I owe my understanding of recorded music to record collectors. In today’s world, these collections need to be digitized (analog to digital) and posted somewhere. Like this one on YouTube.com. Jazz roots have been recorded, and are now in the public domain starting with the early recordings in the beginning of the 20th century. It was called Jazz when it got to Chicago at the turn of the century.
Perform them! That way it’s yours! Just because the song listed below was in the public domain doesn’t mean you can use a version done by someone else. Here are the songs I found written before 1924, or donated to the public domain. So you can use these songs w/o owing anyone or getting a license to use in your social post, IF you perform them yourself.
But the performance by someone done recently would require permission to use in a video or any other use of that performance. So you will be liable if you post a performance of a public domain song composed after 1924. Although Silent Night was written before 1924 , this is a perfect example of a song performance of a public domain song not being “royality-free” Youtube must pay who ever has the rights for this performance by The Temptations. I suggest using your own version of one of these songs to avoid any copyright hassles.
Randy Rainbow owes a lot to Tom Lehrer. Before musical satire was an accepted art form, Tom was a pioneer (this link expires when the site is taken down.) I was surprised at how little has changed. Except for the outfits, music satire hasn’t changed much. Tom has left his music to the public.
Public domain music is very, very significant. It reflects our culture in a nutshell. It requires music collectors/lovers to share these cultural nuggets. We thank them. Music that survives the ages of neglect and competition from modern artists is truly worthy of listening to and sharing. The multi-national corporations compete for your eyeballs and time with their music. Public domain music becomes even more enjoyable as it survives. The “top down” nature of the “music business” makes this “bubble up” of music love even more significant. Any music made before 1924 can be used by you and me with no permission or payments due to anyone.
This song written by Jelly Roll Morton when he was a teenager qualifies as a public domain composition. I found a version performed by Jelly Roll Morton himself, preserved by music fans just read the comments.