Monday, October 24, 2016

Unauthorized Sax Remix of Aeroplane and Purple Disco Machine

Whether you like it or not an artist's creation is their own, and they can do with it what they see fit. This means they can request any remix, bootleg or otherwise, that they see as "bad use" of their work to be removed, even if the world absolutely loves it. A classic example of this situation arose when Lido remixed Disclosure's "Latch." Despite being one of the best and most well received bootleg remixes ever (obviously my opinion), the Lawrence brothers were not pleased with Lido's take and went to work removing every trace of it from the internet. Of course they weren't entirely successful; it's nearly impossible to completely eviscerate something from the web once it's been there. But the fact remains that an artist and their handlers have final say as to who can remix and use their intellectual property.
Another such scenario has caught my attention, starting yesterday when a London based saxophone player, Abi Rose, posted a "funky house improvised sax line over 'Sambal - Aeroplane, Purple Disco Machine'." She then tweeted about it tagging Aeroplane who responded, "Yikes. Please take it down."

Being curious, I always follow links like this. Was he joking? Was it really that bad? I had to know. It certainly didn't seem egregious or bastardizing of the original, but this is the crux of this post, it is his content and he is entirely in the right to have it taken down. That being said, part of what makes the electronic music scene so enjoyable and so much fun is the rate in which official remixes and bootlegs are produced. There's an immense amount of sharing and collaborating within the scene, and given the internet age, fans have an unprecedented ability to interact with artists. This can be a good thing, but it can also turn nasty rather quickly.

That's just what happened this morning when Aeroplane responded to a twitter account xRiotPrincess and the conversation quickly devolved into a full-fledged twitter feud. Long story short, Aeroplane refused to back down from his stance that the track was an unauthorized use of his work and whether people liked it or not is irrelevant, while xRiotPrincess (and a few others) went at Aeroplane calling him "rude," "obnoxious," and "an absolute snob." Abi Rose has kept the track up, stating "You don't see anyone big being nasty when you cover their songs, Will wait for it to get taken down!"
Purple Disco Machine has remained mum on the topic. The whole thing is rather sad, but brings up an interesting issue, especially since Spotify and Apple Music are moving to allow unofficial remixes. I would assume this still means the original artist has final say whether they believe it is a misuse of their material, but it may be more complicated than that. The question I struggle most with is, at what point does a remix no longer belong to the original artist and simply becomes a new track entirely? Music is just a collection of sounds in a certain pattern, and can you really own a sound or a pattern? That's up for the courts to decide, but in the particular case, it's quite clear that this is in fact Aeroplane and Purple Disco Machine's property and they are in the right to request such use of their work be removed.