Friday, 25 July 2014

Adventures: How To Make A Seriously Epic Road Trip Mix CD

CD Love

The Awesome Lady's the name, being seriously passionate about music and making playlists is my game. It's getting to that time of year again. Tensions are high, lists are being made (like, for example, what CDs did I buy or receive in the last year?), sibling banter is being exchanged and ideas are being formulated. Yes, that's right, it's nearly time to compile the annual holiday playlist!

After many years in the game of making mix CDs to play in the car, I like to think I've got the art of putting together a good mix down pat! I'm going to share a good few handy hints for you all today on how to make the perfect playlist. Whereever you're going this summer, I can hand on heart promise your car will be rockin'.

Listen, Listen, Listen!

The first rule of making a playlist is to listen to the stuff you love. Really. It's no good choosing stuff that's either number one at the moment or something that everyone else is listening to if you don't really like it. A good mix CD is about expressing who you are while at the same time getting the in-car party started. You can either think of your playlist as the one that introduces your favourite songs ever to your fellow passengers, or your favourite songs of the season/year/week etc. Be creative! Make a themed CD if you fancy. But most importantly, add the stuff you want to listen to. And remember, nothing is a guilty pleasure if you love it. Don't be afraid to add music by obscure musicians, too.

Get Organised

This is super important - you'll need to rip all the CDs you wish to use in your playlist to your computer, or if you're a fan of downloading, find your favourite digital music service and download your songs. If you're going down the old school route of ripping, make sure your computer is up to the task. Check the settings in your digital media player (I use iTunes - they have all the info you could possibly want to know about getting set up here) so that you are burning your songs as MP3 at the highest possible quality, and make sure you know which folder your music is stored in!

Oh, and I hate to be Captain Obvious here, but... make sure you have blank CDs in stock.

Decisions, Decisions

You're sitting in front of your computer and you're currently struggling to find the best songs to include. I know the feeling, because I've been there! Make a quick list and have a quick think: what's your favourite songs from the last year? What CDs have you bought or received in the last year (and enjoyed)? What songs would you feel really gutted not to listen to as part of the playlist? What's your favourite old song? Get thinking and start including. A 700mb CD should hold anything between 20-23 songs, so you'll be spoilt for choice. Personally, I make two discs: my first will be the first one played in the car, and therefore it includes my favourite favourites. Secretly, I wish I was the person who compiles the Now! That's What I Call Music albums...

All In Order

Once you've chosen your favourites, it's time to get the order right. It's important to start off with a really fun, cheery song. Your current favourite. It should set the mood for the rest of the CD! Think hard about the beats. Get to know your choices. Listen to them. What songs will sound amazing next to one another? Sometimes grouping songs from the same genres help. I tend to drop the tempo a little bit towards the end and choose mellower stuff to leave the playlist on a high note. Do include songs by the same artist more than once but don't put them together. If your mix contains a cover version, don't include the original. Never include the same song twice! I once added In Da Club by 50 Cent followed by the Beyonce version and it didn't work very well.

I also love to add a little surprise or two and by that, I mean nostalgia. The sort of stuff you love but haven't heard in ages. It'll become a fun talking point and it may result in car-eoke.

Length and Language

Because I'm a fan of quality over quantity, I tend to choose songs that are anything up to four and a half minutes long. This means you get more music in. On the language front, I tend to stay away from bad language, mainly out of politeness for my fellow guests. It's probably not advisable to play the sweary stuff in front of your favourite elderly relative! Save that for when you're alone...

Burn, Baby Burn

Using your favourite digital media or CD writing software, burn your CDs following the on screen instructions. Once you've done it, give it a quick once over on the computer or CD player to check it plays all the way through. Write on the label (not the shiny bit) with a Sharpie to identify it as yours. And if you use iTunes, you will have made a playlist anyway, so you can add it to your iPod/phone. If you have a car with a fancy aux in cable, you can plug your phone or iPod in and get it to play from there, negating the need for a CD. But let's be romantic here - making a CD is a proper labour of love, especially if you're trying to impress someone (wink wink)!

And Finally...

Enjoy it! Make sure if you're driving, that you keep your eyes on the road! No singing with your eyes shut, please! Know where the volume/treble/bass controls are, and if you're not driving, respect the driver if they need to turn the CD off for a few seconds at a busy junction. Be prepared to divulge the details of your tracklist, and also be prepared for your mates to ask if they can borrow a CD or two from you...

Have fun making your mix CDs this summer guys!

If you've got an awesome playlist to share with us, comment below and I'll check it out. And stay tuned as I share this summer's awesome mix in the coming days.

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