You may or may not remember the humble cassette, pictured above. For a long period of recent popular music history this represented the ultimate gift. The mixtape. A personalised collection of music chosen and recorded from every source imaginable by someone who knew your tastes really well and wanted to share great music with you that they knew you would love. Now, with the internet and high powered tech in our hands or back pocket everyday there’s no need for such an entity. Streaming music use is rising faster than ever before and the quantity of music online is beyond vast. With that said, building something with the aim of sharing it with that special someone presents interesting differences and challenges from the days of making a tape or burning a CD.
The current equivalent of the mixtape is the playlist and there are already millions of them strewn across the web that can be streamed to any device with a single click. Rather surprisingly the majority are generated by either specialist music advisors at the major streaming companies or are computer generated based on listening tastes and statistic popularity. In a lot of cases they don’t even come close to the conjuring the enjoyment of a music selection chosen for you by someone who knows you really well.
So, the main question is, how dow we get round this with all this tech at our finger tips?
THE MAJOR PLAYERS
All of the options below allow some form of sharing within the boundaries of their own system. The trouble is they’re not universal and whilst you may love spotify, the lucky receiver of all your hard work may only have an account with a different service.
Soundcloud | Playlists are easy to create online and can be shared both publicly and privately. You can also add personalised artwork to the playlist. The soundcloud service is undergoing a major shift into a paid service. This means you may be limited in what you can hear if you don’t have a subscribed account.
iTunes | Playlists are easily created within the iTunes software but sharing them is no fun at all. You can gift them to an individual and you can download them as a text file version that can be imported into another iTunes library at which point the receiver has to buy all the music they don’t already have, which defeats the point of doing it in my humble opinion.
Spotify | Playlists are easily created online or on mobile. They can be shared, publicly and privately and can be collaborative if you want to share the musical choices.
So, we can see that there are many ways to use the established streaming services to curate a beautiful and personal playlist either for yourself or someone special. But what if the music you want is spread across multiple internet locations and services?
Step up the alternatives, a few custom websites that provide nifty ways to create that mix and share it whilst utilising the amazing amount of streaming content out there.
What are the alternatives to the major players above?
Stayed Up All Night | www.suan.fm
Dragon Tape | www.dragontape.com
Mixtape | mixtape.me
8 Tracks | 8tracks.com – US ONLY for the main service, youtube redirect outside of the US and Canada.
We recently posted a road trip playlist of some great tracks to listen when you’re in the car for a long drive so I thought I’d test one of these sites with that list. You can listen here on suan.fm. It was so easy to put together and you can give it the personal touch if desired.
The fundamental difference with these alternative services is that they allow you to use video streaming as well as audio streaming. That means the whole of youtube is suddenly at your fingertips for one and lets face it, everyone making music wants to get on youtube so you’re likely to find what you want sitting right there in front of you.
I hope that this post has demystified the process somewhat and maybe inspired you to create your own ‘modern mixtape’ for someone special.