Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A New Take on the Old-Fashioned Mix Tape

Mix tapes (ones in cassette form) were all the rage during my high school halcyon heydays of the 90's (compact discs or CDs were still expensive then and were still in the process of becoming the dominant music and video medium) and were the gift of choice to one's special person as this required a surprising effort to make (as music files in digital form were not yet ubiquitous, and therefore one had be creative and enterprising in being able to cull the necessary tracks which will comprise the album of songs in) the mix tape in question. The means were difficult but the payout is richly rewarding, as the lucky recipient almost always appreciates the thought behind this particular gift, as seeing the act of enjoyment over the gift is the reward by itself. of the greatest gifts one can get during the 90's.
Just pray that the songs inside are inclined to your musical tastes.

Fast-forward a decade later, mix tapes nowadays are easier to produce (and they are now producible in CD and DVD forms) as the tracks you need are amply supplied by the Internet, one can shamelessly "download" these files without feeling shame (I do!) in less than a three steps. Regardless, the spirit of the process of giving these to your loved ones still lives, albeit in a new medium as the CD/DVD replaced those cassette tapes as the storage and musical fidelity of the former completely overshadowed the latter.

Moving on from this retrospective, I encountered the unfortunately dilemma of having run out of ideas on what to give my very special someone on our upcoming monthsary. While surfing the 'net in order to inspire myself to an idea for the gift, I came upon her blog profile and came to enjoy reading her musical interests and her eclectic taste in music, and it suddenly hit me...why not give her a mix tape and perhaps one she can call personally her own? As she was fond of giving me my own mix tapes I can play in my car stereo, I can give her her own and take it one step further, by customizing the album sleeve that will both reflect my feelings for her and make the gift more unique and more personal.

For the digital component of the gift, I started first by making a listing of the songs lifted from her music profile. Next, I downloaded the songs, taking time to select those that were encoded at 128 kbps at least. Anything higher, the better (as musical fidelity increases proportionally). Finally, I re-arranged the songs and then listed their respective track details (title of the song, name of the album where the song came from, the song artist or author, as well as the track time). Now this was the easy part.

The next part, and admittedly the more difficult one, is to create the album sleeve for the CD. I bought the blank CD, and made sure it came with labeling sleeves, as I needed their dimensions to create my own sleeves. I opted to create a front cover, as well as a back sleeve (with an extended part to account for the side label portion of the CD jacket).


Back-sleeve with side labeling and pseudo-barcode

I had them printed at 300dpi (admittedly, there were still hints of pixels...the next time I'll be creating them in 400dpi or higher resolution) at a print shop in order to make the print more authentic and closer to a commercial CD sleeve's resolution. All that's left to be done is to package the gift and hand-deliver it personally to my girl, and there you have it, Project Mix Tape is mission-accomplished.


  1. Thanks, Sweetie! I was so touched to know that you went through my blog entries to figure out what songs to include. :)