Back to the future with mix tapes?

Those of us of a certain age remember the mix tape – a personal selection of tracks from our own record collection which we recorded onto cassette tapes and gave as a gift to a friend.  Many’s the hour spent fiddling with the “Pause” and “Record” buttons to get the gap between tracks just right.

Now, a new venture, MixPixie, is hoping to recreate the mix tape with CDs.  Customers of the online service can select from a library of 8 million tracks.  The added twist is that you can also personalise the album cover adding your own pictures and text to one of 500 album designs.

Our MD, Gerard Burke, was quoted in the FT in an article about Mix Pixie giving his views on whether it could become a “retro chic” hit.  If you’re an FT subscriber, you can read the article at http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/767a8d18-887b-11e1-a727-00144feab49a.html#axzz1tbcC8ud5

If you’re not an FT subscriber, here’s the full version of Gerard’s thoughts before it was edited for publication

“Mix tapes are a very emotional thing. The recipient knows that the giver has gone to great lengths to select the tracks and compile the tape especially for them. They’re a great example of the gift-giving maxim ‘it’s the thought that counts’. And, of course, emotion is a very powerful driver when it comes to consumer purchasing. So, there will always be a place for mix tapes or their technologically updated equivalent.

And, there’s still a place for CDs. Even my teenage sons sometimes prefer to buy a CD and rip it to their iPods because they like to have the physical item and the CD sleeve – having the artwork digitally on your device still isn’t quite the same.

So, while Mix Pixie will never be mass market, I suspect that there may be a niche. How big that niche is probably depends on two things: how easy it becomes for consumers to make personalised selections on music download sites and then give those playlists and tracks to others as gifts; and whether CDs become ‘retro chic’ like vinyl has. One of my sons described the Mix Pixie proposition as ‘very retro’. And when I remarked that retro is sometimes trendy, he replied with typically teenage indignant impatience ‘Yes, dad. That’s why I didn’t say “old”‘”

So, what do you think?  Retro hit or back to the future miss?

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