Making a legal Soundcloud mix, Pt 1: This won’t be that hard, right?

Keeping bootlegs and dj mixes up on Soundcloud is tricky business. Users who try to do so risk getting their own account suspended – which is why some artists choose to manage secondary bootleg accounts. Why not just take the legal alternative? Let’s make an average EDM mix set to find out how that would work:

Well sorry for this being disappointing so fast. There are thirty tracks in there but at this point, this is all of the mix we’re able to upload. Surely a later version of the mix will be a little more fleshed out. But this is all we can do for now (legally), and here’s why:

Quick explanation on why this probably won’t be easy
Sure, remixing and sharing content looks like something that comes very natural to the Soundcloud user base. Try searching for Swedish singer Zara Larsson for instance, the search will return over 500 results. Some remixers, like LA dj Carnage, even had their remixes accepted and released: Carnage’s Spaceman remix was a free bootleg before Hardwell’s Revealed Recordings found and signed it. On top of isolated examples there are some older arguments for remixing as well. American film director Jim Jarmusch has a fair one:

“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery—celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: ‘It’s not where you take things from—it’s where you take them to’.”

source: Gordon E. Slethaug – Adaptation Theory and Criticism: Postmodern Literature and Cinema in the USA

Still, copyright law simply won’t allow you sharing someone else’s work online. That’s the exclusive right of the creator. Professor Lawrence Lessig of Harvard Law describes the contradiction between two ideas in his 2008 book “Remix – Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy”. Creators around the world transitioned from ‘read/write culture’ (RW) to a ‘read/only culture’ (RO) at a point where carriers such as the gramophones started to catch on. The selling of physical copies is a business model, artist’s works are protected by copyrights in order for these creatives to be able to make a living off of their own work, and not be ripped off by third parties.

Pro-copyright vs. anti-copyright
These two ideas clash on Soundcloud. Since early beginnings in 2007 Soundcloud has been a dj’s tool to easily upload and share mixes without too much worrying about copyrights. It’s a dj’s job: stringing together other people’s creative works to form a new whole. But it seems that this is where the music industry has caught up. All three Major labels signed deals with Soundcloud that include arrangements for fair compensation for copyright holders. And in response Soundcloud – seemingly struggling to find a revenue model – together with Zefr upped its take down game on mixers who did not have their copyrights sorted out, including dj’s.

It’s too easy and probably not that fair to frame this story as if it were ‘camp copyright’ versus ‘camp creativity’. Most of the artists that are (yet to be) included in the mixtape both profit from copyright law as well as arguably challenge it by uploading bootlegs. Previously mentioned, Lawrence Lessig is an advocate of copyright reform while dismissing the classic conflict story:

“This simple framing creates a profound confusion. For there need be no trade-off between the past and the future. Instead, all the evidence promises an extraordinary synthesis of the past and the present to create a phenomenally more prosperous future. This future need not be either less RO or more RW: it could be both. And much more interesting (to those focused on the economy, at least), this future could see the emergence of a form of economic enterprise that has been relatively rare in our past, but that promises extraordinary economic opportunity: what I call the “hybrid”.”

source: Lawrence Lessig – Remix – Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy

Which is why we’re experimenting with an actual mix on Soundcloud. It’s a hands-on approach to see what does or doesn’t work while trying to remix other people’s creative works in an online environment that – by now – is much influenced by copyright law.

In this and coming articles we will be looking at basic copyright law, Soundcloud’s own guidelines and terms of use and hopefully – through research – we’ll find an effective way to legally upload (re)mixes to Soundcloud. Still there’s some trouble up ahead. The very nature of a mix is that it’s a string of other people’s creative works. All these creators have rights on their works that you do not have. So we need their permission. And we’re not just talking about the artists from the tracklist below. There’s will be at least 140 creators and companies who have copyrights in this tracklist. All together, the mix should be pretty much the sound you’d hear at any EDM-mainstage, ranging from ‘future’ house to some of the harder styles. That is, if you’ll even get to hear it all…


1 Riton – Rinse & Repeat (Shoe Scene Remix) 16 Dodge & Fuski – Rewind (Flusk Remix)
2 JAUZ – Feel The Volume (Cajama Remix) 17 Autoerotique – AUH (Hearts Remix)
3 Dallerium & Twisted Tom – Hypocrite 18 Firebeatz – Trigga Finga
4 Melanie Martinez – Cry Baby (Pnut & Jelly remix) 19 Givano – Timeless
5 Ben van Kuringen – Maze 20 Screapers – Voices
6 REZarin, Avenc & Richard Woods – Come Alive 21 Malik Bash – Crash
7 Malaa – Notorious (Crankdat Remix) 22 Feedson ft. Edward D’Garch – Losing Control
8 Kharfi – Good Guys 23 Thomas May – Galaxy
9 Stripclub & Skyler – Jumanji 24 Morgan Page – Safe Till Tomorrow (Pegboard Nerds Remix)
10 Reid Stefan ft. Awsumo & Ultra Cat – Hands On My Knees 25 DBSTF – B U M P
11 V A L E N T I N E x 3lo – Initiation 26 Van Dalen – Hands Up
12 Jessica Audiffred – K.O. 27 Lumberjack – Revolt
13 Panic City – Ill 28 Avi8 & Cyber – Emptiness
14 SNAILS x Protohype – Take It Off 29 Lil Kleine & Ronnie Flex – Drank & Drugs (Dr Phunk Remix)
15 Breezer – Juggernaut 30 Distance – Silence

And here’s the only track we’re absolutely positive we’re allowed to post. Next post will be about basic copyright, continue here.

Featured Image Chrisjtse


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