The Mixtape Game
As of late there has been an increase of mixtapes being put out by artist. It seems like everyone and their grandmother is dropping one every other week. But you know what? It has become a necessary promotional tool to create, maintain or increase ones buzz. Not only are local unsigned artist doing it, but more major platinum selling artist are jumping on board utilizing this tool. You see, back in the day the mixtape was an underground local thing, it was actual cassette tape mixed by a DJ which consisted of various hip hop artists freestyling over break beats, some signed, some maybe unsigned. You also had the mixtape that was a mixture of songs for your house party when you couldn’t afford a DJ or you just didn’t want to be bothered with the hassle of having one running speaker wires through your home. The mixtape game then morphed after that, DJ’s found a way to get exclusive songs that have not been released to the public yet. Some were paying studio engineers or having studio interns steal them. This made certain DJ’s famous, but of course this method was not welcomed by artist. DJ’s involved in this new method of mixtapes were approached by artist inquiring how they got the music. I’ve heard some even got physically assaulted, but that didn’t stop these DJ’s for getting the exclusive music which fans wanted. It was no different than a news reporter going in hostile territory to report the news to you. Eventually, artist started to see the benefit of mixtapes and started working with DJ’s and even used the mixtape as a testing ground before putting out an album.
The mixtape now, is no longer just for the underground hip hop scene. With the help of the internet, mixtapes are now a main stream promotional tool. Basically, If you don’t have a compiled body of work like a mixtape…. how can I, a record label executive or any potential fan take you seriously as an artist? Mixtapes are necessary to show the public what you’re capable of doing. It brings us into your raw world with no record label interference and turns us into fans, if done correctly. 50 Cent and Lil Wayne are 2 examples of artist that saw the potential of mixtapes and took advantage of its promotional reach. There are even R&B artists like Trey Songz and Chris Brown putting out mixtapes, showing you the value of these promo tools.
Shooting music videos to songs off your mixtape takes your promotions to another level. Allowing people to visually see your music can make one understand your music better and even come to love it. It also shows how serious an artist is in promoting his project so when it’s time to promote an album; the artist has a good idea of what and what not to do.
Sometimes a mixtape would get such a big buzz that the artist record label would take 5 or 6 songs off the mixtape and put out an EP version for sale or they would just take the entire mixtape and put it out like an actual album.
Now with the internet, mixtapes have a further reach then it use to have. There are various websites that offer promotional services that assist artist in promoting mixtapes. An artist mixtape now is no longer limited to the neighborhood but can now be downloaded all over the world. Of course like anything there are a few negative things that come along with the mixtape. One major thing is a lot of producers haven’t authorized their beats to be used on mixtapes. Some artist will take producer’s beats that was sent to them for album consideration and put it on their mixtape without producer consent or payment. This has opened up artist as well as websites hosting the music to be hit with copyright infringement lawsuit, which is a federal crime. I’m sure you’ve seen some of our favorite hip hop sites shut down. For artist, the best thing is to have a signed agreement from producer stating if you leased the beat or purchased it exclusively, this will show who owns the actual record and keep you out of the mess.
The purpose of this article is to simply educate you on the mixtape and how you can use it to work for you. If used incorrectly it can not only hurt your career but it can give you a stiff fine or worst land you behind bars.
Good luck out there!