12/23/2005: Update from Noisehead
Hi everyone. I have been very happy to see the success of American Edit on the rise in public attention. Although the Gray Day protest was a huge catalyst for attention, I believe the material done by Dean Gray speaks for itself and is deserving of the attention regardless of my efforts. In fact, I've been very happy to see the trend in media coverage return to focusing on the material, rather than the protest. With that said, the official Dean Gray site is back up for your attention at www.americanedit.net. I will be rebuilding this site in the near future to act as a "museum" of the events that led up to the protest and those which followed.
It also seems all of this has been immortalized and inducted into pop culture history as Wikipedia now has an entry on its own for American Edit.
What can I say? It's the best promotion Warner and Green Day never wanted.
Also: If you are making your own Green Day mash-ups or home remixes, I would be very happy to hear them. Send them to me at .
So, Happy Christmas and Feliz Navidad. In 2006, I suppose I'll kick off some new efforts to continue driving attention to American Edit and keeping you updated here.
And, no, I won't email you the American Edit album if you email me. Gray Tuesday was intended as a single day of protest. However, the cool cats at WebFeed Central have always been public about believing that the protest should last for more than one day.
- NoiseheadThe Fans Speak Out
"I got so ... hooked to the record [and] I just wanted to tell you ... that this is one of the best records with Green Day involved EVER!"
"I wanted to just pass on that I think this album is incredible. It's startlingly well done, all of the mixes are creative, original, unexpected. I haven't even finished listening to the disc, and it has become my new favorite album. I managed to get a hold of one after a student at my College made a mass of copies and left them on a table in the student center with a copy of the 'Boing Boing' article about the Warner Bros. censorship. Wanted to let you know it's definitely an outstanding work of musical art and a brilliant set of mixes. Great work, thank you."
"Just a quick email to say thank you very much indeed; very very professionally presented, and the tracks are absolutely top-notch!"
"We celebrated our X-mas party on Tuesday and I played a 30 minute special set with tracks of American Edit. The crowd loved it, and I have been asked about 300 times where to get these fantastic songs. For Godsake, I prepared some flyers to hand out... I wouldnīt have had the chance to talk to everyone and explain what itīs about..."
"I'd just like to point out how ridiculous Warner has been with Green Day's fans and their content. Fans aren't doing anything to hurt the band or the label, sharing ... those smash ups are a great way to expose the otherwise un-exposed to something related to Green Day. A few months back Warner had some Green Day fansites shut down for posting part of their new video which was already posted on MySpace and MTV.com. I know I speak on behalf of thousands of Green Day's online fanbase when I say that Warner going after fans that way is really turning people off to Green Day's new found mainstream fame. It's not us nor other fans sharing material already posted online thats hurting the band, it's the label punishing fans for trying to get the word out about the band. I hope all of Warner's legal actions backfire on them and realize they are hurting all credibility for Green Day to their once dedicated fans by limiting them to their material for profit."
"I just wanted to drop a note and tell you I love the album."
Also see: Press & Media coverage.About Dean Gray Tuesday
Only 10 days after its release, the mash-up album American Edit, which pays tribute to the acclaimed Green Day album American Idiot through some of the best mash-up productions of 2005, was shut down reportedly after received a cease & desist order from Green Day's label, Warner records, despite the fact that it was released as an internet only release with no commercial gain for the team of mash-up artists involved. In fact, the only possible profit to be made from the release was a plea from the creators of the album (known only by the shared alias Dean Gray) for fans who enjoyed the creation to donate to one of three possible charities that Green Day have been known to support. Furthermore, the mash-up versions were such fantastic productions that they were truly a departure from the standard Green Day performances and would not compete for consumptive dollars.
On December 13th, 2005, I hoped to mobilize the online Mash-Up community by organizing a simple one-day organized event. Participants were asked to post the American Edit album online for 24 hours only starting. Doing so was not intended to be a mass organization of music piracy but, rather, one single display of the consumptive power of the mash-up and home remix community in the hopes of encouraging the labels, publishers and artists who are curious about the mash-up community to consider giving the high quality productions of "illegitimate" music a legitimate consideration as a promotional avenue for all music.
I also hoped to encourage club DJs and radio DJs to air portions of the American Edit release on "Gray" Tuesday and refer to this site by reporting their planned airplay in advance.Was It A Success?
What can I say? When I first started "Dean Gray Tuesday", it wasn't intended to be a protest of the mass it became. Quite honestly, I expected most people to write me off as an avid fan of the Dean Gray project and move on with their day. My original hope was to have perhaps 12 people help host files as a method of load balancing to avoid having a large number of downloads from a single site.
In 14 days, over 200 Web sites had formally signed up to participate in the protest. They told two friends, who told two friends, who told two friends... and suddenly the word was out. "Dean Gray Tuesday" suddenly had over 149,000 Web sites and blogs around the world spreading the word about the protest -- offering their own personal take on why a cease & desist was delivered by Warner music and what impact it would have on copyright, musical creativity, and the Green Day fan base.
