Mixtapes aren’t dead, they’ve just gone digital. At least this is the ambition behind Los Angeles-based Mixtaping.fm.
After logging into the service through Facebook or Twitter, give your mixtape a title, design, and start adding songs by searching through the immense database. Because you’re creating a “mixtape” the service limits you to 60 minutes worth of music – 30 minutes for each side of the “cassette.” Upon mixing the perfect tape, users can share their creation with friends on Twitter and/or Facebook. The mixtape plays back through Spotify or the iTunes store (but only the first 30-seconds – in other words, choose Spotify).
Mixtaping is co-founded by Edward Chan, whose resume includes stints at MySpace, Cars Direct, and Spot Runner, and Sang Noh, who has spent time at Citysearch, Friendster and Evite. ”Ed is the CEO/technologist and I am the product person,” said Noh. “We focused most of our careers building and scaling large technology products and felt that it was the right time to branch out on our own and build a compelling consumer focused product centered around music.”
Tech Cocktail readers get a special invite to Mixtaping’s private beta at this link.
I caught up with Noh to learn more about Mixtaping, the Los Angeles startup scene, and his take on island-stranding scenarios.
Tech Cocktail: What was the inspiration behind Mixtaping?
Sang Noh: Ed and I both loved making mixtapes growing up. It has always been a passion product that both of us wanted to work on but was generally not feasible to execute on until last year when products like Spotify, Rdio and Soundcloud started to get a lot of traction.
The problem that we saw in the space was that music discovery was really based on an algorithmic method of presenting music to you, and we felt that it was impossible for an algorithm to really capture the sentiment and context around a playlist. For instance, the excellent mixtape you made today on mixtaping.fm – an algorithm would not know how to present Adam Sandler and Major Lazer together… yet it is still an awesome mixtape as well as a deeply personal way of expressing yourself through music.
Another problem – that was really a personal problem I wanted to solve – is that playlists exist everywhere but you have to go through a lot to just to find them. We wanted to build a system in which you were able to dedicate mixtapes to your friends, just like back in the day when you made mixtapes for your high school crush, so that new music was pushed to you directly through social networks like Twitter and Facebook.
We also wanted to make music more visual by adding cover art to really capture the moment and the sentiment behind why you were making this mixtape in the first place, so we made sure to add Facebook photos and Instagram photos to really help you do that.
Tech Cocktail: Do you plan on monetizing the service? If so, how?
Noh: YES! Our main goal in mixtaping.fm is to build a lasting company and to really lead the space of music discovery. We’re at a stage right now where we are focused on building the most compelling product for our users and to keep it free to use. With that said, we are exploring the best way to monetize the service in a way that will make the most sense to our users. We think there are some proven models that will definitely work for us, but we want to be careful that it doesn’t have a negative impact on the user experience.
Tech Cocktail: Can you speak to the startup scene in Los Angeles? What are some of the advantages and disadvantages we might not know about?
Noh: I feel like the startup scene in Los Angeles is really hitting its stride. I was around for the Web 2.0 boom in 2005-06 in San Francisco, and I am really get the same vibes from LA that I was getting in back in SF. I feel like LA doesn’t get enough credit still, with the Valley and New York really getting all the attention, but I think there is a TON of talented folks in LA, and I think with the convergence of media and technology, LA will be at the forefront of technology very soon. Accelerators like Muckerlabs and Science are really putting out some great products and paving the way for more startups to launch from LA.
Tech Cocktail: You’re stranded on an island and can have only one album with you for the rest of time…what do you take?
I gotta be honest with you… this is actually the hardest question to answer…
Noh: The Notorious B.I.G. – Ready to Die…. It just holds up in a way that I can put that album on at any given moment and listen to it the whole way through … and Biggie is the greatest MC to ever live.
Edward Chan: Linkin Park – Hybrid Theory… it has been a motivational album to me. In 2000, straight out of college, I would listen to that album 24/7 just to get stuff accomplished. I still use it to motivate me and probably would need the same album to get me off the island.