Category Archives: Pop culture

Piracy, Copyright Law and Social Trends

This post is prompted by a comment on my review of Partners In Crime, a documentary covering the grey areas of piracy. In my view, the grey areas discussed in this DVD do not legitimize piracy, they expose deficiencies in copyright law.

Piracy has been around for a long time and will continue to be around forever. That does not make it legitimate. (Is the world’s oldest profession legitimate?) However, some people take its pervasiveness in society as an indicator of its legitimacy. Some people engage in piracy because they either don’t understand or are confused about what counts as piracy. While I am not a legal expert, I think the following guidelines can be used to determine if copyright violation is involved:

  1. Performance – Any commercial, for-profit performance without licensing is a violation. IPRS publishes a list of performances that require licensing –
  2. Distribution/Publishing – If you’re distributing/publishing copyrighted work, you should have a license. If you don’t, you’re infringing on someone’s copyright. There are some exceptions for fair use. For example, if you’re reviewing a book, quoting small excerpts from it is OK.
  3. Consumption – You are probably involved in copyright violation if your content comes from a distributor/publisher who has not acquired license to distribute the content. (Hint: If a website gives away for free, what others sell; it is highly probable that they don’t have a license to distribute the content.)

Taking these guidelines, here’s my assessment of some cases that seem to confuse people:

  1. We made photocopies of books in college. Isn’t that legal? – Not legal. Every book notifies the readers of copyrights – “No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form….without the prior written permission of the publisher.”
  2. Singing a song in college fest – Since it’s not for profit it’s not a copyright violation.
  3. Artists make songs inspired by other tunes all the time. Isn’t that a problem? – Yes it is. These artists would be deemed as infringing copyright if similarity with the original, copyrighted song can be proved. There are several cases of artists being sued because of this.
  4. Artists sample music of other artists all the time – Sampling of music is a contentious area. Some contend that it is copyright infringement, others say it’s fair use. Here is one site that describes what is fair use and what’s not when it comes to sampling.
  5. Everybody records songs at concerts – If it’s without permission, it’s an infringement. Most concerts inform you that you cannot record the performance.
  6. Sharing with friends and family.
    1. Sharing digital music with immediate family is OK.  This is the reason digital stores give you a license to download/copy purchased music on a certain number of devices.
    2. Sharing digital content with friends is a violation of copyright. Let them pay for their own music/movie/book.
    3. Lending a book or a CD/DVD to a friend is OK. But if the friend rips the CD/DVD or photocopies the book, then there is copyright violation.
    4. Listening to your CD while your friends are home is not a copyright violation.
    5. We see copied pictures of Mona Lisa everywhere. Isn’t that an issue? – No. Mona Lisa is out of copyright and in the public domain. People can make copies of it, or copies of copies and not be in violation of copyright. The same rule applies to Shakespeare’s works, classical compositions and folk art. You can freely copy and distribute current Bollywood movies/songs in another 60 years (provided the law does not change). Here is the copyright duration in various countries.

The guideline of “it’s OK to download stuff for free and share if it’s for personal/friends and family entertainment” is naïve and just plain wrong. Artists, musicians, authors, publishers, distributors would be robbed of their livelihood if every consumer started to use this rationale to get content for free from illegal sources.

This is not to say that copyright laws are perfect. There are people far more knowledgeable than me who are asking these laws to be amended. Here is one assessment of the copyright amendment bill that was passed recently in India. At a high level, I think copyright law should do the following:

  1. Facilitate easy, legal and fairly priced access to content to all consumers
  2. Enable copyright owners and content creators to profit from their content
  3. Enable publishers, distributors to license copyrighted content easily and at a fair price.

Partners In Crime – Documentary Review

After my posts – Piracy is Mainstream and Why People Don’t Talk About Pirate Consumers – one of the readers of the blog recommended that I watch a documentary called Partners in Crime. I had heard about this documentary on Twitter but never got around to seeing it. I finally saw it last week and I am glad I did.

