It’s finally come to this: The first straight-to-Spotify Stereogum Monthly Mix. It’s the end of an era, and I’m a little sad about it! But it’s a necessity in 2013, and one that will serve this feature well. In theory, over the past three years, this mixtape has functioned to spotlight and memorialize the month’s best music in downloadable form. Of course some high-flying artists never deigned to release their big singles for free, which is fair and also didn’t prevent these mixtapes from being robust and full of top-shelf gems. Increasingly, however, bands of all stripes are sharing their songs via streamable platforms like Soundcloud and Youtube and skipping the promo MP3 process entirely. (I can’t even remember the last time we embedded a TopSpin widget.) This makes good sense for artists, of course, in an increasingly stream/cloud-based listening landscape; why set a file free, unconditionally, to an increasingly stream-friendly listenership when you can receive at least something in return for the transaction (Soundcloud/Youtube playcounts, at least, if not a landing page with links and important credit listings, etc.).
What this has meant for ye olde Monthly Mix, though, is a change in function — shifting from the “best songs of the month” to “the most passable MP3s of the month” — which has finally required this change in form. Call it a course correction.