January 28th, 2007

What’s Real eHood?

Hot off a week of steady jukeboxin, I got to see/hear/feel DJ Nehpets — Chicago radio’s juke ambassador — alongside localtronix partyrockers Flosstradamus Friday night at Sonotheque. It was a treat to hear those bassy beats through something other than my laptop, and I love that juke — at least as represented by Nehpets — can range from the kind of minimal, synthetic bangers that would swerve the Berlin massive to straight-up Miami-style handclappin partychants. Thanks to Catchdubs for the timely tip, and props for (putting me on to &) putting together this fine piece on the new juke generation, published last summer. (Dude’s got his ears open, nd.)


Following on last Sunday’s thoughts on musico-social networks, local production, and DIYDJ culture, I’ve been wondering whether such vibrant, media-rich, share-centric spheres as imeem might provide not only a great way to finally freethedjs but for producers and musicians of all stripes to walk it out.

Right now, tho, it doesn’t seem as if imeem is prepared to tap into this activity and, say, allow someone like DJ Clent to make a little change each time his track is added to someone’s playlist (or, perhaps, purchased by an Abletonero, a Seratonero, etc.).

As something of a sidenote, I came across another interesting, rather active socialnet last week, elhood, which seems to fall somewhere in between imeem and myspace. The site is appealing in its Spanish-language (or bilingual) orientation, and clearly has a good number of dedicated users (attested to by the number of bigname acts — from calle 13 to pitbull — courting their favor), but it also fosters something of a weird (and for me, specious / pernicious) separation between “gente” and “artists,” “fans” and “friends.” One of the things I find so appealing about the OurSpaces of the world is their leveling potential, their one-degree of separation (or at least the appearance, or possibility, of it — I realize the cult of celebrity reproduces itself quite well there, too; & I wouldn’t want to preclude the possibility of maintaining multiple selves or avatars just to get rid of agents and proxies).

Which makes me wonder: are there similar but better sites out there that I just haven’t found yet? Is MiGente really hopping, or has it just become Friendster en Español? Is there something in the works — maybe even open source — which will put all of these spaces out of biz? Or are we all resigned to do our thing at MySpace, as well as at more specialized spots, given the incredible critical mass that has gathered there?

Apparently (and perhaps promisingly — but I’m skeptical), MurdochSpace announced a licensing scheme for its millions of music-makers last fall, though I haven’t seen anything recent about it. (has this happened yet?) If the cut turns out to be around 60% after all, that’s (ironically) better than a lot of the other (digital) distro deals out there, making it fairly appealing (&easy). And surely YouTube, etc., could follow suit (or are already planning to). But how about giving artists 100% (or much closer)? The tech is there at this point, if not so well packaged, to cut out the middlemen entirely — p2p culture n ting (filters welcome).

So, what’s the ideal tech fix then?

This would seem a simple yet crucial question to answer, or attempt answering. But it raises others, e.g.,

Is it a fix for us all?
In all our different if OverlappingSpaces?
Is full digital “crossover” and p2p culture possible?
Is it preferable?

(for the record, i think so)

1 Comment

  • 1. elizabeth  |  January 29th, 2007 at 5:41 am

    i was actually wondering about the myspace music selling issue as well, but it’s apparently fully up and running. see this page as an example of an artist that’s using it. lots of prompts just to buy a 99 cent song, although i’m assuming that it’s more of a one-time hassle. not sure if it’s fully available yet or only to select users? i’d also be curious to find out the actual cut artists are getting.

    i’ve been thinking about your questions a lot lately as well, and part of me thinks that selling the underlying copyright of music is just not the way of the future. you can sell mixtapes, CDs, vinyl, even digital copies, but more and more, people are really buying it to support the artist, not because they can’t get it elsewhere. i think the idea of selling a physical thing and/or supporting an artist as opposed to selling the “intellectual property” is a step in the right direction, and one away from the middlemen. still, the models to fully support this transition are not yet out there.

    also on my mind–how is imeem getting away with what they’re doing? the “digital performances” that they’re enabling are quite clearly violating copyright laws–and they’re not even eligible for the statutory royalties negotiated w/ webcasters in years past (that eventually killed most of them.) the recording industry was afraid that services that let users play personalized or on-demand music would threaten their sales, so they would only grant licenses to “non-interactive” webcasters. imeem seems to be leaving it up to the user (just read the terms of service and it has a typical “you agree that you are not uploading copyrighted material without permission,”) and has a procedure to take down any infringing content, but i’m not sure that would cut it if the riaa got on their back…


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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