Last week, Soundcloud announced a partnership with Zefr, the company responsible for determining what content contains copyright-infringing material on Youtube. At the time, what exactly this partnership would entail was unknown. Speculation revolved primarily around whether or not infringing songs would receive advertisements to generate income for the property holder (as is done on Youtube), or merely be taken down entirely.
That debate appears to be settled now—and it doesn’t look good for the dance music scene. Remixes containing even hints of owned music are being taken down in droves. DJ sets, bootlegs, and even artist-sanctioned reworks simply no longer exist.
It’s not merely underground, bedroom producers and DJs that are suffering either; even the biggest names are taking a hit. Knife Party lost five songs, including Destroy Them With Lasers. While Knife Party’s work has since been restored, not everyone possesses the group’s resources and influence.
Great work is being lost.
To fully grasp why this is a problem, consider how many great DJ sets contain bootlegged or remixed work from underground producers. The dance scene thrives on these types of tracks, which breathe new life into timeless classics and provide inventive takes on popular hits. Unknown names rise to popularity due to the notoriety a solid rework provides, giving them a platform from which they can subsequently get original music out to an expanded audience.
Soundcloud was the backbone of dance music.
While putting advertisements in front of material containing copyrighted work would be annoying, at least that still allows the music to exist. It can still be found by those seeking it, and all parties involved in the creation benefit. The route Soundcloud chose more or less harms everyone except for the major labels, who now maintain a chokehold on popular music.
Yes, the music belongs to them legally. Yes, they have a right to expect compensation for what they own. But art, and musical art in particular, has always thrived upon reinterpretation of past work, no matter the genre. Hell, jazz exists primarily as a genre of radical reinterpretation, and many laud it as the be-all end-all of music. Removing the ability of musicians to release reworks is an attack upon creativity itself, and Soundcloud has embraced artistic suffocation.