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I had such a blast making gifts this year, I'm going to do this every year! Unemployment has a way of juicing the creativity.

The gift I had most fun making is a modern take on the "mix tape." Who doesn't love mix tapes?!

I made these all the time. They are always a winning gift for countless reasons:

A) Sharing is good. Sharing music is better.
B) YOU create the 'album cover'.
C) Option to add personal notes, pics etc.
D) It's completely personalized.
E) You get a groovy new mix out of it!
and F) Mix tapes are cool.

Need: Music selection, ability to record music (doi), bits of scrap (ie. stickers, mag clippings, pics, fabric), scissors, some sort of adhesive, blank write-able discs...you get the picture.

Cost to me? About a buck.

Step 1: Play DJ

Ok, here's where the essence of what it is to master a mix tape is. The ultimate mix will be a blend of songs that you know the person likes; perhaps they mean something to the both of you? However, you want to introduce them to new music. This is key.

Are you of the itunes generation? This is comprable to exchanging music via 'mix tape'. DO NOT, I repeat, do NOT throw a mix together absentmindedly. It is not worth anyone's time nor ears.

Ok, so compile your list. I fancy itunes.

I recommend listening to your mix thoroughly before burning. Make sure the transitions are cool. Lead in and ending are apropos. You want this mix to be listened to!

Step 2: Cover Art, Baby

Be creative. That's all I gotta say. I wanted a piecemeal, urban sort of look. So I went with a stripclub article in the Seattle Times. I'm not sure why it drew me in, it just did.

OK. Cut to size. Don't forget the back of the CD cover (if you're using a cover; you can do sleeves too).

Step 3: Mixed Media

I cut a few layers of the paper and glued it together to thicken the 'cover'. Waited to dry and flatten, and then did a thin wash of light blue paint on the front.

Meanwhile, the disc is burning.

Yay, multi-tasking!

Step 4: Bits & Pieces

You can add anything to the album, so grab anything. I took a picture of this guy's shirt at a local bar the other night cause I thought it was cool. (Thanks, Joe!) Cropped the t-image I wanted to use.

And viola, radical image to paste on the cover.

Step 5: Song Scribbles

It's up to you if you want to include the song details. I am a fan. I like to know what I'm listening to!

I wrote the song list with artists with a regular ink pen.

This mix is for my bro, who is in his car a lot, so I had him cruising around in mind when I pulled the songs together.

The selection I hand-picked goes as follows:

Pacifics - Digable Planets
Rainfall - Nitin Sawnhey
Laughter - Josh Rouse
De Cara a la Pared - Lhasa de Sela
Be Thankful For What You Got - Massive Attack
Arrest Yourself - Hot Chip
Love Yourself - Blue Six
Honey (Only Child Dub) - Tosca vs. Only Child
Starlovers - Gus Gus
August Day Song - Bebel Gilberto
Sunny Road - Emiliana Torrini
Closing In - Imogen Heap
Serenade - Emiliana Torrini
Hoppipola - Sigur Ros

Step 6: Personalize, Personalize, Personalize

Ok, the disc is probably done. Listen to it to make sure the recording went smoothly.

Label the disc so your listener can easily identify his/her slammin' new mix. I like to use images, so I used an old sticker. No need to write anything on the disc.

I printed photos I took this past year to paste on the inside of the cover, and added a personal note.

Your personal touch is priceless.

Have fun!

I like what you did with the cover its got a nice patchwork to it. But how exactly is this remastered? I think I missed something
I like how you talked early on about making it good to listen to, including the transitions, lead-ins, etc. Good idea. And sweet-looking final product! Do you know of www.threadbanger.com?
It's a rather difficult question to which extent this is legal. If you keep the songs on your harddrive, the CD is considered a copy. If you give the CD to someone else, you might break the law in some countries because you effectively pirated music (in some countries this is allowed however). I don't think it's wrong, just wanted to remark that you should check if it's legal in your country ;)
Stay unemployed as long as you can. Once you get a job its all downhill from there. Trust me on this one. Unemployment is grand.
Isn't it though? I am afraid my glorious days of unemployment will be soon over. I start a job next week. :P But the cashflow needs to be moving in the other direction anyway. Thanks for the tip. :)
iTunes will work <em>alright</em> but if you want something real tight it is worth getting some audio editing software like <a rel="nofollow" href="http://audacity.sourceforge.net/">audacity</a> (free) or I especially like <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.sonymediasoftware.com/Products/ShowProduct.asp?PID=963">Sony's CD Architect</a> (free trial, not free). This way you can fade out or remove entirely a self indulgent bit of rambling at the end of an artist's track or hell even an entire verse. I remember I took out the entire rant part of Denis Leary's Asshole song for one mix just because it is such a mental break in the flow. CD Architect is real nice because you can blend two songs VERY easily with custom fade-in/outs and set exactly where you want the track to change in the mix. <br/><br/>Another tip is to try and use <a rel="nofollow" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lossless">lossless</a> files for mixes instead of just going through all your mp3's try and rerip a single lossless copy of a song if you want to use it on your mix. If you recipiant has any kind of good sound system it will make a difference. I don't know how easy this is in iTunes either, I use <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.exactaudiocopy.de/">EAC</a><br/><br/>You might also want to think about the possibilities of <a rel="nofollow" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beatmatching">beatmatching</a><br/>
thanks for the info and tips, teeps. i use audacity for recording tunes (guit and vox), but hadn't thought of using it for mixes. it sounds like you're the master mix master. i have not tackled beatmatching just yet!
yay threadless!
digable planets nice!
sigur ros. awesome.
good stuff! i missed their show last spring. i was not so pleased.
I like the cover dude that rox
merci buckets. :) i was rather pleased with the end product.

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