EDM star Kaskade has been one of the enthusiastic artist users of SoundCloud in recent years, but recently seemed to be criticising the company on Twitter for taking several of his uploads down, after they were identified as the copyright of a label – even though that was the label he’s signed to, Ultra Records.
“I imagine over the next week my entire sound cloud will be taken down. Sorry but there is nothing I can do here,” he wrote. “Although 70% of my sound cloud has been taken down you might want to consider visiting it and grabbing those last bits… Yes, so I will move forward with constructing my own portal where I can share what I like when I like.”
This weekend, Kaskade – 43 year-old American Ryan Raddon – published a blog post expanding on this. “When I signed with Ultra, I kissed goodbye forever the rights to own my music. They own it. And now Sony owns them. So now Sony owns my music. I knew that going in,” he wrote.
“Soundcloud is beholden to labels to keep copyright protected music (read: all music put out by a label, any label) off their site unless authorized by the label. Am I authorized to post my music? Yep. Does their soulless robot program know that? Not so much. So some stuff they pulled was mistakenly deleted, but some tracks were absolutely rule breakers. The mash ups.”
So, Kaskade’s anger is more at labels who he sees as squashing his creative right to share mash-ups on SoundCloud – “this cagey group of old men who are scared to death of people taking their money” – than SoundCloud itself.
“Our marching orders are coming from a place that’s completely out of touch and irrelevant. They have these legal legs to stand on that empower them to make life kind of a pain-in-the-ass for people like me… Countless artists have launched their careers though mash ups, bootlegs, remixes and music sharing. These laws and page take-downs are cutting us down at the knees.”
As ever, this debate cuts two ways: Kaskade’s assumption is that the artists lucky enough to be mashed up by DJs on their way to building lucrative careers will appreciate the attention rather than a sampling fee.
“It’s laughable to assert that someone is losing money owed to them because I’m promoting music that I’ve written and recorded. Having the means to expose music to the masses is a deft tool to breathe new life into and promote a song,” wrote Kaskade. Many artists will agree with him, but perhaps not all.
The more serious point, though, is that new ways of creating and sharing music – from mash-ups to YouTube covers – will always generate fresh copyright arguments. If Kaskade does launch his own portal making his mash-ups available to millions of fans, it’ll almost certainly spark another. Although if he can figure out a proper licensing model, that could be the biggest benefit to the community.