I don’t know about you, but I love listening to mixed CDs. I love hearing what my friends are digging and what I might have missed. Even more than listening to them, I love to make them. I enjoy the whole process, the planning, the feelings. Making a mix is an extremely personal thing. Each one is created with a specific person in mind and to convey a particular idea. I want to give you tips to build a better mixtape. Follow these tips and you might find your mix CD still in heavy rotation in your crush/girlfriend/ex-girlfriend/roommate/camp friend/co-worker’s car for years to come (if cars still have CD players in the years to come).
Tip 1: The first track is the most crucial. It sets the tone for the whole mix. It has to have a hook big enough to catch Jaws (and captivate the listener). If you miss on the first track, you’ll probably miss on the whole mix.
Tip 1b: The last track is almost as important. It’s the resolution. You want to leave your listener with a feeling. The last track says it all.
Tip 2: Flow is key. A good mix ebbs and flows like the tide. It builds up and falls back down. All rise is good for the gym, but not so good for creating a listening experience. All fall is good for napping.
Tip 3: Be subtle when making a mix for your crush. There’s no better way to make things awkward than putting “I’ll Be” by Edwin McCain in the middle. Don’t lay it on too thick.
Tip 4: Make it timeless. Top 40 hits are ok, but why make a CD full of them when you could just turn on the radio? Don’t skip out on older songs just because they’re older. 1975 = 1987 = 2003 = 2012
Tip 5: Don’t try too hard. Make sure you’d enjoy listening to it. You aren’t trying to establish hipster cred with a mix CD. Just make it pleasant.
PROTIP: If you’re a songwriter (and you might be), sometimes it’s cool to write your own song for the mix. If it’s for a significant other don’t make the rest of the mix too awesome because he/she might continue playing it in his/her car after the relationship is over.
There you have it. The keys to the city. It’s up to you to use them.