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Notes: I originally wrote this post for my teammates (teamsidekick) on scifiland. I have done a quick reread to do some general edits, but if something sounds funny it might because of where I originally posted it. ;) Original (LOCKED) post.

Edited in preparation to post on caseland:
Hi! This is an introductory post of sorts to help out you potential mixers out there! (Yes, I'm also looking at you there over in the corner. C'mon, step out into the light, it's okay!) I'm in no way an authority in this area and goodness knows I got wordy - Please skim and jump around to areas that interest you. Examples are at the bottom of this post. Song file creation & zipping/uploading/hosting sections are probably the most important things to look at. Please let me know if I screwed up horribly somewhere and of course feel free to ask more questions!

So first up, what the heck is a fanmix? Is it different from a FST (fan soundtrack)? To my way of thinking they're the same, though I suppose people could argue with that. Anyway, in essence a fanmix is a themed "mix tape" and can be based on anything you can imagine. Of course for caseland we're working on fandom-based themes. Still, this leaves a lot open. You could do a mix all about FBI agents (the Behavorial Analysis Unit, etc.), you could focus on a single character (Hotch or Reid, etc.), focus on a specific fandom as a whole (CSI, The Sentinel, The Mentalist, etc.), or even some other crime show theme - maybe criminal-of-the-day? Songs you can tackle-people to? Series by a specific producer?

Where do I start?!?!?! D: First - don't panic! You have SUPER-DUPER TEAMS supportingyou! It's clear from previous interactions here that we've got a supportive, energetic group. We're here to bolster one another's creativity. Don't worry about meeting some imaginary standard, there's not set rules for making a mix - although there are argueably some general guidelines - so you can experiment all you want!

1A: Starting from Music Okay, after you've decided you want to take on this project you need to turn on some music. Radio? A playlist? Watching a musical? Someone singing in the shower? Someone's ringtone? A music vid? Anything works - just start getting some notes in your head. Once you hit on a tune that you like, let your mind do some free association (well, keeping crime show things in mind). You might come up with the weirdest connection, but that's likely to lead you toward your theme. Don't be afraid to use pure instrumental pieces!

Bonus tip: I really recommend doing some fanvid searching. I love fanmade music vids, and there's some truly amazing ones out there! (See some of my YouTube favs by visiting me at Scifiroots. I have vids, also, mostly Dead Zone are posted.) Vidders.net is also an amazing place to get inspiration.

1B: Starting with a Theme Have an under-appreciated character/show you'd like to contribute to? Sometimes that's a great place to start. Some tips for brainstorming music:

- A fandom: Break this down into episodes/season/characters/story arcs. It's often difficult to tackle something as large as an entire fandom, especially if you're working with a series that has many seasons or chacters (Law & Order or JAG for example).

- A character or couple: Again you can break this down into thinking about certain story arcs or development. Or think about a character's qualities, a relationship's progression, or personalities.

- Making a story - this is not necessary, but I find that this can help me out once I've gathered some songs together. There are such things as fic mixs, too, so if you have a fav fic (or one of your own) that you'd like to make an FST for, go for it! (My first two mixes were for fics, actually.)

2: The Songs: Okay, so you should have your list of song potentials gathered. Maybe you have just enough songs to meet the FST requirement for our challenge (8-12ish), possibly you have a ridiculously long list. If you need to narrow down your choices, I usually start with eliminating multiple of the same artists (or at least try not to do more than 2). Similarly, I don't recommend having the same song by different artists unless the remix is really different or you include it as a "bonus" or something. Again, personal opinion here since it's nice to have variety.

To make sure you like your choices - it's a nice idea to check on the lyrics (obviously not applicable for instrumental songs). Some people like to quote portions of the lyrics when they post the mix. Songs do not have to match exactly - don't be worried about using songs that use people's names or something, just be sure you're content with the "feel" of the song matching with your topic.

