When people get to know me they find out pretty quickly that music is a big part of my life- I grew up singing in church choir and multiple school choruses, I was a proud member of the Cornell University Chorus starting from my second week on campus, and if you end up riding in the same car as me, you had better be prepared to listen to me sing along with pretty much every song that comes on the radio, regardless of whether or not I know the lyrics 😛
Music while I work helps me to focus my energy on the task in front of me. The importance of this is evidenced by the fact that for a few weeks this past month, Pandora, the free radio station that my office-mate Linda and I listen to while we work, inexplicably stopped functioning. It was a tragedy- for a whole day we had to make do with 2 cds that I had copied onto my Windows Media Player earlier in the year, which got old pretty quickly- even putting the player on shuffle didn’t help! For the rest of the time we broke out the ipods and streaming radio stations like WTMD (one day we listened to Linda’s entire collection of Modest Mouse- more than 84 songs! That was the best, and helped to spur quite a productive day:)) But we both breathed sighs of relief when Pandora started working again.
Free music has never been easier to obtain, and that comes in very handy for nonprofits, not just as a way to fill the silence while you are typing away at the keyboard, but also for creating original marketing materials for your organization.
I have had quite a fun time searching for music to accompany the videos that I’m making for Volunteer Maryland. I have had to learn a lot about licensing, copyright, and how to legally use music in something that you create for the world to see.
Creative Commons licensing has been essential throughout this project. If you have not heard about it, Creative Commons is a nonprofit that provides varying levels of licenses, allowing artists to share their work via the internet and retain some control over the content while still allowing people to use and share it. These licenses make it very easy to find music that I already have permission to use in my own work, as long as I give credit to the artist that created the piece.
There are quite a few websites solely devoted to the creation and sharing of Creative Commons licensed music. ccMixter.org is the best one that I’ve found, because it is the easiest for someone relatively new to this world to search and find good, relevant music. They have a tool right on their home page called dig.ccMixter where you can search for music based on the project you need it for, such as “instrumental music for videos.” I found that other sites, like jamendo.com, were not as easy to search through, because they are mostly organized by genre of music, or by the type of Creative Commons license the music has.
These sites are great places to find music just for your own personal enjoyment as well, though you will definitely have to set aside some time to separate the wheat from the chaff. That is the great thing about these forums though, because someone may start off with a mediocre song clip, and then through multiple people’s input and remixing, end up with a great song. So happy listening!