Do you want to have your very own mixtape on 12-inch vinyl records? Are you going to give it as a Christmas gift to your sister who loves listening to them? Or are you going to have them given away to your fans for Christmas?
If you’re wondering how to create a custom mixtape on 12-inch vinyl records, then the easiest answer would be to have a manufacturer do it for you. If you want the harder one, then you can try cutting your own with a record cutting machine.
CUTTING YOUR CUSTOM VINYL MIXTAPE ON YOUR OWN ISN’T EASY.
It would be a great experience to cut your own mixtape onto vinyl records. I’m sure you will be appreciating the format even more. However, there are too many downsides to this, here are some of it:
#1 Requires Knowledge and Experience
If this would be your first time working on a vinyl project, then you should definitely stir away from this road. Knowledge and experience on what is the vinyl format and how to cut it is needed for this to be a successful project.
If you’ve had experience cutting them or have someone who has, then I guess you can try this. You can ask for pointers or tips about how to make it sound good or you can have them assist you.
#2 Time and Effort consuming
If you’re not knowledgeable and experienced enough, then this will surely be both time and effort consuming. I guarantee you that you will have a hard time accomplishing a good copy of your custom vinyl mixtape.
This will never be cost effective if you lack the knowledge and experience of cutting vinyl records. You’ll be wasting blank records. Since you’re new to this, I’m pretty sure you don’t have the machine yet, so you will have to buy it. And I assure you, they are hella expensive.
It would be best to heed our advice and order from a manufacturer instead of cutting your own. But if you’re not a newbie and have the experience as well as the equipment, then by all means, do what you want to do.
THE EASIEST WAY IS TO ORDER FROM A VINYL MANUFACTURER
You won’t have to worry about the actual cutting or pressing of your custom vinyl mixtape. You’ll just have to prepare the needed files your chosen manufacturer needs, and viola! You’ll have your records at least a month from now.
But without your file preparation, there will be no vinyl project to start or work on. What I’m saying is, you will still have a big role in the success of this project. And even if it’s just the beginning, there is still a lot to be done in the preparation phase. Let’s get on with the steps you’ll be doing all throughout the creation of your custom vinyl mixtape.
STEP 1: Deciding
There are many things you need to decide on before you begin worrying about the songs you’ll have on them. Here’s a to decide list you can follow through, to help you organize your thoughts and decisions.
- Vinyl Record Size
There are three standard vinyl sizes and they all have different run time, depending on the speed of the record (rpm). There are pros and cons to this so choose at your own risk.
- To Have Jacket/s or Not
Jackets are a must when you or a musician releases an album because it becomes the face of the vinyl album. However, for mixtapes made by fans, it is not necessary since it would not have any promotional purpose. It will all be just about aesthetics.
If you decide to forgo this part of the packaging, your manufacturer will surely have you choose an inner sleeve to have your records protected somehow.
- Type of Jacket
There are various types of jacket and this will dictate you into the dimensions as well as the number of artwork or design you’ll have for it.
- To Have Inner Sleeve/s or Not
Inner sleeve is another optional part of the packaging, so if you don’t want to spend money on them, then you can not have them. But this will only be possible if you choose to have jackets.
- Type of Inner Sleeve
Inner sleeves can either be paper or plastic, colored or not, and printed or plain. If you’re planning on showcasing your visual arts, then have the printed paper inner sleeves.
- Manufacturer to Order From
This is another matter to decide on because it will help you know what file to prepare and if you will be able to achieve your dream custom vinyl mixtape there. Bear in mind that some manufacturers are particular with copyrights while some are not.
- Vinyl Mastering or Standard Process?
This depends on the manufacturer you have chosen to order from. If these choices are present, just remember that the mastering will charge you for a fee. If you don’t want to spend money on it you need not to worry, they will still sound good.
STEP 2: Compiling
After deciding on so many things, you can now start compiling the songs you want to have on vinyl. If you chose 12-inch vinyl pressing for your mixtape, then you can have a long ass list if you want to, probably around 20 songs at most.
A thing to remember when compiling your songs is to have them saved at the file type your manufacturer prefers. Most manufacturers will require you to have your songs on WAV or standard MP3 files. AAC file type from iTunes may also be acceptable.
STEP 3: Designing
While compiling your songs, I’m sure you had a picture or message in mind you want others to see or feel. You can have this mind image as the starting point of your intended front cover. Just remember that the more colorful your designs are the higher the price you pay for it.
If you chose to have no jacket and just have a simple plain inner sleeve for your records, then you can skip this and go right into ordering your custom vinyl mixtape.
STEP 4: Order Placing
After checking that everything is prepared and good to go, you can then place your order. During this time, you will be either asked to upload or send the files through email. And that’s how the preparation phase ends.
STEP 1: Asking
Even though this is the waiting phase, it does not mean that all you have to do is to wait. You can definitely ask for updates if you want to. Don’t hesitate to ask for it, but don’t ask them too often or you might just become a nuisance.
STEP 2: Waiting
Step two is what you’ll be doing for the majority of the waiting phase, so just be patient. Don’t worry or over think too much. Just remind yourself that most turnaround time for this kind of product is at least 4 weeks or a month.
STEP 3: Repeat
The last step is to repeat the first two steps of the waiting phase. This step may or may not be done though. If you’re an anxious person, then I suggest you repeat them after a day or two has passed after the promised delivery time.
To get some tips on how to create custom vinyl mixtapes, read here.
James Hill is a veteran of the music industry. He first worked at Warner Reprise Records then later joined Interscope/ Geffen Records where he managed producers and songwriters and got his first platinum record for Keyshia Cole’s The Way It Is. He is now helping indie artists with branding and manufacturing through his company Unified Manufacturing, a CD/DVD, custom vinyl records and merch company in LA.