Beitrag von Nicolas Bramke


In the course of the production of videos (e.g. our simply explained videos on YouTube, crowdfunding, etc.) I often have the problem that the music I want to use costs something. I can and must live with that, because everybody should be able to live from his work.

The reason in many cases is GEMA, the Society for Musical Performing Rights and Mechanical Reproduction Rights. It is a collecting society which represents the rights of musicians and publishers, as well as composers, lyricists and others. GEMA charges fees for the use of music. Anyone wishing to use GEMA-liable music for an online site, for a YouTube video or otherwise must pay a fee to GEMA. And those who do not adhere to it will then have to pay more than the regular fees, for which sanctions (penalties) in the form of additional fee payment are due.

The GEMA makes sense for publike musicians and the better known you become, because they bring in the necessary royalties and thus have them better under control. But as a musician you have to deal with pros and cons.
As a user of music with little or no money, I have to look for alternatives with my voluntary productions, because GEMA offers me no advantages.

An alternative for me is the GEMA free music which covers much more than music, because notes, lyrics and more are included. Musicians and composers who do not conclude a contract with GEMA or another collecting society can therefore determine their own rights of use and no fees are due, whether for public performance, their own use or use for other purposes. Creative Commons is also often mentioned. But what exactly is that?

Translated it means creative common property. But Creative Commons is also the name of a non-profit organization that offers creative works free of copyright. Everyone is free to offer a work royalty-free, i.e. free of copyright, and makes it available to the community good. But to limit the access a little bit, there is the Creative Commons license which I have to stick to.

This license is often abbreviated to CCPL and makes it quite easy for these artists to offer all users a work where the license is clearly visible. The Creative Commons license shows me what is allowed and what is not. For example, an artist can determine whether a song can be downloaded for free, whether it can be distributed and put online without an artist's name. Some artists insist that the name is always mentioned when the song is used publicly. Comprehensible if you already make your work available to the common good!

It is important to know that this is a standard license. So you don't need a lawyer because there are no pitfalls. The license can be created by anyone and is valid between provider and user.
If an artist uses these Creative Commons licenses for himself, he also has many advantages on his side. As already mentioned, there is a legal certainty. No negotiations with lawyers have to be used, because this form of license does not have any pitfalls. The artist can distribute his own works well, because free works are very popular (as you know from my example...). The standardized license makes it possible to offer the works on different portals. The most important thing about a license is that the copyright remains intact. One allows certain uses and can protect oneself against a reputation-damaging use.

Artists determine themselves what can be used by me and how. Above all, you retain the copyright. GEMA-free music does not have to be offered free of charge, but as a rule it is offered whether on your own website with a suitable license or on a portal.

There are several portals for GEMA-free music. Sometimes the artists have to pay for the services and also demand money from the users. But there are also free portals and so the artists can also offer free works. Or they can demand a small countervalue.

Some of the things that caught my eye in the course of research I will briefly introduce:

The Free Music Archive is an already established platform of the radio station WFMU which offers a lot of uploaded music pieces with CC license from different genres. The selection is neat and you can listen to tracks immediately with an internal player. All in all not bad.

Another larger page is ccMixter. Also there you can find music with CC licenses. According to own information there are more than 45.000 musicians offering songs. Disadvantage: You can only see if this is true when you have registered, because only then you can see genres and songs. From my point of view an unnecessary hurdle.

There are also many local sites offering GEMA-free music, one of them is which caught my eye especially. It's easy to recognize by the funny name, but for a change it's a German alternative and... it even allows artists to upload sheet music and lyrics! For me unmusical rather not relevant, but certainly a very unique and interesting offer for many artists or other creators. A special treat seems to be that they offer free support to publish the works, strengthen copyrights through their presence, grant licenses and even build an active community to share knowledge. Special delicacy (note my choice of words): There is even the genre folk music :-)

At the end of my journey I noticed that there is always a portion of luck needed to find a suitable piece, because with all I found for my needs, unfortunately, nothing which really fit to my special ideas. What happens to me does not have to go all so :-) Browse yourself because people offer their work free of charge and promote our common welfare.

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