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Audio cassette tape with a label on it that says “mixtape no. 1” in front of a blurred background.



In the days before streaming, people used to make mixtapes of their favorite jams – whether to throw in their own Walkman or as a special gift for their coolest friends. Way better than any mixed playlist you could make on Spotify, this nearly lost art is seeing a resurgence. Sit tight while we explain how to make your own!

Gather Your Gear

In the old days, you would usually make your mixed tape using another cassette tape, a record, or a CD for your source material. For simplicity’s sake, we’re going to use a digital streaming source – combining the old and the new. To do this, all you’ll need is your cassette tape recorder, your digital source, such as a computer or MP3 device, and a cable to connect them. A 3.5 mm stereo to two RCA adapter should do the trick. Oh, and some cassette tapes. Staples and Office Depot both sell them in packs of five.

Decide On a Theme

Is this a punk rock mix, hip hop, or a high-level blend featuring all alto vocalists? Maybe it’s all genres as long as the song prominently features the cowbell. It’s completely up to you! Just come up with some idea for the glue that will hold your mix together. 

Start Planning

Jot down the first bands and songs off the top of your head that match the theme you’re going for. When you run out of ideas, use the internet for more leads, and keep building your list. As you go, include the song lengths for each, as well. You may also want to loosely arrange your songs with more similarly sounding entries grouped together to create smoother transitions. Don’t stress about this too much, though, because you may be forced to change things around some.  

Do the Math

With only a limited amount of space on each side of your cassette – say 30 to 45 minutes – you’ll need to add the minutes and seconds of each song together to get as close as possible to the side length without going over. Fortunately, you have one important trick at your disposal – for songs featuring long, silent fadeouts, you can just stop your recording a second or two early and add that saved time to your overall length. 

The Nuts & Bolts

To get mixing, plug the RCA connectors into the back of your tape player and the stereo jack into your computer, MP3 player, or phone. Hit play on the player and the Play and Record button simultaneously on your recorder. And away we go! 

For more tips on living that ‘90s life, visit the Olympus Grand Crossing blog.