Wow! Tens of thousands of plays and thousands of album downloads in a matter of days?! A typical response from one of our musicians while Free Music Archive (FMA) is slowly spreading her powerful wings to prepare for a new exciting journey. Destination? Empower creators and curators to stay in control while audiences around the world enjoy free to access, original music.
Since our first meet ups with the FMA community, we learned valuable lessons from three different user groups: (registered) visitors, curators and musicians. All with different expectations to manage. In this article we focus on the musicians who are now able to log in again and manage their account and music on FMA.
In the month of October 2020, our team invited the first musicians to log in again, test, explore and report back to us. Their feedback was used to evaluate old habits ("we used to be able to...") and introduce improved procedures ("we never liked...").
We had to take this into account since the internet back in 2009 (FMA's launch) was still open to all, social networks were rising and most of us felt comfortable online and in control. But today we - as a platform freely sharing open licensed music with the world - have to take more responsibility.
"Large parts of the internet are run by a few major players who serve you by serving advertisements."
Or more related to the music industry: Access to "all the music ever created" is clevery replaced with recommendation engines. Playlists generated by predictive models and influenced by major record labels.
Yes, some of these services out there host 50M+ songs. No, subscribers are not pushed towards discovery, they are served convenience and playlists benefitting the shareholders.
So can FMA contribute to an open internet? Where audiences around the world have free access to the same databases of open licensed music without "paying" with personal data or limited by algorithms and sponsored content? Yes, we can!
However, we must put emphasis on the importance to understand and value the creator behind the Creative Commons licensed music. This is next to our mission to continue to inform and educate online users to keep in mind that;
"Open access to Creative Commons licensed music does not mean you and I don't have to respect the rightsholder's copyright. On the contrary!"
To create greater spaces and opportunities for independent musicians out there, we know uploading music to and downloading music from the internet needs our full attention now more than ever.
- Help musicians to understand licensing before they upload.
- Help visitors to understand open content before they download.
As of now, FMA musicians can upload their original music via a new upload wizard. One that is more efficient and feasible and puts emphasis on all relevant details needed including the importance of the chosen Creative Commons license.
FMA users can now download original music via a new download procedure that informs and put an important spotlight on understanding and respecting the chosen open license of the FMA musician.
We have mentioned this before, this journey will take time as we continue researching and learning as much as we can from all corners of FMA. But with half a million registered members, our global SEO position and the right partners we are well positioned to lead by example.
Let's talk about the important role of FMA music curators and netlabels. Coming soon! We are also working very closely with FMA artists to take them through their “basic” dashboard, the new features like the monetization option (e.g. voluntary pay for play option powered by Coil.com) and take in all their feedback.
We will continue to write stories like this one, share the insights we gathered with our FMA community and publish them here.
So, make sure to follow us!
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Header photo by Nico Smit