I also began to receive hate mail from a few half-cocked teenagers who wanted to see me die. Which I continue to find strange. I'm not sure how wanting to advocate for remixes and home music production by borrowing from the DIY Punk ethic of grass-roots music promotion made me an enemy of the state, but, oh well.
On the official Green Day VIP "Idiot Club" site, there were comments from some of the most dedicated Green Day fans who loved the mash-ups and were distributing them on their own FTP servers to other "Idiot Club" members outside of the "Dean Gray Tuesday" effort. A few dedicated Punks didn't like the new production put on the Green Day album, but that is obviously to be expected.
In the end, here is how Dean Gray Tuesday went down:
In the end, americanedit.org received over 390,000 visitors in 24 hours. We were mentioned on two Canadian radio stations, several local television stations, a dozen college radio stations, NBC, Spin Magazine, and who knows what else. Rumor has it, there will be a write up in the Australian press of Rolling Stone magazine in February.
My favorite is that this promo was aired at the top of the hour, every hour, on KTCL 93.3 FM in Fort Collins, Colorado, where I cut my teeth on Alternative music as a kid and paid $4 to see Green Day play with some friends at a local show in 1991 -- before they took on the world, before Warner bought them out, and back when Green Day relied on their fan base for promotion through word of mouth.
By rough estimation, I expect that approximately 240,000 copies of American Edit were downloaded on Tuesday, costing the Internet about 15 terrabytes of data transfer. Only about 950 copies of the non-stop edition were downloaded. Thanks to all of the protestors who contributed their efforts. They all took on a great amount of risk, as americanedit.org never distributed a single MP3 file from the American Edit release and relied on everyone else's contribution to make this protest have an impact.What Did It All Mean?
Everyone has a different opinion as to why this happened, why they contributed, and what it meant. I can only tell you my own opinion.
First off, I did not have anything to do with the excellent production of the Dean Gray album. Most people should know by now that it was Australian mash-up artist Team9 and San Franciso bootie member Party Ben. Both of them are influencial mash artists in the bastard pop community -- Party Ben best known for his mash of Green Day's "Boulevard of Broken Deams" with Oasis' "Wonderwall" -- and Team9 most recently heard by his mash-up of The Strokes' "Juicebox" by "Peter Gunn" by The Blues Brothers. So, contrary to that which has been commonly reported, I am not Dean Gray and did not benefit from this protest by promotion. However, I believe this music was superbly put together and deserved more than 10 days of attention from fans, which was the driving force behind it all.
Was this a political protest? Well, there has been a lot of debate over the criticism of what this all means. I think a lot of people involved are fed up with big music industry using the guise of copyright law to squelch out creative outlets. A greater number of people just wanted to flip their fingers at the corporate music system. And, beyond that, the greatest number of people truly believed in the music and wanted to see that others could enjoy it. Not one site that I came across that mirrored the album was trying to make personal profit from hosting the files. In fact, I encouraged anyone who did download it to purchase a Green Day file from iTunes the same day or buy Green Day CDRs from their official site. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to create links directly to iTunes to track the potential sales for Green Day from this event. In reality, I would guess that about 97 to 98% of those who downloaded American Edit already owned American Idiot and 1 to 2% actually purchased American Idiot afterwards. So, that's a 1% ratio of the "cannibalization" of sales that the labels fear... and a 99% ratio of no such thing happening... and about 2,000 people listening to Green Day for the first time.
I'm not a statistician, but I think my methods for coming up with those numbers are logical. If you want to debate this with me, feel free to send an email.
Where the real treads were made on this thing, however, were not where I expected. I honestly expected it to be a day of mash-up fans sharing a great concept album together for a brief blip on the radar. Instead, it seems it really took footing with Green Day fans.
By Green Day fans, I mean two types of fans. First, fans who love the music and just happen to be able to enjoy remixes too. They wanted to hear it, share it, and keep it alive. They constantly wrote me emails confirming they believed it was a tribute to the band and not theivery. Second, long-time Green Day fans who are fed with with how Green Day's image and control is being managed by Warner Music. Warner has shut down a large number of fan sites, they say, and many fans find it to be ridiculous, as Green Day was the true outcast in the Punk scene when they first started and relied heavily on the dedication of fans who promoted the band, set them up shows, and let them crash in their homes on their early tours (as did my college buddies at the time).
My shared believe with long-time Green Day fans -- those who remember trying to push their local stores to order the first CD from Lookout Records for them -- is that Warner is out of touch with the ethic of music first that Green Day has relied on so heavily for 14 years... well, or at least their formative years before their 14+ year careers. What's really ironic about this is that, although Green Day are today being praised as the leaders in Punk revival, during the time of their early EP and first release, Green Day were often criticised as not being "true Punks" and were the underdogs in the Punk scene. Their dedicated fans are the reason they survived and succeeded. Certainly, their talent too, but if Green Day's fans weren't some of the most talented fans in mobilizing support nationwide, they wouldn't be where they are today, regardless. Warner is essentially cutting ties with this ethic and support for the band, as it is not profitable on the books.
