Kutiman Mixes YouTube

By JoCo March 11, 2009

I was going to write this long thinky post about what this “means” and how amazing it is to be living in an era of such unprecedented creative opportunities thanks to the internet and the rise of amateur content, but I will leave it at this: in your face, Andrew Keen.

This is the work of Kutiman (via Open Up), an Israeli musician who creates really great music using bits and pieces of lots of YouTube videos. He’s got a whole album’s worth of material online at http://thru-you.com. He has also broken my skull open with the ball-peen hammer of his awesomeness. Here’s the opening track, “The Mother of All Funk Chords.” So amazing, so illegal. What are we going to do with you, future?


Paul says

What impresses me even more than the slickness of the mashup is that these are genuinely excellent songs, however they may have been created.

Gary Fixler says

Through an argument thread I silently observed on reddit this morning about this guy's work, I was made aware of another fun mix - something more 'pop,' but still quite enjoyable for me:


What can I say? I like pop. I have no excuse.

Chang says

Ditto that. I would buy these anywhere and listen anytime. #2 is some astoudning dub. They're all incredible!

Thomas says

That's hot like fire.

Regarding the legality of it, I'm not entirely that Kutiman is in the wrong. He seems to have avoided commercial content entirely, so the RIAA shouldn't care. All of the component videos -- and there are a lot -- are listed in the More Info. That should cover attribution. And the pieces are used in such small instances that we might just be looking at fair use, particularly since this work is being presented for free and could be seen as educational at best or commentary on the component works at least.

Of course, I am not a lawyer. Just a guy who reads too much.

Bryan J Busch says

It's like the drummer says: "OH! Yes."

Jeremy says

I've been showing these to people for the past week or so and I get annoyed with them if their minds are not blown. I think track 3 is my favorite.

Triarii says

AAAAAAAAAAAH. So addicted, this stuff is fantastic.

Jason says

That is amazing. #3, "I'm New," just blew me away. Sounded like early Tricky or maybe Mandalay, but then he throws in that MC in the middle section that just makes the whole track complete.

Nathan Wind as Cochese says

While you are true that Kutiman is avoiding commercial content and thus avoiding the wrath of the RIAA, he's still using someone else's intellectual property and unless the stuff is released under a Creative Commons license, what he may be doing (while supremely awesome) might not technically be on the up and up.

Ed Marshall says

Amazing. I'm speechless, that is undeniably good stuff, especially when you consider how it was produced.

I think Thomas is close to right; had he remixed a bunch of CC-licensed pictures on Flickr, he'd be fine. However, I can't see anything that suggests videos uploaded to YouTube can be flagged as licensed in a particular way, so it falls back to copyright. Which means, unless he's considering these remixes to be "fair use" (or unless the videos in question had information with them that granted the right to do what he's doing), he might be in a bit of trouble.

On the other hand, the argument could be made that, because the videos were on YouTube, and because the remixes are hosted by YouTube, the license grant the original creators gave Google by uploading the content might apply. But that's really a stretch.

And I'm no lawyer, I don't even pretend to know anything about this stuff. I just love seeing art like this.

Eric Wagner says

So amazing that is all I can say other than I am definitely passing this on...wow!!

JayCruz says

Thank you for pointing to this. This makes me excited about the future.

Colleenky says

I'm just thinking of the time and effort involved in combing through YouTube videos, finding bits in the same key (maybe he monkeys with the pitch a bit?), and then mashing them all together in an aesthetically pleasing way. That's quite an undertaking, and I'm duly impressed - and envious. :-)

Regarding the legality, I think the general public plays a bit fast and loose with the term "fair use." It's actually pretty limited.

DPSquared says

Lawyer here, though not a full-time copyright practitioner: in brief, I don't think he has much to worry about if it's all non-commercial work he's sampling. Fair use is a loosey-goosey balancing test, so a determination would have to be made with respect to each piece used. The single note samples probably wouldn't be an issue at all; the complete vocal performances are more of a problem. But even if someone went to the trouble of suing him (assuming a US court has jurisdiction) and got around fair use, they'd still have to prove some financial harm to cost him any money (unless they had registered the copyright before the infringement, which is really unlikely).

The real problem would be notice and take-down procedures under the DMCA, which would deprive us of access to its awesomeness. If any one of the hundreds of sample-ees decides to write a strongly-worded letter to this guy's ISP, they'll probably take it off to avoid liability until he writes his own letter back saying that the material is non-infringing.

Zach Totz says

This is the most awesome thing I've been exposed to all week so far!!!

sevinPackage says

That is 78 different kinds of badass, rolled up into a Katamari of Funk!

The theramin pushed it over the top for me.

Thanks, yet again, for making my life better through music, even if it's not your own.

