Ongoing History of New Music

Ongoing History Daily: A brief history of mixtapes

Before the mid-60s, there was no such thing as personalized playlists, this idea that you could collect all your favourite songs in one place so you could listen back to all of them uninterrupted. The cassette—first introduced in 1963—is the thing that made this possible.

But it wasn’t really until the 1970s with the advent of proper cassette home audio equipment, boom boxes, and car stereos that cassettes were used to make mixtapes. This practice of home taping of songs from various sources really blew up after the summer of 1979 thanks to the introduction of the first Sony Walkman.

And while people were making homemade compilations for themselves or for objects of their affections, those into a new form of music called hip-hop started trading cassettes to promote their new mixes, beats, and rhymes. People still trade physical mixtapes today, but now we have streaming playlists, SoundCloud, and various shared files.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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One thought on “Ongoing History Daily: A brief history of mixtapes

  • I remember back in the 70’s when my Dad got his cassette deck for the home stereo (a massive wooden cabinet with radio and turntable built it). He would spend weeks making up the perfect mixed tapes for the long road trips that we used to do all summer from his large collection of records as well as borrowed records from my uncles.

    Mixed tapes definitely improved my early life thanks to Dad and that cassette deck.


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