I received a promo CD in the mail the other day. This is not an unusual occurrence, but this CD was different. It was a professionally packaged mix CD. It was like an old skool mixtape, crafted by a human being who selected songs they knew I would like. It came from a UK company call Mixpixie who has a very interesting business model in a world where competition to sell music is fierce. When a user goes to the Mixpixie site they can pick a CD packaging design, add text, upload photos and pick songs to create their very own mix CD. The company then burns the CD and packages it in a professional Digipak CD case that is printed with your selected design. Pre-designed templates are available for all occasions including birthdays, holidays, parties, weddings, etc.
I think it's a great idea and believe the model can fit a specific niche very well. However, there were some significant sticking points for me.
The first is that packaging customization options are limited. Although you can upload a photo with some of the designs and add text, you are limited to using only Mixpixie templates, which will not be winning any graphic design awards. The canned templates may be good for the grandmother wanting to buy a custom birthday CD for granddad, but they need to offer a template that allows a user full control over the images printed on the Digipak. Creative people will find the templates frustratingly limited and not that exciting. Give people the choice to make their designs available for other users and you will soon have a database of CD sleeve designs that put the current selection to shame.
The second point of frustration was the amount of unavailable music. I understand that licensing rights take time, and this could change in the future, but during my testing there was a plethora of pretty standard artists not available. I selected 15 artists to test what was available and Mixipixie did not have any Queen, Rolling Stones, Tom Waits, U2, Wilco or Lady Gaga. They only had pre-Stevie Nicks Fleetwood Mac. But they did have the Steve Miler Band, Radiohead, the Velvet Underground, XTC, Pink Floyd, Miles Davis, Black Sabbath and Bob Dylan.
The third strike against Mixpixie is the pricing. This will be a hard business to make money in as they need to pay licensing fees for every song they sell, and they are offering a custom manufactured product. But the ten song CD I put together cost $27.39 after calculating the exchange rate and shipping. That is simply too high a price for a ten song mix CD, even with quality as high as what Mixpixie offers.
I hope companies like this can succeed, but at this point in time I don't see how.
Below are the songs Mixpixie put on my CD. So one thing is certain. They have great taste!
A Mixpixie Playlist And Review
1. White Rune - Iceage
2. Calgary - Bon Iver
3. The Other Shoe - f*cked Up
4. I Don't Want Love - The Antlers
5. Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt - We Are Scientists
6. MindKilla - Gang Gang Dance
7. Bedouin Dress - Fleet Foxes
Follow what Robert is listening to on Twitter.