What is podsafe music?

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onairby David Wimble, The Indie Bible

As you visit the hundreds of music podcast and MP3 blog sites you’ll notice that most them feature something called PODSAFE MUSIC. For this article I have gathered information from various internet sites in order to help clarify what podsafe music is and how it can become another helpful tool to place into your marketing utility belt.

Definition of podsafe music (from Wikipedia en.wikipedia.org)

Podsafe is a term created in the podcasting community to refer to any work which, through its licensing, specifically allows the use of the work in podcasting, regardless of restrictions the same work might have in other realms. For example, a song may be legal to use in podcasts, but may need to be purchased or have royalties paid for over-the-air radio use, television use, and possibly even personal use.

The effective definition of “podsafe” for a given work depends entirely on the contract through which the podcaster licenses the work; there is no single podsafe license. The concept of podsafety, in its true form, greatly favors the artist and the profitability of the artist’s product, in exchange for only very limited concessions to the podcasting community.

While some works such as public domain works or works under some Creative Commons licenses are inherently podsafe, the only actual requirement for a work to be podsafe is that any licensing requirements it has, if applicable, allow for the work’s free use (typical broadcast use in its original form, if in no other form, depending on the specific license) in a podcast or web broadcast. This gives specific favor to podcasts only, allowing the artist to impose more traditional constraints on everyone else. Podsafe licensing can, for example, continue to require non-podcast consumers to pay for the work, require royalties on derivative works, and profit significantly from the work’s use in traditional radio, television, or film.

The licensor of any podsafe work must be legally capable of making it so. An artist cannot distribute his or her own work through a podsafe license if doing so would break any laws or breach any standing agreements (e.g. with the RIAA). The creator of a derivative work may also not claim this work podsafe without express permission from the original copyright holders. (PMN has more specific and stringent terms to this effect in its agreement.)

Another point of contention is that not all podcasts are non-commercial works; in fact, an increasing number of podcasts are taking on sponsors and looking to make a profit. In general, no significant distinction is yet made between podsafe for non-commercial use and podsafe for commercial use, but it could easily arise at any moment.

Motives for the podcaster to use podsafe music (from Wikipedia en.wikipedia.org)

As podcasting grows more and more popular, illegal use of heavily licensed music (as through the RIAA) becomes increasingly difficult to hide. This is in general of greater concern to podcasters than to the typical sharer of music, because podcasters usually produce their shows for and promote them to the public—a far more overt and traceable action.

Including such licensed music legally has its own set of caveats. Indeed, under many jurisdictions it’s currently impossible, but the message from those in the know is that many licensing agencies, if they do intend to allow the use of their music on podcasts, will require not only the payment of royalties but also the use of DRM on the shows. (DRM, because of its proprietary, system-specific nature, would be destructive to the general openness and system independence of podcasts.)

Use of podsafe music instead of more stringently licensed material allows a podcaster to continue to produce an inexpensive, legal program with little hassle. Not least important for an independent podcaster is the promise of being able to avoid the confusing maze of licensing organizations.

Motives for the artist to use podsafe music (from Wikipedia en.wikipedia.org)

Conventional radio (and television) can present a difficult, and not always logical, barrier of entry for a musician or other media artist involving large sums of money and often a great deal of surrender in both ownership and creative freedom.

In contrast, podcasting, an increasingly popular medium for audio programs, is as a whole very receptive, indeed thirsty for artists and input. This is due in part to the creative and economic nature of the largely independent podcasting community and further fueled by its need to avoid repetition. While a conventional radio show may be able to risk replaying a large part of its music selection from day to day, there would be little point in downloading a music podcast whose selection did not vary significantly from a previous show. Podcasting is thus a voracious medium. With a growing and international audience podcasting is now becoming an effective means for inexpensive artist promotion often aimed squarely at the people most like to be interested in that type of music.

What is The Podsafe Music Network?

The Podsafe Music Network (music.podshow.com) is a comprehensive source for podsafe music. It was founded in 2005 by ex MTV VJ and current podcaster Adam Curry (Daily Source Code www.dailysourcecode.com). PMN brings a large group of podcasters together with a wide variety of all-podsafe music and the artists who produce it.

According to PMN, podsafe music is music that meets all of the following conditions:

1. Works submitted to the Podsafe Music Network are the property of the artist, and all rights to these works, including lyrics and music, are the property of the artist.

2. All works contain no recordings, lyrics, copyrights, or other elements that are the copyright of any other artist, except under the limited provisions of the Creative Commons License Agreement.

3. Despite any recording contracts with RIAA, ASCA, BMI or other recording industry entity, the artist retains ownership of the works and is free to distribute, broadcast, license or sell these works at the artist’s discretion.

The licensing agreement between the artist and PMN: www.musicalley.com/music/artistTerms.htm

What are Creative Commons Licenses? (from www.creativecommons.org)

Creative Commons Licenses help you publish your work online while letting others know exactly what they can and can’t do with your work. When you choose a licence, we provide you with tools and tutorials that let you add licence information to our own site or to one of several free hosting services that have incorporated Creative Commons.

1.  Standard License

License your song under your terms. Our set of standard licenses will let you share music with fans while protecting your song from limits you put in place.

Or, choose a prepared license for audio works.

2.  Sampling License

People can take and transform pieces of your work for any purpose other than advertising, which is prohibited. Copying and distribution of the entire work is also prohibited.

