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Before iTunes and Spotify instantized music, allowing any toddler with a few favorite Bieber songs to make a playlist, putting in the requisite hours of effort to make somebody a mixtape was something of a grand gesture.

Hitting record. Pausing. Recording. Pausing. Repeating ad infinitum.

It was a labor of true love. But then, somewhere on the way from analog to digital (and back to analog again, in some parts of Brooklyn), this soul-searching endeavor lost its reputation as heartfelt and became, well, nerdy. Which is an injustice if we’ve ever heard one.

So just in time for Valentine’s Day, we’re bringing it back. A quick reminder of how to, now…

The Medium
Fact: people like physical gifts. That means that a well-curated Spotify playlist isn’t going to cut it. So bust out that old cassette player and get down to business, because Macs don’t come with CD drives anymore and you’d be pissed off too if someone said “I love you” and handed you a flash drive.

The Title
Always, always, always give it a title. Something like “A Mix for So-and-So, Vol. I” will do just fine. (Pro tip: include both the recipient’s name and a volume number. Because this mix is only for them, and even if there’s never a second volume, they’ll appreciate the forethought.)

The Tracks
“The making of a great compilation tape is hard to do and takes ages longer than it might seem. You gotta kick off with a killer, to grab attention. Then you got to take it up a notch, but you don’t wanna blow your wad, so then you got to cool it off a notch. There are a lot of rules.” —High Fidelity

What, you thought we’d make it through this entire spiel without quoting the greatest mixtape movie of all time? Come on.

The Packaging
None to speak of. A creative genius like you doesn’t see the need for such frivolity.

The Presentation
Simply shrug, smile and hand it over.

Let the music do the rest.

—S.P.

CONTRIBUTORS

  • Stephen Praetorius