Strategy for Information Markets/Remixing

The notion of remixing has become a much debated topic in today's culture; especially when it involves the remixing of music. With the recent growth of remixing in the music industry, there have been numerous discussions regarding various topics that have an economic background when it comes to information and durable goods. Some of these topics include cumulative innovation, intellectual property laws in relation to the art of remixing along with the effects of these laws, and synthesis between multiple parties.


The definition of remix culture is defined as the sharing and exchange of creative information using digital technologies that use the cut/copy and paste method. Remixing music is relatively new when it comes to forms of music considering music has existed in cultures across the world for thousands of years. The idea of remixing, that is taking an original copy and altering its features to create another copy on the basis of the first one, was first established in the 1960s and the 1970s. It was predominately done in New York City with roots in Jamaican styled music. At the time, remixing was already prevalent in the native land of Jamaica and was called 'versioning'. However, as it was brought over to the night life in NYC it was mainly used in the disco styles of music that would later lead to an influx of hip/hop subcultures and styles of music. [1] As this styles appeared more and more as the fan base grew, DJs started to use various methods to create these new versions of older songs by changing aspects of the original. One of the techniques used was called "beat juggling", or beat mixing. The concept of this was all done on turntables and was done on point by the disk jockey's or DJs for short. These turntables were electronic devices commonly used in the art of Djing. They would allow the DJs to mix music by taking various segments of multiple songs and placing them on top of each other or intertwining them. These turntables allow DJs to essentially create a new musical masterpiece with the flip of a switch or the press of a button. Some common methods used by DJs to mix songs include taking the original beats of the songs and either speeding them up, slowing them down, or placing beats on top of each other to create different samples on-top of the original one. [1]

Non-music remixingEdit

Of course outside of the musical realms of remixing, there are also other media forms where remixing occurs. Most of these different styles first emerged in the 21st century as technology advancements created new programs that allowed for such remixes to be born. Using these software programs that would literally cut, copy and paste. For example, software such as the program Maya, uses 3-d modeling to create animation in films such as Spiderman and Lord of the Rings. What this program was doing however, was taking multiple methods of animation technology and mixing them together to create in depth animations for production. Although this can be difficult to comprehend as a remixing technique, it is still considered one simply because it is the art of taking multiple, simple animations previously created and creating a more advanced animation.[1]--ItsVerdy (discusscontribs) 02:45, 25 April 2012 (UTC)

Different forms of remixingEdit

There are various forms of remixing which all have similar but very different themes revolving around how they came about and what kind of different styles and methods they take on. The different forms of remixing are as follows:

  • Mashups
  • Remixes
  • Regenerative Remix
  • Megamix


The first kind of mashup that exists is called the regressive mashup, which is found in music production. This is the most common form of remixing and is what people are most familiar with when they think of a mashup. The idea behind a regressive mashup is to take two previously recorded songs/productions and push them together so that they mesh to make a melodic sound for the ears. This kind of mashup is most common and often takes lyrics from one song and placing them on top of the beat of another song.[2] The second kind of mashup is a called a reflexive mashup and this is actually found outside of music. An example of this would be a map that has taken two previous forms and has combined them to create a better and more in depth map.[1] By using a program such as Web 2.0, this type of mashup is taking samples from two or more initial models to combine them to create access to more complete information. Some might see the traditional Web 2.0 program as one that is not typically used for mashups. However, what web 2.0 is doing is taking sampling from various and combining them to allow software to perform specific tasks that it would not have been able to do itself while not changing the original code of the application. This is done through either static or dynamic sampling. Static sampling is when data from another source is taken only once while dynamic sampling occurs multiple times and is constantly updated as it is done. An example of a software mashup is Google Maps/Earth. With this program, users are not only able to receive directions, but they are also able to see street level views of various businesses. Users are able to find a restaurant of their liking for example, and click on that street level view to receive links to reviews of that restaurant or even possibly the menu. This is a mashup between software used in the mapping of Google, along with software that is used to link the restaurant information to a search engine.[3]


The most common type of remix is the one that occurs within music. A musical remix is taking an original song and altering the song's qualities without getting rid of the song's original "spectacular aura".[1] This aura is defined as what makes the song unique to any other musical composition, whether it be the lyrics, beats per minute, length, melody, etc. The first ever considered musical remix was done by Walter Gibbons on the song "Ten Percent" by the band Double Exposure. Although remixing was first established, the first ever recorded musical remix of this song was not done until 1976. [1] This is an example of the first kind of remix, and extended version remix.

The second kind of remix is called a selective remix. This kind of remix constitutes of adding or subtracting aspects from the original composition of the song. This type of remix became apparent in the music industry in the 1980s. Club DJs used this type of remix to add or subtract new sounds within the content of the original song and was often used in the nightlife scene in terms of music. [1].

Last but not least is the reflexive remix. This style of remix would actually change the "spectacular aura" as mentioned above through adding or subtracting various musical elements or notes. The majority of these types of remixes will often extend the length of the original due to the addition of new sounds, beats, or musical styles and/or elements. One of the first and most famous reflexive remixes ever done was composed by the notorious DJ named Mad Professor when he remixed the whole entire album "Protection" by Massive Attack and then renamed it "No Protection". At the time of this remix, both albums were released in the same year (1994) which caused some conflict between whether the changes were a production of ingenuity or if the remixed work was essentially stealing another's intellectual property rights. [1]

Regenerative remixEdit

There is a minor difference when it comes to the difference between a regular remix and one that is regenerative; however, it makes a huge difference in the implications of both types. As previously stated above, a remix is using a previously already established platform (whether it be a musical song or a software program) to create a new entity. The only difference between a regenerative remix and that of a remix, is the time. A regenerative remix is comprised of transfiguring multiple elements that are not constant. In other words, the elements from which are being used have data that is constantly being updated versus staying the same in the sense of a regular remix. With the recent influx of technological advancements in the 20th century, the regenerative remix in the form of software mashups and information has become much more prevalent and has created a subculture without anyone realizing it. [1] For more clarification, a more concrete example of a regenerative remix can be found in something like Yahoo News. All of the news in the world is constantly being updated and at one point, is never truly the same. The information is always changing. The reason Yahoo News is an example of a regenerative remix is because Yahoo doesn't actually create the content, but instead it takes the data from multiple sources and simply compiles it for easy access to all. [1] Aspects such as this regenerative remix example have created a sub-culture of information sharing between multiple users. Other examples include platforms such as Expedia for travel fares, YouTube for video sharing, or Groupon for coupon sharing.