BTW, the DVD is still coming............. I'm having 'creative issues' with the last version of the extras.... Soon, I hope.

Joel says

DPSquared, I love your opening statement.

These videos are awesome. I can barely imagine summoning the patience to make something like this in Logic, let alone in a video editor. Ridiculous. This guy... deserves a cookie of some sort.

Joel says

JoCo, you should set up as an Amazon Affiliate. I love the irony of an "In Your Face" affiliate bonus.

Dan Sinker says

Reading your piece after Merlin Mann's piece that links to it, I can't help but feel like we're beginning to FINALLY see some documentation of what this clearly is: the dawning of a new era. Count me all-in.

Velanche says

I've played Kutiman's music on my weekly radio show, so I was really surprised when I heard about this project on the Buzz Out Loud podcast today.

And seeing the video....wow, nothing short of fantastic!

I'm most definitely planning to send the word, and even giving praise to the man himself.

Just ridiculous!

Roman V. says

That Keen guys sounds like an elitist douchebag. He's the kind of person who I think would use the term "creators" to refer to people like us who write music or software - as if we are deities of song sort (ie. "the Creator") and as if you have to be in some elite social class to be useful. The free software movement, and the free culture movement as an extension of it, is to make sure you don't have just a few people controlling everyone else's technology. The Internet and the Flat World (free software is one of the major causes for the flat world, btw) are pushing it all forward.

Jared says

I fully expect to hear these songs licensed in an ad on TV or in some television drama in the background. Give this give a Grammy already. Does he need to release an actual CD to get reviews from the establishment critics (and would that matter to how awesome his music is)? This deserves to top some 2009's best albums lists. Just wait, history will vindicate Kutiman, a la DJ Shadow/Entroducing...

Twirrim says


Roman V. says

Speaking of Andrew Keen, did you guys know he is on Twitter: http://twitter.com/ajkeen

nate says


the videos do not play here in safari or firefox on a mac - anyone else have this problem?

Gina says

Yes Nate, they won't play for me either (Safari). I could watch the imbedded video here, though (amazing!).

p0ps says

Besides being excited as hell and enjoying the fuk outta this amazing music and feeling like a bomb just went off, I think we need to make this legal. Whatever changes need to be made, let's knock 'em out!

BayTaperDotCom says

What amazed me was how good it sounded despite what must have been incredibly horrible source quality. I mean listen to the vocal on "I'm New" from the source video, then listen to it in Kutiman's mashup. It's so clean, sweetened, freakin' amazing how he touched up that source. Wow.

Richard Medek says

Not all of the videos used in the mash up are non-commercial. The drumming is from a Bernard Purdie instructional video and some of the other instrumental vids are commercial instructional videos as well.

I am totally down with this; I think it's amazing from both a musical and technical standpoint. But in a related aside I am still uncomfortable how, occasionally, people who do not depend financially on their creative work profit from the work created by people who do.

That said, I don't know where to draw the line.

Tommy Weir says

Thanks for the steer on this, via Merlin and then Gruber, it came to me and I'm so happy it did. I've passed it on to whoever I know.

Love it.

Grégoire Noyelle says

Waou ! amazing. Thanks !

Jim says

Funkilicious. I approve, and thanks for bringing to my attention.

Bill says

Great, great stuff here. I think he's got a very strong fair-use argument here whether or not the original videos had a commercial intent. The purpose is clearly tranformative--ie: he's not just making copies. He uses only small amounts of the originals and doesn't hurt the commercial market for them. Creativity in new forms!

Faith Sonshyne says

Hey its cool to hang here with you techy nerdy guys!~! ( I say that with love btw)
I have been listening/watching Kutiman for 2 days straight. This music is 'soulblowingly' good for so many reasons. His respect and Love for all the people he has brought together and tweaked and made beautiful. His skill and patience with his equipment. The music itself would stand alone as brilliant even without the video. The reactions and comments show that he really has blown a lot of people away to the point of becoming evangelical (myself included).
It reaches deep inside probably because it resonates a unity that we dont usually find in the egocentric celebrity driven culture than separates and puts individuals on a pedastal!~ This really is the future! Go Kutiman!~

Gooner14 says

Just as techie but at the other end of the spectrum there is this virtual band called The Professional Teenagers. One guys does all

violet says

"I’ve been showing these to people for the past week or so and I get annoyed with them if their minds are not blown. I think track 3 is my favorite."

me too. be blown away dammit!!

HE says

Through an argument thread I silently observed on reddit this morning about this guy’s work, I was made aware of another fun mix – something more ‘pop,’ but still quite enjoyable for me:
What can I say? I like pop. I have no excuse.

Ben Krieger says

100% illegal. 100% artistically valid. I know what side I'm on.