3: Adding Some Style: Optional, especially since I must admit that I tend to randomize my playlists, but I do tend to obsess over my own mixes so that the order sounds alright. For example, when I've made FSTs for couples, the song choices tend to turn out to focus on one character over the other so I alternate the songs. Or order may be important if you're trying to tell a story. (Remember the fic mix mentions?) Order may be important if you have a musical ear that prefers a smooth transition.

4: Creating the Song Files: You have a few options! I've only done mixes one particular way since I tend to enter the fst challenges, but I would like to mention a different option before I go about my preferred method.

* Music online, no downloading required: You can link to songs on YouTube - whether it's one of those "X's Y Song w/ Lyrics" vids or actual music vids. (If you choose popular music, I recommend finding the official channels with videos - i.e. find Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Ke$ha, and more through Vevo channels, I think is the channel.... Why? Sponsered videos are more likely to remain available / no broken links.) I haven't looked into this much yet but there's potentially the option to link to songs via Skreemr... (I used to be able to get mp3 downloads through there but they've changed their setup.)

* Providing downloadable mix files: You have a couple options here - individual song files, full albums (zipped), or a combination of both. Important: Your song files should be encoded as MP3s, at least this is the most recommended file type. Why is this? MP3s will play on just about anything but if you have MP4s (as iTunes is set to default to encode things - you can change this!) that will play only through certain programs. Do not include songs you have purchased from iTunes - these files are protected and are "locked" from other users. Trust me, it's a huge bummer and also really annoying to download an FST and then not be able to listen to songs that are password-protected. (You do not want to give out your password, either, since iTunes allows a limited amount of shares.)

How do I get song files? (1) You can try searching online, but since Skreemr changed I don't have any recommendations for something particularly useful/trustworthy. (2) By now I imagine we all have pretty large music collections on our computers. If not, grab up your CDs (or rent 'em at the library or from a friend, whatever) and make some files! If you're not sure how to do this, please let me know! (3) There's a YouTube -> MP3 converter! Actually, I used this thing to get some old TLC songs. Tips: Be sure to use videos with good sound quality and without extra noises! (Well, sometimes this is unavoidable like the song "Samson and Delilah" featured in the Sarah Connor Chronicles season 2 opener.) Listen through the video and/or mp3 file before including it on your mix. (4) If you're a music lover and would like a nice, reasonably priced subscription, I've loved eMusic. What's great is that the files aren't protection-coded like iTunes so you can share these files. They don't have a lot of mainstream music, typically, but they are fabulous for many artists. My entire collection of Snow Patrol, Blonde Redhead, and much of my Black Lab and Rasputina files are from there. Also found the Bones (tv) soundtrack through here. You can also sign up for a good number of free songs, just be sure to download those fast and cancel immediately if you don't want the account.

(5) Ask your teammates!! You can start a "desperately seeking song!" comment thread to help out. Try to find songs on your own, but if you can't, between all of us I'm betting we can track down most anything. I have such an ecclectic mix and have reasonable technical savvy to help most people out if you get stuck with something.

5: Graphics? Our challenge includes making a cover/back for our mix. This can be as easy as you want it to be. I often enjoy doing cover art, but this by no means needs to be fancy. I do like to have covers with my downloads because I include the art in my iTunes folder when I listen. What to include: Title of your mix (at least on the front) and a song list (I personally like to have both title and artist identified) (usually on the back). If you want to be fancy or use awesome fonts, things might get hard to read but that's not a problem - just be sure the post itself has clearly marked info.

6: Parts Finished & Collected, Now What?! Time for sharing! Remember I said you could offer songs individually and/or by "album"? Well now we're to the hosting section. If you are offering the entire album with all songs & artwork together - you must Zip the file. This process is amazingly simple, I promise. You need WinRAR or Winzip (this one seems to be automatically on Windows computers these days, am I right?) BOTH ARE FREE PROGRAMS (they will always have a pop-up box when you open it to say "you should buy us!" though). Both programs will have tutorials if you need. If you're still confused, please ask!

