Remember making mixtapes, back in the 80s? The creativity, the joy, the romance when you handed one to your crush? Media man James Coleman is harking back to the good old days with a new site that brings the mixtape to the here and now.
Tell us about Mixtape?
Mixtape is a website I needed about two years ago. I wanted to hear lots more new music, but had increasingly less time to go looking for it. I needed a site where I could quickly narrow my search, and listen to familiar music I loved alongside new tunes and artists I was yet to discover. You know, the classic scenario of discovering your new favourite band on a friend’s mixtape, hidden new gems amongst the tried and true.
Mixtape.co.nz was born out of this time poverty problem. What if you could handcraft and share mixtapes online, but equally importantly, what if you could follow your favorite mixtapers – people in the know serving up music you love? What if you could short-circuit the music discovery process, by creating your own mixtaping network, a live dashboard covering all the music activity important to you? We loved mixtapes before music went digital. We loved hearing them. We loved making them.
Did you rope anyone else in to your project or did you go it alone?
Mixtape.co.nz was developed through consultation with recording artists, web designers and developers, NZ On Air and music licensing organisations to bring the art and the joy of mixtaping into the 21st century.
What was your sort of ‘Eureka!’ moment when you decided to do this?
One of the great realisations was the potential the site could have to promote artists. It’s really hard to get a foothold as a new recording artist – there are only so many radio stations. With mixtape.co.nz, new young artists – Play It Strange artists, for instance – get a chance to put their music alongside more established artists and get it out there. Call it Trojan Horsing.
What would be on your public mixtape?
It’s no secret I like drum ‘n’ bass. Very, very much. My mixtapes have a high proportion of stuff from artists like Rockwell, Dose, SpectraSoul, The Upbeats, Synkro, Enei, Calibre, Break, Teknic, Spinline, Trei, Alix Perez and Cern. Check ’em out.
And your private mixtape, the mixtape of shame? The stuff you don’t want to admit you listen to. May or may not include Justin Bieber and Rebecca Black ...
I really love Billie Piper, Mel C and have been known to sing along to OMD. So there.
Did you nab any funding for it?
It’s funded through NZ On Air’s Digital Content Partnership Fund, and is currently exploring further investment opportunities.
Is this a commercial venture or more of a personal project?
This has definitely been a labour of love so far. The site has taken much longer to get up than I expected, but it’s all good. Good things do take time. Thanks at this point are due to my long-suffering wife! But keeping a bandwidth- glutton of a site like this running well into the future will require some deft maneuverings on the money front. I think the initial aim is to keep heads above water and see what happens!
How did you get around the copyright aspect of music on the web?
I have been in close contact with PPNZ and APRA from the very beginning of the concept, and I’ve enjoyed working with these two licensing organisations to reach agreements that fairly reward artists and songwriters for the use of their material.
What are your big hairy hopes for Mixtape?
I love using the site for all the reasons I’ve talked about – I had an itch and this is scratching it! I sincerely hope people discover the site and find it as fun (and addictive) as I do.
What will it look like five years from now, 10 years from now?
I like the idea of it being a site that breaks down barriers and facilitates discovery. So in 10 years? Perhaps mixtaping will be as cool as in was in the 80s. Cooler. I dunno – let’s hope we’re still here. All of us.
Is Mixtape your Clark Kent gig or your Superman one at the moment?
Mixtape is hunched in a phone box, hopping on one leg, grappling with tight underwear that keeps bunching on its way over its trousers, while its tangled cape falls down over its sweaty face. But look out.
Who did the website and branding?
The evil genii at Fracture Media Syndicate have been responsible for the look, feel and branding. James McKee, Nick Shaw and the team have done an outstanding job – the design is fresh, the site is bug-free and works like it was supposed to. What more could I ask for? Top marks.