Sunday, March 30, 2008

MixWit / This Is My Jam / Muxtape 

Two/Three new ways to share your musical tastes with others:


MixWit has a totally fun way to make a little Mix Tape of your favorite tunes by searching for them from free-roaming online MP3s via Seeqpod or Skreemr, sequencing them in order and then picking a cute olde-skoole blank tape graphic to post on your blog or what-not.

Demo video here:


* The service provides access to whole tracks, so folks interested in your musical tastes can check out whole songs streamed from places all over the web.

* The Mix Tape graphic and play/pause/ff/rew (hover over) interface is super fun and appeals to old fart hipsters like myself.

* The ability to switch between Skreemr and Seeqpod as your MP3 search engines is great. My two go-to sources for digging out tracks online.

* You can go back and edit existing mixes which is necessary function when you realize that you suddenly hate a song.


* The music selection is at the mercy of whatever regular folks/criminals have posted online.

* Some songs may disappear from old locations on teh intarwebs (thank you old Porchsleeper songs) leaving holes in your mix.


ThisIsMyJam uses some alien Roswell technology (via The EchoNest) which takes little bits from 30 second sound samples of songs available on Amazon and beat-matches (and even key-changes) them to make a little postage stamp mix of your favorite tunes. Now I've got a little graphic kind of like a "commercial" for songs that I've been into lately that people can tune in to to hear what My Jam is.


* The beat matching and key shifting makes for some fucking sweet transitions between songs. This is really well done. Check out the transition between "Waiting on a Friend" into "Oxford Comma" into "Breakable" into "The Only Living Boy in New York" to hear the real magic.

* The Amazon catalog is pretty deep and offers access to songs that aren't free roaming around the 'net.

* Drag and drop interface works well, although looking through long lists of song results involves many pushes of the "More" button.

* They offer "Similar Jams" by other people based on the songs in the your mix. As this service gets more popular I can see this becoming valuable, and on that note...

* The little "snapshots of songs" format works really well. I can listen to "Dudeman2000"s mix and get a little glimpse of some other tunes I should maybe check out, but not be barraged by an hour of music I'd likely be skipping through much of anyway.


* Song samples only. Not full tracks. This is fine for browsing peoples' tastes, but a drag if something comes on that you might be interested in.

* Indie stuff and demos that are available around online (like Great Lakes Myth Society's new "Brablec Farms") are not available here, but are available via the MixWit mix tape widget.

* As a "Jam" creator, there isn't any way to edit a Jam that you made yesterday. I talked with one of the dudes there and he said that function is high on their list of To Dos.

* You can't really log in to your I made a Jam from my PC upstairs, and when I tried to find it while on my laptop, I couldn't log in and find it again. Once logged in, you can log out, but not the other way around. See Vonnegut's Catch 22 for more information.

* Sometimes the graphics of the album covers gets "off" from the song that is currently playing. This may have something to do with scrolling on your mouse as the Jam is playing...I can't really pin it down, but it makes to tough to track which song you like and which one you hate. This is a potential pain if you want to click through to the Amazon page to buy that album.

* Their Embed code is jacked for Blogger, involving some manual editing to the code (adding an </embed> tag at the end).

* Once the mix is done playing, I can't figure out how to kickstart it again without refreshing the page.

* The graphic on this page exposes that I've been into the new Jack Johnson album to all the world, which I never thought I would be displaying so prominently. Such is life. The album is light, but enjoyable.


Jesus, man, what a crazy-ass futurama utopia we're living in. I can't wait to see what's around the corner. I'd love to see either of these (especially ThisIsMyJam) tied into my Last.FM account so it could automatically make these little Jams of my recently-listened-to tunes.

Late Addition Muxtape


A bro comments: "all the hip kids seem to be into this you actually get to upload your own songs to it."

Y'know, the Muxtape interface didn't really do anything for me.

I like the idea of being able to upload one or two tracks of my own music, but I dunno if I want to upload an entire MixTape's worth of music. The majority of these songs are out there and I feel as though I should be able to use that stuff instead of spending bandwidth pushing songs up to their servers.

Plus, sending a bunch of copyrighted music (that I own but don't own the rights to redistribute) up to a server that I have no control over (and they have my e-mail address) makes me a little skittish. If I upload an hour's worth of Beatles and Metallica tunes up to my Muxtape, am I going to have the RIAA and Lars and Yoko pounding on my door? That visual is too scary to be worth the risk.

To be honest, the real reason I didn't post about them is that the site made me feel stupid. Their servers were not responding properly for a while Sunday (or something) and I couldn't get any music to play back. The big problem that I had is that there was absolutely nothing on the site that said what to do.

I googled around and finally found that you were supposed to double-click on a song to get it to play. So I tried that, and nothing happened. The song percentage would flip up to 100% but no sound.

The thing that bugged me the most was that all of these sites are saying "It's so simple, it is a beautiful exercise in simplicity!" and I couldn't get the fucking thing to work. Made me feel like I was back in math class and everybody else was getting it while I was falling further behind.

Finally I found somebody who said "You gotta restart Firefox to get it to work" which I did and it was pretty simple. Still, there's no tutorial, no FAQ, no "troubleshooting" section...the whole thing made me feel as though I was missing something when it was really their fault.

For the record:

1. Sign in/register

2. Close Firefox/browser

3. Reopen Browser and go to somebody's Muxtape page.

4. When you double-click anywhere on the text of a song, there should be a gray percentage meter that climbs from 0% to 100%.

5. On the far right, large green numbers should start rolling to tell you how far into the song you are (the track time).

6. If you are just seeing a long gray bar on the right side, something is jacked. Try restarting your browser or try a different browser. (I think you must be logged in to hear anything, but again, there are no instructions on any of this.)

7. You can jump to the next song or to the previous song by using the right and left keyboard arrows, and you can pause it by clicking on the track that is playing.

8. UPDATE: Nope, I still can't figure this damned thing out. Sometimes you double click, sometimes it's a single click, sometimes it works in Firefox, sometimes only in IE. I can play my own song that I uploaded but right now I can't access other songs in Firefox. IE seems to work if I click a song three times. Bleh. Don't believe the hype.

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