Monthly Archives: November 2008

MixMatchMusic Responds, Explains, Digs….

Avid VT reader Alan Khalfin (jk, he’s got GoogleAlert set to DefCon 5) writes in response to my side missive on MixMatchMusic‘s biz model:

“Our service helps musicians collaborate on, engage fans with, and profit from their music online. Our widget is free for artists to use to host remix promotions on their various websites.

There seems to be some confusion about when we charge people to download music, so let me see if I can’t clarify a bit. Our widget is free for any artist to use, and the artist has the choice of selling stems or offering them for free download; so, we leave it up to the artist to decide how they want to run their remix promotion. Any remixes posted on the widget can be shared for free online, and fans without music software can make remixes in our online music sequencer.”

Setting up a backend licensing royalty system for sampled music is something I’ve been looking into what with the pending hand-over of ccMixter. It’s a hard problem but somebody’s got to do it. Actually everybody’s got to do it, but somebody has to be first and if it’s Alan, great.

There’s a couple of things to keep in mind though – it will never work unless that royalty back end system is completely open, I mean the technology, certainly the protocol. We do not want to be competing for who has the best self contained royalty system. Music sites must be able expose and share what samples they have and who they belong to with what pricing model. Biz consumers must be able to post back a royalty payment, etc. In other words, a piece of music from Alan’s site must be able to include a sample from Jamendo or BeatPick or Magnatune and have the royalties funneled to those other sites. Otherwise the whole thing is just another lame ass silo and we’re back where we started.

But before we can get any traction on any of that:

“…non-contributing members have to pay to download audio they’ve made”

This shit needs to stop. This is bad.

Is Creativity any Match for Gameplay?

Is creativity any match for gameplay? Not if you believe the more than 3,000 reviews of Spore on Amazon that gave it an average of 1.5 stars out of 5 (!)

It seems the kids were confused by the idea of a “game” where all you do is use your imagination to create creatures. I’m not saying this is a Bad Thing. It is what it is. The end of boomer aesthetics.

My bud Lucas is enamored with a very, very groovy Flash ™ app without any game play but crazy fun nonetheless “You don’t score points by playing this game, you make music” or in this case, a video. I give it a 5 – but then, I’m on the short end of the ride. Here’s my insta-video.

ccMixter Going Viral

I noticed the other day that Trifonic had gone to using a cool viral embedding from MixMatch for their latest stems.

I thought I could do the low-rent version and 4 hours later I had it checked in to ccMixter. (For people in feed readers you may have to just, you know, come to the site).

Now the MixMatch version has some cool Flash(tm)y features that I didn’t even try to match, but still… there it is. I even documented the whole process of making this feature.

MixMatch, the site, is a fully monetized version of ccMixter. They hope to make money for all their remix artists and stem providers by charging everybody (including remixers) on a per download basis. Now, I’m radically simplifying their revenue model – it’s actually pretty complicated — but the fact is they charge money for sharing — including your own remix. Like I said, it’s really complicated – I just thought the viral “remix me” thingy was kind of cool and wanted to see if I could take our publicize feature and use it for this kind of thing.

Digital Tipping Point: The Raw Footage

Over four years ago now I got a call, out of the blue, from a guy called Christian Einfeldt. He says he’s making a documentary called Digital Tipping Point about free culture and thought I may be a good interview. He was most intrigued because I recently crossed the line from corporate culture (Microsoft, et. al.) into free cluture (Creative Commons) – really I think he was looking for dirt on Bill Gates lol.

The interesting thing to me was the way he was making the movie: completely open. He said he was shooting billions of tapes and was going to post them all online at and create this vast pool of footage and have the community pick up the work pieces and put it all together communally.

That’s cool (and pretty unheard of four years ago).

I hadn’t been in Berkeley for very long at that point so I was especially open to meeting new folks to see where things would lead. We had a few long and fun phone conversations, we met a few times, had a great meal or two and then got down to taping. I met him downtown San Francisco in an office building where his production partner setup a camera opposite me and Christian started firing questions. He kept asking questions (especially about Microsoft) and I kept telling my stories and tried to be amusing. Sure enough we burned through every tape they had on them, in the building, in the truck, probably in the city.

Fast forward four years and all of a sudden last week I get email from Christian saying he’s about to post the raw footage of my interview and to check out DTP’s page on the archive. They have about 80 hours of footage up there (out of 350 shot) and still it’s rolling in. He said “Watching our film will be like reading a Wikipedia page. Our video will be taggable and searchable. The library you see there will provide some of the links for expanded viewing of our documentary. ” Pretty wild. Just the fact that this guy is still at it (at such a furious pace) five years into it – I think this guy may be the most tenacious guy I’ve ever met.

For my part: there are 29 segments, about 4 minutes each up on the archive now. They are a pain the ass to watch at the archive so I embedded them in one page:

See my raw interview footage here

Again, this is raw, basically un-edited stuff. The segments are rendered from the tapes and often stop abruptly mid-sentence so that’s ok, just click the ‘next’ button to load the next segment.

I will say this: this is the least embarrassing public recording of me yet. I think it gives people a fairly good idea of what happens when you let me pontificate (it doesn’t take much) for a few hours. I had fun doing and it shows.

Because it was four years ago a few things worth noting has changed:

– I can no longer go a minute without glasses. I am blind without them.
– This was done before the emergence of WikiPedia, Ubuntu and Firefox all of which proved my point (I am a visionary) about the need for “grandma” apps in the open source world.
– I ramble on and on about the best way to sell an “album” (I am idiot)
– I have, ironically, become more “theological” about the abstract issues involved in free culture.
– This interview takes place about a minute and a half (relatively speaking) before I was introduced to the “mixlog” prototype at the CC offices (‘mixlog’ was the working title of what was to become ccMixter). For the people that care, this was exactly the head of philosophical steam I had going in to the project. I don’t know, I think it’s kind of neat seeing that moment captured.

Anyway, like I said, I had fun and I’m really, really grateful to Christian for convincing me this would be a good idea but more important: I’m awestruck by how important and cool a project this is and honored to be a part of it.

[update: corrected figures per Christian]

[update 2: Pieces of the my interview are starting to show up captioned in English and Romanian ;) thanks to Andrei Baciu]