We were big fans of Muxtape here at ReadWriteWeb, but when the the virtual mixtape service shut its doors last week because of legal issues with the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), it definitely left us wanting for more. Last night, we heard about OpenTape, a self-hosted open source version of Muxtape. Being the Muxtape fans we are, we just had to install it for ourselves and came away quite impressed with how well it worked.
Because it’s a self hosted program, the bar for entry is a lot higher than for Muxtape of course, though as far as installation goes, all you have to do is to copy the OpenTape code into a publicly accessible directory on your server and you should be good to go (as long as your server runs Apache, PHP5, and curl). After that, all you have to do is set a password, give your mixtape a name, and start uploading songs (or FTP them into your ‘songs’ folder).
Playing and Embedding
Playing songs works just like in Muxtape or any of its competitors like 8tracks. Just click on a song and it starts playing – click again and it stops.
One nice feature of OpenTape is that it provides you with an embedded player.
As others have pointed out, part of the reason people would want to host their mixtapes on their own server is to make it harder for the RIAA to shut down a particular server, but hosting a virtual mixtape with copyrighted music could quickly become a major nightmare, as the RIAA and others would probably have no problem with serving takedown notices and asking for enormous fines.
Still, OpenTape also has other applications – bands, for example, can host their own music with it (though that is also the only service Muxtape still offers), you could use it as a podcast player, or you could just use it to promote some of your favorite Creative Commons licensed music.
While hosting your own mixtape (just one for now, unless you install numerous copies of OpenTape) is fine, the beauty of Muxtape or 8tracks is that you can also search for other people’s mixtapes, which is often a great way to discover new music.
Of course, somebody could host a central repository for OpenTape mixtapes, but then that would make it even easier for the RIAA to go after alleged copyright violations.
For some, OpenTape might fill the void left behind by Muxtape’s demise, but for most, the limitations of OpenTape and the fact that you have to host it yourself will make other like 8tracks a far more attractive alternative.