Sunday, November 26, 2006

ccMixter Label?

I was thinking of all the great music on ccM and then about Shagrugge's idea a while to have compilations of ccMixter's best tracks. One of the last comments to which no one responded was from Mike L.: "Maybe there should be a ccMixter netlabel for remix albums....." Maybe there should. Some ideas:
Quality Differentiation: When a compilation is assembled, the best quality (lossless) sound files would be attained and someone with excellent mastering skills would package it all together. The real "CD quality" would be the differentiator between the downloadable "free" tracks and the compilation album/tracks (available for a price or maybe optional donation - media would cost, of course). Maybe even offer 24-bit if available.
Media Creativity - Maybe Even Offer Vinyl: I'm all into digital now - my vinyl's all gone, but I know a few people who will NEVER do anything but vinyl because they're just purists. I know some books now are printed only each time someone buys one. Are there (is it technically possible for there to be) any companies that use a similar approach for pressing vinyl? I found this company that presses records, and I'm sure there are many others, but I didn't find one that does real-time sale-to-press vinyl media production. With CD's, this real-time media creation is more doable - I'm sure somebody must do it or it can be done oneself. The thing about physical media is that people expect to pay something for it - not true of downloadable bits.
Flexibility: How about the idea of "create your own CD" where a person could select from ccMixter's best tracks to build their own CD (with CD-quality tracks and maybe bonus MP3's of separate tracks for remixing, all with cc license of course).
Exposure: It seems to me a barrier to cc growing faster is limited exposure, not the quality of the art (especially if we're talking about best ccM music vs. the median big-company-produced music). Exposure is starting to break through in small, undernoticed ways like Lonelygirl15, but we're still doing a lot of listening to each others' music. Is there a way to get into some of the same outlets as the big guys? If CD's and/or vinyl could be produced, then maybe some physical media could be sent to some influential reviewers, zines, independent record stores, etc. with explicit instructions for where to find the tracks online AND how to order more physical media if they want it. And as I've stated before, I think the folks at Pandora need to be approached, and maybe having some stuff available on media would help with credibility (if that's even the issue). Even the online music stores could be approached if a mutually beneficial arrangement could be conceived.

Just ideas - if I'm way off in the weeds with some of this, apologies. I don't read the cc blogs, so this may be an old discussion. I was just listening to XM Radio in our car earlier today and then listening to ccM tonight, and I think the latter is as good or better ('course I'm biased :). More cc music needs to be playing through more loudspeakers on this planet.



Gurdonark said...

It's a good idea. My sense is that mixter might most effectively be promoted not by "having" a netlabel, but by serving as a resource for a number of netlabels.
If five mixters, for example, each started a netlabel, and released mixter material on albums that way, then the combined increase in marketing by the five netlabels might push the music up to the top more. The mixter itself has so much buzz already that I think it's listener base is a good bit bigger than just "us listenin' to us", but a non-centralized set of netlables might help increase buzz further. I suspect that a series of articles in print and on-line publications about Creative Commons music would as well, and I intend to write one as soon as I find a carefree moment I am willing to devote to the task.

eightprime said...

The excellent Dr. Concoction just recently did up a cd version of a set of remixes he's done of my stuff at CCmixter.
To the best of my knowedge the Dr. is sending out actual inert matter CD's to various places far and wide.
It's not a net label, or distribution system, but it does demonstrate a way that we can work together to get the word out.
I think one of the strengths of this community is how wide and far our reach actually goes as a network of widely separated indivisuals.
Gurdonark mentions multiple small netlabels, and maybe that's one way to go. But What if, say, the design work was done centrally and then a wack of people in different areas produced 5 inert matter (IM) CD's for distribution to radio stations or trad. media outlets in in their state/province/prefecture/whatever.
Then we have the benefit of traditional distribution channels while still sticking with our strengths of being a distributed community.
Just some thoughts.

For those who have read this far, The collected album (with cover art and credits and everything) is available at:


MC Jack in the Box said...

i think you bring up some interesting thoughts chris that i'd call neither random or dumb :)

i think some of the points you bring up are part of larger issues that should also be considered. it sounds like many of the ideas you bring up have something in common - money. either being transacted, or distributed among artists, etc. this sort of model is somewhat counter to what i like about ccmixter - that everything is free, including the excellent administrator we enjoy. at least it's free for me. free for the public. i'm sure someone absorbs some of the costs but it's not obvious to me, or is it conditional that i contribute more than my time. and this keeps everything EASY :)

i for one (and i'm only speaking for myself here, both as a remix producer and a songwriter) could never in good faith take money for another artists work (even as samples) without the other artist being properly compensated for it. but i'll give it away for free.

i've remixed brad sucks entire CD but i could never take a dime for it, as that just wouldn't be right for me.

i think each of us is different, without different reasons for why we submit our remixes. i for one do it for strictly non-commercial reasons. if someone wanted to use something i've remixed commercially, i'd want to clear it with whoever i sampled, cc licence or not. just out of respect.

teru said...


