Artzie Music, and Future Funk, are Too Big to Fail
Copyright strikes might have decimated one of YouTube’s biggest future funk platforms, but the internet will make sure the funk never dies.
Everything is fleeting on the internet. Despite the incredible archival power of the information superhighway, services that manage the use of copyrighted material and intellectual property can make digital landscapes transform in an instant. The Office is leaving Netflix. Nintendo obliterates sites that host its game files. And now, one of the biggest names in future funk is on its way to the great, big LAN party in the sky.
Artzie Music, a YouTube channel that touts itself as the “№1 destination for unique music,” announced (in a since deleted tweet) on Wednesday, Oct. 21 that the channel was served papers for its termination. The request is being pursued by Shogakukan-Shueisha Productions, a Japanese production house responsible in part for some of the most iconic anime series to hit CRTs.
In a sense, the copyright claims were expected. Shogakukan-Shueisha Productions, better known by its trade name, ShoPro, is notorious in online communities for leveraging the full force of its financial power to impede any infringement attempts on its brand. Responsible for licensing popular comics through Viz Media, ShoPro has gone after a number of YouTube channels for using imagery from series like Pokémon without permission.
At the same time, the claims arrived nearly a decade after the Artzie Music channel opened shop. Despite rooting its entire business model around copyrighted material — anime visuals that bop along to often uncleared electronic and J-Pop and samples on the channel’s future funk uploads — Artzie has managed to exist on YouTube largely undisturbed. As of Oct. 23, Artzie boasts over 207 million plays, no small feat for a channel whose very presence exists on the fringes of legality.
With nearly 400,000 subscribers, Artzie Music was the front runner in future funk on YouTube. Since opening its digital doors in 2011, the channel uploaded some 1,100 videos from future funk artists large and small. Major names like Night Tempo and FIBRE were interspersed with up-and-coming acts. Regardless, most Artzie videos are accompanied by the cosmic images from series like Urusei Yatsura and MACROSS Plus, the former of which is licensed ShoPro.
“A mass amount of videos on the channel have gotten copyright strikes by ‘ShoPro’ for use of their anime clips, this will result in the channel being terminated by October 27th unless the email I sent them helps, but I am doubtful,” Artzie Music posted to Twitter in a since deleted tweet. “I love you all.”
The ban, which came to pass on October 28, will certainly mark the end of an era in electronic music. Much of the music will continue to live on disparately connected channels and public playlists. But future funk as a genre is losing one of its top curation services, one that’s been vetted by community leaders like Pad Chennington and Aiden, the Creator. Artzie Music took the guesswork out of scrounging through poorly labeled future funk catalogs on SoundCloud in search of hidden gems. It highlighted the genre’s best, using the hypnotic neon and pastels of anime to attract a variety of listeners.
Though many of the city pop songs future funk tracks sample have found their way back into the pop music lexicon, Artzie’s overarching design opened the genre to listeners who couldn’t care less about Anri or Junko Yagami. Anime visuals were a seal of approval, identifying the music as part of a larger collective of nerddom that could appeal to anyone with even a mild interest in digital entertainment.
But the same force that put Artzie Music out of business — the internet — is the one that will continue the future funk renaissance. Armchair archivists have already taken to the digital vaults to back up the Artzie Music collection, doing so as a community service gig for fellow listeners. Some of these archives are googleable, some not. But they are all indicative of the fact that future funk won’t be easily scrubbed from the internet.
Having originated on the internet, future funk is future proof. There are no analog mediums locking the music behind bars. (Ironically, the genre’s artists have embraced the sale of cassette tapes despite future funk emerging half a century after the production of the first cassette.) On Bandcamp, pages like Future Funk Monthly curate the best the genre has to offer on a platform that caters to fair revenue sharing between musicians and distributors. Increasingly, future funk artists are earning the support of genre specific labels, which assist with promotion, distribution and crafting an overall appearance of legitimacy.
The death of Artzie Music is far from a lethal wound for future funk. The flashing lights of anime dance floors might be dimmed, but the funk will surely live on.