Informal Labor in the Sharing Economy: Everyone Can Be a Record Producer

The following is an excerpt from an article I published in Fast Capitalism volume 13.1. To read the entire article, please visit here.

The availability of Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs) – digital software that allows musicians and producers to record music on a computer – changes the social relations of production in the studio. Much as digital music stores helped to close bricks-and-mortar music stores (Arditi 2014c), cheap DAWs have made large record studios increasingly obsolete. The informality of digital media does not end with distribution and consumption, but extends to labor in the production of digital culture. With digital technology, everyone can be a record producer, but even fewer people can make a living from record production.

Sharing is fundamental to rhetorical discussions of the Internet. Jonas Andersson Schwarz claims “‘Sharing’ has become one of the most telling pastimes of our digital, networked age” (Andersson Schwarz 2013:1). There are four uses of the term “sharing” as relates to the Internet. First, we can talk about file sharing and the gift economy. Matthew David claims that file sharing has “the potential to circulate [informational] goods freely through the Internet,” which he contends could lead to the end of scarcity of informational goods (2010:2). Read More …

VOTE – Nonprofit Music: Bring Power Back to Musicians

Vote-PanelPicker-Idea-TWFor the second straight year, SXSW is allowing people to vote for panels at the conference. This year, I proposed a panel to present at the conference. You can vote for it here. My (solo) panel is entitled “Nonprofit Music: Bring Power Back to Musicians” and I will be talking about the alternative music distribution model that we are trying to build here at MusicDetour. The following is the proposal information. Please VOTE. Read More …

MusicDetour Launch

MDLogoI am happy to announce the launch of my newest project MusicDetour: The DFW Local Music Archive! This website is both a local music archive and a music community. UTA faculty members Dan Cavanagh, Micah Hayes, and Chyng-Yang Jang work with me on the project, along with the UTA Library and UTA Radio. Read More …

Ethnic Detour


Ethnic Detour’s diverse group brings variety to its music

Emerson Blais, staff writer | Posted: Tuesday, October 11, 2005 12:00 am

Walking into the She-Sha Cafe & Hookah Lounge is like entering Constantinople. The first impression is one of a crowded, chaotic, but comfortable cacophony. After making it past the initial wall of indiscernible smoke at the doorway, strawberry, apple and grape tobacco blends drag nostrils toward comfortable seating and board games.

Some people hang out at the lounge to throw down at backgammon or do homework, while others enjoy simply puffing on pipes and listening to great local music.

With more and more rain-soaked socialites pouring into the room every minute, Blacksburg?s own Ethnic Detour took the stage last Thursday night as the line for smoking instruments snaked out of control.

Dave Arditi (drums), Gjergji Theka (guitar) and Cameron McLaughlin (bass) have been exploring music together for years. Meeting through the jazz program at Virginia Tech, the trio originally called themselves Vitamin Ph. After touring the fraternity circuit playing fast paced party tunes, the guys decided to ditch drunken mediocrity and further develop their skills as musicians.

Returning to jazzy roots provided band members with an opportunity to strengthen technical aspects of playing, but also helped cultivate the more intangible facets of creating a personal sound. Hungry to incorporate different styles into their own, the band glanced at hip-hop and, molding their name along with their music, decided to call themselves 2nd Nature.

You might remember 2nd Nature’s political rap groove from a 2004 performance as opening act for Ludacris in Burruss Hall. They were awarded the spot after dominating Battle of the Bands earlier in the year.

Despite gaining significant publicity and popularity, as well as recording a demo, the three were still not satisfied. Struggling with identity issues from trying to infuse so many different brands of popular music at once, Arditi, Theka, and McLaughlin looked to what they knew best: instrumentals.

Changing their name and attitude towards composition one final time, the guys of Ethnic Detour finally found a niche ? or lack thereof. “We were looking for something that better represented us as a band,” McLaughlin said about the group?s current name and outlook. “We (the band) have so many different influences,” Arditi added. Embracing the diversity of their membership, the band has done away with lyrical expression. Instead, their instruments speak a universal language of chords and beats that everyone from Albania to Zimbabwe can understand.

Hailing from the Adriatic republic, Theka has written melodies for a number of the band?s most recent recordings including “Nato Jenkins” and “Buttah Jam.” A current Tech student, Theka has studied many different subjects at the university, but has decided to pursue music professionally.

By introducing his fellow band members to unique Albanian sounds, fans have been able to jam out to music unlike any other in Blacksburg. “He’s an oddity all in himself,” McLaughlin said of Theka.

Ethnic Detour’s ability to form its own distinctive personality while drawing from various creative outlets seems to be its most fascinating feature.

An Albanian guitarist isn’t their only source of creativity, however. McLaughlin integrates ideas from the five other bands he happens to play with in his free time. Rocking with well-knowns like the Richard Jesse Project and Shotgun Wedding, McLaughlin understands Blacksburg music as well as anybody.

“I try to cater to everybody,” he said.

Not only do the members of the band attend to their fans, they also stay true to the investigative form of musical transcendence that had them interested in the first place.

Watching Arditi take hookah rips without missing a beat was hilarious. The set smoothly transitioned from provocative coffee house jams to sort of Caribbean-themed tangents to music Dolemite hears in his head while walking down the sidewalk and straight into a street fight.

“Their music makes me feel like even I can shake a leg,” said psychology major David Feigal.

Moving around a couple of tables to accommodate energized dancers, the message was clear: you don’t need lyrics to communicate. Check these guys out at More Than Coffee tonight and every Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.

iTake-Over Press Release

Book decries methods of the recording industry in the digital age – News Center – UT Arlington.

A new book by a UT Arlington assistant professor reveals how large corporations exploited new technologies to maintain their stranglehold on the music industry.

David Arditi, an assistant professor in Interdisciplinary Studies, wrote “iTake-Over: The Recording Industry in the Digital Era,” published by R&L Publishers.  It will hit shelves Dec. 5.