I’ve been thinking about the future of the music business lately (in the context of my long-distance band Wrong Side of Dawn), and one issue that interests me greatly is the future of the mixtape, which traditionally was a very important way that people shared music with their friends and provided viral marketing. It’s unnecessarily hard to share mixtapes with one another in the internet age! There ought to be an easy way to just save a bunch of songs as a bundle, a playlist which you can just double-click on to load it into iTunes, Songbird or your music player of choice as a playlist, with the songs automatically in the desired order. I have not found a good way to do this. Have you?
At any rate, I decided to try the fancy web 2.0 interfaces for making and sharing mixtapes on the web, to see how well they work. First I wanted to try Muxtape since that’s what my friends seem to be using, but their website is currently down, so I looked in the comments to blog posts about Muxtape for alternatives. Incidentally, I have to agree with the BoingBoing comment “I miss Webjay.” Webjay was nifty when I was playing with it roughly 4-5 years ago. At any rate, the major competitor that I found in the comments was Mixwit, which seems to offer a similar service to Muxtape. Embedded below is the result of my attempt to use Mixwit:
It’s a flash player, so my apologies to free software advocates and Linux users who don’t have a fully functional flash player for whatever reason (Adobe has not released a Flash player for Linux on the PPC architecture, for instance).
PRO: Mixwit does not require you to upload songs. It can find song files for you that are already on the world wide web using music search engines SeeqPod and SkreemR, and it lets you embed those songs in that nifty little flash widget.
CON: It is difficult to find some more unusual or unpopular songs floating around the Web. Of course, an eclectic taste in music is essential to making a good mixtape, and it is slightly disastrous if you cannot put less popular songs on your mixtape to impress people / hawt chix with your musical knowledge. For this mixtape, I was unable to find “Lonesome” by Unwritten Law, “Dance Craze” by Millencolin, shockingly “You’ve Got To Die For The Government” by Anti-Flag (I thought that was a classic), and “Eat The Meek” by NOFX. I replaced “Dance Craze” with “Twenty Two” which is a very similar song that I was actually listening to around the same time, but which I thought was not quite as good… also “Dance Craze” mentions both pinball and dancing, two things which I enjoy greatly. The other three songs had no good replacement, there just weren’t any other songs by those bands that I could find online which impressed me as much and/or fit with this mixtape the way I wanted them to.
The only solution if the songs are not already online is to upload the songs to some other website yourself, perhaps on a music blog or something, so that you can import the hyperlink to the songs into your mix. This is something of a barrier to entry, since many people do not have a personal website where they can upload whatever files they want. It would be better if you could upload the songs directly to Mixwit, but that would dramatically increase hosting/bandwidth costs for Mixwit, and it would be a copyright minefield / death wish. I’m not sure how much I want to host other people’s music on my personal blog without permission, so although I’m not ruling that option out for the future (MP3 blogs have been doing this for years without any ill effects), for now my mixtape remains simply incomplete.
RESULT: I remain dissatisfied with the state of mixtapes in the internet age.