I’m gonna keep it all the way real here. I have a love/hate relationship with mixtapes, just like anyone who is involved with the music “business,” most notably the major labels themselves. Years ago, I used to produce a lot of songs that would end up on mixtapes (mixunit.com and allmixtapes.com, where art thou?), and then later they’d get on mixshow radio at HOT97 and so on and so forth. Generally the artist would be a current mixtape rapper-of-the-moment, and then when that rapper cooled off, nobody cared anymore. At the time, it was a way to a balance out all the running around I was doing at major labels, trying to get placements on albums. A way to keep my name out there, so to speak. Looking back, I’m not going to say doing those songs did nothing for my career, but I couldn’t help but notice that there were producers from other regions, who nobody up here in New York had ever really even heard before, getting placements without having to resort to getting a producer buzz on mixtapes. They weren’t doing street records for artists trying to get on. They just had the right tracks and the right people walking their music in the door for them.
In ’08, mixtapes are old news to people in the media and the industry, and the scene is beyond saturated, so people act like they aren’t relevant at all. But rest assured, there are at least 50 DJs and rappers on your block alone right now who are working on a mixtape, and they think that once their shit hits the street, they’re going to waltz into Jimmy Iovine’s office and bully him into giving them a joint venture deal, because they’re….ahem… movement, is so strong.
The reality is, if you’re an up and coming producer and you’re trying to make some money selling tracks, you might come across one of these artists or a DJ who wants you to contribute to their mixtape. They’re going to tell you to get down with their movement, that working with them is going to be good promotion for you, and that you’ll see money down the line. Unless you have a business situation in place beforehand, where the actual mixtape will benefit your bottom line, mixtapes are a waste of time, energy, and beats. Of course, like with anything in life, there are a few exceptions
10 Reasons Why Producers Should Avoid Contributing To Mixtapes
1) Unless it’s an artist with a ridiculous buzz, nobody really benefits from mixtapes more than the actual DJs themselves. If you really want to see your dollars double, put the mixtapes out yourself and promote whatever services you are offering through them- studio time, engineering, beats, cd duplication, hosting, printing.
2) There is no publishing on mixtapes. Publishing is how a songwriter or producer sustains his/her career.
3) Mixtapes have the shelf life of two weeks. Is your music only good enough to be listened to for two weeks?
4) If you produce a song for a major label artist and they want to release it on a mixtape, chances are they won’t want to release in on their official album because the “streets” already have it. That’s another piece of work you won’t get paid for.
5) The bigger your producer mixtape buzz gets, the more broke starving artists will start reaching out to you asking for free beats. The more meet and greet time you have to devote to these losers, the less time you have to actually work on music and shop tracks to people who actually have money.
6) It’s hard to get any type of paperwork done on a joint you produce for a mixtape. So in the rare case where the song blows up on radio, it’s hard to backtrack and make sure you get what you’re owed.
7) A lot of artists and DJs don’t keep track of who produced what. The song may be sitting on a hard drive for a year before it makes it on a mixtape. By that time, they can’t remember. They just slap anyone’s name on your work and put it out there, a sign of total disrespect.
8) Like all music, mixtapes have gone digital. Who looks at credits anymore? A producer can’t be promoted via the mixtape if nobody actually looks at the tracklisting.
9) So many rappers say the producer’s name at the beginning of songs that people don’t even pay attention anymore, making that form of promotion null and void.
10) Let’s face it, what person with a checkbook actually gives a fuck about mixtapes anymore?