The documentary directed by Paromitra Vohra does a great job of asking a series of questions related to piracy but allows the viewers to draw their own conclusions. Some insights from the documentary:

  1. Many people don’t realize that piracy is illegal and they don’t believe they’re downloading for free because they pay for the internet connection and for membership to torrent sites (according to one interviewee – $10 for lifetime memberships for unlimited downloads). People also don’t view playing of music in public as illegal, since music is available for free in the first place.
  2. Some people feel that listening to music or watching movies is a social experience and sharing them only enhances the experience.
  3. Rare, concert recordings of masters are available in people’s private collections but cannot be released to public because of copyright issues. Record labels will not pay for these recordings and legal heirs of musicians are not willing to release these recordings for free.
  4. A lot of rare songs, specially non-film songs, are not archived or available easily to public.
  5. The business of pirated CDs and DVDs happens with the approval of the police. Cops need to get paid no matter what – it could be either to stop piracy or to allow it to happen.
  6. There is another way to look at roadside piracy – it provides livelihood to sellers and also gives cheap access to movies/music to a class of people who would not be able to afford them legally.
  7. It’s extremely difficult and/or expensive to legally license copyrighted work. Copyright owners are arrogant and unwilling to negotiate fair deals.
  8. Big companies copy/adapt folk songs to produce copyrighted songs. If they lifted the music in the first place, how can they own it? For example, how can Munni Badnam Hui be a copyrighted song when it is really just an adaptation of a folk song?
  9. Copyright owners are greedy and want supernormal profits. They stiff content creators by getting exclusive rights and paying content creators a pittance. As a result, content creators are either not motivated to produce original content or decide to self-publish.
  10. The anti-piracy crowd has it’s share of not-very-pleasant characters – a) The head of an NGO against piracy who talks about getting funding from CSR budgets of companies and compares piracy with illegal drug/gun trade. b) Companies that became big by flouting copyright rules in the first place, c) Big corporations who are capable of influencing governments to change laws in their favour. d) Bollywood film makers who have copied ideas from Hollywood.
  11. Intellectual Property Rights create barriers to content for people with disabilities. It’s very difficult to reproduce content in a format that can be accessed by people with disabilities.
  12. Copyright owners have no interest in catering to smaller, niche markets. This creates artificial shortage in supply, which in turn results in piracy.


Why People Don’t Talk About Pirate Consumers

I engaged in a long debate on Twitter yesterday with popular blogger, Karthik Srinivasan (entire conversation at the end of his post). To boil things down, I was asking why illegal downloaders don’t get called out for doing the wrong thing and his point was that it was not really going to make a difference. That argument didn’t sit well with me because ever since social media gave all of us a microphone, we haven’t really held back on anything just because nobody was listening. People rant about plagiarism (Heck, Karthik runs a blog dedicated to it!), traffic, politicians, air travel and noisy neighbours. Why are they wishy-washy about illegal downloading?

Yesterday’s Twitter debate didn’t answer that question for me, so I decided to write about the potential reasons for the deafening silence on this subject.

Publishers are not doing enough to solve service and content availability issues. I have written earlier about how difficult it is sometimes to get hold of content legally. It is hard to not empathize with people who depend on illegal sources when they can’t get it legally.

Piracy is seen as a victimless crime. People don’t see piracy as impacting individuals directly. In fact, some people feel that piracy works as a marketing tool and helps artists increase their fan-base. As for the content publishers, they’re not really losing any money and if they are, the greedy corporations deserve it.

Pirates have managed to spin themselves as being hip and anti-establishment. They have managed to project themselves as people who are helping solve the service and availability issues that exist in the market today. It’s another matter that they also distribute content that is available legally and easily. Nobody wants to call out the pirates unless it’s someone like Kim Dotcom who does not manage his PR as well as his peers have.

