February 01, 2009

The rise, fall, and rebirth of Muxtape

Muxtape was one of the most exciting ‘music 2.0’, forward-thinking companies to emerge in 2008. The website allowed users to upload their own mp3 playlists as virtual ‘mixtapes’, and to listen to other users’ playlists. The site became immensely popular fro day one - with 8,685 users registered in its first day and 97,748 in its first month (stats from Wikipedia). Creator Justin Ouellette explains that the important part of a mixtape, which he tried to preserve on his site, is about discovering new music instead of someone finding music they are already familiar with. He therefore purposefully made the site unable to search for tracks in playlists.

Differing from Napster in the way that users would stream playlists, and then hopefully move on to purchase (with the help of Muxtape links to Amazon) new music, many musicians, consumers, labels and web enthusiasts alike hoped for a bright future for Muxtape. Alas, the RIAA had other ideas, and in August last year the Muxtape homepage displayed the grim message “Muxtape will be unavailable for a brief period while we sort out a problem with the RIAA”.

September last year brought a new message, explaining that the site is being re-formatted to create a platform for independent artists to distribute their music. Yesterday, the website appeared in a new ‘preview’ mode, with a selection of artists that Muxtape had asked to trial the new platform. Other bands will be able to sign up themselves in the coming weeks, and users will once again be able to create playlists and share around the web.

Will the new version of Muxtape work? I really hope so. The death of the original version was a real shame, and yet another indicator of major labels and governing bodies failing to realise the potential and future direction of digital music. Fresh start-up companies such as Muxtape are driving the music industry forward, and I am glad they are not letting the previous issues keep them down. It will be interesting to see what emerges of the new site and how users react / interact over the next few weeks. If nothing else, just by visiting the new homepage I have discovered 12 new bands, some of which I really enjoyed listening to, and will be likely to purchase music from them or see them on tour as soon as possible. Oh, wow, look at that.... free streaming = potential future revenue....

Lee Jarvis.

Cross-posted at US Music Jobs - The premier online community for music industry professionals.

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