Muxtape

May 1, 2008

You may wonder why it’s been so long since my last post. Well, friends, I knew as soon as I made my last post that I wanted to talk about Muxtape. Muxtape is the new darling among web 2.0 hipsters, and for good reason – it takes all the ease of creating an iPod playlist and combines it with the fun of sharing a real mixtape.

Not quite. Muxtape’s got a lot of issues. The first is its “mp3 only” stipulation. I don’t know about you, but most of my mp3s have been converted to AAC thanks to built-in features of iTunes that control what happens to music I import from CD. This was a major headache for me. Three weeks ago, as I’d painstakingly crafted a flawless playlist – with perfect transitions and everything! – I found I could only upload half the songs to muxtape because the rest were in the wrong format. What do you mean you don’t like OGG files, muxtape? We all know they have the highest sound quality–come on.

So I went back to the drawing board. I hunted down mp3 files of the songs that didn’t make it on the first upload. I checked their file sizes, I uploaded their mp3 versions–only to get an error/timeout message every time. (Error: The file you uploaded either wasn’t an mp3 or the upload was interrupted. Try it one more time, if it fails again (but plays on your computer) Muxtape can’t handle it yet.) What’s the deal, Muxtape? I’m trying so hard for you. I spent hours trying to give you what you asked for, but you still won’t take it. If I had been trying to upload an mp3 of Phantom Planet, I’d understand why you kept rejecting it – but Broken Social Scene? You really can’t handle them? Spoon, either? I’m crushed.

And here we are four weeks later – I still haven’t completed my muxtape. This is in part because of my difficulty uploading files, and in part because my street cred is on the line and I can’t just upload any random assortment of songs.

My personal struggles with muxtape are only the tip of the iceberg. But, in its defense, I think it’s great that people have a quick way to share mixes – muxtape fills a void in my soul that was created when I completed college (thus severing ties with the college radio station) and could no longer broadcast a set of songs to the world every week. If I could get muxtape to take my songs, I’d start sharing again and you could subscribe via RSS to always get the newest updates on what I’ve posted. Like a real mixtape, you can pause and play at will. Unlike a real mixtape, you cannot fast-forward or rewind, though you can skip songs by clicking on a new one. The fact that it’s streaming is nice–your friends can hear your music without having it eat up space on their hard drives. It’s good for you, too – you can share your music without having to pay to host it on a server.

In the age of flash-drive mixes, muxtape is an odd mutt. I think it exists more for the people who enjoy listening to mixes than for those who make them. Anyone who’s ever made a mixtape knows that half the fun is struggling with obselete technology, knowing you have to time the pauses just right, knowing that it must work as a cohesive whole because you can’t just “skip songs.” Overall, I love the concept, but am less than pleased with its execution. When muxtape starts accepting more file types, you can find me at http://neongolden.muxtape.com/