My favorite tale of copyright rewriting culture is the tale of the "Rosie the Riveter" painting.

You're probably thinking of this painting when I say "Rosie the Riveter. Sorry, but that's the "We Can Do It!" painting that only stayed for two weeks at Westinghouse:!

Norman Rockwell did a famous painting that was used all over the place and was very popular, but his estate practically buried it.


Norman Rockwell's estate essentially buried a cultural artifact so the less-protected "We Can Do It!" painting became the icon of feminism and togetherness through adversity that we see today. It's everywhere at the Yankee Air Museum (home of the Rosies) and has even been parodied by John Kovalic:

Nobody thinks of the Norman Rockwell painting anymore, save for those folks who discover it on a Wikipedia page.

You can protect something to irrelevance and obscurity.

@craigmaloney Rick Beato made a similar point with regards to music. Artists that are relentlessly protected against online use simply stop being culturally relevant.

@Ahuka @craigmaloney

I watch Rick's content and question his assertion of relevance. Rick seems to be under the impression that popularity = relevance. I don't believe that is the case as relevance is a measure of meaning or purpose in society.

IMO - The Beatles, Stones, Zep, etc. aren't as relevant today because of the social changes in society. Not because they are less popular.

Older acts are still relevant: to other musicians, or to a different demographic.

@Unatributed @Ahuka Agreed that it's one barometer doing a lot of heavy lifting. I'm definitely not streaming any media at all save for and the occasional bandcamp album.

However, the conclusion about older music being pulled from the consciousness because of copyright is still very true.Just try to make a video featuring Jimi Hendrix's music and see how long it stays online. How are folks going to be exposed to this music? Radio is for old folks who don't care about music.

@Unatributed @Ahuka Also Spotify's streaming counts are as good as any benchmark.'s charts aren't exactly dripping with details:

@craigmaloney @Unatributed
While there is no such thing as a perfect measure, I think Spotify stream counts are as good as we can get. First, it covers more people than physical media sales. Second, for one low monthly fee you have access to just about anything ever recorded. So once you have Spotify there is no barrier, you just listen to what you want to listen to. So it is revealing to see what people want to listen to.

@Ahuka @craigmaloney

Not even close to having "just about everything ever recorded". For a long time there have been artists and labels that wouldn't allow their works to be part of the platform... For example ECM didn't come to Spotify until 2017.

On top of this, Spotify regularly drops recordings from their library. Take this as an example:

@craigmaloney @Ahuka I'd argue that Spotify is a pretty bad metric to use for this. When gauging something like popularity or relevance you want to source your information from as many places as possible to guarantee that the sample pool is large enough to justify.

First thing, Spotify's stats are going to be for a given region. In this case it would be North America. That doesn't reflect other regions, like Europe, or the East (Japan, etc.).


@Unatributed @Ahuka It's a throw-away Youtube video to get folks to make comments. That doesn't make it's general thesis that rights-holders need to lighten up about their music being available for folks to use any less relevant or valid.

If you hate his methodology comment on his video. That's what it's designed for. 😁

@craigmaloney @Ahuka I have responded to his past videos. In fact, one of my comments caused him to double-down on another video...which was a horrific mis-interpretation of my comment.

My point is that to understand social relevance you have to look at a lot of factors: plays across multiple platforms (streaming, radio - including satellite), commercial licensing, etc.

Also, define what actual relevance is: IMO - you could gauge more by looking at Google Trends, and artist influence as well.

@Unatributed @Ahuka You're right, of course. Spotify is a terrible measure of overall relevance, influence, and significance.

Much like Billboard is a terrible measure of popularity or cultural significance.

And yet, whenever someone does a "what was the popular music of the era" they reach for Billboard because it's a tidy number that doesn't require a musicologist to fully unpack.

Just ask anyone about jazz in the 1950s and 1960s. Billboard charts rarely represented them.

@craigmaloney @Ahuka

FWIW - I don't know that it's a throw away in his mind. This "relevance" measuring by popularity / copyright restriction is a drum he has been beating for years now. He even testified in front of a Congressional Committee about it.

IMO his perspective is that of a music industry insider that went independent. (Realize that he runs his own studio, and has produced recordings, and even had a "hit" song.)

@craigmaloney @Unatributed
I've heard Lefsetz make a similar point. I think one way to look at cultural relevance is to look at what new musicians are trying to accomplish. Are they trying to be the next Hendrix? Or are they trying to be the next Taylor Swift? I know I'm an old fart who listens to stuff most people don't care about any more, but I don't care if it is culturally relevant, it is what I like.

@craigmaloney @Unatributed For example, Lefestz points to Joni Mitchell. People in the know are aware how great she is, but she is not played on the radio or streamed to any great degree.

@Ahuka @craigmaloney

This also varies by region. If you look at Japan, you'll find groups like Band Maid that incorporate a lot of heavy rock music into their sound, while making it unique to their culture. Excellent stuff. Same thing happens in many other countries.

@Unatributed @Ahuka I am intimately familiar with subgenres of music and how irrelevant popularity is for them.

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