Mixtapes just 'aint what they used to be. One of the most democratic forms of art collecting is being made even easier by a handful of fun new websites.
Is it legal? Will it last? We don't know and we don't know if we care. These services are such a joy to use that they reinvigorate our appreciation for what the social web can do.
Muxtape the mindshare leader in the online mixtape market. Users upload up to 12 MP3 files and then publish their collection. The interface is like one big button and it's a lot of fun to explore different peoples' collections of favorites.The elegant simplicity, combined with the tech success of its New York founders, has made
All kinds of mashups have been built on top of Muxtape. See, for example, our coverage of Muxtape With Coverflow [Mac] (pictured below), MuxtapeStumbler, MuxSeek Search Engine and MuxScrobbler - a script to synch your Muxtape listening with your Last.fm user profile.
The newest entrant into this field is much easier to use for publishing collections. Favtape creates a Muxtape-like interface for listening to the full-length version of your Pandora or Last.fm favorited songs.
It's simple, but it's very cool. There are tie ins to Lyric Wiki, a ringtone search, the ability to listen to more songs that are similar or by the artist and other features. It's powered by the Seeqpod API, which must be one of the most popular APIs on the web lately.
Favtape just launched this week, but we really like it already.
MixWit is a Flash mixtape creator with a very nice interface and the ability to embed your player on a web page. See my example below. This service can have songs added by URL or through Seeqpod or Skreemr MP3 search.
Hint - click the play button below, or if you're reading this by RSS - click here to see this embedded player in action.
It's a relatively full featured Flash authoring environment and exemplifies the design possibilities that emerge from a confined space. The cassette tape border around images users upload is really visually appealing. It's all pretty easy to use and it's a whole lot of fun. It's more fun to use as a publisher than either of the services above and it might be more fun for listeners too.
It appears that there are some performance issues, though, as the "menu" command often doesn't work with Mixwit. That should bring up a collection of other mixtapes.
The Changing World of Mixtapes
Different mixtape services serve different purposes. The point though is that this art form is becoming easier than ever before.
Mixtapes used to be something you put a lot of time and effort into, typically making one copy to give to one other person. The loss of that art form is a little sad. These services are something very different, they are very public and considering the free music widely available online - scarcity is no longer an issue.
Are these services legal? That's unclear; they are riding a thin line and legal decisions may be made about services like this in the coming years. Streaming, as opposed to full, direct downloads, is a different animal. The original mixtapes were arguably illegal as well, though, and what a loss the world would have suffered if that medium had been strangled.
Where's Your Mixtape?
We find the new mixtape publishing scene pretty heartwarming, in fact. We hope you'll enjoy testing out the services above - and leave us a link in comments to your mixtapes so we can all know what kind of music the RWW community likes to listen to!
CC photos used above include the following from Flickr: radio:cassette drawing from my primary school days by Alicia Yeah, "The Tree" by helmet13, An intense morning break over the Angels Bay, French Riviera by mamjodh