New Online Mixtape Site Hopes That It Doesn’t Get Recorded Over By Rights Issues


Yesterday saw the launch of Muxtape, a playlist-sharing service where users are allowed to craft and share 12-song “mix tapes” by uploading songs they like to a server, from whence they stream. Word spread quickly throughout the microblogging service Tumblr, and Travis McCoy from the Gym Class Heroes has even made one. Basically, Muxtape takes the idea of the International Mixtape Project into the Web 2.0 era, complete with slick, commentary-free interface, and ultra-self-referential group of base users. Which is why I’m wondering how long it’ll be before the whole thing gets shut down by the majors, who are notorious sticklers about things like “getting paid for the streaming of songs they own the rights to.”

Yesterday Dan Gibson and I were wondering if we should even post about the site, because we didn’t want too much attention to be drawn its way. But according to its terms of service, Muxtape is a totally self-policing community! Or at least it should be:

Muxtape is a service for creating mixtapes. Users may not upload multiple songs from the same album or artist, or songs they do not have permission to let Muxtape use. Individual users may not create multiple muxtapes. Accounts not meeting these restrictions are subject to termination without notice. Muxtape will never reveal your email address to a third party. Muxtape is alive.

Hmm, that seems a little bit passing-the-buck to me, no? “You get the rights, we’ll host the streams. Everybody wins! Especially us when we start selling ads.” Have the creators of Muxtape not been following the saga of imeem, or the whole Internet radio thing? Even artists that aren’t on the oh-so-evil major labels may want the money that they’re owed for each stream–and I find it hard to believe that the Muxtape creators weren’t at least somewhat aware of the current battle over Internet radio royalties. But then again, throwing up their hands and saying “Uh, I dunno!” when asked about the nuts and bolts of legal issues surrounding the idea of copyright seems to be par for the course for a lot of these music-tech startups, which are more focused on getting their code to market than pesky things like paying musicians. And I’m not the only person who sees this as something of a copout:

What is the definition of Muxtape? It isn’t a download and it isn’t peer-to-peer file sharing. It’s basically a watered down internet radio or streaming. And yes, these configurations still require licensing and payment of royalties. (streaming rates yet to be determined) Either through a performance license or mechanical license depending on if the medium is classified as programmed radio or on-demand streaming. This goes back to the terms of use. This is a commonly used disclaimer in the latest up and coming websites. It attempts to put the responsibility of licensing on the user instead of the person behind the scenes.

Something tells me that my pals who have set up these “tapes” so far haven’t gotten in touch with the artists they’re featuring–although maybe Travis can pay himself if he ever decides to include one of his own tracks.

Muxtape [Official site]Users may not upload songs… [something creative will go here] [Image via My Chemical Toilet]