Wu-Tang’s aim is to use the album as a springboard for the reconsideration of music as art, hoping that the approach will help restore recorded music to a place alongside visual art—and change the music business in the process.
A Brooklyn producer named Baauer mixes two samples over a great beat. It becomes the most popular song in the country. Some kids make a YouTube dance video that turns it into an international sensation. Meanwhile, in Brooklyn, the producer “[hasn’t] seen any money from it.”
This is the story of “Harlem Shake.” It is also the story of the U.S. economy according to Kevin Ashton, who calls it a parable for our age of “makers and takers.” The artists make, he says, and the system takes. YouTube gets the page views, Warner Bros. distributes the recording, and Apple sells it on iTunes.