WEEKENDMIX 7.4.14: FREE TO PAY
Earlier this week, news hit that Soundcloud, under pressure from Universal and possibly other major record labels, is beginning to -more like allowing Universal themselves- to take down mixes containing music that violates their copyrights. Soundcloud isn’t the only one going through changes. Mixcloud recently enacted a new feature where you can’t rewind on a track. Better then getting rid of the mix completely, but still limiting. Either way, from now on, music lovers and especially DJs will find it difficult to post mixes that contain music from Universal. It won’t be long before we hear that all the major labels are doing this.
I feel DJs and their fans will be hurt the most from this move. Soundcloud posted mixes have become our modern day equivalent to the cassettes on which we would record our mixes. The mixtape was how we would show the world what we could do with music, in the process exposing people to new music, new artists, new genres, even new worlds. Now, how is the aspiring DJ going to showcase his skills to the world? How are fans supposed to discover new DJs or listen to new mixes from their favorite ones?
Well, the record labels say the answer to that is easy; you simply must pay for it. We all know that they are looking out for their bottom line; record labels simply want to make money for every instance one of their songs is played, even if that song is buried deep inside a mix. What I find amazing, especially considering that the mixtape as we know it is over 30 years old, is how record labels just fail to realize, or accept, how much more mixtapes help than hurt them.
Why record labels can’t see that mixtapes are really free advertising is beyond me, or beyond greed. Any DJ worth their turntables takes their time carefully constructing their playlists. When a song is included in a mix a record label should be happy; DJs are exposing their wares directly to the very demographic they want to sell too; that’s the type of promotion you simply can’t buy; that’s the type of promotion no corny TV shows on any network or any cheesy commercials with smiling hip youngsters could ever equal. The cool kids want mixtapes, they want to “discover” new artists and songs the old fashion way, by themselves, brought to them from the only people they trust other than their friends, the DJ.
I know for a fact this method works. Going back to when mixtapes were actually on mixtapes, before the advent of the digital age and embeddable mixes, I can’t tell you how many times I have heard a song on a mixtape and immediately gone out searching for it to buy it. I do it more so now; carrying an iPad full of mixes I downloaded the nite before, with a few podcasts from my favorite DJs as well, I am exposed to more music in one two hour commute than a bag full of cassette tapes could ever have matched. While I listen, I jot down either on plain paper or in my notepad app, the name of the songs I like so that I can look them up on Amazon or Beatport or Traxsource later on. If I am really enamored by the song, I buy it right there and then. Often times, I’ll buy the entire EP/LP and not just the mix I originally heard. More options for me, more money for the record label. It’s a win win. So you would think.
There are other victims to this maniacal control of a record labels inventory. Not only will this affect music lovers and DJs, but websites too. From the major publications like Mixmag to the newbies like us, our ability to post DJ mixes will be severely restricted. How will we showcase a DJs mixing talents if we can’t post a mix? Not to mention what is going to happen to all the mixes we’ve already published on our site going back years now. Webmasters cringe at the mere thought of all those dead links and empty space. We’re basically screwed in that regard.
Maybe, we should just look at the bright side. If there is anything this move makes clear, it is just what exactly our freedoms are, and that is that we are still free to pay.
Happy fourth of July America.
B2B: “Come Party!”
THE MASH-UP KING
4th Of July Mixtape