Wednesday, November 30, 2005

did dj danger mouse produce "lawful mashups" for EMI?

at the end of my previous post, i had some rather harsh words for dj danger mouse, based on this quote from cory doctorow at boingboing:

As I wrote earlier this week, fighting mashups has nothing to do with reducing "piracy." No one who listens to American Edit will shrug her shoulders and say, "Well, heck, now that I've heard that, who needs to buy the Green Day album?" Censoring this art is tantamount to saying, "This music must go because it displeases us."

I presented this view to an EMI representative at the Creative Economies conference in London earlier this autumn and she responded by saying that DJ Danger Mouse had a happy ending, because they subsequently hired him to produce lawful mashups for them (while still maintaining legal censorship of the Grey Album).

but is this accurate? eric kleptone isn't convinced. as he said on snuggles:

Well, he was recruited to co-produce the Gorillaz album (for Parlophone, an EMI subsidiary), but I've not heard of any legit mash-ups he did for EMI or anyone. And I don't see how it was a "happy ending" as DM had (as far as I'm aware) nothing directly to do with the Gray Album being uploaded in the first place - he pressed up CDs of it, which then leaked online. Although they still could have sued him for the CDs, natch. AFAIK, anyway.

danger mouse definitely did work on the gorillaz's demon days album. this is definitely true. so it's undeniable that danger mouse is now working with the very company that tried to shut him down in the past.

but are the gorillaz "lawful mashups"? despite the fact that they were on the cover of wired's remix culture issue, i wouldn't classify them as mashups, at least not from what i've heard.

here's what an article in rockpile had to say about it (link is a scan of the article on dm's site; i have transcribed the relevant passage):

As it turns out, his wait-and-see approach may have paid off. In what must be one of the music biz's most incredible "if you can't beat 'em, join'em" moments, Burton seems to have dodged a mountain of trouble by fraternizing with the enemy.

The Gorillaz are signed to Virgin Records, an EMI Music company. As a collaborator and producer for Gorillaz, Burton is in effect a Virgin artist. What this means, according to journalist Richard Cromelin of the LA Times, is that so long as Dangermouse is working with Gorillaz, it's an EMI-subsidiary cutting his checks.

Naturally, Burton is hesitant to talk too boisterously about the sort of unspoken amnesty this arrangement has granted him. But, it looks like it's done the trick.

"It's safe to say that I'm not in any kind of mess now," he says finally, probably more than a little relieved.

so when cory refers to "lawful mashups" for EMI, is he talking about gorillaz or something else? is he confused? was the EMI rep confused?

adding to the confusion, danger mouse's official discography does not mention the grey album at all, even though his bio exclaims that the record is "one of the most intriguing productions of all time, an album that forever raised the bar on hip hop experimentalism," and "is considered a watershed moment in music history." this discrepancy between "it's the best ever in the history of ever!" and "i'm so ashamed of this i won't put it in my discog" throws the accuracy of the whole discography into question.

so i'm really not sure what to think about this now. he's definitely working with EMI, the company that just last year tried to censor one of his earlier recordings right out of existence (and though it didn't work, they apparently did censor it right out of his discog). that still leaves a foul taste in my mouth, and everything i wrote in my previous post pretty much holds true even if gorillaz is the only work he's done for EMI. but i admit, it's not quite as disgusting as it would be if danger mouse were the new richard x, squeezing out mashups at EMI's whim.

and if cory (and the EMI rep) were talking about something other than gorillaz, what were they reffering to?

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