I put my Ghost Solos package, and most of my other recordings, into the public domain. Why?
One reason is compatibility. My primary goals include being used in soundtracks and mashups, so I needed licensing that allowed my work to be incorporated into as many other works as possible. Public domain is the only universal. The only license for creative works that is used widely enough to be considered a standard is a Creative Commons non-commercial license (like this one), but they are deliberately incompatible with many works.
Another reason is durability on the scale of decades and continents. On this time scale there will be very many individual licenses like Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported. Even the most durable will be superceded and obsoleted again and again. Someday there may be a standard of licensing for free cultural works that is as durable as version 2 of the Gnu General Public License has been for software, but right now there isn’t. If my creative work eventually became part of the cultural ecosystem, which is unlikely enough to be grandiose, I would be happy. To accomplish this it helps to make legal arrangements for my work that don’t rely on my active intervention, whether because I am dead, far away, or separated by language barriers. The public domain is the same anywhere and any time.
Another reason is to communicate clearly. My political goal is to enrich the public domain. My creative work enriches the public domain by increasing attention paid to the mainly-forgotten source compositions that are now available for anybody to use just like I did, and to a lesser extent by having my recordings themselves be sources for new works. I dedicate copyrights on my recordings to the public domain to be clear about what I am saying. A share-alike clause or a non-commercial use clause would muddy the message. Sometimes non-commercial licenses are used to express anti-business politics, which I don’t share. Sometimes share-alike licenses are understood to express anti-business politics (whether they actually mean that or not), and this is not my point. I give to the public domain because I take from the public domain.
Creative Commons was still an important resource for my goals, in that I used the CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication to put my work in the public domain. It takes due diligence to manage the business of a public domain dedication properly.
I used to use licenses with share-alike clauses like the Gnu Free Documentation License, which I like because it works to grow the public domain (by encouraging disarmament like mine only when mutual). But no such license has been adopted widely enough to satisfy my purposes.
I suppose that so far I have answered every question but the main one: why not retain exclusive rights on my recordings? Because this is a fool’s errand for someone in my position. There are people who can sell recordings at a scale big enough to matter, but I am not one. The amount of time and money I spent to make these recordings dwarfs anything I realistically stand to earn. It’s laughable to think I’ll benefit more by clutching the rights tightly than by letting them go their own way.
None of this stops me from selling the work. It is for sale at the iTunes store, at Amazon, etc. I doubt many of those who read this will pay for it, but I think some others will who come across it there instead of on my blog. The buyers are welcome to have the recordings without giving me money, it’s just that I have to charge money to get the recordings into these distribution points.