January 17th, 2007

Free the Mixtape Makers

You prolly heard already, but I gotta add my voice to the chorus

The RIAA CIAA (!) continues desperately chasing its own tail — and seriously disrupting people’s lives in the process. This time they’re not suing grandmas or grandkids, they’re arresting mixtape DJs — people who crucially promote their product — and seizing all of their property (including dudes’ cars). For those who know how hip-hop’s multileveled business plan works, and has long worked — never mind its very aesthetics — it’s clear that this is a downright offensive, ignorant, and worrisome move.

What I don’t get is why the rapperz and beatmakers for whom the RIAA (and Atlanta po-po) are apparently acting don’t assert their rights/preferences more (and more publicly, and more privately — i.e., in their contracts). This is bad for business and bad for culture — to put it bluntly. Hip-hop producers and labelheads know this. Why, then, do they remain silently complicit with such bs? (Or did they just sign terrible deals that leave them no room and no voice?) We need a better model, and we need more vocal opposition to the present legal regime — from producers as well as “consumers” (who increasingly cut’n’splice just like Drama and Cannon).

Mixtapes aren’t going anywhere, and the RIAA is gnashing its way to an ugly demise. It’s too bad, meantime, that people like Drama and Cannon have to suffer through a painful, but inexorable, transition.

More backstory here. News story — typical in its willingness to tow the “party” line — here:


  • 1. droid  |  January 19th, 2007 at 6:47 am

    Coming soon – Guatanamo for mash-up artists and a shoot to kill policy for those caught sampling without copyright clearance… ‘As we entered the building, we could clearly see that the perp was about to click ‘send sample in soundforge, so we had no choice but to open fire”…

  • 2. Jorge Vieira  |  January 19th, 2007 at 8:01 am

    What a story!
    And that Tv coverage… Urghhh!

  • 3. Jorge Vieira  |  January 19th, 2007 at 8:04 am

    By the way have you seen this one?


    Got it here @ http://remixtures.com/2007/01/o-drama-as-mixtapes-e-a-riaa/#more-108. IGood site but only in Portuguese.

  • 4. wayneandwax  |  January 19th, 2007 at 9:18 am

    Hadn’t seen that yet, Jorge. Thanks for the link.

    Also, allow me to point people to what we hope develops into a useful resource site:

  • 5. madep  |  January 19th, 2007 at 7:08 pm

    this just makes me cringe.

    the blackcrack listserv i subscribe to has been going bonkers over this as well… and someone on the list raised a great point that if these mixtape djs are sliding such decent units to gain notice [while the records themselves are declining in popularity], the labels should hire them instead of locking them up.

    and granted, we all know that the labels aren’t even the ones pulling strings… and certainly not the artists [who often provide exclusive acapellas], but rather the riaa trying to play some sort of self-important superhero that no one wants.


I'm a techno-musicologist, internet annotator, imagined community organizer.

I left my <3 in the digital global, but I reside in Cambridge, MA, where I'm from.

I represent like that.

wayne at wayneandwax dot com

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