Free! Gratis! Zdarma!

23. duben 2010

The songs in this week’s set are all free to download. Joining us in the studio is New York music critic Daphne Carr, with some download tips and commentary on the wider issues of music distribution in the internet era.

JUKEBOX: Friday Ripple > 23.4.2010

Daphne Carr is co-editor of the annual music journalism anthology Best Music Writing, writer of a forthcoming book about Nine Inch Nails, and co-curator of the Free Culture exhibition at DOX gallery in Prague which celebrates the Creative Commons Czech Republic licence.

Before we start with the free tips, here’s an explanation from Daphne of Creative Commons, and why it’s important:

“Creative Commons is a system of alternative copyright law. It allows authors to choose what elements of the work they want to restrict as property, and what elements they want to circulate freely. It’s basically allowing authors to decide if they want people to remix or share their work at any level. This is a really popular thing in Brazil - it is spearheaded by a man named Ronaldo Lemos who works for a university there (Fundação Getulio Vargas Law School), and who is really active in the music community and in the government as well, and is getting people to understand that this is a great way to distribute and share culture outside of the overly repressive contemporary copyright system that is dominated by what they refer to as “the global north” – by the main copyright producers, who are the United States, the UK, Western Europe. It’s really part of a larger question for a country like Brazil, an emerging superpower: how to reclaim their domestic culture, and how to have it circulate in the world in a better way. And it’s really great because, not just on the level of culture, but also the government is adopting Creative Commons and Open Source on a major level. So the Ministry of Culture, which was run by Gilberto Gil, really adopted this in a hardcore way. And also the government has decided to run open source operating systems - Linux) - totally angering Microsoft, who say that there are “hidden costs” and security issues with free software. But the cost saving and ability to tailor content and language to local needs is worth it. It’s really serving as a model for emerging nations.”

As usual the full playlist is at the bottom of the page, but this week it’s all hyperlinked – click the titles to download the music. We’ve put together a set of music that’s free and legal to download, and is making use of alternative methods of distribution. Particularly...

The show starts with a double bill from New York’s J.Period, one of the true kings of the mixtape. Although mixtaping started as a pirate medium, nowadays many big name artists actively seek to get their work distributed on mixtapes, and J.Period’s career serves as an example of the contradictions involved in modern mixtape culture. Even though he is hired by big-name labels (e.g. by Geffen, to release a Mary J Blige mixtape) J.Period still receives threatening letters from copyright organisations like the RIAA for his “illegal” activities.


Elsewhere on the mixtape front, the Friday Ripple’s bias in favour of African hip hop continues. Check out a slamming cut from the mixtape by Sierra Leone’s finest, Bajah + The Dry Eye Crew, as well as some highlights from the new Internationally Known mixtape. Internationally Known is taking the mixtape phenomenon to a truly global level: all artists on this compilation have the right to distribute the entire mixtape in their home countries in any way they see fit.

Net labels
There are some great net labels out there, in many cases offering music for free.

From the Czech Republic, there’s Surreal Madrid (tracks from Mickey Mouse (TM) and Karaoke Tundra) and Starcastic (the very latest releases from Sporto side-project Bonus, and Slovakia’s Youcoco). Courtesy of Chicago-based net-label Illegal Art, we’ve got a classic piece of turntablism from Steinski and a popular track from mashup star Girl Talk. The Lucky Dragons track comes from the section of the self-explanatory Free Music Archive curated by American alternative radio station WFMU; you can find lots more on the official Lucky Dragons site.

Artists distributing direct
More and more artists are releasing new material directly from their own websites. For this section, Daphne picks Nine Inch Nails, who released their album The Slip on a Creative Commons licence, while also releasing the individual components of the songs and encouraging fans to upload their own remixes to their website. Craig picks Iranian electro-rockers The Plastic Wave, whose online release of their [RE]Action album was in great part inspired by the impossibility of an (unveiled) female-fronted Iranian band promoting their music in any other way.


Artists distributing via third-part sites
Big respect goes out to Brasil Música & Artes, the non-profit Brazilian Music Export Office, who’re giving away hi-quality MP3s of every Brazilian band who played at America’s prestigious SXSW festival this year. That compilation is hosted by the free music distribution website Bandcamp, which is also where we got the Baja mixtape.

Soundcloud is a similar site, where artists and labels can offer music for either streaming or download. Long-standing Friday Ripple favourite African Dope Records is playing the role of a Cape Town cultural promotions agency on this site, offering not only a great selection of Dope hits past and present for free download, but also other cool local bands like The Rudimentals who aren’t even on the label.