People don’t want to say things that others don’t want to listen to. If a large number of your followers, readers, etc. are illegal downloaders (which I believe is the case in India today), calling them out is not really going to help you win the social media popularity contest. In fact, being soft on piracy is probably going to win you brownie points. My guess is that I am not winning any with this and yesterday’s post.

People with a voice (bloggers, influencers, journalists, etc.) are engaging in piracy themselves. Not only are they not in a position to speak out against piracy, they, in fact, have to find justifications for their actions so they can retain their high moral ground. Nobody likes to feel guilty.

Why are you not calling out illegal downloaders?

You Will Never Kill Piracy, and Piracy Will Never Kill You “Realize piracy is a service problem”
2/20/12 10:40 AM
@beastoftraal Intellectual, theoretical & flawed. Most people I know who download stuff do it because they don’t want to pay for stuff.
2/20/12 10:51 AM
@taparam Yes, I’m aware of that. Service is an issue that has not been tried adequately. Difference in timing of availability, in specific.
2/20/12 10:59 AM
@beastoftraal My problem is that the valid argument of service/availability gives a clean chit to a lot of freeloaders.
2/20/12 11:02 AM
@taparam Unless we try, how do we know that freeloaders are freeloaders just for the heck of it? They will exist anyway, no?
2/20/12 11:03 AM
@beastoftraal People freeload even when there are no service/avl issues. Too many people taking easy/cool route of railing against “system”.
2/20/12 11:19 AM
@taparam Have we given people enough paid options that are convenient to opt for?
2/20/12 11:22 AM
@beastoftraal Last week you got a recco to buy a cheaper, DOS based laptop because you can get a Windows CD “anywhere”. What was that about?
2/20/12 11:23 AM
@taparam Buying Windows CD separately. I can order it along with the DOS-based laptop and can choose a cheaper version.
2/20/12 11:25 AM
@beastoftraal That’s you. Am positive the guy making the recco didn’t have a purchase in mind.
2/20/12 11:26 AM
@taparam The only other option in that model was the same config with Win premium something. Base home version would do for me.
2/20/12 11:26 AM
@taparam Why should that be a problem? If there was a Win-based cheaper option, assumption is, he’d have chosen that.
2/20/12 11:27 AM
.@taparam Don’t you think we/RIAA/everybody is talking ONLY about freeloading pirates right now? 🙂 And not about service *at all*?
2/20/12 12:02 PM
@beastoftraal Can you point me to discussions on moral/ethical issues around piracy? Not focussing on Kim Dotcoms but on consumers.Genuine q
2/20/12 12:58 PM
@taparam Haven’t come across any on moral/ethics of it – best dealt with churches, IMO. Pointless to go in that direction. If that be the…
2/20/12 1:26 PM
@taparam …case, we should also have periodic articles on rape and theft, and how both are ethically wrong, leave alone legally.
2/20/12 1:27 PM
@taparam This Techdirt piece tries to be more sane – dissecting numbers quoted by RIAA/industry
2/20/12 1:29 PM
@beastoftraal Disagree that morality should be left to religion. Society must decide. Solid examples of religion messing up morality.
2/20/12 2:11 PM
@taparam Didn’t mean it that way; just meant that there’s nothing solid to put forward, as an argument, in the moral debate. That it’s 1/2
2/20/12 2:12 PM
@taparam 2/2 obvious, but given the endless supply, people don;t see it as wrong. Question then is, if moral argument has any point at all.
2/20/12 2:13 PM
@beastoftraal Think the discussion is important. Problem in India is widespread. Many of my friends/relatives download. Feel bad.
2/20/12 2:27 PM
@taparam When people buy pirated CDs on the roadside, of films that released the previous day, why should this be any badder?
2/20/12 2:29 PM
@taparam There is no point in the ‘It is wrong, morally/legally. You could go to jail’ argument. Only Burma Bazaar pirates are arrested…
2/20/12 2:29 PM
@taparam …’cos they do it in large scale. Individual downloaders may never feel anything wrong whatever media writes about morals here.
2/20/12 2:30 PM


Piracy Is Mainstream

I’ve been an anti-piracy advocate in my friend circle for many years now. Over time though, I realized that people like me were rare and specially in India, we became outcasts. Friends and relatives look at me like I am nuts when I refuse to lend them my iPod so they can copy songs from it. The burden of guilt was specially heavy when I refused to copy songs on a USB drive for my niece (I bought her CDs instead). It has now come to pass that I have to exercise caution while expressing my views on piracy and people who indulge in piracy don’t give a damn! How the heck did we get to this stage?

