Lots of discussion this week about non-RIAA music for podcasts. Early this year, when I decided IT Conversations would be more than just a hobby for me, I knew I needed to stay 100% legitimate with regard to music and other intellectual properties. I began using some music from Tanj, one of my son’s L.A. bands. [Sorry their web site is defunct.] I then spent many hours investigating what it takes to legally play and pay for mainstream music. I sent email to ASCAP, BMI, RIAA, SESAC and SoundExchange offerring to pay for music, but got only one response. It’s a truly Baroque system. [HowStuffWorks has a helpful tutorial on music licensing.] Bottom line: You can’t do it. If you’re running an Internet radio station, you’ll find a license for you. But there are no licenses for occasional use of so-called RIAA music. The closest category has minimum fees of thousands of dollars per year even if you just play one track to a handful of users.
At that time I was working on a project with Simon Carless and the Internet Archives. Simon suggested I get in touch with John Buckman at Magnatune, and after a brief exchange through email, I licensed some of the Magnatune collection for IT Conversations.
Magnatune may be the leading open record label, but if you look around there’s a lot of very good non-RIAA music that may be used either without a license, under Creative Commons, or available at reasonable cost. Not only is it a great way to get your music legally, but it also supports an important challenge to the copyright cartel.