I love mixtapes. Choosing the right songs with the right effect, all in 45 minutes a side, is a sentimental puzzle where music nerds like me can express ourselves in (what we think is) a meaningful way. Mixtapes force you to think about someone you love, celebrate them with great music, and find creativity within constraint. Of course, Nick Hornby has mined this territory better than anyone.
Enter the playlist. It’s endless and boundless, assembled over time, casually. Playlists often represent a theme (like this) or a place in time (like this). And they are rarely about other people. That’s why they totally suck as a mixtape replacement.
But the folks at Spotify found a solution.* They created a hybrid — an endless, totally personal playlist/mixtape. Hooray for Swedish engineering! Simply drag and drop a track to a friend, compose a short note, and add to their personal mixtape.
The concept of sharing tracks makes a lot more sense to me than sharing a playlist. When I get a track, I’m excited to put it on and think about the gift giver for a little while. They get my attention in full. But if I’m pointed towards a playlist, I don’t feel compelled to listen.
So instead of trying to replicate the mixtape with my friends, we share individual tracks and notes. My Spotify inbox is full of little gifts from my musical friends around the world. Every track is meaningful. And the result is a mixtape without the tape — a playlist just for me.
* I’m not affiliated with Spotify. Just a superfan.