falcon 9 is a much bigger machine: with around 20 times the payload capacity, it’s more than capable of launching crew and cargo to the ISS.

Continue reading