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How to Make a Playlist or Mixtape for Someone Special

The mixtape—a compilation of specifically arranged songs—is one of the most endearing forms of expression. Although digital playlists have replaced cassettes, there's no replacing the concept.


  • Step 1: Know thy audience Making a mixtape is a very personal and precise art form. Your crush from chem class doesn't have the same musical tastes as your BFF, so keep in mind your recipient when choosing songs.
  • Step 2: Outline the mix Outline your mix. Brainstorm songs, artists, and genres, and consider the overall theme.
  • TIP: Pick personally significant songs that convey your feelings and fit the mix's intended use.
  • Step 3: Use software While many people still use the term mixtape, today's compilations appear in the form of a digital playlist or CD. Software that can upload and store your music collection, and create custom playlists, is essential.
  • Step 4: Rip your music If you haven't already done so, rip your CD collection onto your computer using the software.
  • : Always copy music legally. If you purchase music online, do so from a legitimate site.
  • Step 5: Choose the first song The first track sets the tone for the whole mix, so choose wisely.
  • Step 6: Balance your flavors A successful mixtape is a lot like a successful recipe—all the ingredients must be carefully balanced.
  • TIP: Listen to the last 30 seconds of a song and the first 30 seconds of the track that follows to ensure they flow together well.
  • Step 7: Pay attention to lyrics Listen closely to each song’s lyrics. You don't want to accidentally evoke the wrong sentiment.
  • Step 8: Reference experiences Add a song or two that references a specific shared experience between you and the recipient.
  • Step 9: Title your mix After you finish assembling your mixtape, give it a clever name. An inside joke often makes for a good title.
  • TIP: If you decide to burn your mix onto a CD, decorate the sleeve with stickers and hand-drawn or printable cover art.
  • Step 10: Give mix to your listener Email or hand-deliver the mixtape to your intended listener. The next time you see him, he’ll probably have his headphones on.
  • FACT: Poet Geoffrey O’Brien once called the mixtape 'the most widely practiced American art form.'

You Will Need

  • A computer
  • Software for organizing songs
  • Music
  • A recipient
  • A blank CD
  • Stickers or cover art

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