Take this exchange on Twitter  –

Guy 1 – “I notice it is without Windows and only with DOS. Possible reason for low price I suppose.”

Guy 2 – “Yes comes with DOS. You can get the windows CD anywhere. I bought this laptop 2 months ago. It’s amazing.”

Guy 2 is recommending a lower-priced laptop which does not have Windows on it because “you can get windows CD anywhere”. In other words, why pay for something when you can get a pirated copy for free. I found this conversation disturbing to say the least:

  1. Guy 2 is advocating piracy in public and doesn’t give a damn
  2. This exchange has a fairly wide audience. Guy 2 has 6000+ followers and Guy 1 has almost 7000 followers and my guess is that they share many followers (like me) who are following this exchange.

It’s important to point out that Guy 1 is asking an innocent question and from what I know of him (via his tweets and blog posts) someone who goes out of his way to get stuff legally.

This kind of exchange is hardly an exception. Conversations on socials networks range from discreet (sanitized references to piracy like “download”, “link please”, “linkesh”, “pdf version”) to “naughty” (nudges and winks indicated through an assortment of smileys) to outright blatant (railing against the ban of pirate sites).

As I have said in a previous post, one of the root causes of piracy is the poor availability of content from legal sources. While I don’t support that argument, I do understand it. The other root cause is simply people not wanting to pay for stuff. Many of these people rationalize their “downloading” ways by citing arguments that sound intellectual but are basically flawed – “Why should I pay for bad quality content?”, “Unfair pricing”, “Big companies are greedy”, “Sharing is good for content creators”, etc).

However, the biggest emerging cause for piracy seems to be the fact that people don’t even think of unpaid downloads as piracy. It has become mainstream. How can something be wrong if everyone is doing it? This is probably the single biggest problem the music industry faces today.

India Losing Music Genres Due To Bollywood?

The title of this post is a direct quote from an interview with Shubha Mudgal. Many months ago, I made a similar observation is a post titled Is Bollywood Overdose Killing India Music?.

There is no denying the fact that Bollywood music’s overwhelming popularity suppresses non-film music. But isn’t Bollywood itself a melting pot of many genres? How then could we lose Indian genres to Bollywood?

To answer this question, I tried to find out how Bollywood has used non-filmi genres over the years and understand if there is a decline in the usage of these genres. With Thej’s help, I put together this chart from MySwar data:

x-axis: Genres, y-axis: Number of songs

Here is my interpretation of this data:

  • Sugam sangeet is a big part of Bollywood. Sugam (or Geet or light classical music) has always been a big part of Bollywood and continues to be. As long as this continues, Bollywood will continue to promote Indian classical music forms (albeit indirectly).
  • But is threatened by the Western music juggernaut. Western musical forms have always influenced Bollywood but the growth of this influence of the 2000s has been mind-boggling. The 2000s represent the first decade in which Pop music influenced a greater number of Bollywood songs that Sugam music did. In fact Western musical forms (Electronic, Hip-hop, Pop, Rock, Western Classical) influenced almost 50% of the songs made in Bollywood in the 2000s!
  • Indian genres can’t beat Bollywood but they can join Bollywood. Folk music has always been a relatively insignificant influence on Bollywood music. However, over the last decade Bhangra and other Punjabi folk music has taken Bollywood by storm. My take is that Bollywood adopted Punjabi folk music with gusto when the likes of Daler Mehndi popularized the genre by producing a series of successful albums.

