David Gallagher looks at the transmutation of mix-tapes to mix-CDs in the NY Times:
- THREE or four times a week, Joshua Bernard opens his mailbox and finds a package sent to him by someone he has never met. Inside are homemade CD compilations of music that he often knows little about. The discs have featured big bands, death metal and even some Hawaiian music. The ukuleles did not scare him off.
"You know, it was great," said Mr. Bernard, a Web designer who lives near Boston. "I'm not going out to get the entire Don Ho box set or anything, but it was a refreshing exposure to music that I wouldn't necessarily go out and look for."
That kind of personal introduction to new sounds is a big part of the appeal of mix-CD swapping, an increasingly popular hobby that has spawned an online subculture. Mr. Bernard is the organizer of a typical group of swappers. It has 13 active members who are each assigned a month in which they are to send a mix to the rest of the group. The result is something like file sharing meets pirate radio, transmitted by the Postal Service.
Homemade mixes have long been a part of pop music culture. For many music fans past their college years, the mere sight of a mix on cassette tape can be enough to bring back memories of old crushes and road trips. But now the cassette is on its deathbed, CD burners are standard equipment on many PC's and hard drives are loaded with digital music files ready for burning. This may be the golden age of the mix CD.
....Joshua Benton, an education reporter for The Dallas Morning News, is a one-man mix factory. Members of Mr. Benton's CD Mix of the Month Club (crabwalk.com/cdmom) get a copy of his latest mix if they mail him one of their own. Those who send two copies of their mix get his mix and someone else's. In October, his busiest month since he started the club in December 2001, 150 people took part, sending Mr. Benton more music than he could process. Tastes are so idiosyncratic, he said, that each mix is "a carefully crafted window into a person."