Creative Commons Podcasting

One of my favourite regular podcasts from 2004 has been Staccato, created by Matt May. features new music released under a Creative Commons license. That means you’re free to download and share all of the music you hear including the podcast itself. The standard and choice of music is always high and covers an eclectic mixture of indie and electronic bands. I usually end up listening to each mix repeatedly which is always a good sign. In Matt’s last podcast of 2004 Staccato 5 he mentions the building of a new site and continued community development for 2005 due largely to the good reception and demand for his efforts.

In my opinion Creative Commons podcasting in this way is providing a highly desirable format for music fans and bands. I also believe the freedom to choose license attributes is a flexibility that will become increasingly important in the future. Modern music producers are often involved in some form of copyright infringement. A quick look at sampling history and the current trends for mashups confirms this. What legacy will the musicians of the future inherit from the present time?  How will podcasting play a part?

Consider the following trends and developments:

1) The growing mass of high quality music available; including product from net labels, DJs and clubs, project studios, collaborative communities and individual composers.

2) The style and format of the podcast; single track, showcasing of several tracks, longer compilations such as albums, live sets, DJ mixes, podcast splicing, blog output, playlists, podcast episodes, mp3 or other audio/media player formats.

3) The ability to subscribe to podcasts free of charge using RSS feeds; including stations you trust, favourite artists and podcasters, mp3 blogs.

4) The legal downloading, distribution and archiving of music and podcasts protected by Creative Commons licenses.

5) The development of podcast directories, search engines, stations and archives; facilitating the discovery, sampling, hosting, sharing and promotion of podcasters and music.

6) RSS podcast aggregators and automated notification of updates; the ability to inform or alert users of freshly released podcasts and recently updated mp3 stations or blogs. The automatic creation and timely syndication of podcast lists and information.

7) Open source software for managing the making, downloading and distribution of podcasts.

8) The new wave of multimedia tools, applications and devices; including the emergent combination of podcasting, videoblogging, moblogging, photo sharing, social networks, p2p, BitTorrent, portable media players, mobile phones and similar technologies.

Clearly it appears that podcasting will have the legs to develop further at least until it evolves into something else just like blogging did.

Podcasting being an audio medium is well suited to the process and distribution of music composition. The making of music is an evolving, fragmented and largely collaborative process that can take place over long periods of time. Songs written many years ago are still being sampled re-mixed and performed today as they will in the future because good music is essentially timeless. Grassroots music production is an extremely fluid process with contributions coming from many sources. Compositions evolve over time and therefore copyright ownership may change depending on things like personnel, sampling and editing during the production process. The need for clear, flexible and fair legal protection is what Creative Commons is about. The fact that podcasts let the user access content outside of mass media broadcast time is the key use. People regard music in terms of archived collections and recorded performances that they choose to listen to as necessary or when they feel in the mood. Podcasting presents another way of storing and sharing this type of data not dissimilar to CDs and radio.

For unsigned acts Creative Commons podcasting provides a new way of exploring the relationship between artist and fan. Works in progress can be made public for participation, preview or market research.  Archives of podcasts can reference the development of this relationship and form a narrative track to a project. Artists can talk directly to audiences in more ways than one. Rather than releasing units like singles or albums artists can distribute their creations as portable episodes, an entirely different concept but very close to existing artist development, remixing and DJing. An artist’s current project may well be defined as a set of performances released over a period of time as podcasts. For podcasters the availability of Creative Commons content provides the fuel missing with RIAA product and the associated problems of conventional internet radio. The coming months look set to be very interesting in terms of new podcasting twists and developments. Expect podcasting to be both Creative and Common.



  • Feed Your Head.  Podcasting is DIY radio for programmers and listeners alike. Will it save us from corporate radio? Or further isolate us inside our own miniature media worlds?

2 responses to “Creative Commons Podcasting

  1. I agree that the following months will be very interesting.Most mashup artists operate in utter illegality, but that is not a choice, it’s almost in the definition of the genre. They’re in it for the fun, the artistic kick, mostly not making money from it. Once they do wanna make money, like 2ManyDJs, they have months of copyright clearing and begging and negotiating to do. Not exactly an artist’s dream. So their mentality – as long as it’s not commercial, we don’t care about the RIAA/IFPI – is understandable.Podcasting however, has been very RIAA conscious from the beginning: Adam Curry playing drumband music, the Lucidious Bitties (not sure about the name) and Brad Sucks, because they all gave persoanl permission. The Creative Commons initiative is a crucial contribution to this issue. Now you get podsafe music from CCMixter,, (some caution, see ).Let’s see how 2005 turns out!Peter

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