My conclusion from this analysis is that things indeed don’t look very good for non-filmi Indian genres. But the analysis also points that the solution to this problem lies outside the film industry. The rise of Punjabi folk music and Western music in Bollywood is not incidental. Bollywood films are commercial ventures and they produce music they think people want to listen to and right now they think people like Bhangra, Pop, Electronic, Hip-hop and Rock. Indian musical genres must find ways of making themselves popular independently before Bollywood embraces them.

Mavrix Blog – The Most Popular Posts and Our Favourites

We completed of one year of our blog on November 3 and I thought this would be a good time to do the customary round-up of our most popular posts and the posts that we, at Mavrix, like the most. Here goes:

Most Popular

Coke Studio India Must Be Cheered

People – Please Get Off A.R. Rahman’s Back

R.D. Burman’s Top 10 Lesser Known Songs

Found! The Missing Piece Of The Puzzle! (Meet Our Tech Wiz)

Coming Soon! The Complete Guide To Hindi Film Music


Our Favorite

Indian music needs a kick in the butt

Is Bollywood Overdose killing Indian music?

Music Wants To Be Free

Musicians Are A Lot Like Technology Startups

Discovery vs Search

Digital Music Landscape II: Discovery

[This is the second part of a three-part post covering the digital music landscape. You can read the first post here.]

In the second part , let’s look at the different approaches of music discovery. Regardless of the approach, the end objective is to help people find new music.

Music for music’s sake

The Music Genome Project began listing out the key attributes that define a song with a dedicated team of music analysts who would listen for ‘strains’ or ‘genes’ of a song. This was the basis for Pandora Radio, the pioneer in music discovery. When a user listens to a particular song, Pandora will look at the defining attributes and find the most similar tracks based on these attributes.

A variation of this approach uses computers instead of human experts to get to the song definition. Audio features are extracted using MIR (Music Information Retrieval) techniques. This method may misinterpret songs and attributes by ignoring subjects like lyrical themes, cultural context, moods and situations. The Million Song Dataset from EchoNest is the result of one such MIR exercise. Clio Music is another example of machine-enabled music discovery.

Wisdom of the crowds

Collaborative recommendations are the most basic means for many established platforms to generate insight from the community. Most user driven platforms rely solely on user contributed ratings . The system finds users with similar taste patterns via the recorded metadata, and recommend songs that were appreciated by this group of similar minded users. iTunes has a system called Genius that recommends songs from the iTunes store based on users’ library content and history of song plays, matched against a repository of crowd-ranked data.

The new spin on this method is the social recommendation aspect. This utilizes ratings/recommendations given by close friends within your online social network. The upside here is that users are more likely to trust recommendations provided by people they know. The flip-side is that people in a given network may have very different tastes in music.

Curated playlists

This method would commonly be called ‘non interactive’ as the music played on the website is effectively like a preset radio station. People can browse stations by genre,artists or moods and find a nice blend of familiar with random music. Rhapsody, one of the oldest music services around, offers this feature as an in-house specialty. There can be another model like Live365 where users generate playlists around a much narrower niche and often is better suited to discovering music.

Indie popularity

Indie music is a class of its own. If its never-heard-of artists and never-heard-of bands that you wish to discover, the best tool would be to measure their ‘buzz’ online. Discover sites like Thesixtyone or at  Wearehunted measure fan interactions, listener votes and shares/reposting on social networks to uncover new artists. The Hype Machine is another offbeat portal that has been called the ‘Technorati of music’, since it unites the music and the blogging community with a live index of mp3 blogs, and the content is distilled down to a trend of  the music that people are talking about online.

The aim behind all this innovation can be explained as a need to market the massive potential of musical long tail content. There is an immense value that people find with the experience of  easy access to songs and information. Encouraging people to involve in the music community is the best way to promote it.  When there are no barriers to this involvement, is when people stop dependency on piracy and unlawful means to procure something that doesn’t need aggressive marketing of any sort. It’s all about the discovery.

