Idea Du Jour: A Mixtape Conversion Service

A couple months ago I ran two quick polls about mix tapes. I asked because I had an idea for a related web-based service. I won’t get around to creating it, so I figured I’d send it out into the universe.

It’s a simple concept. Your mix tapes are beloved artifacts of our youth. As we get older, they decay and we lose the ability to easily listen to them.

You sign up for my service, and we send you a prepaid mailing box. You put your mix tapes in a box, and send them off. They go to India or China, where each mix tape is converted in MP3 files. Importantly, you can get the files in a variation of forms:

  • Each side of the mix tape as a single MP3 file, retaining the organization of the songs, and any between-song commentary.
  • Individual MP3 files
  • A CD

The service doesn’t replace the recordings with ‘clean’, digital recordings of the songs. It just converts the version you own to an audio file. I think this is important, as the crappy recordings, pops and scratches are part of nostalgic remembrance of the mix tape.

The service also scans the cassette sleeve, and sends you a high-res version of that. Plus, of course, you get all your original cassettes back.

There are probably lots of audio conversion services out there, but I’d position this one specifically (and only) for mix tapes.

I actually think there’s a market for this–it could become a sort of hobby business for somebody. My ad hoc survey found that 64% of respondents owned at least one mix tape, and 56% of those said they were ‘precious momentos’. That’s radically insufficient as market research, but an encouraging result nonetheless. What do you think?

I was reminded about this idea by the lovely Cassette from my Ex, which I just discovered. Totally subscribed. And I’m going to submit one, when I get the chance.

It’d be appropriate to end with a mix tape of my own. The following is a few songs from, to my memory, one of the first mix tapes I ever made. The source? My father’s extensive (and rocking) record collection.


  1. Andrea: Probably, though it’d be one of many such businesses that dwell in an ignored copyright grey area. An example that immediately springs to mind are all of the music editors for gymnasts, figure skaters and dressage events. They’re technically not allowed to edit or redistribute music, but the RIAA isn’t exactly hunting them down.

  2. Thought about it. Still don’t think it’s gonna fly.

    Assuming the music is somewhat well known, what’s stopping people from just buying new mp3s of the same songs off iTunes and creating a playlist from that?

    Or, if they really care about getting the scratchy tape quality, they could just plug their stereo/boombox output into their computer soundcard input and record that way, and scan their tape cover on their scanner. You can even get inexpensive equipment to record cassette to mp3, like so:

    I dunno, I would think there’d need to be something extra to make this service appealing. And, really, though people keep old mixtapes as mementos, how often are they playing them? I bet some of these people don’t even have a tape player anymore.

  3. This would be really cool for me. Somewhere (!) I have tapes of my last few radio broadcasts from my college radio station. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to change them into another format?

    I’d use this service if it wasn’t too expensive…and available over here.

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