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Kevin MacLeod

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Kevin MacLeod
MacLeod in 2016
MacLeod in 2016
Background information
Born1972 (age 51–52)
Green Bay, Wisconsin, U.S.
OriginNew York City, U.S.
Genres
Occupations
  • Composer
  • music producer
Websiteincompetech.com

Kevin MacLeod (/məˈkld/ mə-KLOWD; born 1972) is an American composer and music producer. Described as "arguably the most prolific composer you’ve never heard of",[1] MacLeod has composed over 2,000 pieces of royalty-free library music and made them available under a Creative Commons copyright license. One of his compositions, "Monkeys Spinning Monkeys", is among the most-played on TikTok; from January through June 2021, it was played over 31.6 billion times.

The wide availability and freeness of his work, has seen it featured in thousands of films, video games and millions of videos on YouTube. These include Martin Scorsese's 2011 film Hugo and the video game Kerbal Space Program. As of 2017, his music is featured on one of the live feeds from the International Space Station, Earth From Space. A documentary charting his career, Royalty Free: The Music of Kevin MacLeod, was released in 2020.

Early life and education[edit]

Kevin MacLeod was born in Green Bay, Wisconsin in 1972.[2] He began piano lessons at a young age: "as a 4-year old or whatever it was".[3] He attended the University of Wisconsin–Green Bay (UWGB), where he initially studied electrical engineering; however, amid a distaste for chemistry requirements, he switched to music education after his first month.[3]

MacLeod never graduated UWGB; he had a brief stint as a computer programmer during the Dot-com bubble.[3] He had colleagues in the multimedia world struggling to find music, so began composing and sharing his works online, particularly on YouTube.[3] During this time he created his own website, Incompetech.com, which initially generated ad revenue from a PDF generator of graph paper.[4][5]

Career[edit]

A composer and music producer,[6] MacLeod has been described as "arguably the most prolific composer you’ve never heard of – although it’s very likely you’ve heard his music", by journalist Glenn Kenny of The New York Times.[1] Kenny further describes him as "a pioneer both of digital production and distribution",[1] while the critic Justin Curto notes that he is "a bit of a legend in the space [of royalty music]".[3]

MacLeod posts royalty-free music on his website, Incompetech.com, which is essentially "for anyone who wants to use them, for any project whatsoever".[7] His music is free to use, but requires formal credit,[4] as per the Creative Commons Attribution copyright license.[8] Instead of crediting him, parties can pay a fee for a no-attribution license,[4] which starts at US$30 for one song, US$50 for two songs, and $20 per song for three or more songs.[8] MacLeod receives some advertising revenue from music streaming services, but "otherwise relies on donations via Patreon.[4]

"Monkeys Spinning Monkeys" by Kevin MacLeod

The wide availability of his music has led to it being used in thousands of films, millions of videos on YouTube,[9] As of 2017, his music is featured on one of the live feeds from the International Space Station, Earth From Space.[10] Media which featured his music varies as much as Martin Scorsese's 2011 film Hugo to pornographic films.[1] The video game Kerbal Space Program also included his compositions.[11] One of his compositions, "Monkeys Spinning Monkeys", is among the most-played on TikTok; from January through June 2021, it was played over 31.6 billion times.[12]

MacLeod states that he releases his music under Creative Commons licenses to maximize the number of people who can use his music.[13][14] On his website's FAQ, he expressed disdain for the current state of copyright; he hopes to create "an alternate body of works that is able to compete with them".[13][15]

MacLeod has also created FreePD.com, which collects various artists' new public domain sound recordings. Rather than waiting for old copyrights to expire, he hopes to provide a quality library of modern recorded works by artists who explicitly release their music into the public domain.[16] Some of MacLeod's music is available on the website as well; he explains that these songs are "not commercially viable in the traditional sense, and just add clutter [on his primary website] which hinders people in finding the pieces that they may want."[17]

Documentary[edit]

MacLeod is the subject of a documentary film titled Royalty Free: The Music of Kevin MacLeod.[18] The film had a limited release in October 2020. Ryan Camarda, the film's director and producer, ran a fundraising campaign on Kickstarter with a goal of $30,000; by the end of the campaign, 524 backers had pledged $30,608.[19] According to the Kickstarter page, the amount was needed for transportation to conduct in-person interviews with the various subjects featured in the film.[19] The documentary has received positive reviews from critics.[20]

Awards and accolades[edit]

In 2015, MacLeod was awarded the International Honorary Web Video Award at the 2015 German Web Video Awards by the European Web Video Academy for his lifetime achievement in influencing the German web video community.[21][22]

