Kristin Hersh was an early adopter of Creative Commons licensing, using it to put out full releases, live music, and works in progress. Her latest solo album, Speedbath, was released one track a month over the course of a year under a CC BY-NC-SA license. Fans created over 100 remixes or derivative works, but the real story is the support they gave. Kristin offered a subscription to the record where fans could essentially pre-order the album in a model similar to community supported agriculture, with varying quarterly payment levels giving different benefits. Over 500 fans subscribed despite the music being given away for free, and with the addition of voluntary payments well over 1100 unique people contributed to the process.The model proved to be such a success that Kristin will continue the subscription and release one song a month indefinitely, replacing the album model with a listener supported stream of CC licensed music.
Deerhoof issued the sheet music for their single “Fresh Born” under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA license as the first preview of their record, Offend Maggie. An interesting experiment in interactivity, over 75 versions of “Fresh Born” — all recorded by other people — were avaialable before the album was released. All the activity lead to increased exposure and highlights the vlaue of CC licensing in pre-release campaigns.
Jonathan Coulton is an independent musician who releases music under a CC BY-NC license. As a result he has built an impressive following. Self-released music has become a career-driver for Coulton, with 45% of his income in 2007 stemming from paid digital downloads. A title track in the wildly successful video game Portal and an appearance in Rock Band ultimately show a musician leveraging CC licensing to grow his artistic profile.
Nine Inch Nails
Nine Inch Nails released their Grammy nominated Ghosts I-IV under a CC BY-NC-SA license. They gave the first disc away for free digitally and sold tiered offerings ranging from a $5 download of the full album to a $300 premium box set. Limited to 2,500 units, the box set netted $750,000 in profit for the band. Ghosts would go on to become the #1 paid MP3 download on Amazon.com for 2008. The next NIN album, The Slip, was released for free under the same CC license, fueling a sold-out tour.
Rather than shoot video for their “House of Cards” single using traditional cameras, Radiohead and Aaron Koblin used lasers to capture data, later rendering stunning visuals. The data was released under a CC BY-NC-SA license that allowed people to create their own works, resulting in diverse variations — turning raw data into a fresh, creative, and interactive viral campaign.
Brian Eno & David Byrne
Constant innovators, Brian Eno and David Byrne embraced remix culture in 2006 when they remastered their My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts album. All 24 mix tracks for two songs were released publicly under a BY-NC-SA license on a website facilitating uploads, user rankings, and music discovery. 262 new tracks were created with over 260,000 listens from around the world.
ccMixter is the online destination for those looking to collaborate on music in an open and free manner. Full songs, samples, demos, found sounds, and rough ideas are posted by a community of artists under CC licenses that at the very least allow for noncommercial remixing. With a user base that varies in mainstream appeal ccMixter has grown into an amazing resource for those looking for royalty-free music, while at its core the site remains a place for musicians to collaborate and be creative.