Mixtapes=Kryptonite For Producers

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?

  • http://myspace.com/twicewise chase moore

    shit i call em street albums….rapping over all industry beats is dummy played out now…ur better off calling it a street album straight up…my shits like a full length LP just pressed up like a mixtape feel me?

    • http://www.myspace.com/sogentllc LowEndOfDaChi

      That Thoroughbred joint on your page is cool as hell.

  • og bobby j

    I think the best method is to get with someone and tag team this music shit. It usually work good for both:

    Pap and Kayslay
    Term and Statik
    Whatever….

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  • ri067953

    Yo, you mentioned something about pushing mixtapes to create a “movement”. I got approched by two dudes, one producer and one mc the other. These dudes had a stack of CD’s and wanted me to buy one. The only thing is that they didn’t have anything to play their music on. They told me they were selling the CD’s to move units so that they could go to interscope and let them know how many units they pushed. My word to them was, let me hear your music. Piece of advice to the aspiring musicans out there, please have something for me to hear, don’t expect me to just buy a CD and waste my money on something I can’t hear.

    • D.R.A.M.A

      co sign. thats real

    • sublicon

      dude, i can’t fuckin stand that shit. you’d think those motherfuckers would have learned by now. “yo dawg, i know you like music . . wanna buy one of my CDs?” . . . “uhh, can I hear it?” . . “aww, man . . you got a cd player?” . . . “uhh, nope. cya”

      the cats on times square are the worst.

  • http://www.youheardthatnew.com/ Cannon

    And while we’re at it, can we please kill the current hip-hop buzzword “movement”. You are NOT leading a “movement” with 23 fans, 2 beat makers and a DJ.

    Good tips on why not to do mixtapes though.

  • http://incilin.blogspot.com Incilin

    Finally, you have arrived. After so many mediocre posts you finally put out a great post. I especially appreciate that your taking things out of your life and giving out advice, and not just musing on current affairs like most of us do here. It reminds me of some of YN’s old posts talking about his early days as a writer. This is great. Keep it coming.

  • http://www.myspace.com/sogentllc LowEndOfDaChi

    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.

    Church.

    I’m tired of all the “movements” and mixtapes full of industry beats saturating the game right now.

    Nice drop.

  • http://hiphoponmymind.blogspot.com DJ Daddy Mack

    Well, I’m a “mixtape” DJ. I personally think of my joints as street albums. You make some interesting points. I aint going to stunt. There are a lot of people who would fuck a lot of people over. I aint like that to be honest. I give producers their credit even if I had the beat for a year (thank you iTunes). My whole thing is about promoting the artists and the producers. Shoot, I do it for free because I love doing it. I even offer free listens and downloads to people bcuz I do not believe in paying for music when I never heard of the cats b4. Are there results? Yes. How do I do my promotion? My radio show, myspace, facebook, giving cds out on campus and NYC, forums, the internet in general. I think that producers should ask DJs and Rappers some real deals questions to find out if is a good deal or not. Just the other day, I found out that a producer I work with give away a beat for an album that is being sold on iTunes (prolly other places too). I do not think it was right for him to get fucked over like that.

    Ya should check out my free mixtapes and my radio show:
    http://dj-daddy-mack.tripod.com/mixtapes.html
    http://dj-daddy-mack.tripod.com/

    Basically not all DJs and Rappers will fuck producers over. Do your homework first. :-) That is all.

  • http://www.myspace.com/crockerishiphop Crocker

    If people put more time in to coordinating the actual sequencing and put decent tracks (freestyle or not,) shit would speak for itself. I myself love mixtapes, and purchased Mood Muzik 3 via Paypal off of Mixtapekings.com. As for ur argument, well, yeah, ur better off in the long run not contributing mixtape joints, but….if you’re not already an established producer…you gotta pay dues somehow or another.

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  • http://hiphoponmymind.blogspot.com DJ Daddy Mack

    oh snaps. My whole big comment was not posted? wtf?

  • natasha

    Mixtapes are not officially dead because alot of niggaz in the street still don’t have computers. There are plenty of niggaz in my neighborhood who cop hardcopies of mixtapes & they’ve never even sent an email in their life. The problem is a saturation of mixtapes depending on the city you reside in. Mixtapes are still not really that saturated here in the south, but in NYC & other east coast cities you can forget it. You still have to have the hardcopies for the niggaz in the streets because alot of them still ain’t fuckin’ with the computer & the buzz starts in the streets.

  • http://www.pimpinpens.blogspot.com triplesixNinja

    very insightful and thought provoking. well done!

  • EReal

    I give a fuck because the mixtapes are usually 100X better than the actual albums because A&Rs and T.I.s aint got shit to do with em. Real Talk.

  • http://www.soundclick.com/onemanproductions myspace.com/onemanprod

    yeah there has got to be a better way to get your beats sold.
    id rather make my own producer mixtape and push it out there and have the labels come to me. but no check then no beat

  • Pierzy

    It’s true that when you hear a “new” beat on a mixtape, not only are you not sure who produced it but you’re not even sure if it’s original. There have been times where I’ve heard a freestyle or whatever over a beat that I loved and I found out later that it was actually a beat from somewhere else. I remember the LOX did this back in the day when they murdered a beat and it turned out to be a Preemo beat for MOP that a lot of people never heard before…

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  • allcityunseen

    This is a good read . yall need he magazine back

    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.

    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.

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  • http://mlm-ka.cn/ Медик

    “Классный пост”

  • http://ukrproekt.com.ua/ Александр

    Все просто и понятно…что ничего не понятно.

  • mike

    First of all, to all you producers, get one thing clear, you are not the spearhead of producing rap songs. Please get a grip. Without vocals, your beat is simply obselete. the two main ingredients go hand in hand. Producres are lucky that they dont pay MC’s for vocals to fill up some of the wack beats being done. This is a partnership, why should i pay for a beat when the prohit aint come in yet. Bottom line is this: Producers should eat when everybody eat, untill then fall back and pay dues just like the rappers. Chumps!!!!!!!

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  • http://www.dynamicproducer.com dynamicwayne

    I believe the mixtape game is saturated point blank period

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/freevnzlanstyle?feature=mhum Edwin

    I am a starting as a producer. I contributed to one of my friend’s mixtape. Actually he sold some CD’s but i didn’t received any money. Also i didn’t received any credits at the beginning or end of the songs. My concern is, should i focus first on getting myself known? should i charge money? How should it deal with artists? I am confused about having this kind of deals that i don’t know if i will beneficiate from it. Please help, advices,

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