Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Future of the Mix Tape

I just posted a poll at about the future of the mix tape.  I don't know what that future is, but I recently placed a small bet on it being jump drives.  I still don't really understand podcasts and haven't really comprehended their staying power.

From 1998 to 2013, I made 51 mix CDs (Nothing But Good Things #1 through Nothing But Good Things #50 with a special Nothing But Good Things 33 1/3 thrown in) which I shared with a small group of friends and fellow music lovers. I considered in 2013 switching to a spotify playlist, but decided instead to keep up the spotify playlist in parallel with making the occasional physical Nothing But Good Things mix.  Nothing But Good Things #52 was a mix CD, but it may have been my last. Nothing But Good Things #53 and #54 were mixes I put on a jump drive. I included two notes with the mixes.

Note #1 on paper in the envelope:

There is a readme file on the jump drive.  You should read it. As an aside, without being redundant with what it says in the readme file, I'd like to say just a bit about the early 50s. I don't mean the early 50s of the NBGT series. I mean the early 1950s, but perhaps you'll pick up some foreshadowing or see the intended analogy to the NBGT series. Prior to the 50s, the 78rpm 10" was the dominant format, but then Columbia introduced their long-play 33-1/3 rpm and RCA countered with an "unbreakable" 45 rpm 7-inch. Columbia, in turn, came out with a 33-1/3 rpm 7-inch. There were many formats. Some won.Some lost. The format wars were pretty well settled by the mid-50s. Maybe the same will hold true for NBGT.

Note #2 in the readme file:

Whoaaaa!  What in the world?  NBGT on a jump drive?  On a flash drive?  On a memory stick?  I don't even know what you call these thingamajiggies, but I know it isn't a CD.  Yep, that's right.  In the 1990s NBGT pioneered the next step beyond the cassette mix tape, and now we're ready to say goodbye to the CD.  It could be the beginning of a new era, or it could just be a passing fad, but we've jumped (pun intended) on board with full-on NBGT branding.

So how does this work?  The idea here is that now you've got more choices.  Do you want to just load the songs into an iTunes playlist?  Do it.  Do you want to burn a CD?  Go ahead.  There are two folders, each with a set of songs the same length as a standard CD.  Do you have a new car with a USB port?  Just pop this in and the songs will play in the order intended (in theory anyway - I do not have a new car and could no test this).  NBGT 53 will play first followed by NBGT54.  Are you completely tired of new music but in need of a new jump drive?  Well, this will work for that too.  It's just a regular jump drive, so erase it if you like and start over, but spare my feelings and don't tell me that's what you did.

Note #3 (I'm back to the blog now)

I've said this before, but I think it's worth saying again.  I buy all the music I share, and I encourage those with whom I share it to buy things or support artists in other ways if they don't want more physical stuff.  The greatest appeal of the jump drive for me is the potential that it's the plug-and-play music listening option of the future.  I may be very wrong about that.  I'll be interested to revisit this post in about 3 years.


  1. Having been one of the recipients of this jump drive, I am an enthusiastic supporter thus far. The songs include some basic metadata (album, cover art) that was missing from prior NBGT mixes. It also works reliably, while some of the CD-Rs I got in the past choked on the last track or two or three. On the downside, while it is emblazoned with an NBGT logo, the fun artwork that accompanied the CDs has been lost. (While you could include artwork as a file on the jump drive, that wouldn't be the same).

    As for the bigger picture, I think portability ultimately trumps everything. Right now my family lives in a normal-sized house, but once my son has moved away, we may be looking at something much smaller, perhaps a large Victorian house that has been converted into a few condo units. When this happens I might let go of my record collection - hardly touched since the mid-1990s - for good. I've already sent most of my CDs to a warehouse in Madison, Wisconsin through

    As sites like Spotify continue to evolve, there may eventually be no point in even owning any music files at all, especially as itunes continues to get more baroque. But my collection is rather skewed toward the "long tail" of popularity, so I think there will always be a lot of music I would have no easy access to outside of my own collection.

  2. I didn't mean to post the above comment as anonymous!

  3. Agree - this jump drive format works for me in so many ways, but sad to see the artwork go - maybe there is / will be some way to add artwork to the digi files?
    Many thanks - should we send back the jump drives for refilling?