Thursday, January 18, 2007
DJ Drama - Arrested for distributing mixtapes
NY Times Article by Sanneh
The music industry has officially begun eating its own extremities. I outlined the situation in a paper I presented at the National Communication Association in the Fall, and now it's getting worse.
Yes, there is no doubt that mixtapes are illegal. But does that mean that a) the RIAA serves anyone's interest by pursuing these cases and b) they in fact should be illegal?
This isn't like the RIAA's suits against individual downloaders - it doesn't hurt the music industry in an abstract, public relations sort of way. It harms the industry directly by threatening to shut down or freeze out a MAJOR source of promotion for hip hop. People who bought Wayne's Dedication also went out and bought The Carter - along with a bunch of people who never bought the tapes. Mixtapes generate excitement, "buzz," hype, whatever, better than any radio station ever could. They have effectively replaced radio in the hip hop community, because all of the radio stations are terrible.
While the RIAA is undeniably in the legal right in pursuing this case, it serves literally noone's interest to do so - except perhaps its own, since the organization has spent the past decade proving that it is essentially self-aggrandizing in nature. This prosecution will harm DJs, fans, artists, and the industry itself. It will not provide the boost to sales that the flailing, clearly hapless music industry needs - it will only make the situation worse, pushing the industry further down the spiral towards its seemingly inevitable collapse.
Edit: Jeff Chang does a better job than me.