Muxtape, which vanished from the Web a month ago, is back and relaunching as an exclusive service for bands, said its founder. Justin Ouellette told of Muxtape's demise and rebirth in a letter posted to his Web site.
Bands will be allowed to upload their music and offer an embeddable player that works anywhere on the Web. Bands, according to Ouellette, will be able to assemble a profile that includes calendar, photos and comments, downloads and sales.
"The system has been built from the ground up to be extended indefinitely and is wrapped in a template system that will be open to CSS designers," he said. The service is in beta and is expected to change soon.
How the Music Stopped
The original Muxtape, a tool for uploading and sharing mixes, had nearly 9,000 registered users in its first 24 hours, 97,748 in its first month, and eventually 1.2 million unique visitors, according to Ouellette, before it was taken down by Amazon Web Services, which hosts Muxtape's servers and files.
Muxtape like Kazaa, a peer-to-peer file-sharing company, was being questioned by the Record Industry Association of America for online piracy of six specific muxtapes. "An RIAA notice arrived in triplicate, via e-mail, registered mail, and FedEx overnight," Ouellette said.
Ouellette said he complied with RIAA's request and took the tapes offline. What he didn't know was that the RIAA had also asked Amazon to stop hosting Muxtape's servers and files.
Simultaneously, however, Ouellette said he was in the midst of securing a licensing deal with EMI when Amazon said, per RIAA's request, that they would be shutting him down. Neither the RIAA nor Ouellette responded to requests for interviews before publication time.
Pause or Hit Play
Despite Ouellette's efforts to stop Amazon from shutting down the servers, Muxtape was gone. Ouellette, who was still negotiating with EMI, thought it was all a mistake since he had done what RIAA had asked, but he was wrong.
The music lover learned that his understanding with RIAA did not cross over to the labels and they were not going to work with him. "The deals were still weeks or months away, meaning that, at best, Muxtape was going to be down until the end of the year," he said.
Ouellette reached his crossroads and made a decision to walk away from the licensing negotiations.
"They had become too complex for a site founded on simplicity, too restrictive and hostile to continue to innovate the way I wanted to," Ouellette said. "I didn't get into this to build a big company as fast as I could no matter what the cost; I got into this to make something simple and beautiful for people who love music, and I plan to continue doing that."
Ouellette hit play and is moving to his own tunes by taking a feature that was in development and making it the core of his new business.