Art of Record Production Conference
May 17-19, 2019
Berklee College of Music, 921 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02215
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Sunday, May 19 • 14:45 - 15:15
Sampling creativity: Copyright and the commons

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Creativity involves, to greater or lesser degrees, the act of ‘copying’ – whether in the form of musical imitation or technical processes. These are circumscribed, rewarded and understood differently within industrial practices and their surrounding legal and political contexts – most obviously through copyright.
This paper discusses the politics of popular music production, particularly the use of sampling, and the ways in which its ethical dimensions have been legally differentiated from other types of musical copying. It argues that comparable ethical codes exist within and across musical methods wherein sampling is part of the spectrum of activities.

The commonplace nature of digital technology within popular music production and the resultant closer relationship between sampling and other musical techniques raises issues for how the resultant ‘sampling aesthetic’ is dealt with in its legal and industrial contexts. This has ramifications beyond purely musical concerns. Copyright is an important driver of the creative economy with consequences, not just for the distribution of rewards and resources in the creative industries, but as a site within which political concerns – collective and individual interests and identities – are articulated and negotiated. Notions of ‘originality’, ‘creativity’ and ‘copying’ are politically constituted and played out within sampling and other musical practices.

This paper is based on research conducted for the project ‘Digitisation and the Politics of Copying in Popular Music Culture’, as part of Research Council UK’s Centre for Copyright and New Business Models in the Creative Economy (CREATe). Drawing together interview evidence from musicians and their industry partners (such as managers) it argues for a more variegated and nuanced understanding of copying practices and explores the political aspects of copyright, along with how it operates to variously support and undermine specific interests and types of creative endeavour.

avatar for Adam Behr

Adam Behr

United Kingdom, Newcastle University

Attendees (7)