I first became a fan of surf music as a teenager in Europe. It seemed to communicate California sunshine and beaches and that was something we’d dream of during stormy and often rainy days by the North Sea. I had just begin to play a little acoustic guitar, and my brother, sister and I had just started to make music together. One of the songs we loved doing from back then was an acoustic cover of the Beach Boys version of Sloop John B, since we we loved to sing 3 part harmony.
Quite unrelated to that, many years later in 2006, now living in Canada, just after I discovered the joy of remixing and remix culture, but just before discovering ccMixter, I had bumped into a talented musician from Texas online and we decided to write and record a couple of songs together. And the band name we came up with for that project was “A Minor Theory“. Not surf music, but remember the name!
I should also mention, that for decades I had given up playing the guitar in favor of synthesizers, before somehow being inspired by Dick Dale’s glorious surf guitar version of “Miserlou” in the late 00s, which I’d end up practicing for hours. That ended up being a key moment in getting inspired to pick up playing guitar again including putting together a pretty nice guitar setup over the next few years.
Up to the post prior to this one, this blog used to be at blog.exmr.com. It was reasonably active from about 2007 to 2010, much less so after that and not at all since 2014. There are a few articles potentially of some historical interest – especially a few around ccMixter.org, the remixing community originally formed around creative commons licensing. So rather than just deleting that blog (since I’m considering doing something different with the emxr.com domain), I’ve moved those old blog entries over here in the spring of 2018, and hopefully search engines have kept up with that.
Also, my own remixing activity had slowed considerably over the last few years with my last remix being well over a year ago, so currently this site is overall more of an archive than anything else.
And while I still make music, the Spinmeister persona is mostly in hiatus – maybe forever. But I’m intending to keep the contact info page alive for the foreseeable future, just in case somebody wants to get in touch.
One of the most enduring and endearing music communities on the Internet has to be ccMixter, a site dedicated to musical collaboration between all kinds of music makers: from singer / songwriters to DJs, from blues guitarists to EDM producers, from highly trained classical composers to self taught ukulele players, from poets to beat-makers. The community includes individuals from every conceivable walk of life and age group from around the world, celebrating the ability of music to connect with everyone of their uploads, from individual vocal tracks and instrumental loops to finished remixes.
While there are quite a few websites dedicated to musical collaboration, ccMixter has endured against some pretty well funded “competition” arguably because it’s open source music, using only Creative Commons licensing, allowing people to re-use musical materials for non-commercial purposes (some licenses even allow commercial exploitation), as long as credit to the musical creator(s) is given.
And it’s worth mentioning: At ccMixter participants are very nice to each other. Musical beginners are not only tolerated, but warmly encouraged. Top notch professionals are admired and cheered on.
Music from ccMixter has become very popular to be used in video soundtracks on YouTube and other video sites.
ccMixter had originally been founded by the Creative Commons non profit organization, who also funded it’s operation for the first 5 years. Since 2009 ccMixter has been held together entirely on a volunteer basis under the leadership of ArtisTech Media, a small privately held company in California.
And now the volunteer site admins have just put together a lovely video in support of a ccMixter fundraising drive to keep the site going:
For fans of ccMixter this holiday season brings a unique musical treat with the release of a holiday themed 2 album set “Season of Gratitude” featuring music makers from around the world, who are participating in this venerable creative commons licensed remixing community.
If you’re not familiar with ccMixter, there’s a bit more info about the album here.
It also a represents a chance to deposit a little something into something akin to a virtual tip jar for the community, by purchasing one or both sides of the album via iTunes, the Amazon music store or via the “Green Room” at tunetrack.net.
As regular readers of this blog know, I’ve been a participant and even more so an avid fan of ccMixter.org, a community of music makers, who post individual music tracks of their own creation specifically to make them available for other music makers to use in their work, which most of them post to ccMixter.org as “remixes”. These remixes are typically complete songs ranging across a wide variety of genres. All of this made possible by creative commons licensing, and until late last year also sponsored by the Creative Commons organization and since then operated by startup ArtisTech Media.
The website ccMixter.org was mostly created and organized to facilitate this P2P sequential time-shifted collaboration process between music makers more so than catering to music “users”. Still, the music became attractive to podcasters, video makers on YouTube and elsewhere and lovers of independent music everywhere.
Enter the new website dig.ccMixter.org, a new home for friendly creative commons licensed music for DJs, music for podcasts, music for videos (YouTube or otherwise) , and free music for listening. This new website, making it much easier to “dig” into the considerable catalog of ccMixter music makers, is a labor of love created by long time ccMixter community leader and chief software developer fourstones in collaboration with software designer nvzion.
One of the valuable features is the little i button, showing additional information about a particular piece. So one can find for example who was the singer (also often the original song writer) of a particular piece of music, by first clicking on the i button and on the resulting page, clicking on the “Sample History” link, which leads to information about all of the individual snippets of music which were used as sources for the piece in question, including the vocal parts (where applicable). You may want to middle click or otherwise force your browser to open a new tab or window, so the song that’s currently playing doesn’t stop.
