I love music. The one thing I love most about music is its ability to constantly evolve. There are a million awesomely insightful youtube videos on music evolution and how borrowing a bit here, and copying a bit there has encouraged this evolution (Girltalk has paved the way for enlightening music history). One great example is this video of where Daft Punk got their samples.
One of the main reasons for this increased of musical revolution in recent years is the invention of the sampler. These days however copyright laws are getting tighter, and sampling is becoming harder and people who should own copyrights to work are losing it to others in a crazy world of lawyers, precedent and money hungry assholes.
Law suits are springing up everywhere, some are winners – like the party who sued Men At Work for ripping the jingle from Land Down Under from Kookaburra Sits on The Old Gum Tree. And some are losers like The Winstons who’s track Amen, Brother has one of the most widely used breaks every used, and yet who don’t own the copy right to their own work. This video “The worlds most important 6 sec Drum Loop” explains this whole other kettle of fish
Fast forward to 2011, and it boggles my mind how after countless law suits, precedent and media battles, artists are still getting away with blatant copyright infringement. I may be very biased on a few of these points, but it seems that copyright laws are valid to big record labels when it suits them, and money and power dictate whether these laws are valid.
Take pop-stable Will.I.Am’s electro-alter-ego Zhuper Blaq’s track Dance. ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6XasSomhMpQ ) and slightly more credible electro stalwart Boys Noize’s track Yeah which came out first ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=opNnSioU59o ).
Given that this track wasn’t authorised ( possibly supported by Boys Noize’s vague tweet ‘Used without permission’ found here http://twitter.com/#!/boysnoize/status/37276874153394177 ); I would argue this doesn’t fall under the banner of ‘sampling’, I would say this is blatent jack of Boys Noize’s whole track with a few poorly vocoded stabs – and yet somehow you can still purchase the track, and no reported settlement or royalties were paid.
Flicking to the other end of the spectrum, yet one that makes me just as uneasy. A forward thinking and popular dance track by none other than genre defining super team Major Lazer (Diplo and Switch) Pon De Floor (as if you need reference… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VxD_7S7bl8k ) And Beyonce’s new track Girls (Who run the world)
Yep, same story. Except this time it’s a happy ending for Major Lazer – time to get paid!
So it doesn’t take a genius to notice the similarity between Zhuper Blaq’s take on Yeah and Beyonce borrowing from Major Lazer? Basically whole dance tracks, successful in their own right, being used as backing tracks for songwriters to lay their new flow and marketed to the masses in a confusing and fast paced progression of urban / dance cross-over tracks. But I guess this is the future, and one we’ll all have to live with.
But at the end of the day, and however angry it makes me, if I wrote a jingle and Justin Beiber offered me $200k to sing over the top of it – would I take it? ‘Ken Oath!