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

  • 2006: Dorney Rock
  • 2006: Missing Hits 2
  • 2012: Cuentos de Recuperación (with Sonia Echezuria)
  • 2014: Horror Soundscapes
  • 2014: Highland Strands
  • 2014: Ghostpocalypse
  • 2014: Calming
  • 2014: Hard Electronic
  • 2014: Madness and Paranoia
  • 2014: PsychoKiller
  • 2014: Supernatural Haunting
  • 2014: The Ambient
  • 2014: Cephalopod
  • 2014: Dark World
  • 2014: Disco Ultralounge
  • 2014: Polka! Polka! Polka!
  • 2014: Primal Drive
  • 2014: Sadness
  • 2014: The Descent
  • 2014: Dark Continent
  • 2014: Wonders
  • 2014: Action Cuts
  • 2014: Aspiring
  • 2014: Light Electronic
  • 2014: Medium Electronic
  • 2014: Mystery
  • 2014: Tenebrous Brothers Carnival
  • 2014: Atlantean Twilight
  • 2014: Healing
  • 2014: Latinesque
  • 2014: Take the Lead
  • 2014: Thatched Villagers
  • 2014: Happyrock
  • 2014: Music to Delight
  • 2014: Silent Film: Light Collection
  • 2014: Vadodara
  • 2014: Bitter Suite
  • 2014: Comedy Scoring
  • 2014: Double Drift
  • 2014: Reunited
  • 2014: Funkorama
  • 2014: Oddities
  • 2014: Silent Film: Dark Collection
  • 2015: Christmas!
  • 2015: Darkness
  • 2015: Exhilarate
  • 2015: Film Noire
  • 2015: Fluidscape
  • 2015: Netherworld Shanty
  • 2015: Romance
  • 2015: Video Classica
  • 2015: Virtutes Instrumenti
  • 2015: Ossuary
  • 2015: Pixelland
  • 2016: Maccary Bay
  • 2016: Mystic Force
  • 2016: Anamalie
  • 2016: Final Battle
  • 2016: Carpe Diem
  • 2016: Groovy
  • 2016: Mesmerize
  • 2016: Traveller
  • 2017: Shadowlands
  • 2017: Destruction Device
  • 2017: Spirit
  • 2017: Ferret
  • 2017: Teh Jazzes
  • 2017: Miami Nights
  • 2018: Spring Chicken
  • 2018. Sheep Reliability
  • 2019: Meditation
  • 2019: Epic
  • 2019: The Complete Game Music Bundle
  • 2019: Complete Collection (Creative Commons)
  • 2020: SCP-XXX
  • 2020: Relaxx
  • 2021: Missing Hits
  • 2021: The Waltzes
  • 2021: Missing Hits C to E
  • 2021: Missing Hits N to R
  • 2021: Missing Hits Calmness
  • 2021: Missing Hits F to J
  • 2021: Missing Hits K to M
  • 2021: Missing Hits A to B
  • 2021: Missing Hits S to T
  • 2021: Missing Hits U to Z
  • 2023: Over The Moon
  • 2023: Changes (with ON THE TRACK)
  • 2023: Robotik Party
  • 2024: 25 Years (Volume 1)
  • 2024: 25 Years (Volume 2)

Singles and EPs[edit]

  • 2011: The Cannery
  • 2013: Happy Bee
  • 2014: Tranquility 5
  • 2014: Sneaky Snitch
  • 2014: Fluffing a Duck
  • 2014: Orrganic Meditation
  • 2014: Touching Moments
  • 2014: Impact
  • 2015: Guts and Bourbon
  • 2015: Somewhere Sunny
  • 2015: Garden Music
  • 2016: Vicious
  • 2017: Ever Mindful
  • 2018: Magic Scout: A Calm Experience
  • 2018: Laserpack
  • 2019: Dream Catcher
  • 2019: Flying Kerfufle
  • 2019: Le Grand Chase
  • 2019: Crusade: Heavy Industry
  • 2019: OnionCapers
  • 2019: Envision
  • 2019: Glitter Blast
  • 2019: Leaving Home
  • 2019: Magistar
  • 2019: Midnight Tale
  • 2019: River Flute
  • 2019: Symmetry
  • 2019: Sovereign
  • 2019: Hustle Hard
  • 2019: Almost Bliss
  • 2019: Beauty Flow
  • 2019: Half Mystery
  • 2019: Past Sadness
  • 2019: Raving Energy
  • 2019: Rising Tide
  • 2019: Tyrant
  • 2019: Sincerely
  • 2019: Celebration
  • 2019: Deep and Dirty
  • 2019: Fuzzball Parade
  • 2019: Lotus
  • 2019: Realizer
  • 2019: Stay the Course
  • 2019: Verano Sensual
  • 2019: Wholesome
  • 2019: Farting Around
  • 2019: Aquarium
  • 2019: Monkeys Spinning Monkeys
  • 2019: A Kevin MacLeod Xmas
  • 2019: Folk?
  • 2019: Menagerie
  • 2020: Worldish
  • 2019: Scheming Weasel (Peukie Remix)
  • 2020: What You Want
  • 2020: Island Music
  • 2020: On Hold for You
  • 2020: Canons in D
  • 2020: Project 80s
  • 2021: World
  • 2021: Now That's Now!
  • 2021: Night in the Castle
  • 2021: Adventures in Adventureland
  • 2021: WOTSITS!!!!
  • 2021: Space Jazz
  • 2021: Ethereal Relaxation
  • 2022: Journey to Ascend
  • 2022: Boogie Party
  • 2023: Paradise Found
  • 2023: Goblin Tinker Soldier Spy
  • 2023: The August Album
  • 2023: Brain Dance
  • 2023: Cloud Dancer
  • 2023: Equatorial Complex
  • 2023: Galactic Rap
  • 2023: Lord of the Rangs
  • 2023: Mesmerizing Galaxy
  • 2023: Sergio's Magic Dustbin
  • 2024: That Zen Moment
  • 2024: 90mh (Sped Up)

