Tape decks have gone the way of the in-dash eight-track, but the enduring appeal of the carefully composed, old-school mixtape made Muxtape a huge Web hit early in 2008. The make-your-own-online-mix site drew over 97,000 users and 1.2 million unique visitors in its first month online, and among its hosted mixes were some truly dazzling displays of music-dork virtuosity. Then, while Muxtape founder Justin Ouellette was negotiating licensing deals with major labels, a complaint from the RIAA to his server company - accusing him of violating licenses by hosting songs - knocked the site offline.
In a long note to Muxtape users that Ouellette posted online, he mentioned that he never did get a clear reading from lawyers on whether his site was legal or not. "In the end," Ouellette wrote, "Muxtape's legality was moot. I didn't have any money to defend against a lawsuit, just or not." But Muxtape is very much alive - it has recently resurfaced, in a beta version, as an artist-powered venue for musicians to promote themselves. "Every artist I heard from was a fan of the site and excited about its possibilities," Ouellette mentioned in his September 28 note. Now those very artists - among them indie-music big shots Girl Talk, Dan Deacon and Of Montreal - are making the new Muxtape possible.