MP3 Contest Update

If you’ve been paying attention to the site’s current remix competition, you’ve no doubt gained respect for the musicians who made tracks available for open-source sampling. Name-brand acts, including Matmos and David Byrne, Chuck D and Dan the Automator, Zap Mama and Danger Mouse, among others, provided original songs to Wired magazine for a CD that helped promote the Creative Commons license. The CC is an alternative to the standard grade copyright, in that it provides what it terms a “spectrum” of rights, ranging from full copyright (all rights reserved) to the public domain. More info, including a helpful desktop comic strip, at

The site upped Wired’s initial ante by providing an Internet community in which fair citizens of the open-source public could transform those tracks into their own personal musical statements. As an exercise in creative rights, it’s been a success; some 126 songs and 187 remixes have been uploaded to since the contest launched. As an exercise in interface design, it’s also been a success; just check out the page ( that allows you to browse entries by the “tags” associated with the individual MP3 files, and you’ll have a pleasing visual experience.

However, as a listening experience, the results have been less than stellar. A lot of routine drum’n’bass, a lot of GarageBand rudiments, a lot of third-rate hip-hop and generic lounge-jazz-house background music, a lot of first drafts. Yes, indeed, if you’ve been paying attention to, you’ve gained a lot of respect for the artists who initially contributed tracks, because the results of the contest, by and large, suggest that making good music is more demanding than many people suspect. Searching for a diamond, let alone a potential gold record, among the entrants is a somewhat thankless task, but here are two good ones:

Henrik‘s “AAA final” is little more than a horn line and a dropkick of a beat, like Steely Dan’s catalog reduced over a low flame, but as a smoky exercise in the placement of downbeat, it’s well worth a listen.

The prolific Gerador Zero uploaded a small stack of efforts, one standout being “rm $x”; it makes Henrik’s jazz minimalism sound fully orchestrated by comparison, and has the lo-fi rasp of early Money Mike. More on GZ at

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