Unfortunately, while music discovery has made significant progress in the West, it’s still in its nascent stages in India. At Mavrix, we’re just beginning to take baby steps towards enabling discovery of Indian music but there is a lot more work to be done.

In the concluding post, let’s talk about the various music consumption models.

Nostalgic 90’s with Kumar Sanu

Writing about the Hindi film music of 90’s is like writing about one single man and that’s Kumar Sanu. If I say that the man ruled the Hindi cinema in that decade, it wont be wrong. What he gave to the listeners in 90’s with some brilliant music by the duo Nadeem-Shravan was magical. You can still find people humming to Sanu’s songs on every other street in Mumbai and you’ll find some people playing “Jaan E Jigar Jaaneman” (“Aashiqui”) or “Pardesi Pardesi” (“Raja Hindustani”) loudly on their so-called China handsets in Mumbai locals. People like me who were born in the late 80’s will be able to relate to his songs. I was just 6 years old when I heard him for the first time in “Baazigar” and we all know the song “Yeh Kaali Kaali Aankhen”. It has been 18 years since then and when I play his music now in 2011 I feel nostalgic. Most of us tend to forget these songs with the current numbers like “Dhinka Chika”. But try and search for his songs on your playlist and play one and I bet you’ll end up listening to his tracks throughout the day. Here are 10 songs of Kumar Sanu which make me feel nostalgic. Hope you will be able to catch up some old memories with these numbers.

Mera Dil Bhi Kitna Pagal Hai
This one from Saajan is one of the best melodies from the duo Nadeem-Shravan. Unlike their songs in Aashiqui which were more popish in nature, this one had the melody with Tabla, Veena and Violin covering major part of the song. And the best part of the song is the singing by the best in the business then Kumar Sanu and Alka Yagnik. The song gave Sanu his 2nd Filmfare after “Ab Tere Bin” from Aashiqui.

Dil Hai Ke Maanta Nahin
When I heard this for the first time I thought this was just exactly like the song I heard before in Saajan. But hats off to the duo that they hit it off every time they came up with a song using the same formula, a SUCCESS formula (Violin Orchestra, Tabla and Veena). But not to forget the melody which makes you hum whenever you listen to it.

Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh
This one from 1942 A Love Story had everything which a successful song required. A feel good song with some good melody, a sweet voice that of Kumar Sanu and some brilliant instrumentation by R.D. Burman. There was a period of time when people had started to believe that Pancham’s time was over. So this definitely was a comeback album for R.D.Burman and he proved that he still had some good music left in him. But unfortunately he wasn’t there to celebrate his success of getting his 3rd Filmfare award.

Tum Mile Dil Khile
The lyrics of the song gels very well with some good composition by MM Kreem. Great vocals, especially the female one which gives a little pop feel to the song. Kumar Sanu definitely had something in him during those days that he delivered every time he sang.

Tujhe Dekha Toh Yeh Jaana Sanam
Still remains at the top ten list of songs on most of the playlists. It still is in mine. Well written lyrics by Anand Bakshi to match some very good music by Jatin-Lalit. Kumar Sanu and Lata Di’s vocals complete the song and makes it special for the listener. Together they created magic 16 years ago called “Tujhe Dekha Toh Yeh Jaana Sanam”.

Chura Ke Dil Mera
A sizzling number. One of the few songs that captures both melody and keeps pop alive with some guitar bits and a saxophone. Some good work by Anu Malik with the music and the voice of Alka Yagnik and Kumar Sanu makes it a super hit song of that year (1994).

Humko Sirf Tumse Pyaar hai
This was probably the nth time that Nadeem-Shravan and Kumar Sanu and Alka Yagnik came together and they still were able to deliver their best. The song was able to create the magic with the youth. It had everything to compete with some major releases that year (1995).

