RIP: A Remix Manifesto

If you haven’t seen this film, i think you should… RIP! A Remix Manifesto

“Before the radio and the record came along, the only way that people made money from making music was by standing in a hall and being charismatic.” Do you think the business model for professional musicians has changed in the last few decades?

Clearly, the business model has changed.  Like he said in the film, there used to be one broadcaster for information, and now through the internet there is an unlimited number real time connections.  Similarly, there was/still really is a period where musicians would make their money through concerts, records, and royalties, but with technological advances and accessibility to music and learning music growing, the sheer volume of musicians and mash ups is growing.

As the volume of music continually grows, and the reworking of old-into-new material continues, money involved in the music industry will likely be spread far thinner.  If the industry’s ability to sue to living crap out of people is somehow diminished in the future, it will be impossible for them to maintain the revenue, status, and power they currently have.  It’s easy to understand how Lars Ulrich and others are up in arms because of lost revenue, it’s probably millions! I figure they and other like-minded musicians are alright with going down in history as one of the bad guys so long as their retirement is cushioned by several extra million dollars.

So, the model has to change and is changing.  When Radiohead released In Rainbows in 2007 and asked buyers to pay what they want, it was ground breaking.  And people loved it.  Terribly unfortunate for EMI however.  Other sites and musicians are moving in the same direction.  Bandcamp.com let’s musicians set minimum prices for single song or full album downloads, and buyers pay on average 50% over the minimum.  Now I know some still wouldn’t want their music remixed, but this is an example of musicians being more in control of their product and sharing user to user opposed to through large companies.

The growth or remixes is such a good thing.  Copyright was first introduced to encourage creativity and innovation in arts and science, but the current model severely hinders that.  Just  as the original laws were changed to more so benefit the authors and less so the creativity of the public, it could use some tweaking as remixes become larger, as they most certainly will.

The laws seem ridiculous as they stand. That GirlTalk would/should have to pay upwards of 4 million to release a record with far more originality than any Nickelback album to date. I loved the part where the music industry spokesman is intimidating the children on a field trip with $25,000 fines and one boy asks, “Isn’t that a little overboard?” and he confidently answers,”no.”  Wow, what messed up priorities.  It’s ludicrous and feels insanely petty for something as simple as music. The whole concept of copyright gets absolutely disgusting when applied to medicine, in the the case of Brazil breaking laws to affordably produce AIDS medication.  How dare they!  And how the US has pumped billions into anti-copyright efforts that definitely should have been spent on education, healthcare, etc.  Why?

This film was very well done and super entertaining.  There’s no simple answer that comes out of it though.  Copyright has a place, incentive is a large motivator to innovation.  I greatly believe that being rewarded for a job done well is the right thing to do, but if pirate media is everyone’s answer then there’s no real reward.  So does cutting the length down to 5..10..? years solve anything? Probably just makes everyone slightly less of a criminal.  As for remixing, would remix artists actually respect those 5 years before cutting and reworking the material?  I highly doubt it, what’s new is what people want to hear.

Maybe the business model of the future will revert back to being charismatic in front of people live.  Where music, original (as original as the blues) and mashup is shared freely with no strings attached and revenue has to come from the live experience and performance of that material.  That wouldn’t be all that bad.  More access to creativity and ability to become creative for the public, more funds/resources for other projects, and the desire of musicians/film makers, etc. to heighten their game to impress me.

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1 comment
  1. Great post, Brodie. It would be certainly be great if we saw the music industry model revert to an older form of creativity and music sharing – in some ways it really is. But, as long as we have the big companies controlling the production and distribution of music, we will see bad ideas like digital rights management, law suits, and blocking/banning, etc.

    And extra points for the Nickelback crack! 🙂

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