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katya-oddio on 02/18/2017 at 05:07PM

String Quartet Moment of Zen

"Mount Fuji" by Mya Told

Coming in under four minutes, these two contemporary string quartets by Maciej Żołnowski may serve as a moment of beauty in your day, or as John Stewart used to say at the end of The Daily Show, "your moment of zen."

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cheyenne_h on 12/23/2016 at 11:52AM

2016 Year In Review, Part VI: Highlights from Needle Drop Co.

As the end of 2016 approaches, some of our curators are looking back on what 2016 had in store for them. Needle Drop Co. is a curator whose music is intended for use in noncommercial videos and broadcasts. They shared some highlights of this year with us. There will be more highlights coming next week, but this should last you through the holiday weekend!

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cheyenne_h on 12/07/2016 at 02:09PM

FMA: A Resource for Video Producers

YouTuber and online video tutorial-producer PremiereGal gave FMA a shout-out on her latest video about places to find music for videos. She's also rockin' our 2016 fundraiser shirt!

She also mentions a blog entry that gives a quick run-down of the licenses and whether or not they're suitable for video, which you can find here. As always, we encourage everyone to read the licenses carefully and contact the artist if you're in doubt, but don't let that stop you from utilizing all that our archive has to offer!

OK, enough about us. Here's the video!

 

You can find more of PremiereGal's tutorials and updates at her website.

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music for video
cheyenne_h on 07/20/2016 at 12:08PM

FMA Q&A: "It's all about experimentation:" an Interview with Steve Combs, CC Composer

Part of a collage from Steve Combs. Used with permission.

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.


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cheyenne_h on 06/28/2016 at 01:51PM

Not All Music on FMA is Licensed for Video

Some of our music is just for listening. Sorry video-making friends! (image via flickr commons)

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.

If you need guidance, please consult our FAQs, License Guide or read up on the Creative Commons website before asking - you may find the answer right in front of you!

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