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Become A Remix Star…Legally

Once upon a time, songs were original. They were written by the artists, recorded and then distributed. Played on the radio or seen live.


However, times have changed and these original songs have been remixed, mashed up, and sometimes even have become unrecognizable.

So the question is: what’s better: the original or the remix?

The right answer is….there is no right answer. However, I find that you cannot generalize and say that all remixes are better then the originals or all originals are better then remixes- but as they say to each his own right?

There are some pros and cons to remixes- making this remix culture both a positive and negative thing.

You Don’t Have to Be A Star

Unlike original songs- you don’t have to be a star to make a remix. Remixing has become an extremely popular thing to do amongst average people- not just successful artists. Making remixes can be done by a person of any age and there are various tutorials online giving step-by-step instructions on how to create a remix.

Making a remix is simple. Here are some instructions from WikiHow!

1. Sign up for a Digital Audio Workstation or DAW. A DAW can range in price and be based around your own budget. Some of the top DAW programs are: Sony Creative Software Acid, Apple Garage Band, PreSonus Studio One, and Image-Line FL Studio.

2. Choose a track to remix. This is where your creative juices start flowing- you are in charge. Choose the songs you want, both vocal or instrumental.

3. Add additional sounds to your tracks. Here is where you can turn the original song into something completely unrecognizable.

4. Break down the track you’ve created. Here is where you get to hear individual sections of your track- see what works and what doesn’t. You can add or cut a loop short during this stage.

5. Add cool effects! Now that you’ve created a pretty solid track add some effects “delay, phaser, chorus, flanger, filters and other EQ, reverb, amplitude, modulation, ring modulation, frequency modulation, time stretching, pitch shirting or correction, vocoder and more.”

6. Bring all pieces together. This part means setting the BPM  (tempo-beats per minute) and time signature (usually 4/4 in popular music but sometimes ¾).

7. EXPORT IT! Now that you’ve created your remix you can export your work.

Seems simple right? Well although the process of creating the remix is simple…the process of legal work isn’t always.



You Can Become A Star…For The WRONG Reasons

The major problem when it comes to remixing is that- a lot of the time the tracks being used are not original. These songs are owned by other individuals, and then require permission to use via the copyright holder. You might be asking yourself, well I see online all the time remixes of songs, and I DOUBT they asked for permission! Well, the truth is many people do attempt to get around asking for permission- but that can lead to some heavy lawsuits!

Luckily there are a few solutions to help ease the legal process—and send you on your remixing way completely legally covered. First, check out Creative Commons it is…

“a nonprofit organization that enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools. Our free, easy-to-use copyright licenses provide a simple, standardized way to give the public permission to share and use your creative work — on conditions of your choice. CC licenses let you easily change your copyright terms from the default of “all rights reserved” to “some rights reserved”. Creative Commons licenses are not an alternative to copyright. They work alongside copyright and enable you to modify your copyright terms to best suit your needs.”


Creative Common explains that this is beneficial for both the actual copyright owner of the content and those who want to obtain it.

1. You can be the copyright holder and grant permission to only specific types of people (i.e. commercial use) and set your own standards

2. You can place your work in a public domain, allowing no type of copyright laws to it
As a person who wants to use the work on Creative Commons

“If you’re looking for content that you can freely and legally use, there is a giant pool of CC-licensed creativity available to you. There are hundreds of millions of works — from songs and videos to scientific and academic material — available to the public for free and legal use under the terms of our copyright licenses, with more being contributed every day.”

Now say you sign on to Creative Commons and the piece you want to use isn’t there. Now you have to do a little extra work to ensure that you gain permission to use them. Here is a Legal Checklist provided by FindLaw.com

1. Buy the song you are going to use to remix. Legally buy the song through iTunes, a CD, etc. Don’t illegal download the work.

2. Obtain permission from the each copyright holder. There are usually two or more copyright holders (one for the song and one for the master recording). Make sure you contact the right people and ask for their permission. You can log on to the U.S. Copyright Office’ website and search for the copyright holders. Additionally, CopyLaw.com has done a great job in breaking down how to get in touch with the proper Copyright Holders.

3. Make sure you have the permission recording in writing. A verbal agreement isn’t going to work in the end.

There is one more step to ensure that you are completely covered and that involves where you are playing your remix. You might have permission from the copyright holders but you additionally performance rights if you are going to be playing the mix in a public setting. If you are playing in the comfort of your own home, you are set!

You Can Become A Star…For the RIGHT Reasons

Now if you have covered all your bases, made sure you are completely covered legally…then the fun begins. Remixes have become a huge part of culture today. You can sign onto YouTube and find almost any original song remixed to become something sometimes even better then the original. I wanted to show you my top 2 remixes that I have become huge fans of!

First, Ivan Gough and Feenixpawl ft. Georgi Kay- “In My Mind” (Axwell Mix)”

Second, Rusko’s “Hold On (feat. Amber Coffman) (Sub Focus Remix)”

Remixes are slowly taking over the radio waves, original songs becoming a thing of the past. Although you might be a loyal fan of certain original songs I challenge you to look up remixes and see what other people are doing with them.



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