The mix tape is coming back. Can music regain its heart in a new generation?


I was tidying out an old box the other day when my daughter found my old walkman and dictaphone. “What’s that?” she asked. Together we opened up the tool that had been shoved away recklessly sometime about ten years ago, still with a tape and batteries in it. She held up the tape and I revelled in giving her a history lesson. In fact, I positively enjoyed reminiscing. Remembering the old mix tapes of our youth was so much fun.

And it is all coming back today because it looks like Apple is going to bring it all back. Apple filed a patent application on Thursday for a new feature in Apple Music to allow users to gift “personalised albums” to others. That is, MIX TAPES are coming back by the sound of it. At some point in the future, people will know the special moment of having a loved one hand you a tape full of songs they specially picked out for a listening experience, full of love and emotion.

Amazing to think that music can go a full circle in just twenty years. Everyone here will remember the wonderful days of mix tapes. The editor of Rolling Stone, Rob Sheffield once wrote a book about the emotion of the mix tape called “Love is a Mix Tape”. He speaks of the era with passion.

“The times you lived through, the people you shared those times with — nothing brings it all to life like an old mix tape. It does a better job of storing up memories than actual brain tissue can do. Every mix tape tells a story. Put them together, and they can add up to the story of a life.”

According to Mashable, Apple’s patent application notes that this personal connection has been somewhat lost in the move to a digital world for music consumption. The new feature would allow users to send mixed-media “personalised” albums as a gift, complete with an accompanying note.

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Users will even be able to specify if they want the full track-list revealed to the receiver upon receipt, or if they want it to remain hidden until each track is played, just like on an old cassette.

Sounds amazing doesn’t it! With only the patent application to go on, it is an exciting idea and one that will make all of us who knew and loved mix tapes a big smile today. We can but wait and see if Apple can reconnect people’s hearts to their playlists!

What is the most memorable mix tape you ever had? Or a memory of being given one.