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Revolting Music from the Public Domain (1914-1928), a Public Domain Day Special from Analog Revolution for February Cassettes for Me!

Why 1923?

From the dawn of music recordings until 2022, not a single musical recording entered the public domain due to copyright expiration in the United States. Musical recordings were protected under a patchwork of state laws and contracts, but explicitly they were not protected by copyright. This meant that most musical recordings were protected forever, and establishing the rights to a piece of music was very difficult.
Congress passed a law called the Music Modernization Act which made this situation slightly better. In 2022 all recordings from 1922 and earlier entered the public domain. In 2023, nothing happened, and in 2024, all recordings released in 1923 entered the public domain.

Importantly, these compositions were already in the public domain, but the specific recordings were not.

Now, why 1923, and not some later year? Fear and greed, mostly. In 1923, we’re looking at the genesis of modern music, but we’re still dealing with very primitive acoustic recording technology and we’re really just looking at the roots of what will become modern music. The first blues guitar, the first jazz piano, vaudeville blues, dixieland. Over the next several years, we’ll get an Explosion of new music.

Next year, we’ll get the music from 1924. In 1924, we find the first widespread use of Electrical recording. It’s a watershed moment. We also get some of the earliest country music, and the first recording of Rhapsody in Blue in 24. By 1925, we’ll start to see more guitar blues, new styles of Jazz, and lots of other things.

But, for now, we have 1923, and there’s a lot to celebrate in the recordings of 1923.


Why 1928?

In 1998 the US Congress passed a law commonly referred to as The Mickey Mouse Protection Act. It paused copyright expiration for 20 years, for basically no reason other than to keep Mickey Mouse from entering the public domain.

This year, Mickey Mouse’s protection expires. As of today, Steamboat Willie is in the public domain.

But, so far at least, we’re not talking about animation, we’re talking about music. Due to the differences between how Recordings and Compositions were copyrighted, all published musical compositions from 1928 and earlier are in the public domain. You can’t do anything with most recordings made from 24 – 28, but you can cover those compositions and produce new recordings.

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Hensleys LIVE from Analog Revolution: Put on a Show to kick off Cassettes for Me in 2024!

Hensleys are a 4-piece rock band based out of Atlanta, GA made up of POUNDS, G, LOG, and SNAKE. Call us punk, call us alternative, call us hyper-jazz rock, call us your friend. We’ll be there for you when you need it.

You can watch Hensleys Analog Revolution: Put on a Show September 23rd, 2023 lofi live stream performance at newellijay.tv

You can find Hensleys at
https://hensleys.bandcamp.com/
https://www.instagram.com/hensleysatl/