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“Reboots” and copying in the mashup scene: Let’s talk about it!

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“Remakes and copying are a bit of a spicy topic at the moment and the mashup community needs to have a word with itself about them.” — pomDeter

Last week, a mini brouhaha erupted on Twitter and Reddit regarding the thorny issue of mashup producers either accidentally or intentionally remaking other producers’ older mashup tracks. The flashpoint that started this was William Maranci’s “Intergalactic But It’s Ghostbusters,” a fairly pedestrian pairing of the overused Beastie Boys acapella over the equally overused Halloween chestnut by Ray Parker Jr. — what is this, 2003?

It was a strange “phoning it in” misstep from one of our favorite mashup producers, and a far cry from the originality and ingenuity of his “Bohemian WAPsody,” “Closer But It’s Funkytown,” “Classical Humps,” and countless others.

Despite the fact that something as utterly basic as this had been done by others many times before (as even the most cursory YouTube search easily reveals) it still ended up getting a ton of attention (due no doubt to the fact that Maranci’s channel has over 247,000 subscribers) which ended up ruffling the feathers of some of the elders in our mashup community.

Unofficial “mashup librarian” Tim — who started his Radio Clash podcast back in 2004 and has been attempting to preserve ’00s mashup culture with The Bootleg Archive — took Maranci to task over this, and strong words (and screen shots) spilled over from their private messages and onto public forums like Twitter and Reddit (and Tim’s own podcast).

pomDeter, another luminary from the mashup community’s “old school,” also joined in. As both the creator of the “mashup safe haven” website Sowndhaus (it’s basically “Soundcloud for mashups” but without the copyright takedowns) and producer of the 2013 viral YouTube hit “Call Me A Hole,” pomDeter was well-poised as a measured “voice of reason” in this debate, having been around “back in the day,” yet still keeping active (and still justifiably bitter that a fan-made video of his Nine Inch Nails vs. Carly Rae Jepsen mashup is actually the one that went viral, instead of the one on his OWN channel.)

Shots were fired, posts were posted, emotions flared, and clueless Maranci fans with zero knowledge of mashup history ganged-up on Tim (having no idea of his long stature in our community) and, well… it got a bit ugly, with hurt feels amongst all parties.

Reading through all the various tweets and messages, I was having PTSD-level flashbacks of the old GYBO mashup forum, which, while being a galvanizing focal point for the mashup community back in the mid-’00s, also devolved into a mudslinging shit-show way too many times.

I was fascinated by this interesting exchange, and since I’m Facebook friends with all parties involved — William Maranci, Tim, and pomDeter – I asked their permission to blog here the (not-so) edited highlights of their “spirited” dialog, in a much easier-to-read format than a zillion tweets and posts spread across multiple accounts. If you’re into this sort of thing, it’s a fascinating look into the microcosm of mashupdom, and a bit of an age-old battle of old school vs. new school.

— Adriana A


RADIO CLASH GOES PUBLIC WITH IT ALL:

After William Maranci posted his “Intergalactic But It’s Ghostbusters” mashup, Tim from Radio Clash DMed him to call him out on the fact that this mashup idea (along with his Eminem vs. John Cage –”Lose Yourself But It’s 4’33″” mashup that pomDeter had originally done) were not unique concepts, and accused him of copying. The two DMed back-and-forth for awhile, but after it got heated, Tim took it public:

WILLIAM MARANCI REPOSTS & RESPONDS ON TWITTER:

I’ve had my mashups remade by much bigger mashup artists on my old channel. It is a sad fact that most mashup artists will get outshined by someone else remaking their mashups. And yes, I have remade other people’s mashups and I try to give credit every time I do.

The “this was the only time this has happened” was referring to when I forgot to credit another mashup artist, which this past time, I was accused of even though I put in the description that the Ghostbusters/Beastie Boys mashup had been done before.

This has been really difficult for me because this is the most harassment I’ve ever received since high school. Tim obviously loves mashups but the incessant harassment on multiple social media platforms is really making me miserable.

I really just hate unresolved conflicts. And I get the frustration. And I will try to do better. But this has been super difficult for me. I wish I could just let this all go but this really is weighing on me.

POMDETER RESPONDS WITH A LONG HISTORY LESSON:

Okay, I kinda stirred this up a bit, sorry. Lemme try and calm it down and give some context to it all. This’ll be a looong read, get a drink and a snack.

You need to know that your name is whispered about among producers in an unfavourable light. First time I heard of you was after a couple of guys said you jacked their shit and only credited when confronted.

You’ve done two of mine. Not identical, but Eminem over 4’33” !? … The other is an alias I’m keeping secret, so can’t say, and to be frank, you only did the inverse version, so no big deal. “Great minds think alike/fools seldom differ,” I guess.

