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Mixed Blessings: The Commercial Mix and the Future of Music Aggregation

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This paper explores the appropriation of the trope of the mix tapes by commercial interests within the music industry for the purpose of selling music. I trace the phenomenon back to the rise of home mixing in the subsequent disaggregation of the single‐artist album as a result of digital distribution. I review several varieties of commercial mixes including personalized mixes, branded mixes, celebrity mixes, and user‐contributed mixes. While some of these products have been creatively packaged and sold, they have the potential to commodify mixing practices that consumers have enjoyed on an informal basis for decades. In the process, they transform home mixers into laborers on behalf of music labels and retailers, and they confine mixing to limited musical repertoires within proprietary digital formats.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: October 1, 2005


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