Case Studies/Watching Cars

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watching-cars music cc folk pop indie


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Watching Cars is an independent band who licenses all of their music under Creative Commons.


The brainchild of brothers David and Collin, Watching Cars is a unique blend of homespun roots and understated pop that will have its listener unknowingly whistling melodies the next day. Both boys, Texas born and bred, grew up on a steady diet of Beach Boys, Beatles, Chicago, and James Taylor, paving the way for their love of indie pop artists such as Death Cab for Cutie, Iron & Wine, and Pedro the Lion. Out of influences like these and a rigorous background of classical and jazz training came the duo’s characteristic sound.

Watching Cars is not the first musical endeavor on which the Gouldin brothers have embarked. For years the two enjoyed playing together in the rock band Ben Zephyr. As David puts it, “there’s nothing quite like being in a band with a member of your family. We have this unspoken musica l connection between us that I haven’t been able to find with anybody else.” So it just made sense that after Ben Zephyr, the two would come back together to work on their own project. While David revisited ideas constructed in styles less suited for a full rock band, Collin began to add his own personal creative touch to the material. The result is a well crafted set of tunes which highlight both the brothers’ unspoken musical bond and the quirks of their individual personalities.

The music, however, is not the only thing on their minds. Faced with a rapidly changing music business and a corporate environment where fans are just as easily pegged as the sole cause of the industry’s demise, Watching Cars has decided to go an altogether different route. Every song, photo, and video produced by the band has been licensed under Creative Commons. Fans are encouraged to freely make and distribute copies of the works and even use the material to make derivative works of their own. “We’re more concerned about building an active, enthusiastic community around what we’re doing as artists. We want people to be involved, participate, feel as though they have some ownership in our music. The restrictive modern interpretation of copyright was limiting our ability to connect with the people around us. Creative Commons gives us a way to enjoy the control and protection of our work we desire while at the same time fostering the kind of creative environment we feel is so vital to the artistic fabric of our society.”

As David and Collin continue to develop new material and hone their live performance, Watching Cars’ reputation as captivating songwriters and performers has already begun to spread. Soon their infectious brand of honest, melodic music will have reached the ears of fans across the world who just can’t help but sing along.

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