I like to believe that all of us have rock star alter egos. For most of us, these inner rock beasts sleep latently, awaiting the proper heartbreak or drug cocktail to wake from slumber and cut a hit record. Rifflet.com is a place that shares my theory—a social networking site in which users can share 1-minute clips of music they've had bouncing around in their heads, just to get it out there. Others can then download these tracks, respond to them or even incorporate them into songs of their own.
We had a chance to shoot off an email to the site's creator, Jon Schwab, and ask him some questions about the site. Here's what he had to say:
Why are you starting the site? (Other than making money, of course)
I play guitar, and when I come up with a song idea, I'm terrified of forgetting it, so I immediately head to the computer to save it for posterity. As a result, I have hours and hours of 45-second songs sitting on my hard drive. I'm sure other people are the same way, and I thought it would be great to make a place where song ideas can be shared and combined into new ones. It's kind of like we're making a giant virtual band together.
How do you hope to see the music community respond to the site?
It's scary to take ownership of an unfinished idea (which is one reason we allow anonymous uploads) but it would be great if the music community embraced Rifflet as a means of online collaboration. There's lots of sites that allow you to upload music for promotional reasons, but we wanted to make a site focused on the creative process, rather than the marketing one. I also hope that DJs would use Rifflet as an untapped source for re-mixing material. I love hip-hop, and I would crap my pants to hear someone rapping over a guitar riff I recorded.
By uploading music, are you consenting to allow anyone to use it for commercial purposes?
When you upload a song, you have the option of applying one of several flavors of the Creative Commons license to your work. I personally use the 'public domain' version, which allows unlimited commercial use with no need for attribution. There are other options that allow re-mixing only for non-commercial uses, for instance. Hopefully, we've made it clear on the site that anything that gets uploaded will be reworked and combined into something else.
What formats can you upload?
Rifflet will accept .MP3, .WAV and .OGG formats. Unfortunately, due to software restrictions, the inline player won't work unless the file is recorded at 44.1 khz. We hope to overcome this in the near future. But, if you want to upload a higher-quality file, the system will still accept it, and users will see a text download link in place of the flash player.
Why the 1 minute limit?
Originally I envisioned this site as sort of a "Twitter for rock and roll," although we've since decided that's not such a great description. [Ed note: oops on the headline!] The thing I love about Twitter is the amount of conciseness it requires. If you're writing a traditional pop song, for instance, there's time for an intro, a verse and a chorus in 60 seconds and not much else. Unless you're NOFX (and trust me, you're not) you can't really pack a full song with a ton of ideas into less than a minute.
What's next for the site?
In the near future we plan extending the Rifflet's social component. Right now if you register for an account, you can take credit for you material and e-mail someone who has uploaded a song, but we like to extend that to help create more online or offline collaboration. [rifflet]