Recent FMA Blog Posts
This is a feed of featured blog posts from FMA users. Blog on, bloggers!
hecanjog on 07/21/2016 at 09:39AM
To celebrate 100,000 published tracks on the Free Music Archive, we've put together some data that we hope you will use for creative purposes!
There's a github repo over yonder with a handful of wavetables created using data from the first 100,000 published tracks. FMA benevolent software overlord Ross Oldenburg cooked up some more data for visualization / sonification use here: http://bit.ly/2agaoPM
To kick things off, I made a little song using the wavetables in the repo above. The wavetables created from monthly publication and creation dates were enveloped by the wavetables created from yearly publication and creation dates and used to drive a pulsar synthesizer whose pitch was modulated with the wavetables created from track durations. The pitches spell an F major Add 9 chord, because you know... FMA. :-)
Please share your creations!
cheyenne_h on 07/20/2016 at 12:08PM
Sometimes we get curious about our artists. Steve Combs is one of those great artists that came out of nowhere (and started on FMA as a contributor for our microSong and Masters Remastered challenges), and has been contributing tons of CC-BY goodness to FMA for more than a year now. We wanted to know more about Steve and his musical background, so we asked him a few questions. Read on!
FMA: Give us a little background about yourself.
SC: My name is Steve Combs, I’m from New York's scenic Hudson Valley, and I compose the hell out of little electronic jingles. I've been doing this since March of 2014, and in the past two and a half years, I’ve put out somewhere around 300 songs under my own name, as well as another 50 or so through various side projects. Pro-tip: remixing your first eight albums in their entirety is a great way to build up your catalog.
FMA: You're a very prolific composer. What inspires you to write music?
SC: I don’t usually use the word "write," since I never actually write anything down beforehand. I say I make music, because my approach to making music has always revolved around improvisation: I'll sit down at the computer and play around with the keyboard until I happen upon a chord progression or a beat that I like, record 4 or 8 bars of it, and layer complimentary parts on top of it. Once I have all of that A section, I'll spread it out and throw together a B or C section in the same way until I have a full song. So there's really never a moment for me where I feel moved to write a song - they're all just the result of me sitting down and seeing what happens. But on the broad scale, I think I compose music because I'm fundamentally fascinated with musical theory and want to see what I can do with it. Instrumental music seems to me to be the best way to explore that, since I can use whatever scale, time signature, or instrumentation that I want without worrying about it being accessible. I do tend to write hook-based major key songs, but I've also done an electro-orchestral concept album and free jazz interludes and president-sampling EDM, so I think that level of possibility and freedom to create whatever is a big part of why I do this. I think it's all about experimentation, and seeing how I can use music in new and interesting ways.
FMA: Do you enjoy collaboration with other artists/musicians?
SC: This is actually a really serendipitous question, since I just did a split LP with the FMA’s own Simon Mathewson for Netlabel Day. It’s called Notes and boasts 9 new songs - 3 of mine, 2 of his, and 4 that we did together.
(Also, while I’m doing plugs, I have a new album of my own out called To Kill A Messenger, which is 11 songs, most of which were on my Comma and Apostrophe EPs, but also 4 new songs - including a cover of "On The Banks of the Wabash," the state song of Indiana.)
But to actually answer the question, yeah, collaboration is always fun. I haven’t done as much of it as I'd like to, because it's more work than just churning songs out on my own, but I've done a few here and there, and have always enjoyed it. Working with Simon or The Pardos or James Dean Claitor (with whom I wrote "Irascible," which is on my album Anaheim) is always rewarding and always produces something I find worth listening to.
FMA: Why did you choose the Free Music Archive as a music distribution platform?
