Though around for a few years now, mashups and remixes appear to be going more and more mainstream. I am a big fan or mashups and started to rethink these this year with the successes of bands like Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead (Coldplay too). They are all high profile recording artists and have given away music free this year. Some have also offered their music to the general public to be remixed freely or in contest form.
First of all, what is a mashup? Basically, a digital mashup is a new creation containing files from previous sources. These can include text, graphics, audio, video or animation. Some of my favourites have been where an ‘artist’ will take two previous songs and combine them to create a new song. Thousands are available on YouTube. Most are popular songs set to anime clips.
One of the best ones was done by Go Home Productions combining Madonna with The Sex Pistols:
Anyway, back to my point. Nine Inch Nails digitally released his new album (The Slip) in May this year without promotion and for free! It has been downloaded over 1.4 million times. Nine Inch Nails also offers fans multitrack files for remixing. These themselves have also become very popular and a mini fan industry.
Now Radiohead as well offered multitrack files for remixing back in April 2008 for their single ‘Nude.’ (They also released this full length album digitally via donations. Fans could pay what they wanted! Even zero dollars was an option). Over 2,000 remixes were submitted according to the band. They are doing it again for new single ‘Reckoner.’ This time, some big name producers have also submitted remixes to the cause (Diplo, Cadence Weapon, Flying Lotus). Anyone with a computer can remix these songs and upload them to the remix site where listeners can vote. Who is feeling creative? I guess the whole point is to see what other people can do to their music. Or is it?
Fans were also asked to submit video creations for the same song. Clement Picon won and his video creation was then actually chosen as the official video for the song. Yes, this is neat. Giving fans the chance to contribute. But I then started thinking, is it a clever way to cut production costs? Are we being duped? (Hopefully not.)
All these contests, mashups and remixes reminded me of all the issues regarding intellectual property and copyright. I then remind myself of Lawrence Lessig and ‘permission culture.’ Of course I am referring to Creative Commons (CC). Are there ways that this can be incorporated into the classroom? If you have done so, drop me a line.
Here are a few of my favourite mashups since it’s Friday: