Radiohead disappoints remixers

I just received the following email from fellow remixer DJ_Rkod:

Radiohead have invited fans to remix their recent single, “Nude,” and have created a site to host said creations. It is easily navigable, the remixes are easy to listen to and many of them are pretty good.

It’s also one of the worst deals I’ve ever seen when it comes to remixing.

The first problem is immediately apparent on the front page of the site, which states:

“Nude by Radiohead is out now. You can buy bits of it here and upload your remix here.”

Buy? Really? On further investigation, I found that yes, the British band expects you to shell out your funds in order to have the privilege of mixing them. It’s what I like to call a Very Bad Thing. But it gets better! A look at the terms and conditions reveals that this is in fact even worse than it appears to be. I’d like to deconstruct some of the terms below.

“…

1. all rights in and to any remixed versions (“Remixes”) of the song “Nude” (“the Song”) created by the Entrant shall be owned by Warner/Chappell Music Ltd (“WCM”) and to the extent necessary the Entrant hereby assigns all rights in the Remixes of the Song to WCM throughout the World for the full life of copyright and any and all extensions and renewals thereof. If requested by WCM, the Entrant shall complete and sign a formal assignment of copyright to give effect to the foregoing;

2. all rights in and to any Remixes of the original sound recording of the Song (“the Master”) created by the Entrant shall be owned by _Xurbia _Xendless Ltd (“Xurbia”) and to the extent necessary the Entrant hereby assigns all rights in the Remixes of the Master to Xurbia throughout the World for the full life of copyright and any and all extensions and renewals there. If requested by Xurbia, the Entrant shall complete and sign a formal assignment of copyright to give effect to the foregoing;

…”

This essentially removes all of your rights to anything you do with the song. You do not control what Warner or Xurbia do with whatever you create. You do not own any part of it. You are essentially paying them so you can work for them, a complete and utter reversal of the way things should be.

“…

3. Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood, Colin Greenwood, Ed O’Brien and Phil Selway will be registered and credited as the sole writers and WCM the publishers of the Remixes of the Song created by the Entrant;

4. the Entrant will not acquire a copyright interest in the Song by virtue of creating Remixes of the Song;

…”

4 is essentially a restatement of the above. But 3 is something else entirely. When combined with the rest of the contract, it means that, with or without your permission, Warner or Xurbia can sell your mix, without paying you a cent and without even giving you credit for it.

“Xurbia shall not commercially exploit the Remixes of the Song created by the Entrant without consulting with the Entrant prior to such commercial exploitation.”

This is a laughable assurance, because the remixer owns no part of his own work, and can do absolutely nothing to prevent such commercial exploitation. A consultation of this type would only serve to fulfill the terms of the contract.

I do not recommend using this site (obviously) and hope that in the future remixing is thought of in terms other than monetary ones.

–DJ

editor’s notes:
* The above obviously isn’t intended as legal advice, but an opinion of the author.
* While I may be able to tolerate somebody charging for their remixing stems (although in this case it appears to be strangely inconsistent with the “pay what you like” approach previously taken by Radiohead), I am as deeply disappointed as DJ_Rkod about what to me appears to be an plain and simple grab of IP (intellectual property) rights. I do support the notion that the original artist and their publisher shouldn’t loose the rights to their work because of remixing activities. However as remixes add new IP, just grabbing that new IP without compensation seems very unfair to me. I agree with DJ Rkod that “consultation” would appear to be a bit of a weak (if any) protection for the IP of the remixer. I Count me amongst those, that refuse to remix under such terms and conditions.

I think Radiohead could learn a thing or two about creating friendly remixer relations from Nine Inch Nails.

Radiohead’s grand experiment

Usually I don’t post about stuff that has plenty of coverage all over the media or in plenty of blogs already. But this one is just to interesting to not mention: Radiohead will be distributing their upcoming album online and are allowing their fans/customers to set the price for the download of the album. And they sell two versions: downloadable music only (with variable pricing) and a fixed price box set including a variety of Radiohead swag.

This is remarkable, not because it’s totally unique (it is not), but because Radiohead is a band arguably still in it’s commercial and artistic prime (although the forthcoming album may prove or disprove that).

If this grand experiment proves to be successful (however they define that), it could have a dramatic ripple effect in the recording industry. It will be very interesting to observe and hopefully they will share their experiences.