Artists and Amateurs
Matt Mason’s book The Pirates Dilemma confronts the current scrutiny of copyright and pirating through remixes in the music industry. The Pirates Dilemma discusses how artists or even companies react to people (everyday citizens sometimes) taking something from them without authorization. In chapter three the main theme is remixing. Remixing has become an entire new aspect of the music industry.
Although we are used to remixing and recreating this does not mean we have lost the spark of originality, in fact, I believe remixing is an innovative way to make something different.
As Mason says “humans have always created new things by repurposing old ones” (Mason, 71) and music is an ideal example of repurposing. Songs that have been remixed clearly made an impact the first time, in order to even be considered for recreation. In this sense one song can be given multiple personalities, and appeal to a larger audience by appearing in different genre settings.
Mason refers to the Grey Album in his book, which is clearly a piracy act violation, however it is an example of a mashup. By taking the White Album (The Beatles) and The Black Album (Jay-Z) Danger Mouse was able to create an intensely diverse mixture of two completely separate artists. By giving the two albums a new voice he was able to prolong the lifespan of them both, and reconnect original fans in a different style. Today DJs are using mashups, remixing, and recreations of old songs to appeal to a new audience.
Remix DJs are exceptionally talented, and they bring a new diversity to old beats. Hip-hop is today’s most influential music genre that speaks to the young population. This can easily be used as a tactic to influence and promote revenue in clubs. By taking DJs such as Mikey Bo, who has talent for recreating songs such as Rascal Flat – What Hurts the Most, and Bon Jovi – Dead or Alive and giving them a new perspective. Mason suggests that “rather than taking big gambles on new, unproven ideas hit concepts are repackaged, repositioned, and sold again” (Mason, 84). Sounding as though this is a negative aspect of the remix, I disagree with Mason, by recreating something you can give it the original artist more publicity and create interpellation to a new audience.
Citizen Media is an advancement that should be terrifying to music producers, as this implies that anyone with access to a mix board, or technology such as traktor (which allows you mix songs within other songs and create different effects and sounds) can create their own mashups and remixes, and put them on the internet. Due to the explosion of Web 2.0 the internet has become a place of amateur DJs, and interested teenagers to express themselves. This does pose a conflict with music industry and artists by bringing in a third (uninvited) party who has just as much access to the material.
The major issue that stands in the way of this remix culture we are creating through the web (youtube, podcasts, blogs ect.) is the copyright laws that currently stand. By changing these laws (which would be an extensive process) we would be able to collaborate successful artists with unprofessional DJs who can manipulate a mix board extensively and bring new innovation to the way each song is heard. There is a Fair Use Agreement which means that items usually under copyright protection can be granted a leeway in such circumstances as commentary, teaching reasons, or research. There should be a law furthering this agreement in the hopes that artists and amateurs can come to an understanding of remix culture. It is a part of society already, and although there are some loop holes, I believe it could bring a new dimension into musical appreciation.