Just throwing this out there.

A ccMixter album with 100% proceeds to Creative Commons would be a cool project.

If there was a way to pool together all artists that agree to this. And then filter them down onto a page, people could choose ten tracks from the pool to make their own album and then donate to Creative Commons.

For example, if Fourstones, Gurdonark and MCJack agree. A remix by MCJack containing samples from Fourstones and Gurdonark would be added to the pool of tracks. And so on.

Again, just throwing it out there. I haven't thought this through. : )

MC Jack in the Box said...

i would be happy to donate anything i've done for something benefiting ccmixter. ccmixter is great and has given me plenty of material. it's the least i could do.

fourstones said...

a fundraiser for cc is great (we've ALL donated for the drive right????)

I'm happy to make any NC track of mine available for that specific purpose.

however, I think it's very important to get a commercial enterprise environment off the ground. imo we should all get used to the idea of making music that people connect with and get very used to the idea of making money doing that.

KCentric said...

I agree with the idea of having a commercial enterprise environment in place for the artists and remixers of ccMixter.

I know that some of the tunes on the site are worthy of tv and music licensing deals, or any other creative medium for artists to make a living.

I think we should definitely pursue some collective opportunities in the very near future (all optional) of course.

I'm a believer in creativity and compensation.

Ran Dumb Dots said...

Wow, thanks for the dialog on this...
--- Gurdonark/Netlabels: not sure if one or many would be better. I had this thought of "ccMixter Presents...." and then you could have one to many volumes for various genre or sample categories (e.g. ccMixter Presents HipHop volume 1). It is certainly easier to try to push for and grassroots market for one thing rather than many, but then not everybody likes the same one thing. I totally agree that it could help to have some people write articles for mags. Maybe Utne Reader is going to do an evolving media issue or something...hmmm....
--- eightprime/Distributed low-fi distribution: I agree that having a couple dozen or more people burn 5 CD's each would be a good simple way to get media out there to DJ's, zines, reviewers....and, hey, if you're looking for centralized design, I have some photoshop skills (see Teru callout) LOL....thanks
--- Jack/getting permission & sharing compensation: for By-NC stuff, I agree....for By, I'm not sure I agree - the creator is granting permission as long as you give them credit. I totally agree that it's sort of case-by-case though - if you sampled one bass note that's different than building a song using the hook of somebody else's song (ala Vanilla Ice). It's good for community to be open about actions & intentions though, for sure.
--- Teru/benefit album: good idea - the first thing this would need is someone to lead the project - they'd come up with a vision for how to do it (esp. if physical media involved)
--- Victor & kcentric/commercial enterprise environment: Couple more ideas...
1) The way rural famers & natural foods lovers do it is to form a cooperative (ever visit the local coop?) of people to take advantage of volume pricing, shared operating costs, etc. The bigger the coop (e.g. The Wedge in Minneapolis where I used to live), the better the economics. Is there a ccc (creative commons cooperative) yet? I'm not sure how to launch something like that; it'd be interesting to find out from someone who has done it. If we're talking media (especially vinyl, which I think would be VERY cool), then this sort of resource pooling could help make it happen.
2) What simple UI enablers of artist commerce could be placed into ccMixter itself? For example, allow a person to optionally turn on a "Buy the CD Quality Version for $0.50" button for their track (maybe a dime goes to cc?). Or maybe make both the text and the price flexibly configurable and make the site's cut a %? Thinking back to Jack's comments, I'm concerned about tainting the site's free mixing environment. Maybe there's a way to be very having a "Would you pay a tiny price for the CD quality version of this track?" link or hopefully something more concise than that ;).
3) Back to eightprime's distributed CD burning idea, maybe if an album of CD-quality versions were assembled, ccM could facilitate distribution by having a sign-up list of people willing to burn CD's, maybe central production and mailing of the CD labels to the "burners", good instructions with photos so the finished products are relatively consistent...worth exploring.....

If this is something people consider worthy of ongoing dialog leading to actions, what sort of forum will work most effectively (i.e. not the blog, probably)?....something a little better suited to more verbose discussions with some category breakdowns (album ideas, media & distribution, whatever) - a wiki? a forum with separate registration from ccM? I think the time might be right to expand into this dialog, and we should choose how & where wisely to make the most productive use of people's time. Is this something the higher level sponsors of cc would be interested in helping with? It's funny...I don't really think I have a lot of "earning potential" from selling my music - it's something I enjoy, and as they say I get more back than I give on ccM...I'd like to just write a few good songs before I'm gone... but I think some of you may have that earning potential, and I'd love to see pieces put in place it happen. Even if some people made enough money to reinvest back into the music itself (money for gear or software), that would be something of a success. The past decade lots of small labels have launched and become successful - why not a cooperative of cc artists?


fourstones said...

