Sharing Your Music

It's remarkable how many creative people know little to nothing about intellectual property. That's why, even in a book about open source shareware, it's important to discuss.

Creative Commons

Unless you have a million dollar marketing campaign behind you, you're probably going to want to just post your music to a blog or some streaming sites and be done with it. Downloads don't make up a very large percentage of revenue, even for most established acts. And physical recordings, while nice to have at gigs, are considered a loss leader by many. Can't someone just rip your CD and file share it? Still, you might want to take some basic steps towards controlling how your music gets used. With a Creative Commons license, you can, at the very least, clearly express your intent - for example, a song might be in the public domain for personal, non-commercial use, but you retain rights in the song if someone wants to use it for a TV commercial. Just go to the web site, fill out a very short form and you will get a link and code you can embed that shows at a glance how the song can be used, including permission to create derivative material and whether the work should be attributed to you. Creative Commons is a reaction to what some feel are overly-restrictive copyright rules, extended by the 1998 Sonny Bono Copyright Act to 70 years after the holder dies. The whole point is to allow artists to expand the public domain without putting themselves in a position with no recourse should someone else commercialize their work. I believe this fits well with the ethos behind open source software. There is an example of a CC license in the frontispiece of this book.

The next step up from Creative Commons is to register your music for copyright with the Library Of Congress. If you read their FAQ (link is below), you'll see that as soon as a creative work is put down in a "fixed medium", you own the copyright. From there, it's a matter of building up evidence that you created the work - this can include performing the piece, and of course the registration counts (mailing your song to yourself does not hold up in a court of law). The price for online registration is $35 per song (not work made for hire, and you are the only author), so you might want to consider how many registration forms you want to submit.

Royalty Collection Agencies

Publishers get half of the royalties for songs they sell on their client's behalf. This is why most professional songwriters establish themselves as publishers! The problem is, as individuals, we don't have the same connections and distribution capabilities as a true publishing operation, and should you be so lucky as to get a deal, that will almost certainly involve giving up the publishing, at least for some period of time. Some artists are hoping the blockchain method of payment and distribution cuts out the middleman and can help enforce CC-like licenses. Still, you might want to join ASCAP or BMI to list your original music with them, in case there are ever royalties to collect. Your membership could also prove useful in getting paid on collaborations and other projects. There is a lot more to the subject of intellectual property and business models in the internet age. It should go without saying that you should consult an entertainment lawyer before signing anything.

Making a CD

Despite the decline of the need for physical discs, surprisingly many people cannot deal with MP3 or other digital formats and prefer old school audio CDs. It's also good to have CDs at gigs. The simplest way to make a few CDs is to burn copies on your computer and bust out the Sharpie pen. Under the main menu in Ubuntu Studio, navigate to Media Playback/Brasero to find a no-frills CD burner. You can just drag your wav files into Brasero's file list. Click and drag .wav files to change the playing order. Click individual files to set the properties such as Title and Artist. When the song list looks good, if you have not already done so, insert a blank CD, and be sure to select it as the destination. Press the "Burn" button - accept or edit the default settings on the subsequent pop-up, and presto - the CD will write. You can elect to make more than one copy, but definitely check the first copy before inserting more discs.

As for that Sharpie pen, there are a couple of options to make better-looking CDs. One is to get Avery CD labels. There is a PDF template that will help you line up your artwork so you can print these sticky-backed labels on your home printer. Ubuntu Studio comes with Gimp image editor pre-installed, and Gimp can edit and save the PDF template. Adhesive labels fell out of favor some time ago for getting stuck in some CD trays. If you go this route, use a label pressing device to assure the label goes on evenly with no creases or bubbles.

There are dedicated CD printers that use special blank media, but such printers are costly. Having your CD professionally printed in small lots turns out to be relatively affordable and the end result will look terrific. They will also provide a handy template that provides a printable preview, if you want to make the cover yourself. You can easily find graphic designers to do this online. If you are having CDs made up for a gig or special occasion, be sure to allow ample time for production, mailing, etc.

I will assume you are already familiar with the many streaming sites where you can post your music for downloading. For podcasts, don't forget the Internet DJ Console (screenshot in chapter 3).

Sheet Music With MuseScore

Of course you can make ditigal music without ever touching an instrument. Platforms like Ubuntu Studio have democratized music and let's face it - learning to play an instrument well takes dedication. But musical notation, evolved over hundreds of years, is how we communicate ideas with other musicians. The beautiful clef signs, brackets, and rests no doubt took their form in part because they lend themselves to the quill pen. No discussion on sharing your music would be complete without mentioning MuseScore, which can produce very complex music charts entered by hand or imported MIDI file - no quill pen required. I will leave you with a screenshot of a user-submitted file and refer you to the online manual (see Help) for further information.

Musescore's notation is both comprehensive and elegant.

UbuntuStudio/AudioHandbook/SharingMusic (last edited 2018-06-19 04:13:29 by eeickmeyer)