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C3S - If You Want To Change Anything - Act Now!

It's not a music crowdfunding campaign I've chosen this time, but actually it has a lot to do with music. Thanks to Wolfgang Senges co-founder of the yet to found C3S, an alternative collecting society for European artists.

  by Mario

The C3S crowdfunding campaign is still running on Startnext. It's both, collecting money for founding C3S, an alternative to established European collecting societies and attracting members for C3S. Just join and be a part of future music industry ...

50K MUSIC: C3S is about to establish an alternative to existing collecting societies in Europe. Where does this idea come from?
Wolfgang: First, the idea was to give artists in Germany the opportunity to license under Creative Commons *and* to monetize their works by the support of a collecting society. The longer we worked on the concept - we started in 2010 - it became clear that there's a whole lot more to do.

You know, doing your own business as an artist, no matter if you call it DIY or DIT, you have a choice of two: Individual licensing (most probably under Creative Commons licences) or collective licensing by becoming a member of old school collecting societies like GEMA.

Individual licensing won't pay for your living in the situation as it is now. Just think about airplay in Germany: no broadcaster is going to sign individual contracts. No airplay, no label, no booker - you're out.

Old school collecting societies help to increase the chance to make money. The backlash: no democratic participation, no free choice of licensing, exclusively binding you with all of your works. Not to mention a lack understanding of today's technology.

50K MUSIC: What's your mission in a few words?
Wolfgang: Let only musical creatives decide about their work, and allow for a fair remuneration.

50K MUSIC: How do the collecting societies e.g. GEMA react to this?
Wolfgang: Most interestingly, they still talk about GEMA representing "*the* creator". There isn't such person as *the* creator. It's their members. And there will be members of C3S. And there will be other creators. But all of them are creators thinking differently.

Some at GEMA apparently are open to exchange thoughts. Though, there's this deadlock situation for which one has to pity GEMA. There's GEMA members demanding a change. There's members who are in GEMA purely for commercial issues since they are rightholders, no musicians. There are about 5% in 65.000 members who have the right to vote - but these are by statutes the ones earning most. So... will it ever change? The only chance to change the situation is competition by another collecting society - C3S.

Sad thing is, in the end, most people at GEMA are dismissing C3S. If more than 100.000 people sign a petition against GEMA, it's one thing. It doesn't help. It wasn't backed by correct information either, and it's not us who started it. But we can up with a community of about 6.500 within a year, backed by correct information. That's a much stronger indicator that people are demanding a change.

Our crowdfunding campaign made almost 90.000 Euros, and it's still on Startnext. Add to that another 30.000 Euros of launching capital. That's more than 1.600 shares sold. All within two months. Can you dismiss that and still be taken seriously yourself?

But it's even more than that: We have a pretty strong knowledge in a domain that's missing at GEMA - technology. That's why we earned the public funding of 200.000 Euros at an innovation competition by the German Federal State of Northrhine-Westfalia.

50K MUSIC: How will artists and especially musicians benefit from C3S?
Wolfgang: First of all - it's the musicians who decide what's done. No one else. That's our top priority. Next, it's the ultimate freedom to license any number of songs with C3S, choosing for each song the licence you want - regular all rights reserved or Creative Commons.

There's no exclusive need. You want some tracks licensed for beneficiary use or promotional use? That's your choice - you tell us to do so, and here we go.

If you're an artist just starting out and earning low, you will receive 100% of your royalties minus a tiny fragment which is your membership fee. As a matter of fact, there's only one thing you have to shell out for: your shares in C3S. Even the value of your shares will be reimbursed as soon as you leave C3S. So, it's like making zero or generating royalties - but there won't be a negative balance.

On another issue, for the first time ever it will be possible to almost exactly track which songs have been played. The data to do *exact* statistics instead of estimations is out there. But rarely collecting societies make use of this opportunity which would allow for a fair distribution of royalties.

It's been exciting to listen to Steffen Holly from Fraunhofer Institute talking at this year's Berlin Music Week: Technology is even far more developed. You have a change in pitch of up to 15%? You can recognize the track anyway. Background noise? No probs. Mixes? Do a decomposing of segments and elements, and you can analyze and identify multiple tracks in a mix.

It's all out there, but someone has to do it.

50K MUSIC: You're looking for supporters for your project on Startnext at the moment. Are you happy with the progress of your campaign so far?
Wolfgang: We started with a goal of 50.000 Euros. Now we are close to 90.000 Euros within two months. So, happy?!? More than that! Hell, more than 1.400 people supported us financially! We really have to thank our community.

Of course, there still is the need to raise more. We have to come up with at least 200.000 Euros. Because we are facing an opportunity which is so rare that it's beyond believe.

Think of that. In case we make it 200.000 Euros, the amount will be doubled by public funding. DOUBLED. We have to make that happen.

This is what we are now - staying at 90.000, or doing a full-fledged launch with 400.000 Euros.

To anyone who ever wished for an alternative to GEMA or a fair European collecting society in the long run, here's your chance. Maybe the only one. It doesn't matter if you're an individual, a corporation or an association. Anyone can become a supporting member, even members of other collecting societies.

If you are a songwriter/creator or performer, you may become a User Member with full voting rights.

You can purchase one or a maximum of sixty shares at a cost of 50 Euros each. Do it, and consider yourself a member of C3S.

50K MUSIC: There is a number of well-known music business people supporting you. Who exactly backs your project?
Wolfgang: It's the FreeMusicArchive, Jamendo, rightclearing.com, SafeCreative, RegisteredCommons, iMusician, Younison.eu, the German Chaos Computer Club, CommonsMachinery, CreativeNRW, all2gethernow and the Melodica Festival at Berlin supporting us.

Just recently, at the Creative Commons Global Summit in Buenos Aires, Larry Lessig, founder of Creative Commons called C3S "fantastic".

On the artist's side, it's Danny Bruder, Barbara Morgenstern, Zoe.Leela, Andi Shearer, Luci van Org, Bruno Kramm and Dr. Motte who support us. But there's more to come. We have some very exciting invitations and meetings waiting. Business-wise and artists-wise.

50K MUSIC: ... and who would you like to support it?
Wolfgang: Open minded musical creators looking to gain full freedom in their rights.

All people who want to support culture - because it's the rich ecosystem of musical art bringing colour to our life. And art can only be by supporting the many ones who are the creators. These are truly many, it's a mass. It's certainly not 5% in 65.000. We have to support the non-established artists.

50K MUSIC: What are the next steps for C3S? What are your plans in the next few months?
Wolfgang: First of, there's our founding and inaugural meeting with about 50 founding members on 25th September. Then, there's a kind of "C3S Tour" to meet with and talk to people.

In October, we have to send the crowdfunding rewards. Also, we hope to have a proper launch party in October, and there's some important meetings on our schedule. Plus, organisational issues have to be sorted. It takes a few weeks to be fully and legally registered.

Next, all crowdfunders who purchased at least one share will be added to the C3S.

Depending on how much financial means are available, we are going to hire coders and maybe some more people. The more working time can be paid for, the less the team is distracted by other jobs which we make a living from.

50K MUSIC: And last one: anything you want your supporters to know?
Wolfgang: We always need ideas, constructive criticism, support in any form - by artists in particular.

Of course, when the crowdfunding ends, we won't stop calling out for members and support. We literally need everyone.

Once again, it's an opportunity that has to be taken. We can't do it without you. If you're ok with GEMA, sit back. If you want to change anything: act now, and support C3S.

Photo of Wolfgang Senges by Barbara Senges

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