"1) The way rural famers & natural foods lovers do it is to form a cooperative (ever visit the local coop?)"

dude, I live in Berkeley, no chains allowed.

exsiting ccc: see

forget making ccMixter itself into a commercial enterprise. the idea behind the site is to provide a tangible example of the possiblities that open licensing enables. If ccmixter is the world's biggest open licensing remix site in five years then (imo) it has failed.

personally, I'd go into business with you RDD but I'm afraid I'd spend all my time reading emails ;)

seriously, the next 12 months is going to be very hard for me to get too involved because I'm fighting for every minute of time I can spend with my two sons before they both move out next fall.

personally I have found mailing lists to be the best way to maintain a high volume discussion.

teru said...

Just in case anything starts up. Please keep me in the loop. I would love to be involved, I will do anything to help.

Something that also may be of interest.

DiSfish co-creator Marco also set up a forum for ccCreators, to connect with filmmakers, podcasts, etc... . It hasn't seen much action lately but check it out.

Lucas Gonze was there, so was Dave Holmes from Soundblog. Now it's just sitting there waiting.....Once you sign up for a Ning account the forum is pretty functional.

Ran Dumb Dots said...

Yeah, between job & kids, I'm not up to lead anything big right now either. I'm not sure big (immediately) is the right path, anyway. It would likely be better to develop the single best first "product" possible (i.e. a CD or if there is some funding an album on CD & LP) and use the grassroots to get it out there. Maybe the first album could be the cc support album people suggested. I think if you put Shagrugge's idea of assembling a "best of" for a particular genre and eightprime's ideas of centralized graphic design and distributed CD burning (& subsequent mailing to "people of influence"), you have a doable project. The roles I can think of:
- overall project leader
- lead compiler (e.g. Shagrugge) of the tracks for the album
- supporters of the compilation effort who will provide input to lead and also help contact the creators of the tracks to get permission to use
- lead producer (find the person with the best final mixing and mastering skills possible - as we all know this will be a key if we're shooting for great quality instead of pretty good)
- collaboration lead - in charge of figuring out how people all over the Earth will work together on something like this - they'd set up the mailing list, and manage it - maybe just a Yahoo Group or something like that as Victor suggested - probably some other responsibilities)
- graphic design lead - in charge of the album art, liner notes, etc.
- graphic artist - could be the design lead if they have the right skills or could be someone else - alternatively, you *could* try to draw up some cc artist community to submit art - maybe even a contest if this is a cc support album - KEY POINT: need something in the labeling, graphics, [branding?], etc. that can be carried through to other albums in a way that the association is very obviously visible (wow, this is by the same people that did THAT - awesome!)
- trusted reviewers - some cool people in the target market who will review the product prototypes and tell the team if it is good or needs to be redone - we need people who will be very honest AND who have the right eyes
- distribution research lead(s) - person or people who figure out who to send the album to to get the most exposure (influential reviewers, big college radio stations, alternative press publications - maybe LL could ask Wired to review?, etc)
- production lead(s) - would need to work with collaboration lead to set up a way for people outside the project to sign up to burn CD's, print up the graphic design, and hand deliver or mail the CD's to the right people.

Much would be learned by doing this once. From there, it may be possible to create some repeatable workflow that makes the process more efficient. Even this simple project will take plenty of work & coordination. Like I said, though, I think it's doable. And by getting the single best thing we can out there to the most influential people we can identify, the energy is focused well. And if the project is a success and the (for lack of a better term) brand recognition part is set up well, there is a platform of exposure to do something bigger the next time (maybe for profit).

Disclaimer: I have never done any music industry work - I may be full of shit with some or most of this and not even know it - makes sense to me, but that's not necessarily saying much.


(Sorry I type too much Victor.)

Ran Dumb Dots said...

Forgot....the exposure is great, but how will this make any money for cc or anybody else? Well... the distribution method implies the supply will be limited. And if the project is successful, there will be demand. What if... there was a way for people to order the CD online for $5, and then spread the orders across the people who burned the exposure CDs, and pay each of them a buck or two per CD for their trouble. If orders become too voluminous, switch to a media production company. Or for a $3 suggested donation, people could download the CD-quality tracks and graphics and make their own? I don't know about the prices or anything - just thinking. On the LPs, you could have people sign up, and only if 300 people sign up will the LP happen and the price in that case is X, if 500 people sign up the price is a little lower (depending on the unit costs of production), etc.