Mixtapes have been a staple for most DJ’s for the past two decades. Even before the digital age, creating literal tapes featuring blends of music was a common practice of DJ’s, rappers, and producers alike. Now, the meaning of “mixtape” has shifted to accommodate digitally produced and mixed compilations, however the concept has not been lost.
If you’re paying attention to the world of electronic music, you’ve probably seen your favourite DJ’s, producers, and even bands post their mixtapes on audio hosts like Soundcloud, Mixcloud, and Mixcrate.
For any aspiring DJ, learning how to make a good mixtape is a recommended because it allows your listeners to get a feel for your personal tastes. It’s also a great way to debut a new track and share previews of what you’ve been working on. Check out our tips for how to make a good mixtape below.
If you’re wondering how to make a good mixtape, take a look at some of your favourite artist’s mixes and you’ll notice they each have a specific style or theme that brings the entire piece together. This doesn’t mean you need to stick to one genre, rather you should decide what kind of vibe or message you want to get across to your listeners.
Some DJ’s make mixtapes and release them in separate volumes or in a series. Often they will be themed to coincide with a time of year, a season, or something else in line with the artist’s branding. Regardless of how you tie your mix together, make sure you have set a style to aim for. This will help you focus a lot easier in the creation of your mix.
There are a lot of DJ’s and producers out there making mixtapes these days, especially with the growing accessibility to digital workspaces and the desire to be a DJ. Be creative! You want your mixtape to stand out. If it sounds just like everything else that’s already been done, the chances of anyone listening to it will be far lower.
Don’t be afraid to take risks and take your listeners on a journey with your mixtape. Start at one genre and end at a completely contrasting one. Or, blend things together that most people wouldn’t think to blend. Be careful not to fall into wishful thinking, though, and force things together that don’t sound good. Use your ears, and when you’re uncertain, double check yourself with programs like Mixed In Key to make sure your mix sounds good harmonically.
Last but certainly not least, if you’re wondering how to make a good mixtape you need to learn how to produce well. Mixtapes are generally thought to be easier to make than an original song, but this isn’t always the case. There are a lot of sloppy mixtapes floating around that nobody is listening to, and there is a reason for that.
Work to tighten your production skills so that your mix features flawless transitions with a smooth sailing ride from start to finish. Remember not to slack on certain parts of your mix—even if parts of it are very well done, if you get lazy on other parts it will be noticeable. Take pride in your mixtape and put thorough effort into it and you will be sure to come away with a solid final product.