The Art of the Mixtape

View Poll Results: How much time does it take you to create a mixtape from start to finish?

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  • 1 week or less

    15 65.22%
  • 1 month or less

    3 13.04%
  • 2 months or less

    3 13.04%
  • More than 2 months

    2 8.70%
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  1. #1
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    Default The Art of the Mixtape

    The mixtape, the dj set, the demo mix, whatever you want to call it is one of the dj's most powerful promotional tools in our arsenal. I'm always interested to hear the different approaches and techniques other dj's use to create their mixtapes as it seems to vary from person to person much the same as how dj's all have a unique approach to their live performance work. So I thought it would be fun to open up some discussion about the craft of creating a mixtape, I know this bunch will have plenty of opinions and knowledge about the subject.

    Points of interest:
    - the dos and don'ts of mixtapes
    - personal approaches/techniques to creating mixtapes
    - software & hardware used
    - tips&tricks
    - your favourite mixtapes by other djs
    Last edited by wrong chris; 07-14-2010 at 04:35 AM.

  2. #2
    Tech Guru BradCee's Avatar
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    erm... as long as the mix is, is as long as it takes. might spend 20 mins putting a prep list together, but 9/10 times that gets changed or ignored. then if i like what i recorded i put it out, if not i delete it.

    if/when i take another shot, the playlist ends up different again, so technically all my mixes are one take

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  3. #3
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    yeah I probably should've added another option for "1 day or less" to the poll, oh well. either way the poll was just something i thought would be fun to tack on to give some scope as to how we all have different styles.

    for the sake of discussion i'm more interested to hear about your guys' processes for creating a mix, lets get into the science of this thing, dissect the fuck out of it like a frog in a highschool biology class. i think there's a lot to learn from getting a feel for the different schools of thought on the subject.
    Last edited by wrong chris; 07-14-2010 at 04:34 AM.

  4. #4
    DJTT Moderator Dude Jester's Avatar
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    Default

    I usually spend a couple of evenings coming up with ideas, runnning some tracks together etc. We make cd length mixes so also have to do a timing run as well before the actual recording. Two recording runs and keep the best one. With the djtt progressive mix train we are working on atm i pretty much spent a whole afternoon laying down my 30 minutes section
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  5. #5
    Tech Mentor levvis's Avatar
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    I usually bang tracks into an itunes playlist that I feel like listening to or new tracks I haven't used yet, organise them a bit in the sense of what would go into what loosely based on key but mostly on just flow and obviously compatibility then just mix that bitch up.

    As brad said if it's good I'll up it and if not chuck it. I don't really bother with organising in/out cues or effects and just do whatever. Probably spend an hour all up to do a 30/40 min mix.

    I also usually have a playlist in my library that I can chuck songs into when just listening during the day, I've got a habit of forgetting about shit once it's out of my 'recently added' and often find gems just in the library.

    Not too much science here

  6. #6
    DJTT Dominator JesC's Avatar
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    it takes me 1:30hr...if I spend more than 2hr its no good. Once I think the mix is good and its time for pressing it, i dump it in mixmeister so I can track the cd, then I dump a mp3 copy in my iPhone and listen to it. I press about 20 copies on my cd duplicator and give it to my friends.

    Points of interest:
    - Please no airhorns or vuvuzelas
    - just make the damn mix! Practice makes perfect!!!!
    - Traktor/Ableton & MixMeister to track my mix on cd
    - Have fun like the old man djing
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  7. #7
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    for anything over an hr mix
    it usually takes me a nite of choosing tracks I want to play.
    get them all ready on the flash drive, putting them in order of play and laying down cue points. then its practice practice practice for about 2-3 days, then take about 2 days for recording / mixing down final product.

    one of my fav mixtapes so far is Rusko - BBC1 xtra mix
    SLAMMIN!
    Last edited by xbubbax; 07-14-2010 at 11:47 AM. Reason: cant spell

  8. #8
    Tech Guru BradCee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by xbubbax View Post
    for anything over an hr mix
    it usually takes me a nite of choosing tracks I want to play.
    get them all ready on the flash drive, putting them in order of play and laying down cue points. then its practice practice practice for about 2-3 days, then take about 2 days for recording / mixing down final product.
    i'd be bored shitless of the mix by then

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  9. #9
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    i guess im one of the few who get completely ocd about it ( like i do about a lot of things hahah). it used to be something that wouldn't take me much longer than a day or two, but the last couple of mixtape releases i've done took roughly 2-3 months from start to finish for a 2 hour set - mind you i don't work on it every day of those 2-3 months and a day is usually 2-6 hours work at the most. I'm working on a new one right now that's almost done, i've been working on it since the beginning of june.

    the lions share of the time is creating the set structure and playlist. It takes about a day or two to create the basic structure or rough draft of the playlist. From there I start the long process of refining it to the final draft of the playlist. I start weeding out the weaker parts, and the challenge is finding other songs and variations to fill those gaps in the structure. This process of restructuring,refining and test driving the playlist takes about a month or two itself.

    After the playlist is done then I start the easy part which is finalizing the plan for all my cue points, beatgrids, the fx i will use and write notes for each transition so I can remember for my recording. Do a couple test runs to make sure everythings tight, then it's time to record.

    I record each transition/pairing of tracks one by one, multiple takes for each pairing so I can choose the recording that sounds best. Then I start cut&pasting all my pieces together in soundforge. When that's all done, there isn't much left to do but encode it to mp3 and upload.
    Last edited by wrong chris; 07-14-2010 at 12:53 PM.

  10. #10
    Tech Guru BradCee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by duerr View Post
    i guess im one of the few who get completely ocd about it ( like i do about a lot of things hahah). it used to be something that wouldn't take me much longer than a day or two, but the last couple of mixtape releases i've done took roughly 2-3 months from start to finish for a 2 hour set - mind you i don't work on it every day of those 2-3 months and a day is usually 2-6 hours work at the most. I'm working on a new one right now that's almost done, i've been working on it since the beginning of june.

    the lions share of the time is creating the set structure and playlist. It takes about a day or two to create the basic structure or rough draft of the playlist. From there I start the long process of refining it to the final draft of the playlist. I start weeding out the weaker parts, and the challenge is finding other songs and variations to fill those gaps in the structure. This process of restructuring,refining and test driving the playlist takes about a month or two itself.

    After the playlist is done then I start the easy part which is planning all my cue points, beatgrids, the fx i will use and write notes for each transition so I can remember for my recording. Do a couple test runs to make sure everythings tight, then it's time to record.

    I record each transition/pairing of tracks one by one, multiple takes for each pairing so I can choose the recording that sounds best. Then I start cut&pasting all my pieces together in soundforge. Then she's basically ready to go.
    imo, you can't do this live so why do it for a demo? i know the obvious reasons are to get it sounding it's best, but you wouldn't have nearly this kind of time to prep for a gig and wouldn't be able to work in this manner in a live setting.
    also, if the promoter knew that you were cutting and pasting, it would make them question how good you really are. hell i used to purposely put a mild fuck up in a mix, to a) prove it was live and b) show that i can recover it and keep the flow up in spite of that happening.
    harder to do that in traktor with sync turned on

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