National Geographic’s music website provided the only track this week that you can’t download free right now: the latest single by Balkan Beat Box. You’ve gotta be fast with this site – they change the front-page MP3 every week, and the Balkan Beat Box single has already gone. National Geographic’s not just about traditional world music; they offer regular freebies from all sorts of alternative scenes around the world, and the site’s well worth keeping an eye on.

For more free MP3s, don’t forget to check out the Radio Wave newsletter, which has a weekly roundup of the freshest free alternative MP3s. And if Wave’s selection isn’t African enough for you, join the Friday Ripple Facebook page, where there’s frequent hype for free promo MP3s from the mother continent.

Online music shops
Various online music shops offer a limited number of free MP3s for registered users, and two tracks on this week’s show came free from the e-shops Trinidad Tunes and However, this is not an advertisement or a recommendation; in fact, it’s a warning to be careful when paying for music online – both of these e-shops have some serious problems with the sound quality of their audio files.

The sound quality of an MP3 is determined by its bitrate in kilobytes per second (kbps): the higher the bitrate, the better the audio quality. A bitrate of 320kbps is roughly the same audio quality as a CD; a bitrate of less than 192kbps is roughly the same audio quality as an old pirate cassette copy. claims that all its MP3s are 192kbps; this isn’t true (Rukus’s African Queen remix was 141kbps). Trinidad Tunes helpfully informed me that they sell only 160kbps MP3s because it’s “for personal use” – uh, thanks? It’s a real shame, because Trinidad Tunes genuinely does seem to have the only online shop dealing in contemporary Trinidadian sounds.

In short, the Friday Ripple says: support independent music, but don’t pay commercial rates for pirate-cassette-quality music files, it’s a rip-off.

We’ve largely avoided the blogosphere in this show, because most of the best sites are illegal. Also, many of the best blogs were shut down by Google in February, in what has been called “Musicblogocide 2010”: Google deleted a large number of popular blogs without warning.

What this means in practice is best summed up in the show by Daphne Carr, who notes: “They say it’s on behalf of the artists, but what they actually mean is it’s on behalf of the rights organizations, which are supposed to represent copyright holders - who are usually not the artists at all. It’s the multinational corporations trying, in these last desperate moments before they abandon the production of new, original creative content altogether, to shut down fair use and free distribution and squeeze money out of a few remaining people.”

(Update: since this show was first broadcast, the Irish Music Rights Association has started attacking Irish blogs – for uploading MP3s with the consent of the artists and composers. According to the IMRA, because their organisation is supposed to represent composers, therefore “a composer hasn't got the right to give full permission for use of the track," only the IMRA has that right. This looks like yet another attempt to squeeze money out of people, completely ignoring the wishes of the artists and composers themselves.)

However, we’re keeping it legal on this show, so we can safely say: stream the show on the Radio Wave Jukebox under Friday Ripple>23.4.2010, and click the links in the playlist below to (legally) download your favourite songs.

J.Period & K'naan - Stir It Up (Messengers Remix)
J.Period & De La Soul - Excursions (Tribute Remix)
Baja & the Dry Eye Crew – Rapapumpum
Ephniko - Escribo Lo Que Vivo
M Takara 3 – Espelho (BMA)
Mickey Mouse (TM) - Shaking Basement (Surreal Madrid)
Karaoke Tundra - Bormatucha & Shmurdiak (Surreal Madrid)
Bonus - Probud se, Vstan a Bez (Starcastic)
Youcoco - Afrika (Radio edit) (Starcastic)
The Plastic Wave - My Clothes On Other Bodies
Cheese People - Ua-A-A!
Nine Inch Nails – Discipline (Null Corporation)
Nine Inch Nails – Discipline (Billy Tsou remix)
Hog Hoggity Hog - African Son (Hogmosh music)
The Rudimentals - Radio Skaweto
Fletcher - Dreadlox Dub (African Dope)
Nicolas La Barrrie & The Mangoseed - Let It Rain (Mangoseed)
Rayess Bek Orchestra - 30 (with Eben Foulen)
Steinski - The Payoff Mix
Lucky Dragons – Mercy
Balkan Beat Box - War Again (JDub)
Rukus - African Queen remix (Rukus)
Modenine - Black Rap Messiah
Girl Talk - Like This (Illegal Art)

All tracks are self-released except where noted. We’ve tried to bypass as many email-signups as possible in the links – but if you do need to enter an email address to download something, you might want to try using spam-free disposable email address sites like Guerillamail or Mailinator. Happy downloading!

Spustit audio

Více z pořadu