Friday, April 13, 2007

Editorial: The Compilation

Long before iTunes had playlists, some marketing executive at a record company decided to put together a mess of popular singles on one vinyl record and sell it. The idea was a smashing success and the compilation was born. And it has evolved. There are greatest hits ones and collections of the popular songs of the day (Thank you NOW).

Thankfully with the development of the recordable cassette, the major conglomerates lost all control in creating compilations. Now the power of the mix was in the consumer's hand, if he so wished. And the mixtape became the stuff of legend. The tool that kept the party going. The gift that wooed hearts. The coping mechanism for life. Of course the mix has evolved with technology, with MP3s and burners taking mixes to a whole other level. It's even evolved into an accepted marketing process for hip-hop artists.

For those who care about a well-crafted mix, though, it can be serious business. It's easy when the objective is clear cut like "Party Songs" or "Workout Songs", but what about the mixes that are meant to evoke something? If you put the sexually suggestive song too early on the romantic mix, will you put the other person off? Or will ignite them at just the right time? Oh just one example of the dicey business of putting together a mix. I am notoriously anal about them. I usually am never satisfied with the end result but most of my friends come back so I can't be that bad.

Currently, I am in the midst of making a couple of CDs for my cousin's wedding reception. This is hard because there can't be any dancing and the music can't be too "rhythmic." This is what happens when you members of a more conservative sect of Christianity. It makes it much harder. Whereas I would easily place India.Arie or Musiq in the playlist, it's not as easy. At the same time, I don't plan on sacrificing too much of my personality (even though I won't be there) in the mix. Just two songs so far, but I haven't really dedicated myself to it yet. Concurrently I am also putting the finishing touches on a CD for my friend Coffee Bean. This is easier as she can handle contemporary tastes, but hers are peculiar so you have to laser in to some special element of a song to see if it has any appeal for her. Admittedly with her, it's just throw it up and hope it sticks. I probably have a 70% success rate.

I love making them though. I figure its why I have so much music. The same stuff can't be good for too long.

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