[While Cary Clarke takes a much-deserved vacation traversing the globe, I'll be filling in for him here at the local music news desk. —Ezra Ace Caraeff]
It's hard to make a tangible impact within the instant-gratification world of Web 2.0 (god, I hate that term), especially when it comes to anything related to music. Why bother keeping up with the latest imeem.com or the newest social network site du jour when, come tomorrow, there will be something new? That is, of course, unless the whole operation isn't torn down by the RIAA, Web Sheriff, or major labels on a desperate digital land grab? Rarely does anything come around that seems worthwhile—or worth bookmarking—that is, until Muxtape.com popped up on the blogosphere (a term nearly as bad as "Web 2.0") last week.
The creation of former Portlander and current New Yorker Justin Ouellette, Muxtape is a ridiculously simple concept: Make a mixtape and send it to your friends. But instead of the old Maxell tapes, or cumbersome web software with clunky interfaces, Muxtapes are refreshingly bare bones and simple. The songs appear as easy to navigate streaming files that you can pause, stop, and skip as you please. Ouellette describes the allure of the design, "I think it's one of those things that fills a void you never knew you had. There are lots of places to listen to music on the internet, but I think simplicity is something that's been lacking in many of them."
Granted, it's hard to do justice to the wonders of a digital mixtape in the space given here, but the site's launch set off a flurry of excitement from music fans the world over. Says Ouellette, "I had a feeling it would be well received, but I wasn't anywhere close to being prepared for the actual wave of traffic. I expected to have to upgrade servers after a month or two, but it wound up being two days later. Thankfully, the site never actually went down."
Of course a website that broadcasts and uploads MP3s at the user's discretion is open to a wide variety of legal issues. The first of which is, well, is it legal? Do users have the right to upload copywritten material without the artist's permission? And are the songs played on the respective tapes subject to broadcast royalties? With the site's growing popularity, all of these issues will most likely come to the table at some point, but for the time being Ouellette does not seem too worried. "I don't see Muxtape as any different from other internet radio stations, and the primary goal of Muxtape is to introduce people to new music." He adds, "People discovering new music leads to people buying new music, which is good for label, artist, and listener alike." For now, make a mix and send it our way.
Also, one more note: This week marks the start of the KPSU pledge drive, which runs from April 7-21. To celebrate their 14th year of existence, the station is holding a series of concerts throughout the month. See kpsu.org for more information.