DJ Earworm is a San Francisco-based mash up artist who has achieved recognition for his technically sophisticated, songwriting oriented music and video mash ups. His annual “United State of Pop” mash ups, contain short mixes featuring the top 25 songs of the year according to Billboard magazine. The rise of the remix culture has paved the way for many unique artists that take sections of a number of original songs to form a completely new musical compilation. DJ Earworm is a perfect example of how the culture towards remixing has changed and is becoming a democratising culture, one which is available and accessible to anybody with diverse options.
Music sampling and the rise of the remix culture foresees that technology is a means for expression and that audiences don’t just want to be a listener anymore. Remix culture facilitates people, mainly amateurs, taking original music pieces, mixing it and sometimes doing it better and teaching how they did it better. As Lawrence Lessig states “Instead, they (or at least the “young people of the day”) add to the culture they read by creating and re-creating the culture around them. They do this re- creating using the same tools the professional uses— the “pianos, violins, guitars, mandolins, and banjos”— as well as tools given to them by nature— “vocal cords.” John Philip Sousa, one of America’s favorite composers, “feared that this Read-Write culture would disappear, be displaced by— to continue the geek- speak metaphor—an increasingly “Read/Only” (“RO”) culture: a culture less practiced in performance, or amateur creativity, and more comfortable (think: couch) with simple consumption. The certain types of technologies used to remix have certain kinds of affordances, making it harder or easier to do certain types of things, for example particular kinds of interfaces invite you or dis-invite you to engage.
The emergence of peer-to-peer file sharing in 2001 directly coincides with the formation of ‘Breakcore’ We can hear the sequencing of electronic beats compiled and how perhaps the most sampled six seconds of music in digital history, the ‘Amen Break’ is embedded into Breakcore music.
So how should we think about remix? Not as strictly binary, as it integrates the aspects of emerging subcultures and exploits the affordances of technology. It has aided in the collapse or disintegration of distinction between consumption and production and has paved the way for the modern day produser. As both amateur and professional music producers compile such remixes and song mash ups, the issue of copyright and intellectual property does pop up. However, free cultures such as Netlabels see culture as a whole continuum of practice and create a common that understands a song is not a piece of property.