I once emailed buzzfeed a scathing letter I’m sure they laughed at. This was in their early days around 2012 and I was tired of them clearly profiting from other people’s works. It was clear who got the credit and the money, and it was rarely ever the artist who came out on top. It’s the aggregates.
Go ahead and take a deep dive into @fuckjerry accounts and the aggregate world at large and you will find amazing business minds who couldn’t care less about copyrights or intellectual property. They are the crack cocaine of the internet. An endless feed of hilarious cat videos below a gorgeous new photo of Jupiter below a young vocalist singing her heart out below a life-hack video etc. etc. Rarely do we visit the artists page. If we share a post rarely is it coming from the original artist. How many artist websites do you check in on? Exactly … almost no one.
Yet we artists have them and we maintain them as best as we can because after all, we didn’t get into art to learn how to code, though now we have to. And despite our best efforts at showcasing our wares in this digital space we are hoping that one of these companies who are using us does just that because they have the audience.
At one time our cultural gatherings were separated by the tech. A movie was in the theatres, music was on the record player or a live concert, but now we get it all and it’s travel sized and it’s available 24/7. What did we think would happen. Basic economics are there staring us in the face. Our supply has grown way past our demand. And our audience must have absolute ease if we want them to enjoy what we do. No more than 2 clicks and the wi-fi connection better be humming fast.
Imagine being that door to door salesman and having 5 seconds to detail how someone’s life can be transformed and enhanced by watching something for over 2 minutes. That’s why all of our social media platforms have become resume’s. Of course we are posting the highlights!! People hire us from these sites. Companies want to know, are you fun, resourceful, positive, productive, etc. etc. A huge component to that is knowing your tastes, and in doing so we post what we find “cool” in hopes that, beyond someone enjoying it, that we are known for our “cool” tastes. The collective unconscious urges us with great haste and what we lose as a whole is proper accreditation.
Credit works in 2 ways: 1 it provides a historical timeline which contextualizes the evolution of ideas and invention and 2, it is a sweet serving of humble pie. “You stand on the shoulders of giants you modern nincompoops!!” it shouts to a lumbering hydra of ego-mania and self-delusion. Major issues come about with the loss of accreditation because art comes from people that come from specific cultures. Once you begin to unconsciously demean that culture by nullifying the sacrifices and genius that has emerged from it, you falsely attribute your tastes and musings to yourself, thereby cutting off the roots that could propagate forests of inspiration and connect people to each other in more meaningful ways.
We’ve all worked with rappers who just take beats off youtube. Half the time they don’t know who made the beat. And maybe, if they blow up on soundcloud or tik-tok you might get the mention or some professional steam, but more than likely you won’t even know that it happened. This will be more and more commonplace as our values for music and cultural artifacts are esteemed only by the attention it brings back to us the avatar, the us who is our page.
It’s not dire, it’s not anything but the way it is. Complain. Go ahead. How do we fix this? Most people are not thinking this deep about it I assure you because they don’t work in the creative field. Those that do are a collection of tiny islands drifting further and further apart because we’re just trying to keep our islands afloat and adapt to the changing tides. You are not on your own … we are all on our own.
And look 16 year old mumble rapper, I get it. I’m with ya. Download that software, get your loop packs, and churn out some trap. 808 forever let’s get the chirping crickets on them hats. Template my life so it’s easy because all this other life and career management is hard and when you’re poor and hustling you just want your shit to work. Life is already too complex. Fuck music theory and elitist conservatories. Play the art lottery and get on Instagram. Rush to a meaningless finish line because you are never finished. Make stacks! Hakuna matata motherfuckers!
But I still believe in proper head nods. I know that any genius attributed to me belongs to the masters I learned from. I inherited a world that had collected knowledge into bound volumes available to anyone with a library card. I feel proud to be part of ushering in new data sets that make it even easier and inspiring to learn from. The worth of the art and the artist is greater than that of the copyright, which is a good thing, because the net worth of your streams and synchs may have little value.
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