Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Playlists vs. Mixtapes

A while back I was reading a book about the future of music delivery. The author had a theory that users would pay a small subscription fee and have access to music all the time on all their devices, transferring back and forth with ease. Being that all music has yet to be owned by one company, these days users have different devices to play digital files, or older analog devices like turntables or tape players.

When I was younger, before the computer was widely used in the home, but after the compact disk was released, people would make tapes of music for each other. These "mixtapes" were a labor of love, or in some cases, in search of love. They took hours, sometimes days to create. Much thought was applied to come up with the perfect mix for who ever it was aimed at. I threw out all of the tapes I had in our last move. I hadn't had a cassette player for years, and was only a hair away from transferring all my cd to a ipod and selling off all but the most important music I own on cd.

I hadn't thought much about the playlist on my ipod. I have made some, but I usually just listen to single artists at a time. I have made some, but never put to much effort into making them. But after a long road trip last weekend I got to thinking about the difference between the playlist and the mixtape. The play list is fast to create, if changes need to be made all it takes is a couple of clicks and its done. Mixtapes took hours, songs being recorded in realtime, breaks to change the lp or cd for the next one. If you wanted to change a song on a mix tape it had to be the last song, or it was time to start over from the beginning.

The playlist is not any less valid. To come up with a good one it will take the same amount of thought and planning, just less on the digital creation side.


dr said...

if mixtapes are a labor of love are playlists the flirting of a crush? There was something about the labor of the mixtape that made it special. I like the playlist but something of the romance is definitely gone. But I will say the 6 hour one you cooked up for the road trip was GREAT!

Tessa said...

ah-mixed tapes, those were the days....I think I may still have a few. Playlists definitely don't have the same romance. I wonder if kids do mixed CDs for each other? I do know that kids ask each other out via text messages...but who knows what else they do now.