The last form of remixing is the megamix, which is only seen in music remixing unlike some other forms. A megamix is taking the melodies of numerous songs and mixing them together to form a separate melody. The main difference between a megamix and a regular remix is with a remix, the melody being remixed is from a single song or played by a single artist(s). This megamix often done by DJs for the most part because as previously noted it takes a a couple bars from multiple melodies to mix together to create a melodic tune. [1] The most unique aspect of a megamix is what it does. A megamix tells a story through music and gives the listener a fluid path in which that person listens to. Megamixes are almost always longer in length because of this intertwining of multiple songs together to create this story for who ever is listening to it. What the megamix does is it allows the person who is listening to it to recall a whole time period versus a single artist or composition by taking multiple songs and mixing them together with a common, fluid groove all based on the listeners recognition of the songs. This is what makes a megamix allegorical. [1]

Intellectual Property and the LawEdit

Their has been much debate between the art of music and the copyright laws that are connected to them. It is not always black and white, as the terms of what is allowed and disallowed is often argued about. In terms of music itself, the original composition and the person that made that composition is the owner of that song. More detail will follow what intellectual property is, the legality behind it in relation to original compositions and remixing, and how it is viewed and works within the industry.

Intellectual property rightsEdit

Intellectual property is defined as the untouchable aspect of property. It is the ideas of a creator that leads to the personal property of that person. Intellectual property is the result of ingenuity that is created from a creators mind of brain and then established into a form that has physical and tangible property rights. The creation of music falls under this category because music is a form of a durable good; once it is created, the original never goes away or ceases to exist. [4]

Copyright act of 1976Edit

The copyright act of 1976 was developed to protect the original arts of individuals. It protects people from having their innovations, whether it be a tangible object or not, from being replicated. It lays down the rules and regulations regarding copyright infringement and what needs to be done in order to have a work protected under copyright law. [5] In most cases that arise in courts involving copyright infringement for music, most judges have been accused of misinterpreting the law when it comes to the music. In most cases, judges have been blamed for establishing judicial opinions that made it seem like they did not understand music. A famous example is the case Northern Music vs. King Record in which Judge Ryan established a judicial opinion that would prevent certain aspect of music from being copyrighted such as drum solos. However, this is not followed as a precedent in cases following it. [5]

The way copyright laws are viewed in terms of remixing music is rather gray. Because remixing is taking original works and mixing these together to make a new work, there are many arguments on wether remixes are even legal. Mostly all original works that are remixed are protected by some sort of copyright law because of the fact that they are intellectual property. So their is argument that when these original songs are being used by another party to create new music that it is stealing. However, there are many artists that thrive off of remixing such as the artist Girl Talk. Girl Talk is taking original works and mixing them together to create something new. [6] What Girl Talk is doing is using creativity of their own to create new works. This is following the notion of information synthesis, something that can occur when it comes to economic information goods. Synthesis is defined as the creation of a something new on the basis of combining two or more things to create it. For economic information goods such as music, there is high amounts of value in the music and wether it is being used to remix. Music that is more popular will obviously have much more value to it if it becomes synthesized. [6] This where the argument arises when it comes to copyright laws over music. Stanford Professor Lawrence Lessig argues that artists should make all of their work available to be used to create new work through information synthesis. He also argues that after all, all cultural creations have used some sort of cumulative innovation at some point in time so it is unfair to persecute the same type of innovation within music. [6]

Cumulative innovationEdit

Cumulative innovation is described as when there is any instance of something new being created with more than one source. Remixing music is a direct example of cumulative innovation because it is the art of creating a new entity, in this case a new song, cd, etc., from original sources. As noted above in the previous section, copyright laws have limited the amount of innovation that can occur when it comes to remixing because it protects the original piece and eliminates creativity. This is creating an innovation dilemma in music between the trade offs of protecting an original work of art and eliminating creativity and innovation to establish new information goods and cultures. [7]

Another aspect that takes place with cumulative innovation is the opening of networks for information goods to be shared. In general music is a closed network that is generally sponsored. It's network externalities are also two sided in the sense that it is music artist creating music for listeners. However, when cumulative innovation comes into play with remixing music, it helps open this network up. This is similar to going back to what Professor Lessig mentions when he believes all artist should let their music be used as a platform for new creations of ingenuity. What others have argued in terms of cumulative innovation is that music, especially remixing, would not exist without cumulative innovation at some point in history. To bring up copyright laws on artists who use remixing to create new works is similar to saying that the cumulative innovation in the music culture of hip hop was originally stolen from the blues music culture. [7]

There is some basis for economic arguments when it comes to remixing solely because music is a form of a durable information good with two sided network externalities. The major argument is whether artists should allow this network to be open rather than closed. In today's world, it is very difficult to prevent someone from downloading music and then remixing it so some argue that music should be automatically expressed as an open platform for free use while still recognizing the original as intellectual property rights.