FREE!MUSIC is a project the aim of which is popularization and a direct embodiment of idea of free distribution of music in commercial and non-commercial purposes.
Just an example: you play in a group, which is not as well-known as you would like it to be. You have some cool music which you would like to expose to others. But you cannot do that as major labels want big circulations, and they are not interested in producing small amount of copies.
Indie labels could be interested in releasing your stuff. But you can stand in a long queue of musicians like you to them; plus most of them have no reliable distribution networks. That's why all that is left to you is to play in clubs.
Way out 1: you can upload your songs to the websites like mp3.com. A plus is the access to a big audience. A minus: will you be noticed eventually? If you are, what are you going to do after that? In fact, standard conditions of distribution legally limit the rights of listeners.
Way out 2: you can pass your music under a liberal license or a free access declaration, permitting to copy, distribute, use in the commercial projects, but with one condition - the copyright information and author's contacts must be retained. A plus: listeners receive a legal mechanism of use of the compositions they like, and owing to that music itself promotes the authors. A minus: name them yourself!
The first experience was OpenMusic. It was the Ogg Vorbis-encoded compilation under a very liberal license, distributed in a box with the ALT Linux Master 2.0. software. Among those who received it were also fellow-journalists. The music from that compilation can be downloaded here: OpenMusic. ftp://ftp.altlinux.org/pub/distributions/OpenMusic/1/index.html
The compilation included the compositions of such well-known Russian acts as Umka and Bronevichok, Chorny Obelisk, Rada i Ternovnik, Maleriya, Jah Division, and others.
Soon after that the founders of the project separated their ways, OpenMusic continued its existence with the support of Henry Sheppard and Alyona Lazareva.
The founders of the project (Roman Smirnov, Valery Mifodovsky, Mikhail Bykov, and Alexander Prokudin) decided to discuss with musicians and listeners questions of free distribution of music in the previously created discussion list firstname.lastname@example.org, and to reveal the deficiences of the earlier chosen way. As a result of long, sometimes after-midnight discussions the concept of FREE!MUSIC was formed.
In the beginning of December of 2005, in cooperation with the ALT Linux and 1C companies the first compilation of free music under the FREE!MUSIC declaration was released. The project is not going to stop at the achieved. On the contrary, we continue to develop contacts with musicians and mass-media and try to expand the frameworks of the project within the boundaries of the former USSR and abroad.