SC: I honestly think the FMA is the perfect distribution platform for anyone who works in non-jazz instrumental music, because with the exception of Yanni, we don’t really have an avenue to success that doesn't involve being used as background music. People don't really listen to instrumental music the same way they listen to punk rock, pop, or country. I had to make peace with the fact that my albums aren't going to be anyone's favorites. But what surprised me once I started using the FMA, and what seemed kind of paradoxical, was that once people saw my music as a commodity, something to be used, they actually appreciated it way more than they did when I was pushing it like you would push pop music. Once it was of use to them, they actually listened to it. So in the process of discovering this platform, I had to change how I pictured what "success" was for my music - I'm never going to hit the Billboard charts, but there are people that listen to and like my music, not just for what it is on its own, as art, but for what it is to them. I imagine this is what ambient artists felt like when spas and yoga studios started playing their music in the background. Moods of the Rainforest, Volume 4 finally found a home! Someone appreciates it!
So to circle back to the actual question, I chose the FMA because it provided me with a level of appreciation I never would have gotten had I not made those realizations. The most immediate feeling of success that I get from my music is seeing that a song on a new album put out the day before is already in the background of someone's vlog or podcast. That’s pretty much why I use the FMA.
FMA: How did you find out about Creative Commons licenses?
SC: Honestly, when I saw the little tab on Bandcamp that lets you change your licensing when I put out my first song. I had no idea what it was, so I followed a link and learned about this amazingly simple, amazingly ingenious system. It had never occurred to me how needlessly complicated copyright was, and especially as I grew to accept that I was making background music, it seemed like such a great fit. The idea that people can use your songs in their cat videos and you don't have to sue them? It’s revolutionary.
cheyenne_h on 07/19/2016 at 11:27AM
WOOO! WE MADE IT! We now have 100,000 songs in our database! Please go frolic amongst the free files forever! Though it's just a number, of course, it's a BIG one and we're delighted to have worked with so many curators, independent musicians, and community members to make this happen!
We'll be putting together some breakdowns of what's in here so far, and we're looking forward to the next 100,000 songs! Maybe now's a good time to help us keep doing what we do best -- either by pitching in for our expanding data & hosting expenses, or to contribute music to help us grow!
All the best,
cheyenne_h on 07/14/2016 at 10:34AM
Welcome to Netlabel Day 2016! Now in its second consecutive year, this event is in the spirit of Record Store day, but every release is available for everyone -- digitally! Collecting exclusive releases from artists hailing from five continents, this is a special occasion indeed. Put together by M.I.S.T. netlabel from Chile, last year there were more than 80 labels and 120 fresh releases! Today, there are more than that. Like, waaayyyy more. Like, 176 of them! So nab some killer free releases here!
To check out the full list of participating labels, unaffiliated mucisians, and of course, releases, please visit the Netlabel Day site, or stay tuned to our Twitter feed for announcements about Netlabel Day releases that are being shared here on FMA! If you live in Mexico City, Santiago, West Sussex/Worthing, Madrid, Montreal, or Ljubljana, head over to the event near you!
So far, here's what's been added to FMA (we will add to this list):
rosso on 07/09/2016 at 01:38AM
The FMA is once again sending out new user registration emails and other notification emails. If you tried to register over the past several days and never received a confirmation email, there is no need to register again. We will be going over the backlog of registrations over the weekend. You will receive an email when your account has been activated. Again, we apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.
cheyenne_h on 07/08/2016 at 02:16PM
A contributor to FMA (as a field-recording collector and a composer) shared three volumes of sounds and songs from India and Nepal earlier this year. Though they have garnered some attention (in part to their being licensed CC-BY, no doubt), we wanted to shine a light on these unique recordings. We've put together a playlist of some highlights for you, but please visit the full triple-volume set to soak it all in!
Of his recordings, Samuel says:
"I traveled from the south of India to Nepal and back again in the winter and spring of 2015. The experience changed my life. As much of these recordings are an expression of the place and temperament that is India and Nepal, I believe in a way they tell somewhat of my story, too (though in a different language). All recordings are raw; only the length of time was edited in any way. Volume I is intimate. Most songs were performed personally by musicians for me and are often playful or humorous. Volume II is music of the collective. The performances are usually devotional or ritualistic in some manner, designed to bring performers and participants together. The tone will waver between the celebratory and the solemn. A majority of the performances were done in a public sphere and I was only one among many. Volume III is natural. Soundscapes meant to create a three dimensional space; field recordings in the purest sense."
