The following is an article from adbusters.org:
(Original article http://www.adbusters.org/magazine/32/droplifting.html)
DROPLIFTING INTO THE MAINSTREAM
Subversive musicians infiltrate industrys mega stores
In the '60s, the Situationists defined détournement as stealing cultural elements from their original sources and re-routing them for subversive ends. Its a notion the collaborators on the recent CD The Droplift Project understand well: this impromptu alliance of 29 audio collage artists swipes slickly produced sounds from Top 40 recordings, B-movies, TV commercials, and obscure instructional films and mixes them to create a distinct art form that falls somewhere between music and political commentary. (Sources on the CD run from the Budweiser jingle to a documentary about Bootsy Collins, with cameos from the likes of The Spice Girls, Richard Nixon, and The Simpsons crusty billionaire Monty Burns.)
On July 28, however, they reversed the Situationists definition: instead of pilfering cultural artifacts, they began covertly giving them away. In cities across the continent from Los Angeles to Calgary, Minneapolis to Orlando shrink-wrapped compact discs were "droplifted" (a spin on "shoplift" but with the humanitarian appeal of "airlift") into the new CD bins at chain music stores like Sam Goody, Best Buy and Tower Records. Without bar codes or price tags, and sometimes accompanied by official-looking bin dividers bearing the Droplift moniker the 30-track CDs are now masquerading as regular inventory alongside discs by Eminem, Britney Spears, and the Backstreet Boys.
The result will be "a performance as subversive as it is absurd," in the words of Jon Nelson of Escape Mechanism, a contributor to the CD. In theory, a music buyer will stumble upon the disc in the bins and ask a cashier how much it costs. Not finding the title on the company computer, the cashier will no doubt be confused. What to do: ask the manager, give it away when no ones looking, or randomly assign a price? Or perhaps the CD will go unnoticed until the stores next inventory, when it will earn the corporate seal of approval, a barcode and catalog listing. In classic culture jamming form, "corporate store owners are tricked into giving us that most cherished item, their shelf space," says droplift.comanizer, LA-based artist Tim Maloney.
For artists making what Maloney affectionately calls "bizarre cut-and-paste found sound collages," it may be the only way their work will end up in mass circulation. On one hand, chain stores only stock mainstream titles, proven to sell, leaving local bands, experimental genres, or less popular styles to seek audiences at independent stores (which werent targeted by Droplift). On the other, distributors and labels alike are skittish about promoting bands whose sample work might attract a "fair use" challenge within the feverishly litigious recording industry.
Kudos for the project came from members of Negativland, possibly the only found-sound artists to legitimately appear in Tower Records inventory. (Nonetheless, the group was sued by U2 in 1991 for sampling portions of "I Still Havent Found What Im Looking For" and for titling their EP U2, with a cover photo of a Lockheed U2 spy plane)"Its an extremely rare example of music entering the realm of conceptual art," said Negativlands Don Joyce. But more interesting to him is how the Droplift prank runs full circle: a CD constructed from borrowed clips gets slipped into the corporate bin only to be commodified by the very industry that had previously refused to promote it. Says Joyce, "Its an almost perfect integration of content, medium, and point made."
Free MP3 files of The Droplift Project, as well as image files needed to press and package your own CDs for local droplifting, can be downloaded at www.droplift.com