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Spark on 04/21/2010 at 06:00AM

Spark: Creative Commons Playlist

The latest addition to our guest curation series comes from Spark, "a weekly audio blog of smart and unexpected trendwatching" from CBC.


My name is Dan Misener, and I work on Spark, Canada's national technology/culture show from CBC Radio. I'm delighted to have been asked to participate in the Creative Commons curation project at the Free Music Archive. From its first episode in the fall of 2007, Spark has extensively featured CC-licensed music. Let me tell you why:

What the Web Sounds Like

A few years ago, the staff of Spark were preparing to make our very first episode of the show. We knew we wanted Spark to be more than a traditional broadcast radio program. We wanted it to be a collaboration and a conversation -- a platform for exploring the intersection of technology and culture. We wanted to embrace the values of online culture to talk about online culture. And as we worked on our first episode, one question we kept asking ourselves was, "What does the Internet sound like?" As it turns out, the Internet sounds an awful lot like the best CC-licensed music: collaborative, remixable, and constantly evolving.

Equality for podcasts and broadcasts

Here in Canada, using music in podcasts can be tricky business. Though rights and licensing agreements are in place for terrestrial broadcasts, that's not yet the case for podcasts. The result is that many over-the-air radio programs use commercial music, which must be removed or replaced for the podcast version. Usually, this means extra work, recutting a show so it's "podsafe."

When we started Spark, we were very keen to create a single, definitive version of the show for online and on-air. We didn't want our podcast to be a watered-down, "lite" version of Spark. We put a lot of time and attention into researching, writing, editing, and mixing Spark every week, and the quality of the end product shouldn't suffer because of the distribution mechanism.

Spreadability, linkability

One of the great unintended consequences of using CC music on Spark has to do with the Attribution condition. Of course, artists deserve credit for their work, and each week, we post links to the music and artists featured on the show. If listeners hear a tune they like, they can easily find out who wrote it and download their very own copy. This is a win-win-win for the listener, the show, and the artist. Listeners get pointers to great CC-licensed music, Spark gets exposure on sites like CCMixter (via trackbacks), and the artists get heard by hundreds of thousands of people on Canadian public radio.


Dan Misener is a producer on Spark, the national technology/culture show from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.



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