May 15, 2001

OpenMusicRegistry hopes to provide big list of 'open' music

Author: JT Smith

- By Grant Gross -

A couple of music lovers think the Electronic Freedom Foundation's Open Audio license is such a good idea they want to provide a place for musicians to list their pieces released on the new Open Source-inspired music license.

Stuart Whitmore, founder of the fledgling OpenMusicRegistry.org is planning a formal launch of the site later this month. Whitmore and site music consultant Scott Wedel hope their site will become a directory of artists who have chosen to release songs under the new Open Audio License.

Under the new audio license, released by the EFF April 21, artists retain their copyrights but allow the public to "freely access, copy, distribute, modify, create derivative works from, and publicly perform the work ..." People who use the work agree to attribute the original author.

Whitmore sees the potential for OpenMusicRegistry.org to be a resource where listeners can check out unsigned artists, businesses can find royalty-free "on-hold" music, managers can find background music for multimedia presentations, and artists can sample each others' work. There are probably more uses the founders haven't thought of yet, says Whitmore, a Web developer by day.

The site's artists page lists several potential benefits for artists: "Maximizing exposure of your work; finding other artists for collaboration projects; demonstrating to your 'significant other,' parent(s), teacher, etc. that you actually do something with your equipment and education; receiving an invitation to perform at the White House."

Under "potential benefits you'll gain from not adding your work," the site as a blank space.

"I thought if there was some central location where musicians could go to post their work, it'd be a useful tool," says Whitmore, who describes himself as more of a music fan than a musician.

The site won't be a place for musicians to actually upload their songs, Whitmore says, because there are other places that specialize in that service. Instead, he hopes OpenMusicRegistry will be a substantial list of music released under the Open Audio license, with links to the music. Right now, the site isn't much more than a list -- Whitmore wants to keep it simple for the launch -- but he plans to add more features as users request them. One example is a search function where users could search for the type of music or the length of a piece, such as a classical piece four minutes long.

So far, OpenMusicRegistry.org has only its own music consultant, Scott Wedel, participating as an artist, but the site has received no publicity. Whitmore says he's unsure how well the Open Artist license has been received, and officials at the EFF weren't available to provide numbers. Whitmore says he doesn't yet have goals for numbers of users and artists, other than "as many as possible."

Whitmore has used Linux since the early '90s, and he sees OpenMusicRegistry has a way to give back to the community. "[Open Source] has been something I've been interested in for awhile, but I haven't been able to contribute much to the community," he says. "Maybe this is a way to do that."

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