Open access in the music world

Creativity lies at the core of Dr Guy Morrow’s research. His work focuses on understanding how artists are managed, both in terms of direct artist management and also through cultural policies.

Alana Hadfield asked him some questions about how he regards open access and the connection to music, both now and in the future.

This is an edited version of the interview, but read the full interview with more illuminating detail and opinion from Guy guymorroworiginalinterview.

  1. What does the future hold for Open Access and music?

The creative commons movement isn’t focused on replacing the copyright industries entirely, it is just enabling creators themselves to decide how their work(s) can, and can’t be, used. It is designed to facilitate the rise of ‘amateur’ culture (and as Lawrence Lessig would say, not ‘amateurish’ culture, just culture destined for ‘use value’ in a society, rather than ‘exchange value’ in a market).

‘Gift economies’ involve musicians giving music away for free under creative commons licenses and therefore a plural sector is emerging that features both ‘salable’ copyrighted music, and music that is ‘gifted’ to the creative commons.

I ultimately want to question whether a mixed model of commodification and gifting is central to the commercial decision making of music creators who use contemporary digital media.

2. You are the General Secretary of the International Music Business Research association. Does this association have any input on Open Access?

Well interestingly enough, the journal for this association, The International Journal of Music Business Research, is an open access journal (

Some of the research questions we are exploring include: Have the transformations that have led to the emergence of new music ecologies been driven by digital media innovations (e.g. Napster, YouTube), by management innovations (e.g. new open and networked forms of value creation), or by the new challenges to the industrial status quo that have arisen as artists become ‘artepreneurs’ (entrepreneurs facilitating their own art)? Australian and German music fans and consumers have also become ‘culturepreneurs’ (fans facilitating their own music culture) because they have a rising amount of new digital media available to them, as well as the means of cultural production at their disposal.

3. Do you think people in the music industry understand about creative commons licenses? Will applications like Soundcloud and Audionautix make it easier for artists to get their music heard, while protecting their copyright?

While services such as Soundcloud definitely enable creators to contribute to the creative commons by selecting a particular creative commons license for their work, I don’t think that this practice will undermine the copyright industries.

I think that the decision to post copyrighted music, or to license music posted to these services via creative commons licenses is relative to the amount of economic, social, and cultural capital invested into the music concerned, as well as the creator’s motivations.

What I like about the creative commons movement is the flexibility it gives creators; prior to their musical career taking off a musician may post music under a creative commons license to garner interest, a process that may have to stop after they sign to a record label (but that may start again if they are dropped by said record label J ).

4. On a personal level, do you write or develop your own creative practice for sharing under creative commons?

Yes I do, though this is because I am intrinsically motivated to create music for mostly non-commercial reasons (

Creative commons licensing suits me because I’m interested in everyday creativities. By integrating song writing, production and performance into my everyday experiences, my musical creativity begets other forms of creativity in my life. This is because creativity involves ordinary thinking processes and once triggered by one activity, such thought processes can cross over into other areas of productivity.

I believe that more people should be encouraged to develop their creative self efficacy (creative confidence), particularly given that we are often the product of education systems that arguably often discourage this form of self efficacy. To this end, the creative commons movement is useful for breaking down the false boundaries that the copyright industries, and various education systems, construct between ‘creative’ and ‘non-creative’ people.

Read more from Guy: guymorroworiginalinterview



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