Saturday, December 31, 2005

AMERICAN EDIT

Also in the "stuff we've sat on for too long" pile is the email from Towerofsong's Twangfreak bringing the AmericanEdit controv to our attention.

The story is a familiar one - a Green Day fans created a mash-up of their American Idiot, and were rewarded for their efforts with - of course - a cease-and-desist from Warners. In response, "dean gray" organised a day of protest which saw hundreds of websites hosting the tracks, spilling out 15 terrabytes of data to about a quarter of a million people. (A terrabyte of data is about the size of a dinosaur, so that's a lot).

In other words: rather than thinking "oh, that's nice that someone is so keen on one of our bands they'd do something like that to build their fanbase up", Warners went legal and turned what would otherwise have been a small website sharing music with a few people into a global phenomenon; and managed to make Green Day look less like the anarchesque rebels they've been trying to shift their image towards so painfully for the last couple of years, and like just another bunch of corporate shills. Did nobody - anybody - at Warners not think "this is the sort of action which could so easily blow up in our faces, like with the Dangermouse record?" Isn't it about time the major labels started hiring people who understand a little about the internet to help shape their reactions to it?

What has also emerged as a response is that Warners have also been handing out the C&Ds to fansites for using pictures and even album artwork on the web. It's never a good thing when a company is so stupid as to try and close down what are effectively free advertising sites for their products; but doing it in the name of a band who have been supported and shaped through difficult years by the sort of passionate fan who might want to spend time building a site about them in the first place? Shame on Warners, but also shame on Green Day for letting their bosses behave like that in the first place. Green Day have sold handsomely because of, not despite, fans like that in the first place. Without that fanbase, Billie Joe would be in a similar position to Lee Harding.


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