A couple of weeks ago, someone else remade a track I did under another alias. They’re aware, but haven’t credited it. When I checked it out, you were there in the comments. Clearly nothing to do with you there, but side-eye intensifies.

When I saw you and Tim going at it, I could’ve jumped in, but I slept on it, then went passive-aggressive by posting [on Reddit] my Lose Yourself / 4’33”. It was bait to get called out as unoriginal, which would prove some point, I don’t know.

Eminem – Without Me But It’s 4’33” by John Cage (OC) -[6:14] from r/mashups

Tim’s been there from the start, knows his shit, and has seen it all before. He’s an absolute legend. He also has a strong personality that can rub people the wrong way – hope he doesn’t mind me saying so.

Nobody is doing more than him to preserve mashup history. Pages 404, sites/forums disappear, DMCA strikes and bans mean the history of mashup culture is being lost. His Bootleg Archive tries to document and preserve it all before it’s gone for good.

There’s a whole new audience who never had access to this stuff so when they hear a remake they don’t know it already existed. For them, it’s original content, and a little bit of that history’s been rewritten. More so when there’s no credit at all.

Imagine everyone watching the Ghostbusters movie reboot, but only the original cast remembers the original movies. Or The Force Awakens but nobody’s heard of George Lucas. That’s what it feels like to see a remake blowing up.

Maybe we should call remakes “reboots.” Make it a thing, put “reboot” in the title so people know that it’s been done before. A simple solution that would please everyone.

It’s not just tracks that are being lost, it’s the culture too. The scene has fragmented and people are doing well on their own without forums and communities. That’s great, I’m all for it.

But there are long-standing etiquettes, unwritten rules and practices, definitions and knowledge that are part of the culture that are being lost. (Someone tried to argue with me that A+B mashups aren’t mashups, for fuck’s sake.) These things were developed over time for good reason.

There was a period in the ’00s where mashups would get “stolen.” Some wannabe producer/DJ would rename a bunch of mashups as their own and stick them on MySpace or wherever. Not remakes, just renaming the MP3s. Often they wouldn’t (couldn’t?) change the ID3 tags.

It was blatant and rife, they thought they could build a name for themselves on other people’s work, and get away with it. When the community found one, we’d rally together and hound them till they deleted everything.

Then there are “news” sites in need of content – they’ll find a mashup with a bit of a buzz and write an article titled “Someone mashed up…” For some reason, they almost never mention the producer by name. And sometimes it’s not even the original link.

My big hit in Rolling Stone is someone else’s shit video, they got the half a million plays. I’m not even credited in the video title, just buried under “Show more”… 

And don’t get me started on “who made dis omg :crying laughing emojis:”

These things and more are why the mashup community is really protective about credit. Credit is all we really have. The sources aren’t ours, only the fact that we combined them. And that shouldn’t be taken away.

We never step on each other’s toes either, for a couple of reasons. Respect among our peers, and originality. If someone had the idea already, it’s theirs, let them own it. In hip-hop, “biting” is frowned on. It shows you’ve got no originality of your own. That mentality’s present in mashup culture too. Finding an original combo that fits like a glove is the ultimate goal.

Accidental remakes happen all the time, everybody’s done it. And we’ve all scrapped ideas when we find out it’s already been done. If it’s too late and already out there we always acknowledge it out of mutual respect. But purposely remaking a mashup to be “better” is pure disrespect, in my opinion. You’re putting yourself above someone, and telling them their mashups are shit.

If the mashup was actually shit but a great idea, tell them how it could be better, even offer to help. They might just be starting out, struggling with keys, software, poor quality sources. Most times they will be thankful for feedback and advice and you can have the satisfaction of helping them improve. Plus, you’ve made a new buddy. Win-win.

If it’s really old, just share it. Show the OG producer some love. You could caveat that “with newer sources, it could be better” or something, but let them have a moment and introduce a classic to a new audience. We have to look out for other mashup producers because nobody else will. The music scene thinks we’re a joke, content providers just use us as click-bait, and the major labels and copyright lawyers want us to disappear.

We’ll never legitimize mashups and gain respect for the artform if we don’t respect each other and those gone before us. You don’t need to do remakes. You’ve clearly got the skills and original ideas. Maybe at your level, you’ve got pressures to constantly deliver content and keep that subscriber count up. I’m speculating.

And whether you want it or not, you’ve also got a responsibility as a prominent voice in mashups. People see your success and will follow you. Just look at that goddamn “But It’s” thing, LOL.

