First published on 21 Mar 2013. Updated on 25 Feb 2014.
Mixtapes. When you were a kid you used to make them to impress the people you were crushing on. Some of us would burn them on CDs, trying to cram that perfect amount of music onto a disc without running out of space, while also trying to find that perfect cover pic to print out – probably a shot from The Goonies or The Never-Ending Story as a cute and pop culture-savvy yet not obviously I-totally-like-you message.
If you were even older, you’d know the merry hell of sitting there with your double cassette deck painstakingly dubbing songs onto a C90 and becoming intimately familiar with the fact that a lot of Beatles and They Might Be Giants songs are only a minute or two long and therefore perfect for those end-of-side gaps. Or maybe it’s just me. Anyway: if you’ve lamented the loss of the art of the mixtape, then we have good news. Sharetapes is a new Australian startup that uses digital technology – YouTube, Spotify etc – with the old-skool appeal of the mix. And it even has cards that look like cassettes.
The interface is simple to use and is basically what you already do: you make a playlist (at the moment the system supports Spotify, 8track and YouTube), you buy a Sharetapes card and you enter the code on the card and the URL of the playlist. The recipient of the card (or, if you can’t be arsed physically mailing the card, the code – but how much more romantic is actually sending the thing in the post?) enters the code at Sharetapes’ site, and they get your carefully-curated playlist on their computer, tablet or phone (well, iPhones and iPads won’t immediately play it via their internets, but will if you scan the QR code that’s thoughtfully on the card). No wonder it was deemed best "six-second pitch" by a start-up at South by Southwest this year.
For the record: I’ve now made two very impressive Spotify playlists and sent them via Sharetapes: one to a girl I was crushing on, and one for an already-way-cool nine-year-old daughter of a friend whose taste in music I wanted to hijack. How did it work? Well, the crush opened her playlist and thought the whole thing was very sweet (then again, she seemed fairly on board already so the mix may not have necessarily changed anything). And the nine year old? Time will tell…
On the downside? I used Spotify for my mixtapes and there seems to a problem if you and the recipient have different levels of account: some of the songs I selected from my (subscriber) account wouldn't play for my crush, who has a free account. And yes, you could do much the same thing by knocking up a playlist and just sending someone the link… but where's the charm in that? Isn't there something a lot sweeter about having someone scan their card and suddenly have a special playlist right in their device all for them? Check it all out at sharetapes.com.