Thursday, April 10, 2008

The mixtape reborn

A couple of weeks back, whilst visiting my parents, I ventured into the loft above their extension (basically a repository for all the crap I didn't want to bring with me to London after university but wasn't yet ready to throw out). In amongst the old computers, Whizzer and Chips annuals and back issues of PC Format I found a shoebox of cassette tapes, a good proportion of which were mixtapes, some from friends, some from ex-girlfriends, some of my own composition. Whilst I now lack the means to play them (having bid farewell to my hi-fi separates in a concession to the protocols of cohabitation), I couldn't quite bring myself to part with them just yet because of the instrumental role (no pun intended) that they played not only in my musical education but also in my emotional development during those formative years.

So, what's the modern analogue - sorry, equivalent - of the C60 mixtape? Well, if a couple of new startups get their way then it'll be the, er, mixtape...


Only two weeks old, Muxtape is the brainchild of New York-based web designer Justin Ouellette and has been generating a fair amount of heat on Twitter and in the wider blogosphere. It's Flickr-esque both in its pared down design and ease-of-use, although it lacks some fairly basic functionality such as embedding and you can only upload a single 12-track mix against each username. Unfortunately it's real USP (allowing you to upload MP3s from your own collection) is also likely to prove its Achilles' heel once the copyright lawyers catch up with it. Here's my mix of 10 awesome tracks you probably don't own but should: - get it while it's hot there.


Just one day older than Muxtape, Mixwit is hoping to sidestep the legal issues by pulling in its music from the wider web via SeeqPod and SkreemR (you can choose which to search via a dropdown). Whilst the catalogue of these search engines is potentially limitless, tracking down the exact version you're after can be a time-consuming and frustrating business and listed tracks are frequently 'no longer available' when you come to add them to your mix. On the plus side, your mixes (represented as a cassette tape, 'natch) can be visually styled and easily embedded. If Muxtape appeals to the geek elite then this one's more for the kids.

Other options include Mixaloo (which I reviewed in my latest round-up of new (to me) music apps) and the Fuzz Mixtape Creator (a.k.a. the Deck-O-Rator - no, really). Alternatively, if you're too lazy to pick the tracks yourself, why not make a request to the 'robots' powering the Tiny Mix Tapes Automatic Mix Tapes Generator or enlist the help of your friends using the Project Opus Mixx Maker Facebook app.

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