Valentine's Day is coming up, and gifting mixtapes is, in my opinion, the most ideal gesture to show people you love them. A Spotify playlist is always thoughtful (and admittedly more convenient), but recording and decorating an amateur cassette in 2021 isn't as difficult or expensive as you think.
1. Get together your recording gear
I used the Jensen MCR-100, which costs under $25 and has a microphone attached. Besides this, you'll need blank cassettes, an aux cable to connect the recorder to your iPhone or laptop, and decorating supplies.
2. Make a Spotify playlist!
This part’s important because you’ll want to provide a Spotify link, too. The cassette might be a little static-y, and you'll want the recipient to have easy access to the songs you pick out for them. Check how many minutes the cassette holds, and make the playlist length accordingly.
3. Record the cassette
Pull up the Spotify playlist on your phone and plug your phone into the aux cable. Press play and record at the same time, and wait for the playlist to play through!
I traced the paper j-card attached to the blank cassette onto pink construction paper and folded it to fit into the cassette box. From there, the rest is up to you! I recommend heart stickers and colorful pens.
Here are some of my favorite tracks for Valentine's Day:
Lovesong, The Cure
Wildflower, Beach House
Waiting For The Moon, Belle and Sebastian
Only Love Can Break Your Heart, Saint Etienne
Our Way To Fall, Yo La Tengo
With You, Twin Peaks
Know-How, Kings of Convenience
It's Love, The Softies
Conversation, Joni Mitchell
Fade Into You, Mazzy Star
Making mixtapes for your friends is the best kind of love letter, and it can teach you about the people you love, too. I found that I not only chose music based on what I knew the person would enjoy but what sonically reminded me of them. Each cassette turned out different, but they were all made with love— hopefully, that comes across even through a little bit of static.