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The mashup ahead

permalink   Sun, Sep 19, 2010 @ 11:44 AM

long time since I have logged in here, a couple of years in fact.

I am brought back by my studies for a sonic arts degree for which I am currently writing partly about mashup culture. I am no expert on it. On the contrary, I am only just starting to understand it. I do however think that in the context of the culture that ccmixter is a part of that contributors here must have thoughts on mashups in general but more particularly on the future of the mashup.

Isnt ccmixter the perfect place for people to start combining entire tracks in an exciting global mashup but with original music? And beyond ccmixter, isnt there room for such adventures to be made available for commerce as many artists already collaborate, only this time using a mashup of ‘finished’ stereo files rather than ‘you do the rhythm or lyric and i’ll do the melody” etc, or am i slow to catch on and this is already going on all over the place?

I would love to read any thoughts and opinions on this and would be grateful for any wisdom or answers.


Admiral Bob
permalink   Sun, Sep 19, 2010 @ 4:00 PM
Fourstones I think has called it “spontaneous collaboration.” That is, rather than plan out a collab specifically with who the lyricist, composer, and instrumentalists are, you sort of put your piece out there and let the magic take over.

That is why CCMixter consistently produces a higher quality of music than other music sites. You get the best collaborators with the best ideas: in short the music becomes what it should be, and not just what you think it should be.

Remixing finished files doesn’t happen a whole lot on CCMixter, just because full files without stems are a little hard to work with. There are certain mix artists (like Girltalk) who can work with anything, finished or not.

But it really is easier to work your best ideas with stems. Sometimes, people will remix a full track (I did the other day), but it is somewhat less frequent.

As for commerce, that’s the trickiest part. Because of the way our copyright laws work, and the fact that artists don’t generally grant their listeners the rights that would be needed to remix, most mashups are in a legally grey area (the mainstream record labels or rights holders would in fact assert that all such works are illegal unless a paid licensing arrangement has taken place.)

That concept was explored in this film, Copyright Criminals:

permalink   fourstones Sun, Sep 19, 2010 @ 7:19 PM
Quote: the music becomes what it should be

I seriously love the wanton subjectivity of that phrasing ;)

also, this
permalink   Sun, Sep 19, 2010 @ 11:40 PM
No universal wisdom here - just my own, very personal take:

ccM can be many things to many people - and it most certainly would lend itself better to mashups than any other platform I know.

The original Wired CD (which got ccM going) even pointed very much more towards the mashup route than anything else. I also believe that good mashups have been and would be very much encouraged and appreciated around here.

That being said - speaking for myself (while surmising that others feel similarly) - I find it’s incredibly challenging to create a good mashup. Much more so than what many people (including myself) seem to gravitate to: ccM as a meeting place between poets/rappers/singers/songwriters on one side and musicians/producers on the other.

Further speaking for myself, I’m one of those people, who enjoys nurdling around on an instrument or two, so doing a mashup from finished mix snippets would remove me even further from hacking around on a musical instrument (ccM as a way to do time and space shifted jamming). And I’m a bit hesitant to give that up. And I simply don’t have the talent & energy to do both in the time I currently have available for making music.

As a side note: Of course the mashup thing likely wouldn’t do much for the singers/songwriters/poets/rappers in our midst here, who are a very significant part of this virtual community. Amongst other things, ccM is a way for those folks to get some of their works into a studio. Or a different studio.

Rather than paying someone for studio and production time, the price those a cappella contributors pay is the price of giving up artistic (and schedule) control. If they’re lucky, some of the resulting “remixes” turn out as well or better than what they had hoped or imagined. Other pella providers submit their tracks even though they have good studio and producer access - for a variety of artistic reasons.

Back to the topic of mashups:

The other big hurdle for mashups is the complexity of current copyright laws and practical licensing issues. These make it a major logistical challenge to take even CC-BY-NC mashups anywhere near a commercial outlet (e.g. a movie with aspirations of going commercial).

ccM has the best attribution system, I’ve ever seen. But even with that, there’s a significant effort involved to get within a sniff of commercial potential, if one has numerous sources (the number typically being higher in mashups than in most(?) ccM remixes. Simply put: it’s much less work to get 2 people (e.g. vocalist & producer) to agree on a common commercial strategy than to have to find and agree with potentially dozens of copyright holders who have some intellectual property in a mashup.

Even with ccM’s great attribution system, creators can become very hard to even find because email addresses go stale, or because people didn’t refresh their accounts and/or give an email address during the CC to ATM transition roughly a year ago. Or people change their minds about playing in the CC pool.

In summary, I think mashups have two main hurdles: a) difficult to do well and b) difficult to ever take commercial.

All of that being said: here’s a link to one of the more amazing mashups I’ve ever heard. (note: the content of that external site doesn’t adhere to ccM copyright clean standards)
permalink   Vidian Mon, Sep 20, 2010 @ 9:27 PM
Quote: spinmeisterNo universal
ccM can be many things to many people

permalink   Thu, Sep 23, 2010 @ 5:56 AM
thanks for your responses. as the bomb says in dark star - i must think on this further.
permalink   spinmeister Thu, Sep 23, 2010 @ 9:36 AM
Don’t forget to share your thoughts with us, once you’re ready! I think it’s a very fascinating topic rather close to the roots of ccM, and while I have my own current pet theories about it, those may be wrong and I would love them to be amended or replaced by better insight.