Open Source inspires Open Music

Fernando Anitelli Photo

Yesterday I had a chance to meet the lead singer of O Teatro Magico and then see their show. It was amazing! This creative group of musicians were about to “live the dream” by signing with a record company a number of years ago, but after they recorded the songs for their first album, the recording company said “sorry, but you need to change everything so that it sounds more like pop.”

The artists said they would not do that, and they suffered being locked out of the business for many years. When their contract expired, they relaunched, using the Internet to establish a direct connection with their audience. Instead of staying removed from their “fans”, they remain involved with their community. They say “there are 2000 videos of O Teatro Magico, but we only made 2. We don’t know who the other 1998 are, but we thank them.” When they sell CDs at their shows, they remind buyers “you can download the music for free on the internet, you know” yet people buy their disks by the 100s of 1000s. In fact, they are one of the top selling bands and top-grossing club acts in Brazil. And they do this by giving their audience what they want, not telling their audience what to do.

At a session during the FISL conference, they said that they had the idea of this free/open music because they were inspired by the model of free and open source software. I’m thrilled to see that our way of thinking about copyright is helping grow commercial and artistic success in a climate that seems otherwise doomed by following the status quo.