Fanmix

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Synonyms: FST, mixtape
See also: Fan Soundtrack Project, fanmix (LJ community)

Crockett-Dial #6 (1996) came with an audio soundtrack, a cassette tape that fit into a homemade, cross-stitched flap and pocket that fit over the front cover.


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Contents

A fanmix is a compilation of songs inspired by a fannish source, like a TV show, a character, or a pairing.

Fanmixes can also accompany a fanwork, as when a fic writer puts up a soundtrack alongside their story. Often fanmixes come with Photoshop cover art and/or creative titles.

The name is a portmanteau of fannish + mixtape. In some fannish communities, the term fan soundtrack or FST is more commonly known.

In the past, some fanmixes have been shared on tape, such as the soundtrack tape that came with the Miami Vice zine Crockett-Dial #6 (1996).

An Example of the Changing Meaning of Vocabulary

In the late 1970s and the 1980s, fanmixes were often referred to as "song tapes" or "songtapes"; be aware that for a decade or so, VCR vids were also referred to as song tapes.

Platforms/Mediums

Fanmixes have been created using the platforms of cassette tapes, CDs, MP3 and other audio file formats such mixtapes. Now, they are now more often shared as digital files.

Some Cover Art

Merlin example of photoshop cover art:

The Magic Of Us (2010) front cover, includes the title and the pairing
The Magic Of Us (2010) back cover, lists all the songs of this fanmix

Eassy On Fanmix Attributes

Posted at Fail-Fandomanon.[1] The originating post is quoted below:
From either a maker or an appreciator's perspective.

What do you like in fanmixes? What turns you off? What advice do you have for people who make fanmixes?

I think I have four main rules, though both of them have exceptions.

1. Don't use mainstream songs/songs with a lot of cultural baggage, unless they're deeply relevant to the show itself. Honestly, no matter how appropriate you think it is, Rihanna's Love the Way you Lie is probably not going to convey to a listener the deep and meaningful relationship that, IDK, Steve and Tony have. Because your listener's first response will be "Oh hey, this totally overplayed Rihanna song that I like. Man this is a great song" and not "Oh this tune/this feeling/these lyrics fit really well with X or Y." AMVs have more scope with this rule. If you saw an AMV using a current pop song and thought it fit your fanmix perfectly, take a moment to remember that the AMV can literally match the words and visuals, reinforcing their connection. You can't do that in a fanmix, so the lyrics have to stand alone. And because they're overplayed, mainstream songs are saturated with excess meaning, interfering with your goal. Staying away from mainstream music gives you more scope to interpret the music. And it doesn't have to mean "obscure for the sake of it". It's fine to use Leonard Cohen, if he suits, but how about checking out something like Alexandra Leaving instead of Hallelujah?

The exception to this is if there's a song that's famous but also super relevant to the show. I haven't seen Life on Mars, but using the David Bowie song those lyrics come from (or an interesting remix, maybe), might be exactly what your fanmix needs.

2. Think about genre. This is super important. If you're making an ASOIAF fanmix, R&B is probably not the way to go. The tone won't mesh well with the tone of the books it reflects. You can't just throw in any song you like. Of course, the reverse can work equally well if you've thought about it. Like if you want to make a Dany fanmix (to keep to the ASOIAF theme), you could choose punk and post punk bands with female singers, to capture Dany's rebellion against the gender norms of her society. If that was what you wanted to say about her, then you can find a genre whose ideals reinforce your message.

If you don't use genre for theme, use it for character. What kind of genre "feels" like your character? Is Thor best represented by Jungle, or by Electronica? How can you reinforce who he is? If you're making a famix for a ship, or a fanmix that represents several viewpoints, try to mix the genres so that they mesh and contrast interestingly. Not all your songs should sound the same, but there should be common details, whether it's scratchy violins or a word that turns up in the lyrics.

3. Fanmixes without lyrics are harder than fanmixes with lyrics, fanmixes in a language your target audience doesn't speak are harder than fanmixes in the target language, and classical fanmixes are only for experts. Lyrics carry a lot of weight in songs, and while the emotional content is number one, it's much easier to connect your song to a character if you have a line that sounds perfect for them. Lyricless fanmixes are beautiful and special, but they are harder. Keep it in mind.

Classical fanmixes are harder again. Unless you know a lot about classical music, you're likely going to lean towards the stereotypical, and the rule about mainstream music having prior associations will be multiplied by a thousand. Stay away unless you know exactly what you're doing.

4. Your fanmix should work as an album, not just as a list of songs. You can have the perfect song for a moment, but if it's horribly out of place amongst the other songs, your fanmix will fall apart. Sometimes you have to sacrifice that perfect line for overall cohesiveness. (And then make another fanmix built around that perfect line XD.)

These are guidelines and opinions, but I think they're pretty good ones.

"Songtapes": Some Early Comments by Fans

  • (1980) "Alot of people seem to associate certain songs with the men, their relationships, episodes, zine stories. I have always thought of 'Thank You for Being My Friend' as foremost. I know a lot of others that fit certain times in their lives, including the one mentioned in Australia, 'Sometimes When We Touch'. Can we make a list of songs that seem to fit the S&H world?" [2]
  • (1980) "How about sending a two hour music tape around and get most of them? Then, someone with a good tape recorder can make tapes for others?" [3]
  • (1980) "Would anyone else like to contribute songs to my 2-hour round robin tape which is collecting S&H related songs? When filled, I'll make tapes of the whole thing for anyone who wants them. Send me a note or card to let me know if you have songs to add, and I'll send you a tape." [4]
  • (1989) "Any words that aren't quite right, I apologize, but it is the result of listening to the record and taking my best guess." [5]
  • (1989) "Regarding the songtapes -- a good third of my stories come from songs: sometimes just the melody, sometimes just the title." [6]
  • (1990) "I love songtapes, especially with the words written out." [7]

References

  1. "Let's talk fanmixes" thread at Fail-Fandomanon, 12-13 Dec 2011. (Accessed 20 Dec 2011)
  2. S and H #6 (January 1980)
  3. S and H #9 (April 1980)
  4. from S and H #6 (December 1980)
  5. a reminder that before the internet, access to song lyrics was time-consuming and fraught with error, Cold Fish and Stale Chips #1 (1989)
  6. from Cold Fish and Stale Chips #2 (1989)
  7. from Cold Fish and Stale Chips #5 (1990)
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