On the other hand... there is the copyright conversation. I believe that artists should have the right to control their own music through copyright protection. However, when a work of art is mutated into something completely contradictory from what they are marketing, it seems the threat of "cannibalization" of sales is ridiculous and absurd. As Boing Boing's Cory Doctorow said, no one is going to download American Edit and say to themselves, "Well I heard that, why should I buy American Idiot?". So far, I can only see that the opposite has happened in the case of those who did not own American Idiot before the protest. But, seriously, American Idiot as gone, like, tripe-platinum... Who doesn't own it?!
Quite honestly, if Green Day, Warner or Warner's creepy consultancy partners from Grey Area wrote and asked me to put an end to the American Edit site, I would have done so. I would have asked if I could send a copy to Billie Joe, but I would have shut it down. To some extent, I would have been relieved, because the size of this thing began to be overwhelming.
Was it a political protest? Not on a major level.
Was it a music piracy through filesharing. Absolutely not the intention of this at all. Never.
Did Warner ever make a comment? Well, if Warner ever even heard about it, my guess is they just wanted it to go away. Too bad, there is some killer talent on American Edit. If I can encourage 300,000 people to listen to it in 14 days, imagine what a major commercial campaign -- or an iTunes release -- could have done with it.
Did Green Day ever make a comment? According to MTV News, Billie Joe commented on the whole thing of MTV Radio, stating that he thought the whole thing was "really cool."
Will Green Day lose its fan base? No. They have a new fan base. They have a new fan base that didn't put any sweat into promoting the band with their love of the music. They have a new fan base that doesn't have to make special effort to get their music put in record stores. And, by the way, lots of Punk fans hate remixes and mash-ups. And, beyond that, no one really holds Green Day accountable for the cease & decist.
Was Warner shaking in their boots? Of course not. Haha. They probably didn't even know about it. If they did, they probably didn't want to stir up the flames and wanted it to go away. Copyright law, in general, supports their cease & decist and they successfully shut down Dean Gray's official site.
Is American Edit the greatest mash-up album ever made, or is this just a copycat protest of the original "Grey Tuesday"? I'd like to be very clear about this. Yes, it's the greatest mash-up album made so far. It has a handful of editing flaws, but it is an excellent listen. Dean Gray have begun to become too self critical of the effort, as they never intended for this massive attention is has received. But, yes, it's the best mash-up album done so far. There are a large number of close seconds, and the "Grey Album" is somewhere amongst the top 10. And, yes, it was absolutely a copycat effort. Who could resist with a name like Gray? If I didn't do it, someone else would have. I was just the first to make the post and throw up a small Web page. All the fans and supporters did the rest. Each one of you know who you are, and you're all awesome.
Will I email you a copy of American Edit if you missed it? No. But I bet you can...
How did this impact me (Noisehead)? In a moment of mad paranoia, I deleted all of my MP3 files from my hard drives and now only own music that came from a CD that sits in my office or an iTunes purchase. I went from having 35 hits per day to my web server to an average of about 200,000. None of my site visitors are interested in the Noisehead site, and I am too paranoid to post my own mash-ups on the internet now.
What should Green Day do next? If they were as smart as Jay-Z, they'd release an acapella album and cash in on the fact that fans want to remix their music.
What should Warner do next? Back off of the fans. Accept the fact that Green Day is a cash cow because of the fans, not despite them.
What should Gorillaz do next? Hire Team9 and Party Ben to produce the next album. If not Gorillaz, then maybe Mick Jones of Big Audio Dynamite. Seriously, his new band needs a DJ to mess it up for him. If not Mick Jones, then maybe U2, if they have the balls to do it.
What should copyright lawyers do next? Find a way to easily license sample-based music so that their employers, the labels, can cash in on the untapped consumptive power of the mash-up scene. Creating rock/rap "collaboration" albums (such as Linkin Park with Jay-Z) and calling them mash-ups are an insult to the art, and have been done since ...ah... I was going to say the early 90s, but there was a little ditty done by Aerosmith and Run DMC that throws my musicology timelines out of whack.
What will come of this site in the future? You tell me. I'm ready to kill it or grow it. I'm just not sure what to do next. I never made any long-term plans for this effort that went beyond December 14, 2005.Billie Joe on the "Boulevard of Broken Songs" Mash-Up:
"Actually, I was driving in my car, and I heard a Green Day mashup, with, um, Oasis and Aerosmith. It sounded cool! There's been a little bit of talk about doing a mashup, but I'm not sure who would be the appropriate hip-hop guy yet."
Make a CD and hand it out to friends. Below are templates to print for creating your own CDs for yourself or to hand out in support of Dean Gray's American Edit. if you have other artwork you have created, feel free to submit it for posting here.
Official American Edit Artwork.
Unofficial Fan-Made American Edit Artwork."Free Dean Gray" T-Shirts!
american edit was produced as a tribute / parody and an act of self-expressive art
american edit is not to be sold or distributed for commercial purposes or personal gain
if you wish to support the music featured, purchase a copy of american idiot by green day
or donate to the non-profit causes sited in the links page of green day's official site @ greenday.com
Know your rights: The Electronic Frontier Foundation lays down the law for that other Grey Tuesday.