5 tips to make a great mixtape

It’s a drag when you swap mixtapes and you get one that’s much stronger than the one you sent. So here’s a few tips to ensure someone will be happy the tape they receive.

1. Theme
One of the main attributes that can turn a mixtape into a great mixtape is assigning a theme to it. The more precise, the better. There’s nothing more irritating than getting something called “Rock Mix” with purely American rock music. If you create a concept mixtape about Octopus’ that sing on beaches, then it would make an interesting tape given that you can find the songs. So choose your subject wisely and something that the other is sure to enjoy. You can also make it into a story with the lyrics.

2. Song Order
This is something often overlooked when making a mixtape. Make sure the songs flow into each other nicely and aren’t harsh on the ears. Songs that open with a single instrument and an accumulation of other instruments will often make great first tracks. Keep lyrics in mind as well as sound. Silver Jews open their Tanglewood Numbers album with the line “Hello, my friends”. Awesome, no? Fade-outs can make great finale tracks too, just make sure it really does work. Keep in mind you can use any samples of anything (movies, your own recordings, song clips, etc…) throughout the tape to add interest.

3. Flawless Recording
Use a program like Audacity (Download: Win / Mac / Linux) for mixing the songs together. You can fade the songs together if track selection gets tight near the end, you just have to watch for colliding drumbeats. From here, plug your computer output (microphone or line out) into your amplifier, tape recorder, or other recording device) and ensure you’re recording it at 50% volume, so it’s not too loud or quiet and gives the listener the volume control.

4. Artwork
Make it heartwork. Ensure the packaging is superbe and they get a good first impression. Make it attention-grabbing enough so they’re still observing the casing while listening to the album.

Spraypaint is a great solution for a base color. Use tape to make different designs. Just ensure that you don't paint over the film

5. Delivery
The #1 problem that arises with the mixtape process is people procrastinating and not delivering it in time. Be aware of where you’re sending it to and how long it’s going to take, especially if it’s international. Pay more for faster delivery if you have to, people want to hear their mixtapes!

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Robin Bastien
Howdy! I'd the head of Ocular Harmony. I spend most of my time designing, reading beatnick literature, and pounding sound waves of experimental pulsation into my brain's frontal lobes. Contact me if you have any questions!

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