30 days of ideas – 14: I Made You A Tape


This is for you. Just you.

Today’s idea is another music one – but it’s almost the reverse of yesterday’s. This one’s not about showing off. It’s private, and it’s very, very personal.

For some reason, people who make online mixtape services – sometimes very good ones – completely forget the reasons they used to make tapes for people back in the days of actual cassettes.

They think it’s about sharing their music taste with the world. Okay, perhaps sometimes it is – however, I don’t know about you – but the reason I used to make mixtapes on cassette was to communicate something personal with a specific individual.

Yes, it’s about displaying superior specialist knowledge in a world where most people are better than you at most other stuff – and yes, it’s about saving people you like from their own bad taste – but mostly, it was about getting that girl to like you.

I Made You A Tape
So that’s why my idea is an online music sharing site – but one that can only be shared with one person. You craft a “tape” with a single person in mind, and then that mix is sent to that person with a unique URL that only they can access.

They can download or stream the mixtape, and it comes with the liner notes that you’ve written.

But here’s the deal:

1) It’s not a compilation album – it’s a mixed tape
The ‘tape’ is not a series of individual tracks – it’s two mp3s of either 30 or 45 min duration each (to recreate Side One and Side Two of either a C60 or a C90). Anything shorter than that has silence that will take you to the end of the duration. Anything longer than that is truncated – as if you’d run out of tape. If you wanted, the finished recording could be easily transferred onto an actual cassette – and it would fit perfectly.

2) It’s like actually making a cassette, but online
You have to upload each track that you use on the mixtape from your own collection. There’s no pre-installed library to choose from. This is just a little bit time-consuming, and is the equivalent of having to sit there and record the song off vinyl in real time, like it means something. You can only upload one song at a time, and perhaps we could even go so far as to only let people upload the songs in the order they will appear on the finished mix – though I may be taking the parallel a step too far here.

3) Tapes are unique and are given – not shared
When the mix is compiled into the single ‘side A’ and ‘side B’ files, the individual uploaded tracks are deleted off the server. When the mix is downloaded by the recipient, that mix is also deleted off the server. The mix is designed for one person. To send another, you make another. If they accidentally delete the files, they can’t re-download. You can either make it for them again, or decide that you don’t really fancy them that much anyway.

4) Every track gets a little commentary
When you upload a track, you can say what it’s called and who it’s by – as well as write an explanation of why that song is special, important or interesting. The artwork that comes with the mix contains all that information, stylised in a handwritten font (your choice of several) – with an array of selected doodles and flowers (or lightning bolts) that you can add to the finished product.

5) It’s personal, but it need not be romantic
The idea is that you’re making a mixtape for one person. You can interpret that brief however you like, and use it in any way you see fit. It’s a letter for a friend, and it’s written with only that friend in mind.

Music as culture, as usual
The whole point to this – and it’s an important one – is that I think this was always the main cultural and social purpose of music mixtapes. It wasn’t about sharing your knowledge with the world. That’s something different. A specialist music radio show, perhaps.

And even though that’s what the internet seems best at, that’s not the only thing we want to express through assembling music in a meaningful order. We want to talk privately, and sometimes music can do that best – especially when we don’t have the right words ourselves.

Besides, the reason that a mixtape was such a treasured gift was always because of the thought, time and effort that had gone into it. Drag-and-drop is for a different mode of communication.

As always – the idea is up for grabs. I would so use this, and I would love to receive one of these too. Somebody make it please. Thanks.

Table of contents for 30 Days of Ideas

  1. The other way of following first
  2. Now we’re up and dancing
  3. 30 days of ideas – 01: Keymash
  4. 30 days of ideas – 02: Radio Alerts
  5. 30 days of ideas – 03: Only Famous (a romantic comedy)
  6. 30 days of ideas – 04: Modcasts
  7. 30 days of ideas – 05: Numberless Calendar
  8. 30 days of ideas – 06: SpringCleanr
  9. 30 days of ideas – 07: Street Gallery
  10. 30 days of ideas – 08: Smart Business Cards
  11. 30 days of ideas – 09: Recordings in Concert
  12. 30 days of ideas – 10: Vinyl scanner
  13. 30 days of ideas – 11: Photo Stack-and-Scan
  14. 30 days of ideas – 12: A Box of Cool
  15. 30 days of ideas – 13: Karaoke-Tube Celebstar Idol
  16. 30 days of ideas – 14: I Made You A Tape
  17. 30 days of ideas – 15: Newspaper download codes
  18. 30 days of ideas – 16: Pebble Splash
  19. 30 days of ideas – 17: Digital radio, somewhere useful
  20. 30 days of ideas – 18: Public domain music collection
  21. 30 days of ideas – 19: Blog cast-list automator
  22. 30 days of ideas – 20: The Retirement Pile
  23. 30 days of ideas – 21: Nationalise EMI
  24. 30 days of ideas – 22: The Stainless Steel Rat (the movie)
  25. 30 days of ideas – 23: WordPress Bandcampify template
  26. 30 days of ideas – 24: Rollercoasters as public transport
  27. 30 days of ideas – 25: Next-gen personalised music radio
  28. 30 days of ideas – 26: New Music Trust
  29. 30 days of ideas – 27: Tamagotchi Gardening
  30. 30 days of ideas – 28: Charity shop clothing subscription
  31. 30 days of ideas – 29: ‘Now Playing’ social music app
  32. 30 days of ideas – 30: House of Spare Ideas
  33. Mixtape for You by Ray Kuyvenhoven
  34. What can you do in 30 days?

4 Responses to “30 days of ideas – 14: I Made You A Tape”

  1. Beautiful idea. Sometimes we forget that sometimes, the limitations of physical media were what made them special.

    An extension, for bonus points: instead of emailing the URL, write it on a physical object and post it to them. A cassette tape, for instance.

  2. Andrew,
    This mix tape idea is definitely one of my favorite ideas. I’m going with the 30 day numberless calendar, but this is one I’m going to be thinking about for a while. A really awesome idea.

    Andrew

  3. Cheryl says:

    I am really loving the mix tape idea. I have made a lot of mix tapes in my day, most unappreciated, and I would definitely use a service like this!

  4. gustavo says:

    muy buena.
    gracias.

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