Just a little post to get people excited about their New Year's mixes . . .
I think this year will be one of my better mixes. Last year was a bit schizophrenic, with a lot of very poppy Jpop and very heavy stoner rock, but too little in between (or for people who like neither genre). 2009 is going to be diverse, although not without last year's trends. It was the year of learning about stuff from the Internet. Top music sites for me included Chunklet, Bitch Magazine, Hardcore Math User, The Prelinger Archive and Stonerrock.com. I also heard songs on Internet stations such as Japan-a-Radio, Groove Radio, Radio Nigel, K666 Radio, and Trance.ch. I would sometimes hear about a band (thanks for your research, Dr. S!) and then check out a sample on Skreemer, LastFM, Lala, YouTube, or even (shudder!) Myspace. Wikipedia is also good for lists of music genres or to see who they compare a band to. The library is still my good friend as well.
Here is my technique for making mix CDs, pretty close to perfected after lo these many years:
1. Keep an iTunes Smart Playlist of music added during the year, so it keeps growing automatically. Songs don't have to be produced in that year, but they should be newly acquired.
2. Go to Office Max and buy printer ink, CD-Rs, jewel cases, labels and case inserts.
3. Listen to the Smart Playlist and pick the best songs for a "base" mix, which is usually for someone I mail the CD to, because they have to be finished sooner. My mixes are based on my experience as a college radio DK, usually 3 or 4 songs in similar genres at a time for variety. I try to have some connection between each song and the following, could musically or the song's topic or the singer's voice or the country of origin. It can be pretty loose and subjective.
4. Copy and paste the songs into another person's mix, then add and subtract based on what I know about the recipient's likes and dislikes or if they would already have it in their collection.
5. Look for an appropriate picture for the cover and label. Font choice and color scheme is important too. I have some templates for the labels and inserts from a Memorex CD-Rom purchased ages ago. I use Photoshop Elements for the inserts and Appleworks for the labels, because those were the options I picked, there are probably some for other software.
6. Edit the mixes in iTunes so that only artist and title is showing, then copy and paste into the insert template. This saves a lot of time. Check for any misspellings and that the songs will all fit at the current font size.
7. Burn CDs and label them with marker. I usually do these in bulk.
8. Print out labels and inserts, also usually in bulk. I have to be careful to label them with a Post-it right away, so I can tell them apart without reading the song list.