If you have traveled abroad and want to share your field recordings with us, please drop us a line.
cheyenne_h on 07/08/2016 at 11:54AM
Hi friends! We're experiencing an issue with the confirmation emails not being sent for our freshly registered/registering users. Please send us an email with your username or email address if it's not working properly for you, and we'll help you get it sorted out. Sorry for the inconvenience this may cause.
cheyenne_h on 06/28/2016 at 01:51PM
Just a friendly reminder.
We know, the FMA is a great resource for all sorts of people - filmmakers, remix artists, people who wanna hear strange new sounds - but we've been getting a LOT of messages lately from confused people about whether or not they can use X song in Y video.
It depends on the license, and how you intend to use the music, my friend! And best of all, you can find out all the information you need on your own. There are tons of resources out there to help.
We have a robust FAQ (complete with webinar!) about which licenses are suitable for video here. But here are some basics:
1. ND or No Derivatives: If you want to use a track from FMA for a video, you are not allowed to use anything with an "ND" or "No Derivatives" clause in the license. You must get further permission from the artist in order to use it for a video.
2. NC or Non Commercial: If you want to use a track for commercial purposes (including a monetized YouTube video, a real estate listing, or a video telling people about a product or service that costs money), anything with a "NC" or "Non Commercial" clause is not pre-cleared for this type of use. If you want to use it for a commercial purpose, you must get further written permission from the artist, and possibly pay for a license to use the song.
3. SA or Share Alike: If you want to use a track that is licensed CC BY-SA "Share Alike" or CC BY-NC-SA, you are required by that license to share your own work under the identical license. If you can't, or don't want to, do this, you must get further written permission from the artist. (Noticing a pattern yet?)
4. BY or Attribution: Anything with a CC license with "BY" or "Attribution" in it means you must give credit to the artist, but that's it. You can use it for whatever you want, even derivative works like videos and remixes. If you don't want to, or can't give attribution in your derivative work (such as a video)... guess what? You have to get further permission from the artist! (Now you're getting it!)
We have pre-screened a lot of stuff and it's tucked neatly in the Music For Video curator page (though this includes NC and SA tracks - so make sure to look for the license you need). You can also use stuff from our Public Domain collection without attributing or getting permission from the artist.
cheyenne_h on 06/24/2016 at 12:18PM
June is LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and more) Pride Month. It's traditionally in June because on June 28th 1969, The Stonewall Inn, a gay-friendly establishment in Manhattan, was raided by police. As arrests progressed, onlookers rioted, sparking a national movement calling for equal rights and protections for LGBTQ+ citizens, which has recently culminated in equal marriage rights for non-heterosexual couples. You can listen to a radio program about the Stonewall Riots here.
For some, it simply means there are more rainbow flags hanging than normal, and you might see some glitter spilled on a sidewalk here or there. For others, pride represents a time to honor the past and look toward the future. For still others, it's one of the best parties of the year. In the sonic universe of the Free Music Archive, there are musicians of all stripes, persuasions, and styles - and some are particularly relevant this month. We've gathered some here - but feel free to suggest more below!
From bouncy & fun to introspective to 8 seconds of grindcore, we've got quite a spectrum here. Enjoy! And, LGBTQ+ artists, we're always looking for new tunes. Feel free to get in touch if you want to add to our collection!
rosso on 06/22/2016 at 04:03PM
As of May 31st, Spotify chose to shut down the Echo Nest Rosetta Stone, which was a product FMA used for years to power our search engine and similar artist recommendations. Rosetta Stone allowed FMA to psychoacoustically analyze our own tracks for abstract properties like mood and separate our library from the rest of the Echo Nest universe.
As of right now, the FMA search engine can no longer search by mood or tempo, and artist pages will no longer include a list of similar artists. However, we are currently working on major upgrades to the search engine, including an expanded set of filters, more sorting options, and a more complete keyword search. We are also looking into alternative third-party music metadata and acoustic fingerprinting services.
If you have any suggestions for features you'd like to see in the FMA's search engine, please comment below.