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Kenny, Glenn (March 29, 2022). "'Royalty Free: The Music of Kevin MacLeod' Review: Into the Spotlight". The New York Times. Retrieved June 8, 2024.
  2. ^ Gutelle, Sam (December 2, 2016). "Kevin MacLeod Is The King Of Royalty-Free Music, And Millions Are Listening". Tubefilter. Archived from the original on November 10, 2021. Retrieved September 27, 2023.
  3. ^ a b c d e Curto, Justin (January 11, 2024). "The Composer Behind the Globes' Best Bit Was Already in Bed". Vulture (website). Retrieved June 8, 2024.
  4. ^ a b c d Peirson-Hagger, Ellen (April 29, 2021). "How composer Kevin MacLeod became the king of royalty-free music". New Statesman. Archived from the original on October 5, 2022. Retrieved May 3, 2022.
  5. ^ "PDF Duplexer: An incompetech Utility". Incompetech.com. Retrieved June 8, 2024.
  6. ^ Mike, McGreehan (June 24, 2015). "Piedmont: PHS students excel in global contest with video". Marin Independent Journal. Retrieved June 8, 2024.
  7. ^ Pollari, Niina. "Free Music – Kevin MacLeod Composes for the Internet". Kickstarter. Archived from the original on December 22, 2015. Retrieved August 30, 2015.
  8. ^ a b MacLeod, Kevin. "Music License Forms". Incompetech. Archived from the original on July 29, 2016. Retrieved March 25, 2015.
  9. ^ Duenas, Ulises (December 16, 2020). "'Royalty Free' Tells the Story of the Most Selfless Man in Music". High Brow Magazine. Archived from the original on September 29, 2023. Retrieved December 19, 2020.
  10. ^ Tyler, Aaron (May 30, 2017). "Earth From Space & Kevin MacLeod Music". On Stage Magazine. Archived from the original on September 29, 2023. Retrieved September 9, 2020.
  11. ^ "Soundtrack from Kerbal Space Program!". incompetech.com. Archived from the original on August 12, 2022. Retrieved July 25, 2022.
  12. ^ Steele, Chandra (August 25, 2021). "These TikTok Songs Have Earned the Most Money in 2021". PCMAG. Archived from the original on September 29, 2023. Retrieved May 3, 2022.
  13. ^ a b MacLeod, Kevin. "Free downloads – Royalty Free Music". Incompetech. Archived from the original on March 23, 2015. Retrieved March 25, 2015.
  14. ^ Hoffberger, Chase (March 3, 2020). "Royalty Free: Why YouTube and Creative Commons can't coexist". The Daily Dot. Archived from the original on September 23, 2015. Retrieved August 30, 2015.
  15. ^ Camarda, Ryan (January 1, 2000), Royalty Free: The Music of Kevin MacLeod, archived from the original on March 12, 2017, retrieved March 12, 2017
  16. ^ MacLeod, Kevin. "Public Domain Music Downloads". FreePD. Archived from the original on March 23, 2015. Retrieved March 26, 2015.
  17. ^ MacLeod, Kevin. "FreePD FAQ". FreePD. Archived from the original on August 16, 2016. Retrieved March 26, 2015.
  18. ^ Spacek, Nick (December 2, 2020). "Director Ryan Camarda on Royalty Free, his new doc on composer Kevin Macleod". The Pitch. Archived from the original on September 29, 2023. Retrieved December 19, 2020.
  19. ^ a b "Royalty Free: The Music of Kevin MacLeod by Ryan Camarda". Kickstarter.com. Archived from the original on October 30, 2014. Retrieved January 19, 2015.
  20. ^ "Royalty Free: The Music of Kevin MacLeod". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on February 27, 2021. Retrieved December 19, 2020.
  21. ^ "German Web Video Award Page". Archived from the original on October 30, 2019. Retrieved June 14, 2015.
  22. ^ "Kevin MacLeod gewinnt den Ehrenpreis international" [Kevin MacLeod wins the honorary award internationally]. YouTube (in German). Webvideopreis Deutschland. June 14, 2015. Archived from the original on June 23, 2015. Retrieved June 14, 2015.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Music
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