So, you want to create your very own mixtape and you aren’t sure where to start. Well, by the end of this guide, you will have a great idea of how to go about this fun task. First, you will need to decide if you want to create your own music or make a tape of songs that already exist. Then, if you are making your own music, you’ll need to find your sound. Next, try to think about the concept or purpose of your mixtape. This will help you to create a cohesive final product. Lastly, you can make the mixtape even more personal by creating a physical CD with art or uploading it onto a digital platform with digital album art.
Creating Your Own Mixtape
The act of creating your very own mixtape is a labor of love and a great way to express something that words alone cannot achieve. Perhaps you are trying to plan a romantic evening, or else you want to give a unique and thoughtful present to someone. A mixtape can reflect your feelings or set the perfect mood, and it will be totally unique to you and your situation.
Writing your own music is one approach to making a unique mixtape. The other option is to create a meaningful playlist of songs that already exist. Perhaps these are songs that mean a lot to you and your partner or songs that celebrate birthdays, for instance. Of course, you can mix in songs that you have written with pre-existing music. If you are writing music for the mixtape, you will need to find your sound.
Find Your Sound
When you are making music, one of the first and most important things you will need to do is to identify your sound. Are you going for an electronic 80’s sound or a more modern, clean, bassy sound? Knowing this will make all the difference to the final cut of the song. The post-production editing can only be done to perfection if you and the studio team know what the end goal is. This is where reference tracks come in handy.
A reference track is a song you love that has the same sound you are going for. The reference tracks used as a comparison tool in your studio will inform you as you create the song and afterward while it is edited. So, make sure your reference track or tracks are a good reflection of what you are aiming for. If there is only part of a song or one aspect of a track that you would like to emulate, make sure that this is clear to every member of your studio team.
Choose reference tracks of the genre and era that you want to emulate. Make sure the tracks are of excellent quality and easy to listen to. Vitally, it has to be a song you love. Why would you choose a song that annoys you as your reference track? You won’t like the end result if you don’t like your reference song. Once you have a track to emulate, take inspiration from the melody and harmony or the overall vibe. Think about things you would do differently with the song, the structure, or the effects.
Come Up With a Concept
An important factor in creating a cohesive mixtape that tells a story or creates a mood is to find your concept. It does not matter if you are making your own music or creating the perfect playlist of other people’s songs, you need to know what you are trying to say. To help you find a theme or concept for the mixtape, think about what your message is. Is the vibe romantic, sexy, celebratory, mellow, mournful, or something else entirely?
Then, think of music that conjures your concept to mind. Are they all of the same genre or are they a diverse and disconnected mix? You will need to consider the genre, era, mood, instruments used, tone, and connotations associated with your songs. This will help you to sort them into a cohesive and meaningful mixtape.
If you have songs that cover many different genres and moods, you might need to break them down into different mixtapes or find ways to bridge the gaps. Perhaps you can re-record some songs, or edit them differently, to make them fit better. Or else, you can insert transition songs in between tracks.
Create Album Art
Over the recent course of music history, there have been many trends when it comes to album art. Some famous album covers are photographs of things unrelated to the band, like the Nirvana album Nevermind. Meanwhile, others are graphics designed specifically for the album, like Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. Yet more approaches include stylized images of artists, like the Beatles’ Revolver album, and portraits, like Lizzo’s Special album.
What’s more, many album covers use bold lettering, unusual fonts, or unique color combinations to stand out, such as the Sex Pistols’ Never Mind the Bollocks album or The Clash’s London Calling. Creating album art with the name of your mixtape or the name of the person for whom it was made is a nice touch.
You can make album art for a physical CD or cassette of your mixtape, or go digital by creating an image that shows when the music is played on a device.
Now that you have considered your sound and mixtape concept, you should be ready to start putting together the perfect tape for your purposes. Whether this mixtape is for you or a present for a loved one, it will need to have some sort of clear purpose. When you know what you are saying with your music, it will be easier to come up with a cohesive and meaningful mixtape. If you are writing your own songs, you can use reference tracks to find your sound and get inspired. If you are using other people’s music, make sure you have a clear message. And lastly, you can make your mixtape even more personal with album art. Have fun creating!