If people are copying that, they’ll definitely notice you doing well with remakes and think that’s what they should be doing too. In a few years, mashups could be nothing but remakes. Let’s nip that in the bud and start valuing originality again.

Fuck me, I’m waffling. But to wrap it up, here’s a wee story about remakes that might appear hypocritical at first, but supports everything I just said:

A few years back I was planning a mass troll raid on /r/mashups. A mashmob if you will. A protest about a few things wrong with the place. The plan was to all make the same mashup and post it on the same day. We just needed a good combo.

Someone noticed a remake of Jay-Zeezer‘s “99 Luft Problems” was getting much praise there as original content. History was being overwritten. They suggested our mass raid should be 99 versions of the Jay-Zeezer mashup. That someone was Tim.

It was perfect. We could make a point about remakes with remakes, a lot of them. But at the same time, honour Jay-Zeezer’s legacy, on it’s tenth anniversary, as the first and original version. We mostly used aliases (there’s about 5 of mine) so it wasn’t about stealing credit, quite the opposite. It was the community coming together to celebrate one of our own. It was beautiful and hella lolz.

phew /end

MARANCI RESPONDS: THE FIGHT AGAINST REMAKES WILL BE A LOSING ONE

I respect your opinion but I have to disagree. If someone remakes a mashup and puts their own spin on it and links to the original, there shouldn’t be an issue. People are going to remake mashups intentionally or not. Remakes are a force to be reckoned with.

oneboredjeu, Neil Cicierega, and DJ Cummerbund have all made remakes. I get the frustration, but this is part of a larger paradigm in internet/meme culture. People remake and sometimes knowingly steal other people’s ideas. I think this is an unavoidable thing.

Also, it’s extremely ironic that a culture built on borrowing can’t borrow and improve on itself. The concept of owning a mashup is inherently a grey area that you have turned into a black and white issue. This isn’t 2012 anymore.

If you’re for subversion and audio experimentation with copyrighted works, you don’t suddenly get to treat a remix like it’s original. Memes and mashups both have overlap in that they re-purpose certain sources. As long as you credit original meme ideas, reposts are fine.

Lastly, you seem like a well-intentioned person, unlike Tim. I agree to disagree with you and obviously I can’t appease the old guard. But the fight against remakes will be a losing one.

FINAL WORD: BOOTIE MASHUP’s TAKE ON “REBOOTS”

While we agree with nearly everything pomDeter wrote, we do take slight issue with his assertion that once a mashup concept has been done, it shouldn’t be “rebooted” (to use his fantastic terminology).

If you’ve been following us for a while, you know that we are ALL ABOUT CREDIT, and get very frustrated when MP3s are not tagged with the producer’s name, or when tracks get reposted but without recognizing the creator of the track. As pomDeter mentioned, that whole trend of posts entitled “Somebody Mashed Up X and Y and OMG!” has GOT to go. It’s not just “somebody.” The person who came up with that crazy idea is probably credited RIGHT THERE and deserves a shout-out.

That said, as William Maranci alludes to, sometimes a great mashup concept is old and/or not well-produced – perhaps made with DIY sources but the original studio sources have since been released or leaked. And now, with more modern software, that mashup idea can be improved upon. So why NOT do it again? Yes, give that mashup concept a REBOOT. Because as DJs, we sure don’t want to play out that old shitty-sounding mashup, especially if better technology (and perhaps more audio skill) can take that idea and make it SOUND better.

Many of our own Bootie Mashup DJs have re-worked old mashups — Lobsterdust, DJ EN8, DJ Tripp, etc. We’ve noticed that Jack Roger does this a lot as well. However, most importantly, all of these DJs credit the original producer (and add their credit to the title as the producer of the “re-work.”)

And indeed, there WILL be mashups that are either so BASIC or so OBVIOUS, that multiple producers end up making nearly the same mashup, independent of each other, and they’re certainly not intentionally stealing. (This was the case of my own Avicii “Levels” vs. Gotye “Somebody That I Used To Know,” which got made by MANY DJs). This has been happening since mashups started — there are only so many keys and chord progressions, and pop music has a tendency to repeat itself. And in that case, if you had the idea independent of other mashup creators, you’re not necessarily going to retroactively tack their name on to YOUR mashup. However, pointing out “the original” (if indeed it came out long before yours did) is definitely the respectable and RIGHT thing to do.

As we fast approach the 20-year mark of the modern mashup movement, we as a community will need to contend that ideas will be repeated, and an entire new generation is coming up that has no idea of what came before. And THAT’S why I posted this whole damn thing.

Not that anyone’s actually going to read this long-ass myopic post about our stupid little sliver of internet culture, but whatever.

– Adriana A
Queen Mother of Bootie Mashup

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