Free Music

Music is the weapon of the future” – Fela Kuti

My music has always been available for free… until now!

Initially, I was glad that my music was available to anyone for free. It was only when I begun learning the principles of free software from Richard Stallman that I questioned the meaning of this.

To be clear, I am talking about free as in liberty rather than free as in gratis (“Free” as in “Free Speech” not as in “Free Beer”).

Despite the facts it cost no money to download, it still was not free.

For a start, it couldn’t be freely downloaded. My music was being distributed through MEGA, which required many mobile listeners to install the MEGA app to access my music. This meant that users had to install a 3rd party app to download. The app requires permissions and is proprietary software. Therefore, the freedom of my listener is compromised through use of this app. Downloading from the desktop version of MEGA also requires your browser to run non-free software.

But how else am I supposed to distribute tunes? Many sites which would have allowed this, such as megaupload and rapidshare, have been shut down by the copyright monopoly (one fast, one slow). It should be pretty clear by now that the closure of ‘pirate’ sites has next to no effect on piracy.

My songs are now hosted on my site rather than on a 3rd party site.

My music was also available on youtube but, in a move that could only be comparable to Taylor Swift removing her music from Spotify, (and much to the dismay of all seven of my youtube subscribers,) I have removed all of my music from youtube. I will never again post my music on any streaming platform as they currently exist.

Music and video streaming sites track what you listen to and what you watch. This data is used to profile you and is sold to advertisers. This is called surveillance.

This is the least free music can be and yet it is the most popular method of listening in the modern era. This is perhaps a matter of personal preference- it would seem that people are generally willing to trade liberty for convenience.

When you download my music, you are then free to listen to it or not. You could listen to a song once or twenty times and only you would know this. This experience should be something private and something personal to you. But on modern streaming services this is not the case. Your listening habits are fed back to the service in real time. You might be listening to a song on a website or streaming service but you are not the only one who knows this. This data (and, perhaps more importantly, meta-data) is stored.

The last form of freedom which my music did not have was the encoding of the music itself. I have been distributing music in mp3 format. To play an mp3 file requires codecs licensed to Fraunhofer and Technicolor. Therefore, my music is now encoded in FLAC which is both free and better quality. (I will still distribute my newest tracks in mp3 format, you’ll just have to figure that one out).

I have ceased any power of copyright/ neighbouring rights I would have had over my music to the best of my ability (I do not believe it is completely possible to do this as the legal system currently stands). This means you have the right to make copies of my music and dish them out to other people. You can use any part of my music for anything. You can sample it, remix it or wear it on your head. You could record one of my songs, sell copies of the version you recorded and I wouldn’t be due any money from your sales. I don’t care.

Now my music is free…

…and also costs money. The Dennis John Album Vol 0 is available on Sellfy for £0.99.

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