Master your craft: Releasing a successful mixtape

By Jesse Atkinson
When I come across interesting articles on the net, I often adapt the advice and re-appropriate it for the South African audience. Most times I need to change the language in order for the content to be in layman’s terms for novice musicians to understand. This time around I found an article which changing a single word would spoil it as it is clear, straight to the point and uses no jargon. Adapted from please treat as your mixtape bible. I have…  

Presently the Mixtape market is very over saturated. There are too many mixtape projects being released freely into the marketplace without any defined purpose or mission. The end result is nothing but clutter! CLUTTER MUSIC equals Sub par, mediocre, throw away music. And this is what most rappers are putting on their mixtapes. ”Clutter music” clogs up the market place and brings down the intrinsic and monetary value of other quality music in it’s lane. The Sad thing is that most indie rappers have no idea why they’re giving away their music for free. They are just following everyone else. SMH.
What worked for Lil Wayne, Drake and Wiz Khalifa as it relates to giving away Free Mixtapes will not work for every indie rapper out there. And the fact is that Most Rap fans don’t want FREE music. They want GOOD music that appeals to their emotions. And they will pay for it if it’s marketed right. There’s a big difference between FREE music & GOOD music and some rappers confuse the two. Give the fans what they want and they’ll show support.
The Free Music Mindset causes some artists to slack when they go in the booth, because subconsciously they know that the music will be just given away “Freely”. So they don’t give it their all. If you’re going to give away your mixtape for FREE then try to derive revenue from sponsorships and advertisements. There are several important factors you must consider before releasing a mixtape.
Firstly, make sure the mixtape is recorded properly, mixed down correctly and sounds crisp.
Equally important, make sure your mixtape content, cover and concept are unique to stand apart from the competition. You must be able to define the mission and philosophy behind your Mixtape.
Strive to make a “Classic” mixtape not a “Clutter” mixtape. Don’t just make “clutter” music that you give away for free to clutter the marketplace. Make “Classic” music with passion and feeling that music afficianados can appreciate.
If you’re going to do a remix of a popular song or rhyme over a well know industry instrumental, then make sure that your version is just as good or even better than the original.
It defeats the purpose to pay thousands of dollars for a feature and the featured artist out shines you on your own song. Bring Your “A” Game!
Don’t Get Caught up in the “Mixtape Madness.” Don’t release your 3rd free mixtape in 3 months if you haven’t properly promoted the first two.
Most indie Hip Hop artists release a mixtape without even promoting it. Some rappers spend thousands of dollars to get a “big name” DJ to host their mixtape and then spend zero dollars marketing it.
And If your only MARKETING strategy is sending out tweets on Twitter and posts on Facebook every hour about your mixtape, then you’ve already lost.
Develop a plan to make people excited about downloading it. Create Hype about your mixtape before releasing it. Send out press releases, create a contest. do giveaways, get reviews on it, do radio interviews, etc. Make it an extravaganza.
Moreover Promote your Mixtape by investing in a marketing strategy that includes Online Promo, PR/Publicity, E-Blasts, Video Promo, Radio interviews, Press Releases,
Street Team/Club Promo. We suggest our partners at Coast 2 Coast Mixtapes for proper mixtape promotion.
Before dropping a mixtape, release a single and develop it virally. Inform the public that this is the 1st single from the upcoming mixtape. A week or two before releasing your mixtape, do a couple of mixtape release parties and invite the press, fans and DJ’s. Perform a couple of songs from it.
In addition, to promote the mixtape, use a small budget to sponsor local events. Advertise with your local internet radio shows that support your music.
And don’t just spend money on a Mixtape Marketing company. Work the project yourself as well. Make your fans part of the experience!
Put a snippet of a bonus single on your free mixtape and then sell that bonus single in its entirety on Itunes. Additionally, make a music video of the bonus single, put it on Youtube and advertise that it’s a bonus single from your mixtape.
Also try to Do something different with your mixtape like tie it in to your favorite charity whereby you can get awareness for the charity as well.
If you’re going to pay a so called big name DJ to host your mixtape, then try to have an agreement which stipulates that the DJ has to promote the project as well.
Now that your free mixtape has been downloaded “5000″ or more times, what’s next? That’s what you should be asking yourself (Movement Calculations). The purpose of giving away free music is to advertise your brand for opportunities that make money like paid live shows, endorsements, merchandise sales etc. If you don’t have a follow up plan to generate money from your “Free Mixtape”, then you’re just wasting your time. Monetize your Movement!
In fact, forget about putting out 3 mediocre FREE mixtapes in a row and concentrate on creating one CLASSIC ALBUM that you can market and sell. The little bit of advice I just gave on “Mixtapes” is priceless! I hope it helps so that we can get rid of some of this clutter of free Mixtapes that are put into the marketplace without any Rhyme or Reason. 


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