• Pro-Tips: How to Make the Perfect Mixtape

    The mixtape has gone through a slew of changes. It used to come in the form of an actual cassette tape, then went to CD, and now that we’re in the digital world, can be anything from a thumb drive with tracks on it to a playlist on a streaming service. Whatever format your mixtape comes in, it’s always an exciting challenge to craft the perfect collection of tracks to give to someone. Here’s a list that can make that challenge a little easier, and earn you major props.
  • Know Your Audience!

    Look, mom probably isn’t going to be interested in listening to Kool G Rap or your favorite new death metal band. And maybe your 11-year-old cousin doesn’t quite understand the allure of D’Angelo’s smooth brand of R&B. So why force it? Know what your audience is into, and what they’re not. That way, you’ll be much better-equipped to deliver.
  • What’s It For?

    What’s the purpose of your mixtape? Is it for a long road trip? Then maybe have a good mix of laid back and high-energy cuts. Is it for a close friend of yours that just got dumped? Time to delve into some heartfelt crooners. Or is it for a party? Let’s get that latest Diplo mix going. Whatever the reason, make sure you know why you’re making your mix, or else you might not have the right tracks for the job.
  • Pick A Theme

    Like albums, mixtapes should be cohesive. You’re better off making separate mixtapes for parties, chilling at the beach, or working out at the gym than trying to cram everything into one confusing mix. With every track you think about adding to your mix, think about what you’re trying to accomplish, what mood you’re trying to access, and then decide whether that song contributes or detracts from those goals.
  • Don’t Be Selfish!

    Remember, if you’re making a mixtape for someone else, it’s for someone else. Don’t shove your favorite artist down someone else’s throat, and don’t force them to listen to them while you sit nearby anxiously awaiting praise. Be considerate of the person you’re making the mixtape for — unless it’s yourself, then go nuts.
  • Kick Knowledge

    What’s the point in making a mixtape made up of songs that the recipient could’ve just chosen themselves? One of the best parts of making a mixtape is sharing your musical knowledge. Got a friend or family member who’s a huge jazz fan, but knows nothing about hip-hop? Try introducing them to A Tribe Called Quest, who undoubtedly sampled songs they know. Expand people’s horizons. If you’re lucky, they’ll return the favor.
  • Be Bold

    Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Worried that your friend might find the latest Blockhead album to be too abstract? Don’t be. You’d be surprised at how often a little shifting of the paradigm can earn you admiration. If they don’t like it, they can press the skip button. If they do, you’re a genius.
  • Switch It Up

    Cohesion, as mentioned before, is a plus, but you don’t want to venture into boredom. At some point, inject some energy into that five-song run of ballads, or slow down after a collection of EDM tracks — people need to catch their breath! They say variety is the spice of life, and it’s true, so no need to keep everything so constant!
  • Quality Control

    Just to be on the safe side, you could always make a 5,000-song playlist that ensures you’ve covered all your bases, but what’s the point in that? Less is often more. Relegate your playlist to a cool 20 songs or less. There’s no need to throw in the kitchen sink  — and likely a lot of average music with it.
  • Sequencing, Sequencing, Sequencing

    No one wants to hear dubstep followed by slow jams followed by metal. Choose the order of your songs wisely. BPM, subject matter, melodies, and about two-dozen other considerations can come into play when deciding how to organize your mixtape. No matter your criteria, the order in which you place your songs can make or break the mixtape. Don’t be lazy and just dump the tracks you want in there; take the time to put them in the perfect order.
  • Leave Your Signature

    Even if you’re making the mixtape for another person, it should be a reflection of you. Your style, your taste, and your thoughts. The bottom line is this: if your friend can throw on a mixtape without knowing you made it, and after hearing it knows it was you, you’ve done your job. Making a personalized mixtape is what makes the experience different than just buying a bunch of songs and cramming them together.