Got it zipped (or I'm doing individual songs), now what? A-ha! This is the key part, eh? Now we come to the issue of hosting... First off I'm going to cover the art aspect since I find this easiest. There are a ridiculous number of free image hosting sites out there now. Most popular are probably Photobucket, ImageShack, and more recently Tiny Pic. File hosting can be a bit more confusing. What I tend to use, and these hosts seem to last longer than some others, are: SendSpace and MegaUpload (no account required). How large your file is will determine how long this takes! I highly recommend making sure your full album zip being below 70KB (which you shouldn't have a problem with considering the 8-12 song requirement).

Additional hosting places that I've seen recommended: FileFront, RapidShare, RapidUpload, SaveFile.com, and Uploading.com, none of which I know anything about. There is also YouSendIt but be aware that this is a very temporary hosting site. This would be excellent for sharing a couple song files with someone if you're in search of something, though. [BTW, there's something with a name like "Box" that's pretty nice, too... I'm just totally blanking on what it is, though!]

What others have said before me!

A post from the great fst community: The FST creative process. (Note that the community in general is now f-locked, but you don't need approval - so just join. They have monthly themes and there's some great mixers on there.)

If you join fanmix, take a look at this FAQ (locked) post. Actually some great Q/As here even though it's community-specific.

Another good post, and I don't understand why it's locked, is again from fanmix, this is a resource post from them (I did cover all their recommended hosting sites above).

- The comms fst and fanmix have a slew of things to browse through. Also note that many larger fandoms now have specific comms for mixes.
- FSTs that I've downloaded can be found in my memories. (Also if you look in the memories of scifiroots you'll find the first few I ever downloaded, including my favorite House mixes.)
- Some self-promo with specific examples:

Fics: Just Routine is my first fanmix and was done to be a soundtrack to a multi-part Dead Zone fic I wrote. Being Human (a terrible, inescapable weakness) is a combo character and fic mix, devoted to Cloud Strife specifically as portrayed in Twig's epic of all epic-ness Final Fantasy VII fic: A Long, Hard Road. Where All My Journeys End was made for my first Supernatural story, a long fic written for sabriel_mini. Roses are Red is a ficmix I posted via 8tracks.com as a sort of experiment. It's for my Mentalist story.

Pairings: I'm a huge Gil/Greg (CSI) fan and wanted to try my hand at something other than fic for the fandom. Two mixes were born - All I Wanted (kinda angsty, for "wansn't meant to be" theme) and A Sudden Gift of Fate (a much happier outlook). I first made a Zack Fair specific FST (see below) but then the connections he had with other characters throughout Crisis Core inspired a list of songs that turned into a separate mix - Not Goodbye.

Characters: Big Resident Evil film fan here so I did a mix for Alice, Killer in Me that covers the first three films & includes some instrumental (and talk) tracks from the soundtracks. Zack Fair for Final Fantasy VII verse, the Don't Stop Me Now mix mostly focuses on the Crisis Core game. Now for the Had A Complicated Childhood collection - 3 "disks," first is Simon Tam, then River has part 1 and part 2 (due to ridiculous number of songs I associate with her and trying to balance out particular moods for each). I did a Henry Dunn fanmix (major Harper's Island Spoilers in this fst), Welcome Home that focuses on development across the 13 episodes.
For scifiland multimedia bingo card, I included two mini-mixes here for Peter Bishop and William Bell of Fringe.

Fandom: The Wheel was in-process for years without really being aware of it. A bunch of the songs come from what I've used over the years in fanvids, actually. Then when the fanmix challenge came up for scifiland I made (Big Damn Heroes) Ain't We Just for Firefly.

Other themes: Not sure that these will help in this particular challenge, but I had so much fun with these mixes! First up, Sex Sells a pr0n FST (content warning!). The Not-So-Secret Side of Fandom is a kink/kink meme mix and contains explicit content, btw. These were the most fun to make, I admit - hilarious to go through my music library and find so much. (Believe me, there's far more than what's even listed here and that was with making a 2-disk kink mix.)

Hope that helps out! Again, ask questions of your teammates! We're in this together, folks, and it seems like this has the potential to be a real team bonding experience. :)
~ ♥ Clarity