Do Dil Mil Rahe Hain
This solo from Kumar Sanu inspired a lot of people to take guitar lessons. A very well composed mellow romantic song with just acoustic guitar playing throughout. Full marks to the duo again.

Jab Kisi Ki Taraf Dil
The only song in the entire album which tells you that its Jatin-Lalit. A nice and a mellow song which definitely makes you hum it. Got some simple lyrics which makes it easy for the listener to connect. The only thing which surprises me is the style that Kumar Sanu sings, sounds same in all the songs. Still a good one this, won’t disappoint if you are a Bollywood buff.

Ek Din Aap
One of my favorite duets of Kumar Sanu and Alka Yagnik. Don’t know why, but this song keeps repeating on my playlist. Guess the lyrics of the song are just brilliantly written by Javed Akhtar especially the 1st antra “Dil Ki Daali Pe Kaliyaan Si Khilne Lagi, Jab Nigaahein Nigaahon Se Milne lagi’. I’m being too filmy now! Some really good music by Jatin-Lalit in this one as well.


Want more? Check out Kumar Sanu’s complete discography on MySwar.

Thank You Steve Jobs

For opening up a whole new world of music to me.

For giving me wonderful experiences through your magical products.

For being a source of inspiration and teaching me important lessons. Through your Stanford commencement speech. Through your Thoughts on Music. Through your many keynotes. Most importantly, through the act of building a great company that built great products.

Why I Don’t Care For Remixes

I freely dispense advice to friends and family about keeping their minds open when it comes to music and be willing to explore new music and artists. But I must confess that I have been guilty of not practicing what I preach when it comes to remixes. When I read an NME article with this provocative title – Radiohead’s Thom Yorke: ‘Remix culture is healthy for music’ – I was forced to confront my bias against remixes.

Why do I not care for remixes?

  1. Bad start. My first experience of a remix was probably the most vile form of music ever created – Jhankaar Beats. Just thinking about them makes a shiver run down my spine! Here’s an example.
  2. Don’t care for clubs. I am not part of the club scene and have never been. A big part of it, I think, is that I have two right feet. I can clap, snap, sway, foot-tap, table-tap, head-nod, head-bang, air-guitar, air-keyboard and air-drum to music.  Heck, I can even do the “sitting bhangra” move but any other physical response to music is beyond me. Since most remixes target the club scene, they’re lost on me.
  3. Predictable and Contrived. The process of remixing is an afterthought and the opportunity for creativity is limited since all remixes I’ve heard do a mix(!) of the following – increase the tempo, auto-tune voice, add bucket-loads of other sounds (aka sampling). The limitation of the format is obvious in most remixes. If the original song is good, then the remix sounds like a desperate wannabe. If the original song sucks, then the remix automatically inherits the suck-factor. The sweet spot for remixes is probably songs that are not bad but seem to be missing something. For example, I felt that the original version of “Billo” (“Ustad and the Divas”) sounded OK but labored. The remixed version though (the Remix, not the Club Mix) transforms the original in a positive way and gives it a kick.
  4. Too Many Remixes. Remixes in Hindi movies have a very low signal-to-noise ratio. When you see multiple remixes of the same original, how do you pick one? I usually respond by not listening to any. A recent example of this overdose – “Chammak Challo” in “Ra.One” has four remixed versions!
  5. Electronic Music. That brings me to another bias I have – one against electronic music. I’ll reserve that story another day but let me just say that I don’t like the overdose of electronic music that’s inherent in remixes.

Coming back to Yorke’s statement. I don’t know if remixes, in general, are good for music since I have not heard non-Indian remixes but I do know that the current trend of remixes in Hindi films can’t do any good to music in India.

PS: I dislike some of Radiohead’s recent offerings almost as much as I love their debut song, “Creep”. Given where their music is headed, I tend to take Yorke’s statement with a pinch of salt.

PPS: The PS above is totally snarky and irrational because I feel betrayed by Radiohead for changing their music the way they have.