If you haven’t been keeping up with the recent, and rather abrupt, Soundcloud Controversy, here’s a short synopsis.
Soundcloud‘s copyright system is powered by a “soulless” robot that, beholden to powerful labels in particular, has taken to removing any track that (may or may not, most times may) conflict with copyright laws. Recently bigger and bigger artists have seen tracks taken down, and even their accounts removed as per SC‘s three-strike system; wherein after three copyright infringements via your account, it will be deleted forever.
The first time I took notice of this unfortunate revolution was with Dropwizz‘s account removal after gaining mass amounts of internet-fame from popular bootlegs of tracks that were found to be in strict copyright infringement of several major labels. His description of this occurrence is as follows, quote:
So what happened was is that I uploaded a bootleg of Summer by Calvin Harris on my account, the only thing I used from the original track was the vocals, the rest was all my production, not sure if that matters though. In a few days I gained quite a lot of plays, didn’t expect it, but people really liked it. Nearing a week it got taken down by Soundcloud, and with that take down I had a total of 3 strikes against my account, 2 from when I just started producing a few years ago for a couple of bootlegs. I contacted soundcloud and explained my situation and questioned who reported the track, they said it was reported for removal by an anti-piracy agency acting on behalf of Sony, called ProMedia (antipiracy.de). So that was it, I did my best to contact the copyright holders by didn’t have any luck and thus my account was permanently deleted, lost over 5000 followers, which is not much, but I actually worked really hard for it.
The next major Soundcloud deletion that came to my attention was regarding the Canadian house producer Moiez. However, his account disappeared in a more complex fashion; after posting two different bootleg-remixes of Calvin Harris‘ hit Summer he was quickly notified to remove said tracks.
After doing so, he was still issued strikes for both remixes and the previews he posted for them (which were also quickly removed by his team) which resulted in four strikes and the automated deletion of his impressive account despite cooperating with orders to “cease and desist.” Fortunately, through a monstrous effort from Moiez and his management they have been able to revive his former account. Note this is extremely atypical for the tyrants at Soundcloud.
Kaskade took to social media recently to announce that nearly 70% of his music had been removed from Soundcloud after receiving 32 emails citing copyright infringement on, yes, even his original tracks. However his outcry raised quite a disturbance in the scene with a majority of major blogs, including YourEDM, reporting on the matter. In an attempt to better address these occurrences, he has taken to his ever-popular blog to report on the matter at hand. While he admits that he is technically in the wrong, especially with a variety of mash-ups that definitely “infringe” upon certain labels’ copyrights, he also defends the community as a whole for supporting the prevalence of free and bootlegged music within the scene. Read below:
Recently when I posted on Twitter about Soundcloud pulling 70% of the content I had housed on their site, I wasn’t expecting the resonance to go so wide. There was outrage from fans, there was commiseration from artist friends, feeling the same frustration I do. There was my ex-label, tweeting apologies and promising to help. All the usual suspects started writing on their blogs about it. Some publications sympathized with my “Down with the man” war-cry, others more or less said, “Suck it up, buttercup.”
Here’s the thing. I’m not in the right here. I’m definitely, without question, black-and-white in the wrong.
That’s not to say I am wrong, though.
When I signed with Ultra, I kissed goodbye forever the rights to own my music. They own it. And now Sony owns them. So now Sony owns my music. I knew that going in. Soundcloud is beholden to labels to keep copyright protected music (read: all music put out by a label, any label) off their site unless authorized by the label. Am I authorized to post my music? Yep. Does their soulless robot program know that? Not so much. So some stuff they pulled was mistakenly deleted, but some tracks were absolutely rule breakers. The mash ups. (Read about those little beauties in “Politicking of a Mash Up”.) I post mash ups mainly because I don’t need to keep these things tucked under my pillow, pulling out my little Precious only to be played at gigs. You want to hear it? Grab it. Like it? Great. The end.
But the labels, they aren’t feeling this approach so much.
There’s always been this cagey group of old men who are scared to death of people taking their money. Back in the day, they were upset that the technology existed to record onto cassette tapes directly from the radio. “What! (Harumph!) Why will people buy music if they can just pull it out of the air?!” Yet, people still bought music. Because it was more accessible. Because more people were exposed. Because Mikey played it for Joey on the corner and then Joey had to have it. It’s music, and we buy what we love. We can’t love music we haven’t heard.
Innovation helps the music industry. The industry only needs to make the effort to keep up and adapt. Make no mistake: exposing as many people as possible to music – all music – is a good thing. Everyone wins. The artist, the audience, even the old guys who just want some more cash.
The laws that are governing online music share sites were written at a time when our online and real-life landscapes were totally different. Our marching orders are coming from a place that’s completely out of touch and irrelevant. They have these legal legs to stand on that empower them to make life kind of a pain-in-the-ass for people like me. And for many of you. Countless artists have launched their careers though mash ups, bootlegs, remixes and music sharing. These laws and page take-downs are cutting us down at the knees.
And yo, musicians definitely need knees.
We have moved beyond the exhausting notion that our greedy hands need to hold onto these tunes so tightly. The world just doesn’t work like that anymore. I’d happily parse out the pieces of every song I’ve made for others to use. Remix that. Use that. Think you could do it better? Show me. It’s laughable to assert that someone is losing money owed to them because I’m promoting music that I’ve written and recorded. Having the means to expose music to the masses is a deft tool to breathe new life into and promote a song. It’s the most compelling advertising, really.
But it’s more than advertising. It’s sharing. If a person likes one song, then you know what’s likely to happen? They’ll press the download arrow and own it for free. You won’t believe what happens next! They become familiar with the artist, and seek out other material. Maybe they buy that. Maybe they talk about it online. Maybe they go to a show. Maybe they simply become a fan and tell a friend.
I’m cool with that. The labels should be too. It’s exactly what they’re trying to accomplish by funneling endless money for Facebook Likes, Twitter trending hashtags, and totally ridiculous impotent advertising campaigns. Let the people have the music. Or, to put it in language that makes more sense for the ones who can only speak dollar bill – Free the music, and your cash will follow.
In my opinion, Kaskade nailed it on the head. It’s about time that a major artist represented by major labels stands up for the little guys and the so-called “adulteration” of major hits. EDM is based upon the community it represents; a community that gives.
Instead of hearing talk about artists halting their bootlegging and mash-ups, we are seeing people discuss the migration of music-listeners to another platform with less stringent copyright holdings. However, I don’t believe this will solve anything.
Who or what is going to make up for the tireless work that these artists have put in to build their Soundcloud audience and replace the vast numbers of plays they have acquired through the platform? It would only serve to further divide our already tenuous community that is ridiculed by mainstream media and those who just don’t get it the world over. What we need is a solution from both Soundcloud and the labels as Kaskade justly calls for in this tirade.
A “refreshing” of the laws, so to speak.
But these are just my thoughts on this burgeoning controversy, and neither I nor Kaskade can stand as a lone voice for this massive thing we call EDM; so I want to hear yours. Please don’t hesitate to email me your thoughts at email@example.com or comment below and I will check back to update this posting with the best responses I see from fan and artist alike.
This needs to be a time in which we come together and develop a solution for ourselves as a whole, one that will benefit as many people as possible that are involved in this frivolous affair.
So… what do you think?