Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The days of Neuro Net Recordings

Neuro Net Recordings (NNR), an online techno-music distribution project, is one of the most important music projects of my life. Many music files of NNR have been available at as a part of the open source music archive. It was founded by Tomotoshi "Ackie" Akiyama and other core members including myself, in 1994. I was the Internet Archivist, or the one who handled the online distribution channels over Internet.

NNR had the free online distribution policy from the beginning: NNR had the non-exclusive distibution rights of the music files in the various available formats on the Internet. It was quite similar to the Creative Commons BY-NC-ND license, which means preserving the author's credit, non-profit use only, and changes not allowed during redistribution.

NNR was not really a for-profit label, but most of the albums of NNR Active Potential Series were distributed by cassette tapes with reasonable price (JPY500 for Active Potential Number 0). NNR also released one CD album called Neural Networks Vol. 1 in 1996. So NNR was really an independent label, though NNR consistently distributed the music files towards the potential listeners on the Internet. NNR once had a redistribution agreement with Jean-François Fecteau has been a long-time supporter of NNR activities, and he has played NNR tunes many times in his program Le Vestibule from CFOU-FM in Trois-Rivières, Québec, Canada.

The distribution format NNR chosen were RealAudio, MPEG-1, Ogg Vorbis, and MP3 finally, because MP3 technology license owners allowed exemption of the MP3 technology royalty fee to the business with USD100000 or less annual revenue. Ackie kindly sent me the past DATs for mastering NNR cassette tapes, so I rebuilt and remastered the CD-R master discs from the DATs. I learned the remastering skills using Syntrillium's Cool Edit (now Adobe Audition) and other tools.

I also performed real-time streaming events called Neuro Net Radio twice on 1998 and 1999, which were actually DJing from my house over RealAudio streaming, playing only NNR tunes to avoid dealing copyright issues with the copyright holders.

Many professional music creators contributed to the NNR music archive before and during they became really professional. Some of the artists are: NISH, Leopaldon, Takuya Kitani, and Warping Allergen. I find many NNR contributors are still actively seeking their other opportunities in their lives.

In the age of iTunes and MP3, no professional musician can survive without distributing their music online. Streaming music radio stations like Soma FM are doing competitive business. Many people in the so-called music industry, however, still do not accept online media, and I feel quite sad about it. I've already been fed up with the stagnated copyright issues in Japanese music scene either. So I decided to quit distributing NNR files on my own in 2004. Fortunately, generously provides the storage space and other goodies to the free-music distributors, so I decided to put NNR and my music pieces there in 2007.

I know my talent on music is quite limited and is not competitive enough to survive as a professional musician. But I also believe that does not limit my rights to freely distribute my own music. I've learned a lot through my NNR activities and I appreciate all those who helped NNR.

Fumi Yamazaki suggested me to write this, as a case study of Creative Commons activities in Japan. Thanks, Fumi.