3.  Share Music License

This license is aimed at the musician that wants to spread their music on web and filesharing networks legally for fans to download and share, while protecting the music from commercial use or remixing of any kind.

How does a Creative Commons license operate?

Creative Commons license are based on copyright. So it applies to all works that are protected by copyright law. The kinds of works that are protected by copyright law are books, websites, blogs, photographs, films, videos, songs and other audio & visual recordings, for example. Software programs are also protected by copyright but, as explained below, we do not recommend that you apply a Creative Commons license to software code or documentation.

Creative Commons licenses give you the ability to dictate how others may exercise your copyright rights—such as the right of others to copy your work, make derivative works or adaptations of your work, to distribute your work and/or make money from your work. They do not give you the ability to restrict anything that is otherwise permitted by exceptions or limitations to copyright—including, importantly, fair use or fair dealing—nor do they give you the ability to control anything that is not protected by copyright law, such as facts and ideas.

Creative Commons licenses attach to the work and authorize everyone who comes in contact with the work to use it consistent with the license. This means that if Bob has a copy of your Creative Commons-licensed work, Bob can give a copy to Carol and Carol will be authorized to use the work consistent with the Creative Commons license. You then have a license agreement separately with both Bob and Carol.

Where are the forms that I have to fill out?

Creative Commons licenses are expressed in three different formats: the Commons Deed (human-readable code), the Legal Code (lawyer-readable code) and the metadata (machine readable code). You don’t need to sign anything to get a CCL. Just select your license here: www.creativecommons.org/choose

Hmmm …what if I change my mind?

This is an extremely important point for you to consider. Creative Commons licenses are non-revocable. This means that you cannot stop someone, who has obtained your work under a Creative Commons license, from using the work according to that license. You can stop offering your work under a Creative Commons license at any time you wish; but this will not affect the rights with any copies of your work already in circulation under a Creative Commons license. So you need to think carefully when choosing a Creative Commons license to make sure that you are happy for people to be using your work consistent with the terms of the license, even if you later stop distributing your work.

Before you do anything, make sure you have the rights!

Before applying a Creative Commons license to a work, you need to make sure you have the authority to do so. This means that you need to make sure that the person who owns the copyright in the work is happy to have the work made available under a Creative Commons license.

Where do podcasters find podsafe music? (from Dave’s Imaginary Sound Space soundblog.spaces.live.com)

Discovering new music and the ability to use it fairly without fear of copyright infringement is a key issue for podcasters and listeners alike. Artists, composers, producers and consumers can all benefit from clear, fair and flexible copyright licenses that embrace new technologies. ‘Podsafe’ means non-RIAA audio and video that can be used legally in podcast productions and freely distributed online for downloading.

Podsafe music can be found in many locations on the web including: artists websites, MP3 blogs, open source music communities, podcast directories, netlabels, P2P networks and BitTorrent hosts. A quick search for “podsafe” in a podcast directory like PodcastAlley.com reveals a rich and diverse array of productions featuring podsafe music. Unfortunately it becomes extremely time consuming for podcasters to source available music and listen to it. Recommendations by listeners and fans play an important part in the podcast production process.

The definitive list of podcasting safe music sites can be found here: www.soundblog.spaces.live.com/Blog/cns!1pXOS7l93k8mqeQ7FlEEmOSQ!907.entry

It’s always about the music

For an artist just entering into the podcast/MP3 blog universe, the amount of information to take in can be overwhelming. It’s not unlike a lifelong typist being plopped in front of a computer and asked to create a spreadsheet with colored charts.

As you watch the internet continue to explode with new technologies, it may feel like life has passed you by and left you lying in the dust. However, the truth is we’re all still tightly bundled together. No one is ever left behind. The opportunity to move towards the cutting edge is available to anyone (my father-in-law has just learned how to use a computer at the age of 81). Don’t let fear (and the excuses it can conjure up) lessen your attempts to succeed.

Remember, it has always been, and always will be about the music – that unique expression that you have to offer to the world. Podcasts, podsafe music, MP3 blogs, Creative Commons licenses and all that other bounce-off-the-head stuff is simply a collection of new and useful tools to help you get your music heard by more people.

Final thoughts

For the newbie, my suggestion would be to take it slow. Go to the Creative Commons site and poke around. It’s a very user-friendly website. They understand that musicians are not lawyers.

Once you’re done that, then start checking out the various podcast and blog websites. You’ll soon discover that bloggers and podcasters are simply human beings with a passion for music – a collection of music lovers that are ready and willing to help you get your songs heard by a new stream of potential fans.

David Wimble is Editor and Publisher of the Indie Bible www.IndieBible.com/cdbaby – a yearly music directory for recording artists (of ALL genres) that helps them to gain valuable exposure for their music and career. David also publishes the Indie VENUE Bible www.IndieVenueBible.com/cdbaby – a collection of over 32,000 venues, booking agents, colleges and festivals throughout the US and Canada.  CD Baby members receive a 30% discount off of both directories.

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  • Most of our tracks have been released under a creative commons license.

    We are an independent record label not a big bad corporation out to sue you for file sharing, we WANT you to spread our music around.

    With such an overcrowded market place giving away your music is essential in my opinion. The biggest problem for emerging indie artists today is obscurity, not piracy. To find out more listen to The Antiqcool Podcast

    http://antiqcool.podbean.com/2010/01/22/the-antiq