Saturday, January 27, 2007

Mashups: Fame or Flop?

It seems to me that Girl Talk, the artist Jessica mentions in her blog below, and other mashup artists, are the reason publishing companies are so afraid of (and consequently critical of) mashups. According to Wired News, "the independent and not famous artists" who create mashups are able to easily make their music available to the rest of the world with the use of the Internet. Labels are worried that someone, sometime, somewhere down the road, will be incredibly successful in this realm of art and will make a lot of money. Unlikely. In my opinion, companies are wasting time and energy on concerns like this.

Mashups are all over the Internet, to a much greater extent than I realized before doing this assignment and playing around online, looking for, watching, and listening to a wide variety of mashups. One site in particular, Good Blimey, solidified my belief that a mashup "artist" will probably not strike it rich. Good Blimey's tunes page contains 7 volumes, each with hundreds of mashup songs, most of which are very disappointing. Take "The Real Slim Christina," for example, which is meant to be a mashup of Eminem's The Real Slim Shady and Christina Aguilera. However, the "ooohhh yeeeeaah" (not sure exactly how to spell that) dispersed throughout the song is clearly from Britney Spears' well-known Oops I Did It Again. It would be nice if the songs were at least labeled and publicized correctly! I was also surprised to notice that some artists are mashed much more frequently than others. The Beastie Boys, Missy Elliott, and The Beatles are a few examples.

Obviously the possibilities for mashups are endless, but I would imagine that sites such as Good Blimey have created enough possibilities, without much success, that record companies should feel a bit less anxious about this supposedly up-and-coming market. I must say that I do like the IDEA of mashups--especially if two songs that I really like are combined or when two songs that I didn't previously enjoy happen to sound better together--but I have yet to find songs that I think are particularly creative and memorable. (Although Unpretty Bop, a combination of TLC and Hanson, in Volume 5 of Good Blimey was kind of good.) I like the mashups that involve lyrics of the songs involved, not just lyrics of one and music of the other.

Finally, what amazes me most about this mashup phenomenon is that despite its lack of success in terms of a money-making industry thus far, it is still so incredibly popular among creators. I understand that audiences enjoy watching and listening to mashups because they are definitely interesting and provide a good distraction, but I don't quite understand why sites, such as Eyespot, that help people make mashups are popping up all over the place. Do we really need more?! Cuts helps users create and watch their own programs, while Boot Camp and Programmable Web explain provide detailed instructions on how to make a mashup.

Several questions have come to my head as I have viewed these endless sites. How valuable is it to have more of the same things on the Internet? Eventually the novelty will fade, and then what? How long is this craze going to last, and what is next?

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