Interview with Muxtape CEO Justin Ouellette

    February 4, 2009
    Chris Crum

Muxtape has been known in the past as a place where music lovers could create their own playlists of songs and share them with others like an old school mix-tape. Last summer, it was shut down after legal issues with the RIAA.

Now Muxtape is back with a new plan, and that is to be a place where artists can set up profiles and get some exposure (and of course, listeners can still create mixes). It has not yet launched outside of a limited testing group, but the full launch will be here soon enough.

I shot Muxtape CEO Justin Ouellette an email with some questions that he was kind enough to answer, and the following is the result of that exchange.

Chris Crum: The Old Muxtape was pretty popular. How are old fans responding to the new incarnation?

Justin OuelletteJustin Ouellette: The reaction has been mostly positive, but there’s been plenty of grumbling, too.  The new Muxtape was never intended to fill the void of the old because nothing really can. Rebuilding the site as a crippled, lame version of its former self would’ve been worse than just shutting down. Instead, we’re trying something related but also much different, with a different audience than previously intended. The new site is for bands. Bands were a very small subset of the original Muxtape usership, but I think those users are very important and the ones most excited about the new incarnation.

CC: Do you think there is a great enough thirst for discovering new music to drive as much traffic to Muxtape as what it was getting in the past?

JO: The thirst for the new never changes, especially with music. It’s never been about traffic, but I believe the new Muxtape will far outgrow the old. We’re digging in for a much longer run.

CC: If you don’t mind sharing, what kind of pageviews was Muxtape getting before shutting down?

JO: About a million per month.

CC: What makes Muxtape a more attractive promotional tool for artists over other sites like MySpace for example?

JO: Muxtape has substance and class in a way that MySpace is completely lacking.  We’ll never blight our artist profiles with advertisements or ugly, inconsistent user interface elements.  If MySpace is like wading through a cesspool, Muxtape is like gliding through the crystal waters of a natural mountain spring. Besides just being aesthetically better, we’ll have far more options for digital distribution and merchandizing, and better control over how music is used across the site and with our partners.  We’re also building an API as we develop the rest of the system, which will make the potential for expansion almost limitless.

CC: Is there a monetization model for Muxtape?

JO: Our business model is centered on providing elevated levels of service. The core version will always be free, but there will be premium features available to paying members on an à la carte basis.

CC: When do you intend to let artists start freely signing up for Muxtape?

JO: The plan is to grow the site initially through an invitational system in the Spring, with free signups happening sometime after that.

CC: How easy will it be for a no-name band to set themselves up on Muxtape? What are the steps?

JO: Extremely easy.  The steps are to create an account and then upload music.  No customization is required, but there’s a lot of possibilities.

CC: Do you anticipate many well-known artists getting on board or is it going to be pretty much just under-the-radar performers?

JO: There’s already well-known artists on the site.  Like MySpace, Muxtape will have a complete spectrum of notoriety, from kids in a basement to major label acts.

CC: What kind of plans do you have (if any) for expanding upon Muxtape’s concept as it stands currently. More features?

JO: The concept won’t change, but we have yet to reveal a complete list of features. The system is modular and we can add to it very easily. That said, we’re very serious about preventing bloat. We’ll only add things as it makes sense.

And there you have it. I would like to thank Justin for taking the time to answer these questions, and sharing some of Muxtape’s future plans with us. Look for the site to fully launch later this year.