To many children of the Apple Age, “mixtape” is more likely to mean “a free Internet rap album” than it is “John Cusack being pedantic in High Fidelity.” Prior to music’s digitalization, a mixtape signified not only care and love for a friend but also access to music that she or he wouldn’t otherwise have. This was how tastemakers made taste. Now, it’s something different.
With its hold on the world music market stronger than ever, Apple is looking to capitalize on nostalgia while mobilizing its expanding user base as a social recommendation engine. According to AppleInsider, the tech giant has filed a patent for “[Digital Mixed Tapes](http://appft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.html&r=1&p=1&f=G&l=50&d=PG01&S1=(707%2F752.CCLS.+AND+20150806.PD.).” With “Digital Mixed Tapes,” users could create their own curated playlists for friends and include personal messages, photos, videos, and metadata rules (for instance: No skipping tracks).
The revamped mixtape is perhaps more heartwarming than it is promising. Apple Music offers curated playlists already, as well as its Beats 1 radio programming. Who would want to listen to his/her friend’s mix when recommendations from experts and celebrities are readily available? And who can’t figure out how to send links to cool songs. As the concept of the album struggles to remain relevant, it’s weird for Apple to get into the personalized album game. Weird, but kinda cool.
Apple’s planned “Digital Mixed Tapes” will probably earn some middle schoolers their first kiss, but for those of us who prize efficiency over life’s joys, it’s not a feature that’s likely to stick. And that’s okay as long as they pony up the money for the Cusack billboards.