Saturday, June 13, 2009

EMI Continues to Solidify its Irrelevant Dinosaur Status

In 2004, amid a sea of mediocre mash-ups, one Danger Mouse released what is likely the best effort in the genre: The Grey Album. Mixing the audio track of Jay Z's Black Album with audio clips from the Beatles' White Album, the DJ reinvented what the mash-up could be while crafting one of the best records of the decade. EMI, owner of the rights to the aforementioned Beatles songs, quickly saw the creativity and money-making potential of the project and immediately sent a cease-and-desist to Danger Mouse, halting (legal) distribution of the album. The record went on to become one of the most critically acclaimed of 2004 despite the label's attempts to squelch it, which makes one wonder how much money EMI could have made by signing DM and selling the record themselves.

Five years later EMI has apparently still not learned its lesson. Partnered with Sparklehorse and David Lynch, Danger Mouse's new project, Dark Night of the Soul, is getting pretty much the same treatment from the label. Joined by indie luminaries from the Flaming Lips, the Shins, the Strokes and others, DM built another slickly and craftily produced album that will never see the shelves of a store. Due to fear of legal reprisal the album is not currently being distributed, however the book of 100+ photographs that David Lynch prepared for the project is still being sold. Included in the package is a blank CD-R with the message:
For Legal Reasons, enclosed CD-R contains no music. Use it as you will.’

Clearly EMI doesn't understand that it is impossible to halt the spread of this music in the internet age. The tracks used here aren't even as recognizable as those pulled for the Grey Album - there is no chance that this would infringe on the sale of any EMI record. These continued suits only serve to reveal the label's current executives as the petulant, ignorant, backwards-looking fossils they are.