One of the interesting aspects of ccMixter music is, that on ccMixter one can “dig” with more accuracy into the artistic composition and history of a piece of music than with many traditional music sources, where the contributions of participating artists are frequently obscured.
There’s a very intriguing new remix project called The White Cube at ccMixter.org. Please note that remixes have to be licensed with the popular Creative Commons CC-BY license in order to be considered for use during the exhibition. So no remixing Cream or some band from Liverpool’s double album or some song about nights on bed sheets! 🙂
This all is in support of an upcoming exhibition in the RAM Galleri on Oslo which is celebrating it’s 20 year anniversary and wants to explore “How to explode the white Cube”.
Deadline for remix submissions is on the 7th of December 2009, just 3 days before an unrelated small party in that very city of Oslo. Hopefully our friends in the black limousines doubtlessly all over Oslo right around that time will not misunderstand the context and confiscate all the remixes!
The remix project is organized and the two source audio packages are provided by Gurdonark (whom I’ve had the privilege to interview last year and the ever lovely and talented (I’ve always wanted to say that!) SackJo22, whom I’ve had the honor and pleasure to work with on one of her many projects.
Given that the very first LP (yes, it was vinyl!) I ever bought was ELP’s “Pictures of an Exhibition”, this kind of thematic project holds deep intrigue and I may just have to fire up my trusty DAW software and mess around a little. mmmhhh let’s start with a little extra compression here and maybe some reverb there …
While change is always accompanied by uncertainty, I’m personally quite pumped about this particluar one.
However, let me start out by saying that there aren’t enough words to describe how grateful I feel about the contribution of Victor Stone – one of the understated and under-famed giants of open music. As regular readers of this blog know, ccMixter has been the at the core of my musical life for a bit over 2 years now. This site continues to be one of the most amazing places for music makers to mingle and make noise together. While every member of the community deserves varying amounts of credit for that, there’s one person who deserves a very largely disproportionate share of credit: Victor Stone. He has not only diligently and innovatively continued to work on the technical infrastructure of the site, but above all, he has set and enforced a tone of mutual acceptance, respect and even caring for each other, which reverberates throughout ccMixter and is extremely hard to find in any larger community on today’s web.
So while it remains to be seen how much and which way Victor remains involved (I hope it will be a lot!), this is a good a time as any to say THANK YOU, VICTOR!
Looking forward, I’m am very excited about the new management being led by Emily Richards (at ccMixter she’s known under the handle of Snowflake). She is amongst that very rare of combinations of being a great musician and an accomplished business person. She has shown in words and in deeds her passion for developing radically different business models based less on exclusion and greed and more on openness and sharing. It’s always been really hard for artists to make a living from their art and maybe that’s even more so the case today.
So I wholeheartedly cheer Emily, Alex, Jason, Derek, Kirsten, Dale and the whole current and future team at ArtisTech Media on while they try to figure out artistic and economic models that aren’t evil or stupid. While they figure out how to evolve free and commercial side by side and mutually benefiting from each other. There will be bumps on the road. That’s ok. Good and open minds combined with good and open hearts can overcome a lot of issues and build something special.
May ccMixter’s next 5 years be even greater than the first 5!
For anyone with an interest in ccMixter, here comes a fascinating look at the first four years as experienced by the person in the middle of it all, Victor Stone a.k.a. fourstones.
A great read “ccMixter: A Memoir” are the reflections of an individual, who’s choice of subtitle “How I Learned to Stop Worrying about the RIAA and Love the Unexpected Collaborations of Distributed Creativity During the First Four Years of Running ccMixter” hints at the sense of humor, passion and intellect that drives the man who drives ccMixter.
To find out a little more about Victor’s story there’s also the interview he graciously granted me last May.
And then there’s a few video’s floating about of an interview with Victor in the context of the Digital Tipping Point project. Here’s the first one:
Regular ccMixter participant and remixing surfer from down-under Scomber has taken the idea of a playlist into new heights. He is using the ccMixter playlist feature to essentially create a musical (script). The whole thing is obviously tongue-in-cheek and from what I’ve read so far may eventually only be allowed on cable television or as an adults-only off-Broadway play, but it is a really great idea and he is inviting participation to help create a musical which he terms a Musical Interactive Stageshow. At the point of this writing, the first 5 scenes are done.
Who knows how far this will go – but that’s not even the point. It’s a great concept!
One of her songs is also featured in a remix contest on ACIDplanet. However, it should be noted that there’s a significantly different set of terms and conditions on ACIDplanet than on ccMixter around ownership of posted and/or winning remixes. While ACIDplanet offers prizes to the winning remix, it also stipulates transfer of ownership of the winning remix, while remixes on ccMixter remain the co-property of the submitting remixer under creative commons licensing. Personally, I’ve never felt much like submitting remixes to sites which make me give up all ownership of my remixes, but other remixers may feel differently, and I wholeheartedly respect their choice, if it is made knowingly.
Bottom line: Shannon is a wonderful songwriter and singer, was smart and funny, yet modest during the interview and I really hope she’ll have success navigating the largely uncharted waters of the music business as it unfolds in front of our eyes and ears.