Musopen: Crowdfunded, Copyright-Free Music For The Masses

I grew up playing the piano. When kids in my neighborhood compared notes about their favorite artist, I was the nerd who listed a classical composer. Today, I'm eternally grateful to my parents for exposing me to all different kinds of music, since it helps me distinguish between true brilliance and the nonsense many confuse for music today. Something tells me that if more people were exposed to Beethoven at an early age, they wouldn't be so quick to call Bieber a genius...but I digress.

Aside from personal taste, the high cost of buying music today keeps many from exploring genres outside their comfort zone. There are lots of reasons why the the music industry's white-knuckle hold on music licensing rights will be its downfall. For more on that, check out Leilani Clark's "The Artistic Case for Abolishing Copyright", but for now, let's look to the future.

A future of opensource, crowdfunded music that anyone can own, share, and incorporate into their own compositions. That's why Musopen exists: to provide copyright free music content, including recordings, sheet music and a music textbooks, available to the masses at absolutely no charge.

A few years ago, Musopen collected a whopping $68,360 (its goal was $11,000) on Kickstarter to hire an internationally renowned orchestra to record and release the rights to: the Beethoven, Brahms, Sibelius, and Tchaikovsky symphonies.

"Right now, if you were to buy a CD of Beethoven's 9th symphony, you would not be legally allowed to do anything but listen to it," reads the Museopen Kickstarter page. "You wouldn't be able to share it, upload it, or use it as a soundtrack to your indie film- yet Beethoven has been dead for 183 years and his music is no longer copyrighted. There is a lifetime of music out there, legally in the public domain, but it has yet to be recorded and released to the public."

Today, the project's 1,200+ backers reaped the reward of their contribution. "I'm happy to report we are 100% finished," posted Museopen founder Aaron Dunn. "DVDs have been mailed, t-shirts next week...Please feel free to share, edit, re-mix, download, and encourage others to do the same, thats the beauty of public domain music."

And a beautiful thing it is, indeed. Learn more about how to use or support Museopen here.

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