Cassette tapes are gone but sharing music lives on — with a digital touch.

Story by Isabel Keane ’19 with additional reporting by Annie Renaud ’19

View our epic playlists created by WGSU DJs and students from 1960 to now.

The iconic image of John Cusack in “Say Anything” holding a boombox over his head to the music of Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” to win back his girlfriend, is an enduring honor to the power of the “mix tape.” 

In the 1980s and 1990s, people created mix tapes (with track titles written on the cassette case lines) to share music with friends, woo crushes and form bonds over new and favorite artists. 

Today, there are simpler methods to share music. Mixes are made online, usually through smartphone apps, which allow for easy sharing and even collaboration. Downloaded music is easily organized into playlists that can be texted to friends, or your romantic partner for road trips and date nights. 

“I really like making playlists because it helps set the mood for whatever you’re trying to do,” says Shelby Schmigel ’19, who has made playlists for significant others, parties and friends. “My sister and I used to collaborate and make my dad CDs for his birthday or Father’s Day that he could listen to in the car. We’d include some of his favorite songs, and add audio from movie clips, so he would hear it and laugh at it. We would often add our voices saying, ‘Hey dad, we love you.’” 

On a road trip to Pittsburgh to see Taylor Swift perform, Schmigel and her friends made a compilation “of every single Taylor Swift song ever,” she said, and included songs by artists who were friends with Taylor. 

Myself ? 

My friend Maddie and I always listen to music when we are together, and have created a playlist for every possible occasion. I’ve made mix CDs and playlists for my dad for years, and he sends me music, too. The real gift is one of us sends the other a new artist to listen to. He is the reason I love The Cure, Pink Floyd, Hall and Oates, and the ’80s. I like to think I am the reason he has an affinity for current alternative and indie rock bands, but he just has great taste. 

We are of different generations, but music sharing is just as important.