Muxtape Pushes Play Again

MuxtapeIn its original form, Muxtape, the still-influential and, at the time, insufficiently legal music sharing site was a service for users to load and share playlists of their own music. Since its demise last year, it’s been greatly missed.

In its latest incarnation, launched last week, Muxtape has been re-imagined as a service for bands, allowing them to assemble and customize promotional pages (including their own playlists) from stock parts. (For now, bands can only participate if invited by other bands.) It’s a radical makeover, but if you were to overhaul the now-iconic Muxtape 1.0, this would be a very sensible way to do it.

Listening to Less

I’m so curious as to whether this will succeed. Muxtape’s stock parts are highly regimented, allowing bands to express themselves with freedom, though not completely freely. Every component is 300 pixels square, and there is virtually zero layout flexibility; you can have whatever arrangement you like, so long as it comes in rows of three. What’s more, for now there are no ‘social’ components to draw upon; no commenting, no friending, no favoriting, etc. The new Muxtape platform is nothing if not regimented.

In many ways you could think of this relaunch as a test case for extreme minimalism as a design strategy in the post-Web 2.0 world. In its chosen niche — the highly capricious, quirky and personal world of music fandom — eschewing the de rigeur social features and personalization is brazen.

Right: Players’s club. The new, invitation-only Muxtape allows only this three-across grid layout.

In any case, what founder Justin Oulette and his new partner Luke Crawford have pulled off is impressive: a complete rethinking of the eye-gouging visual morass that is MySpace, their obvious competitive target. Thanks in large part to Muxtape’s highly disciplined, ascetic design approach, the band pages appear effortlessly beautiful, by and large. For an old fogey like myself, steeped as I am in Modernist fetishes, it’s a much more pleasurable, engaging experience. Let’s see if that’s a business model, too.

  1. Seriously,though: modernism is a hundred year old style created by a dozen or so white men. It’s been an antique for fifty years. We wouldn’t accept hundred-year old belief systems about much, why continue to belive in the imposition of “rationality” on visual systems?

  2. This does look promising, but I’ve been hoping that would take off more than it has. Virb looks great by default, and has customizable templates. It has all of the potential to be the only website a band would need to manage.

    Maybe I’ll have to get used to signing up for a new account every year or so when a new and better site launches.

    (Thomas, what are you talking about?)

  3. Wow, I dig it. Now if I only it collected tour dates, it would cover almost 100% of the reasons I still have left to go to myspace.


  4. I’d really hoped would have become the premier music/musician network. Maybe it has and I just don’t realize it but it seems like, as far as musicians that I check on anyway, it hasn’t been utilized like it should.

    On the other hand, this is certainly a clean framework that can be absolutely beautiful (if the artists use appropriate text and imagery of course). I like!

  5. I think that if they position themselves as an alternative to myspace for bands to promote themselves then they will be successful. I am at the point where I will not visit any myspace links so there is a market for it.

  6. “Insufficiently legal” is a terrific phrase.

    I would enjoy it immensely if musicians chose this over MySpace, which always makes me feel like I’ve wandered into an underage club no matter how much I like the band.

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