Rise of Remix Culture

In recent times, remix culture and mash-ups has emerged through the ranks and developed into its own popular art form. This “explosion of mashup-style practices [brought about] by modern computing technologies” (Bruns A, 2010) has resulted in many interesting and successful mash-ups. According to Oxford Dictionary, the ‘mash-up’ is described as “A musical track comprising the vocals of one recording placed over the instrumental backing of another.”

One good example of a mashup artist is Lindsey Stirling who is growing fast in remix culture presenting choreographed violin performances, both live and in music videos found on her YouTube channel, which she introduced in 2007. Aside from original work, she performs covers of songs by other musicians and various soundtracks. Her remix version of “Radioactive” with Pentatonix won ‘Response of the Year’ in the first YouTube Music Awards in 2013. Up till April 2014, her YouTube channel has racked up over four million subscribers and 600 million total views.

Artful, clever, or simply funny mashups, news about which is spread by word of mouth, may now attract as much or even more attention as the original source material which they draw from, commenton, or send up. (Bruns 2010)

Mash up videos and songs are a large part of remix culture that started several years ago and was made popular and easily promoted through platforms like YouTube and SoundCloud. By pairing up samples from different songs, mashup can provide an entirely new context for the original works. The famous TV series like Vampire Diaries make use of this culture mixing the songs to link to their storyline. They have done mashups with song from renowned artists such as Jason Walker, Katy Perry, Sara Belles, One Republic, and many more.

photo credits: love_22

photo credits: love_22

The use of mashups and remixing in music has created many questions when it comes to copyright protections.  A musician would want to protect his/her works from being used without permission. Conversely, a mashup artist would want to do it without getting in a copyright infringement lawsuit. As this area of the law grows, nothing is straightforward. Presently, the copyright principle of ‘Fair Use’ states that an artist is allowed to use small sections of copyrighted work without the permission of its original creators, who are still allowed the right to sue the creator of a mash-up if they interpret it as damaging or having too much of their copyrighted work in it (Stim, 2013: pp 1). Hence, while the samples are meant to be recognizable, mashup artists focuses on creating enough space between the pieces of original so that the new work has its own artistic qualities. Perhaps the popularity of these mashups could be the reason that the record labels are declining to pursue a lawsuit with the artist.

“.. At least some record labels and music industry members recognize the value of this kind of art.” (Kerri Eble 2013)


Bruns, A (2010), Distributed Creativity: Filesharing and Produsage, Springer, Wien, pp 1

Eble, K (2013), University of Illinois Law Review , This is a Remix: Remixing Music Copyright to better protect mashup artists, University of Illinois Press, Volume 2013, Issue 2, p. 663

Stim, R (2013), Fair Use, Stanford University Press, pp 1


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