I made a ton of mixtapes (yes, actual cassettes) when I was younger. Meticulously assembling a batch of songs was always way too much fun for me. Whether I was making a mix for a girl, for a friend, or for myself, I put some real thought and effort into those things. Pre-planning was key, because while you could certainly record and re-record on cassettes, it was time-consuming to make any major edits once the music was committed to tape. I usually had a plan of action before I went in, and I tried to stick with it, for better or for worse.
Nowadays, making a mix – or a playlist, if that’s your preferred terminology – is often more of a drag-and-drop affair, and you’re afforded a lot more control. I do love to wax nostalgic about mix tapes, but I definitely enjoy the freedom that comes with making mixes in iTunes. However, even with the ability to add, delete, and rearrange tracks to your heart’s content, that’s only the technical side. A computer can’t really help you with the actual content and how you present it.
That’s where we all have our favorite methods. And having your entire music library at your disposal is one thing, but what if you limit yourself to only one artist? How do you make a great mix of an artist with an ample catalog if, say, you were trying to get someone who’d never heard them before to take interest?
I always like to go chronological, because it just seems to make sense to start at the beginning. But what if you feel like their best stuff didn’t come about until their third LP, and you want to start the mix strong as an attention-grabber? Personally, I wouldn’t go that route, but I can see the reasoning behind it. What about B-sides and live tracks? Do you include ‘em for some variety (and to show your depth of knowledge on your subject), or do you go album-only to keep it simple?
Yes, these are nerdy questions, but they’re pertinent to us obsessive music fans. Plus, with CD Baby’s new MusicStore for Facebook, artists can now create an “Artist Mix” of their own tunes within the app. We’re curious how musicians think about ordering their mixes. What’s your method for making a great mix? If someone made a mix of your musical output, is there stuff you hope they would/wouldn’t include?
Let us know in the comments section below.
-Brad at CD Baby