Last year, at the INK Conference, music director Shantanu Moitra spoke about his passion for folk music in India, and the worry that much of this music may be lost to the world with time, as traditions fade. This year, he showcased a prototype of Folksome, which allows users to submit folk music to an online repository, which maps it to a region. This is an INK project, and they’re accepting music submissions through voice calls, via +91-888-000-9939, asking those submitting the music to leave their name and coordinates, and place your phone near the source of music. Videos can be submitted through the web. Nikhil Velpanur, Director, Fellows Program and told MediaNama that they then geotag the music and place it on the map. In addition, Moitra is planning to bring in ethno-musicologists to track the history.

Now two issues come to mind:


Who owns the rights to the music? Three parties are involved here – the performers, the person making the recording, and Folksome, which is publishing the music, assuming that since it is traditional music. It’s the equivalent of a bootlegged track. Ideally, this should be a commons repository, but someone needs to release it to a creative commons license. (P.s.: please correct me if I’m wrong about this)

Also, I noticed that you can listen to music, but can’t download it.

Keeping it alive

We’ve seen this all too often – when a community project begins, there is some initial enthusiasm, but wanes over a period of time. Moitra, given his popularity and the fact that he can directly ask his music-loving audience to support the project, can keep it alive, but I think more is needed. Some suggestions, once there is a larger repository of music in place:

– Create playlists: allow users to create playlists of music from their own region or hometown, and share it with others
– Create an online radio channel: just push play, and a random selection of music will play.
– Mashup, Compare and contrast: publish, on a regular basis editorialized music playlists – for example, take a region, and contrast music from one village with another, with perhaps information on the geneology of music, or even integrate Wikipedia (or create Wikipedia pages) for more information. A mashup of music, photos and history would be interesting.
– Mixing: this might sound like sacrilege to some, but allow users to mix music, add their own beats, play with it. Music and languages, however beautiful and moving in their own form, have to evolve to stay relevant.

Any other ideas?