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Metallic Paper

metallic paperLet me tell you something about the art of making a mixtape: it is an important thing to understand, and it is even more important to be able to interpret this. While it is true that most of the time you will receive a mix-cd, the concept first existed with recordable tapes, so from this point on the term “mixtape” will simply encompass all of those things. We will cover picking tracks, ordering tracks, and even whether or not to cover the final product with metallic paper. When you are creating the tape there is a lot to consider about what to put on it.

First, you need to decide if you are going to put songs that you like on it, or songs that the person you are making the tape for will like. Either of these are fine, but the distinction needs to be made. Obviously, a tape about yourself is fine because it will show your new friend what you are all about, or it can showcase your tastes to a person who is also well-versed in killer underground music. However, the tape full of songs that the recipient might like is a very sweet gesture. Not only is your plan to open their world to music that they are sure to love, but it will also let them know that you really understand their tastes–you have been paying attention to them.

Now that the choice has been made, the truly difficult part is at hand: picking out the songs and then painstakingly ordering them. There is no rhyme or reason that anyone else can give you to picking out songs, so just pick out every possible song that might work out, and just know that you are going to have to weed a lot of them out later. You need a lot of songs to choose from though–which we will get into in a moment–so don’t be afraid to consider a lot of them. Now that you have your list of songs ready to be ordered, remember these factors: ends of songs must flow with the beginning of the next song, you either need to choose hills and valleys with song style, stick with one unique form, or bounce around in a seemingly random way, and finally you need to get the dynamics and excitement right.

This album needs to start off with a bang, but then you have to step it up another notch. Be sure to actually take it down slightly for the third track–you don’t want to spend all your best stuff too soon. There are a lot of rules for making a great mixtape, but with a little of timing and practice you will be able to create something that the recipient can really benefit from. The final step is also important: packaging. Whether you wrap the whole thing up in metallic paper or just scribble on a CD-R with a marker, you are conveying a message.

The metallic paper says, “Hey, I spent a lot of time on this, so please give it a close listen.” More minimal wrapping says, “Oh, I barely spent any time on this, and now you will be even more impressed when it totally blows your mind.” No matter the route you decide to take, the person knows that you made them this mixtape, so on some level you can’t trick them into thinking that you didn’t try at least a little bit. Just go all out and let them know that you tried your best. Give them a mixtape with some original packaging (it doesn’t have to be metallic paper) and watch their excitement grow.

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