If you happen to live in Dickinson, ND and you regularly come to my group classes, you might notice a slight change in my music choices. Why would I spend a blog post talking about this? Well…
I’ve been playing music without a license. Before you classify me as a rebel, nonchalantly snubbing my nose at the ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers - which is only one of three main licensing bodies, they just happen to be the one that “contacted” me), I must admit that I wasn’t aware I needed one. I had never thought of sharing my personal playlist with my students as a public performance of that music. I did know that I couldn’t put licensed music in my videos (and I don’t), but I understood what made that commercial.
Obtaining a license is not that difficult, and it’s not super expensive (although it is complicated - somehow you are supposed to find out which organization licenses the artist that you want to play and make sure that you have a license from that organization which equals annual fees to each organization).
The individual from said organization who has been hounding me for weeks via phone and email was incredibly rude, condescending, and threatening. In other words, she pissed me the hell off.
I still don’t have a license. And I’m still not a rebel. At heart I’m just a rule follower. I need really good reasons to flaunt the law, the rules, the man, whatever. And honestly I get why the PROS (shorthand for the three main bodies I mentioned above) exist; I understand the necessity of artists protecting their work. I make a point to pay for the music I listen to, simply because I believe that people should get paid for the work they do. And I believe that those who intend to rip off those artists should be stopped.
I thus found myself in a dilemma. Do I get over my pique at the woman signing the bottom of those form letters? The one who hung up on me over the phone? Or do I find another solution. I chose another solution. Creative Commons licensing.
Musicians publish music all the time under Creative Commons licenses that, depending upon the exact license, do give permission to their listeners to use their music in broader ways than the PROS allow. The broadest of these licenses is used by unknown, unsigned, small time musicians recording music in their basement for the sheer love of creation and the hope that someone will notice them.
That’s when it hit me. These guys were exactly like me! This was a perfect fit. I get really excited when I find out that someone likes what I do and they share it with someone else. This gives me the opportunity to be the “share” for really great, or really quirky yet awesome, musicians.
So, I went from being pissed off to being inspired.
Here’s the lowdown: I will be publishing my playlists here on the Peace Monkey website, with full attribution and links to the artists featured. You can listen along with me and you can become a fan of a musician that might actually appreciate it. I also commit to pull any music that I learn the artists isn’t comfortable with being used. They own it, they get to decide.
*** Music is continuing to be uploaded to the website, and then it will be updated as I add more, change my playlists, etc. Please make sure that you visit the artists homepage and learn more about them, and buy their music!
*** I will also eventually add a run down of some of my old playlists. I can no longer play these in class, but you can go online and buy those tunes as well for when you practice at home.