As regular readers know, I’m drinking the Rebel Sell koolaid at the moment. So, you’re in for a few anti-counter-culture rants. Here’s the first.
BoingBoing links to a text file entitled mashtheplanet. In it, Phillip Torrone issues a call to arms to music mixers:
the solution to end this madness?
more mash ups. millions of them.
this is where you come in, i’m going start a how-to series on making your own mash ups, so if you make these, please drop a note on how you do it, what software you use and all that.
let’s unleash a flood of millions of mash ups. with podcasting really taking off, p2p networks, mp3 players everywhere and the nature of music always wanting to be sample, mixed and heard it’ll be hard to stop everyone turning on, tuning in and mashing up.
This is classic counter-culture, counter-productive thinking: “we’ll do something exotic, and that will stick it to The Man.” It’s lousy civil disobedience, and a profoundly inane approach to engineering social change. It’s culture jamming, and culture jamming doesn’t work.
First off, who cares if 100,000 people remix 100,000 songs? Does the average member of the public? Absolutely not. Do the record companies? Honestly, less than you probably think. Even if they do, they’re just going to sue some more people. They’ve already sued 5000 people. Has that brought hordes of average Americans to their doors in protest?
Speaking of ‘civil disobedience’, 60 million Americans participate in file sharing today (most of it unlawful). If that mass illegal act hasn’t motivated the American government to change, what impact is a 100,000 remixers going to have?
I’m absolutely in favour of civil disobedience or protest. But it’s got to be effective, newsworthy and appeal to the common citizen. That’s what turned the world’s eyes to Clayoquot Sound or Tiananmen Square. Remixing songs just isn’t going to cut it.
Instead, every one of those remixers should send 10 letters to their representatives at all levels of government. They should call their senators and congressmen (or whoever you ought to call in the States) and explain their concerns. They should vote with their wallet, supporting local bands instead of those in the major label stables. They should buy DRM-free music from Russia, and tell iTunes and PureTracks why they’re doing it. They should donate to the EFF. In short, they should make a compelling argument for the political and economic costs of supporting the RIAA’s actions.
In short, remixing a bunch of copyright songs might be fun and cool, but it’s not going to change the world. Not even a little. The government’s got 99 problems, but this sure ain’t one of them.