Stop Laughing About Ministry of Sound

There’s been some recent bashing of Minstry of Sound, a British label that makes music compilations. They have sued Spotify for not taking down their users’ playlists that are copied from their compilations. I think this is fascinating, and I don’t share the critique that they’ve received around the web.

I don’t know MoS very well at all. But let’s assume that they spend shitloads of time to make these compilations. Keeping up with trends, upcoming artists, getting to know the right people, know their audience, and so on. It’s a bit similar to how a DJ works. Or a newspaper. Or a professional blog. Or any other job that requires you to assemble things together rather than creating something from scratch. Some would say that everything works like that now. “Creativity”, they say, is the basis of everything – not just art, music and design but business, science, personal relationships, sports, health, etc into infinity. You have to be creative!!!

I once talked to an artist who exhibits his own works, but also makes presentations about his field of art. He said that it took a lot more work to do the presentations, than to make the exhibitions. Finding the works that you want to present is the first step, but then you have to put them together in a way that makes sense. For him it was clear that this is worth more (money) than his own works are. It also makes me think of the times when a book review has been better than the book itself.

Most people might disagree, because content is considered as sacred. Content creators must be protected by complex bureaucracy so that they can make money. But times are changing. Curators, organizers and DJs make more money than the people who create the content. Good or bad? That’s not the point. It’s a growing tendency that we need to consider.


From this point of view, it makes sense for Ministry of Sound to protect their work. Now I don’t really know their compilations, but spontaneously I feel like what they do is more important than what composers and artists do. I guess most people would disagree, but in my world music creators are spammers hehe.

The last year I’ve put vast amounts of time and energy into research for that I run with Raquel Meyers. I have found plenty of other tumblrs who scan images from obscure old publications, and make them available with info, links, credits, context, etc. It’s really important and useful work, and it’s usually more interesting than following some music d00d or artist that only talks about themselves. Or a reblogger that has reduced him/herself to a distribution machine.

I really value the work of researchers, curators, compilers and compressors (??), reviewers, etc. Sure, the legal action from Ministry of Sound is absurd. But it’s no more absurd than the copyright industry who is currently fighting to incorporate streams, links and mentions into their business model. And that’s just about control and repression that puts money into lazy pockets. It has nothing to do with helping artists or audiences.

Anyway. Ministry of Sound probably sucks.

6 Responses to “Stop Laughing About Ministry of Sound”

  1. FTC Says:

    I will consider it!

    Sven Öhman thought that people who summarize stuff (e.g. making easy to read popular science stuff out of complex scientific problems) were evil, because he thought they trivialized the content and gave the false impression that it was simpler than it actually was. Just something I came to think of in relation to what you wrote. I don’t mean anything with it! :)

    • goto80 Says:

      Maybe Sven could say that content, in this context of music and stuff, is evil because it trivializes the situations where it happens in the first place. Reducing a jam to a song, an idea to a product, a philosophy to an activity. Therefore: content is evil.

  2. Submarine (@sinkdeep) Says:

    Re content. I think the whole concept of content sux and is very sad expressions are considered something you can contain in some format like a playlist. Dont know much about Ministry of Sound but probably they are big not because their playlists, but because the expressions they managed to articulate in the style of their compilations. Alas, atributting this kind of immaterial labour is actually is very easy, but expecting that a content machine like Spotify would do that is not realistic. Anyway, Spotify is all about “content” eww. Paraphrasing Rasmus Fleischer, would be would to think what is actually what it needs to be protected first when it comes to creative expressions.

    • goto80 Says:

      If MoS wins the case, though, I think it’ll be more tricky for Google (and YouTube) than Spotify. Even if Google is not completely reliant on content, like Spotify is.

      Not sure I understood your paraphrase of Rasmus, but it was a question of what needs to be protected first? Attribution is good imo. If that would practiced better – that all information had info about where it came from – then we wouldn’t have the Iraq war for example. :) But I dunno..

  3. Submarine (@sinkdeep) Says:

    atributtion is good of course, even needed but It does not depend on “protection” and certainly not a legalese matter. It just goes down to not be a dick i guess :)

  4. goto80 Says:

    Attribution is part of copyright and thus a legal issue. Nobody cares about it though, I suppose either because it’s not part of the praxis of radio/tv/etc, or because there’s not much money involved, or because it’s “uncool” to be hardcore about it.

    I see it as some form of positive protection. I once wrote a paper about the attribution praxis of the Amiga MOD-scene for a course on cosmopolitanism. It was basically pretty anal about it, and used public shaming instead of lawyers to deal with things.

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