This week at The Avid Listener: Reba Wissner,“Dedicated to All Human Beings”: Remix Culture, Fandom, and the Case of Radiohead’s “Reckoner”


Are there any Radiohead fans out there?

This week, The Avid Listener brings you another essay by Reba Wissner. In this new offering, Reba reflects on what she sees as a key moment in digital culture: Radiohead’s invitation to fans to remix songs from the 2007 album In Rainbows. Radiohead has been active for over three decades now. Their music has been both critically and publicly acclaimed. But in 2007, for their seventh album, they handed over some of their creative control to their fans, inviting anyone who was interested to remix songs from their newest album. As Reba discusses, this move opened up a number of questions. What does it mean when there is both a primary, definitive version of a song, as well as hundreds of sanctioned remixes? Why would an artist want to give up creative control and hand it over to the audience who will hopefully consume and pay for the music? What does the band have to gain?

Here’s an excerpt:

“A remix is the digital reinterpretation of a song by adding, removing, or altering its constituent parts such as beat, tempo, and instrumentation. Many artists remix their own songs, and DJs often remix the songs of other musicians. More and more frequently, artists are encouraging fans to make their own remixes by making the components of their music available online as a bundle of tracks, with each track isolating a single instrument or group of instruments. Fans are then free to manipulate and recombine these individual tracks in programs like GarageBand to create a new version of the song. The results can be astonishing in their variety and creativity. One of the best examples of fan-based remixing via Internet comes from the 2007 album In Rainbows by Radiohead, a group based in Oxford, UK…”

You can read the entire essay here. What do you think of these remixes? Did you participate in the initial contest? Join the conversation and share this essay with your favorite Radiohead fan.

The Avid Listener: Listen. Write. Discuss. Repeat.

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