Making playlists, a lifelong hobby with mixed results?
Playlists receive wonderful tribute in John Cusack’s High Fidelity, the story of an anguished record store owner with a passion for mixtapes. For the lovelorn Cusack, sequencing is everything. The opener, its follow-up, and the all-important third track; each part of a delicate balance to produce a veiled musical love letter.
Digital playlists seem infinitely easier to produce than the tape variety but sharing them invites an unforeseen problem. It’s called the The Recording Institute Association of American (R.I.A.A.). The R.I.A.A. serves to “to protect the intellectual property and First Amendment rights of artists and music labels; conduct consumer, industry and technical research; and monitor and review state and federal laws, regulations and policies.” In particular, they monitor illegal file sharing in the US. In 2000, they famously shutdown Napster and today, apparently, they have a new villain in their sights: the online playlist.
Their argument against the online playlist is that since user-created playlists involve file uploads, illegal file sharing will follow. Labels also balked at full-length tracks being made available in whatever context the listeners desired. It wasn’t long before the R.I.A.A. began filing injunctions against boutique sites dedicated to their creation. The biggest of these, Playlist.com, was their first victim. Other playlists sites soon vanished, most of them voluntarily–once they saw the effectiveness of their suit against Playlist.com.
But there’s always a loophole.
8Tracks.com runs its business on the premise that you should befriend not dupe the R.I.A.A. They devised a model that allows ordinary end users to upload music, publish the playlists and participate in the usual social network paradigm. However, these playlists have many, many stipulations attached. The author can only mention up to three of the artists involved. There can be no listing of songs. The playlists only play in order once per user. There can be no more than two songs by any artist or from any album. You can not list the tracks on an external site (like this one) and link to the playlist page. But they do play whatever you upload in full. The R.I.A.A. authorized these rules. 8Tracks.com, however crippled by silly regulations, is therefore a completely legitimate operation.
I have an 8tracks.com playlist site. I hope you enjoy the music should you have the patience to sit through the programs I setup.