Creative Taxonomies: An Interview Of The Brainchildren Behind The MIXER App

You can find out more about Mixer here.

I first met the guys from MIXER about a year ago when they invited me to one of their infamous launch events at a private studio in Downtown Los Angeles. The gathering was a mixture of creatives and people within the art, fashion and music worlds - there was a definitively dynamic energy that didn't all feel like a bland networking party. In fact, the energy felt the same way as their app - an exclusive social and professional networking platform that allows people to connect in major cities, like New York and Paris. In today's social and political climate, the MIXER app is more important than ever. Why private? – As you'll learn in the below interview, the founders of the app didn't want the thirst for self promotion to get in the way of basic ambitions. It's a fascinating idea and the app is a must have tool if you want to enter any aesthetic industry. In the following interview, Autre chats with the guys behind mixer – about its place in the creative world and its goals for the future. 

AUTRE: I'm curious, where did the Mixer app idea come from initially? 

ANIS: The initial idea came up two years ago when our co-founder Alex Carapetis [drummer for Julian Casablancas & The Voidz] was touring in Europe. We were chatting and thought that as a musician, it would be perfect to be able to connect with other creatives in all those cities”. The idea came from there.

CODY: I was working on a project with our investor Ronald Winston that was focused around connecting people when I met Anis and soon everything meshed together.

AUTRE: Most apps are public, but Mixer is private - why is exclusivity important when it comes to connectivity? 

CODY: The initial idea between having a “private” network is to ensure that the app wouldn’t devolve into a platform driven primarily on self-promotion and brand building. We believe there needs to be a clear delineation between artists and enthusiasts. Eventually, we would like to broaden our base to help the inspiring creatives in their learning and discovery efforts – but for now, we are trying to provide a space for artists to connect with one another without the sometimes coercive effects that come with trying to broaden one’s fan base or following.

AUTRE: You can create a social app, but how do you connect it to all the creative people out there that would benefit from it?

CODY: I think what you are asking is essentially “how do we grow the network?” after building the app. The best growth tool is providing actual value to the user and from those successes, word spreads through a number of different of channels – whether that’s press, or word-of-mouth, or some other means.

AUTRE: Before the app was released, were there any downsides found in other social apps that you wanted to avoid with Mixer?

CODY: We found that there was not something that directly solved the problem of our target users. Instagram was a great way to curate your creative content, put your ideal self out to your fans and peers, and ultimately build your personal brand. We wanted something that was solely focused on artist-to-artist interactions. We want to extend the moments shared on social media into multimedia projects. We wanted to give members the quickest way to find other creatives they are interested in potentially working with through a focused community, efficient interface, and context-driven profiles.

ANIS: Looking at the landscape of social networks these days; you have broad platforms such as Instagram and LinkedIn that are not purposely built for creative networking. Then you have narrow verticals such as Behance for graphic designers, Soundcloud for musicians, 500pixels for photographers, etc. These platforms are utilized to broadcast your work as a creative instead of connecting with other creatives that may represent an interest to you. In our case, we wanted to englobe all these different verticals in the creative industries – arts, fashion, film, and music – because we truly believe that they are all connected. And we wanted to focus on “connecting” rather than “following”. 

AUTRE: You throw some great parties and release events for the app, what makes a perfect party?

ANIS: Hah, thank you! To me, it comes down to a cool and small spot, a private concert performed by a good musician who can then come and hang with his public, and obviously a fun crowd. Oh and also Alex on the drums.

AUTRE: What do you hope people find when they download the Mixer app? 

CODY: We hope that they ultimately at least make one real connection or make move forward at least one unique opportunity that they might not have had anywhere else. Ultimately, Mixer is currently not about maintaining your currently relationships, it’s about finding new ones. We are a discovery platform.

ANIS: What I personally hope: having people discover good creatives in the platform and end up connecting and working with them. What I personally hate and want to avoid: people who use it to exclusively connect with celebrities.

AUTRE: Instagram is basically a social connector app, how does Mixer differ?

CODY: Instagram is the greatest visual content platform ever created. You cannot share moments of your life and work with as much ease anywhere else. Instagram has to build a platform for the entire world – we are going for a much more targeted audience, which gives us some flexibility in building the product. We give our members access to a vetted community – we allow them to build out their projects or put more information about their work that Instagram really isn’t tailored for. We are allowing members to put up listings where others can indicate that they are interested – which works much more efficiently than screenshotting your Notes app and putting out a call to your followers.

ANIS: I would also add that Instagram is more of a broadcasting tool rather than a networking tool.

AUTRE: Do you hear about amazing success stories from people connecting on Mixer?

ANIS: It’s hard to keep track of what happens after the connections. We definitely see photographers and short film directors connect with models and shoot them, and a lot of them thank us for allowing them to do so. When it comes to musicians, because the creative process is much longer, it is a bit early for us to find out whether the connections made so far have transformed into successful collaborations. But hopefully we will be able to tell soon.

AUTRE: A lot of the people on Mixer have a number of professions in different fields, like art and fashion, what is the biggest industry on Mixer by far? 

CODY: Right now, there isn’t really a “biggest industry” by far. The distribution of Art (art, photography & design), Music, Fashion, and Film is surprising equal. The content on our platform is a bit skewed because photographers and models post much more frequently.

AUTRE: What is your favorite feature on the Mixer app?

ANIS: I personally like the fact that you can research people based on city and occupation.

CODY: Yes, I think one of the most powerful features is the filtering system in our member discovery. We ask members to identify their “profession” in the application process and review their selections as we classify our members. Correct taxonomy and classification are very important when you are trying to find exactly who you are looking for.

AUTRE: A lot of creatives live in major cities, do you extend Mixer as a tool for people in more remote areas that may benefit from connecting with creatives in culture capitals?

ANIS: We decided to focus at first on big cities such as NYC, LA, Paris and London, because those are indeed the biggest hubs for creatives. But a network effect will definitely get creatives from smaller cities to sign up and be able to network and collaborate with people all over the world, simply through their phones.

AUTRE: What is the criteria for getting an invite to Mixer?

ANIS: Anyone can refer his/her friends, and anyone can sign up, even un-referred. But in order to be approved, you need to be able to qualify through your work in the arts, fashion, film, or music industries. When we look you up, we need to see some references on you. And being referred by an existing user also helps a lot.

AUTRE: What's next for Mixer?  

CODY: We are focusing on helping members easily finding opportunities for collaboration and connect with one another. This means helping members easily create (and add to) their portfolios from information they have spread across the web and social accounts, we are always working to make finding the person with a specific skill set and vision that you are looking for.

ANIS: Product-wise, we’re adding a jobs section pretty soon, where companies and creatives will be able to post detailed job listings and recruit other creatives. Growth-wise, while still growing in the cities we are present in, we would like to start hitting other European capitals like Berlin and Milan in a very near future.

 photograph by Jason Sheldon. text and interview by Oliver Kupper. Follow Autre on Instagram: @AUTREMAGAZINE