Muxtape postmortem: what really happened

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muxtape.jpgThere were a lot of questions around the shutdown of Muxtape back in August. The cryptic message left on the site seemed to suggest that it would be back in a matter of days, but as the days passed, it seemed increasingly likely that it was gone forever. As users shifted to other sites, it was clear that the RIAA’s big clunking fist had shut down the popular music sharing service for good.

Now, however, the founder of Muxtape, Justin Ouellette, has decided to publish a lengthy missive on the Muxtape homepage, which outlines exactly what happened, as well as his plans for the future. It’s a really good read, and gives an insight into how the major labels and the RIAA treat sites that they consider to be infringing.

The good news is that the site is coming back, but not in anything like its past form. Muxtape will be mutating into a service for unsigned bands that don’t have much of a web presence. Justin promises “an extremely powerful platform with unheard-of simplicity” for bands with no access to a web developer, but a desire to get their music out to the world.

Here’s a few select quotes from Justin’s tell-all, or you can find the full account of the shenanigans on the Muxtape homepage:

“There was a popular misconception that Muxtape only survived because it was “flying under the radar,” and the moment the major labels found out about it it’d be shut down. In actuality, the labels and the RIAA read web sites like everyone else, and I heard from them both within a week or so.”

“I got a call from the VP of anti-piracy at one of the majors. After I picked up the phone his first words were, “Justin, I just have one question for you: where do I send the summons and complaint?””

“Muxtape’s legality was moot. I didn’t have any money to defend against a lawsuit, just or not, so the major labels had an ax over my head either way. I always told myself I’d remove any artist or label that contacted me and objected, no questions asked. Not a single one ever did. On the contrary, every artist I heard from was a fan of the site and excited about its possibilities.”

“The gentlemen I met at Universal were incredibly receptive and tactful; I didn’t have to sell them on why Muxtape was good for them, they knew it was cool and just wanted to get paid.”

“On August 15th, I received notice from Amazon Web Services (the platform that hosts Muxtape’s servers and files) that they had received a complaint from the RIAA. Per Amazon’s terms, I had one business day to remove an incredibly long list of songs or face having my servers shut down and data deleted.”

“The RIAA moves quite autonomously from their label parents and that the understanding I had with them didn’t necessarily carry over. I also learned that none of the labels were especially interested in helping me out, and from their perspective it had no bearing on the negotiations.”

“I walked away from the licensing deals. They had become too complex for a site founded on simplicity, too restrictive and hostile to continue to innovate the way I wanted to. They’d already taken so much attention away from development that I started to question my own motivations. I didn’t get into this to build a big company as fast as I could no matter what the cost, I got into this to make something simple and beautiful for people who love music, and I plan to continue doing that.”

“The new Muxtape will allow bands to upload their own music and offer an embeddable player that works anywhere on the web, in addition to the original muxtape format. Bands will be able to assemble an attractive profile with simple modules that enable optional functionality such as a calendar, photos, comments, downloads and sales, or anything else they need.”

“I realize this is a somewhat radical shift in functionality, but Muxtape’s core goals haven’t changed. I still want to challenge the way we experience music online, and I still want to work to enable what I think is the most interesting aspect of interconnected music: discovering new stuff.”

Muxtape (via Wired)

Related posts: Muxtape down | RIAA response

Duncan Geere

5 comments

  • Roll on when I finish work in 20 minutes, then I can stop reading shite like this to pass the bloody time.

  • Why bring back the tape – it’s serial access!

    Get an 2 albums of the same artist, one on disc or LP and the other on tape. Now try and find track 6. With disc or LP you’ll find it in seconds, good luck to those with the tape.

    Let tape rest in peace.

    Mr Know-It-All

    • No-one’s trying to resurrect the tape. This is a web service that lets you make “mixtapes” out of digital music files that are hosted on a website.

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