I recently checked out Billboard’s Mixtapes & Money: Inside the Mainstreaming of Hip-Hop’s Shadow Economy. It covers three decades of Mixtape culture from beat and blend tapes, the DJ Clue era, 50 Cent and DJ Whoo Kid, to DJ Drama and Don Cannon and all the way up to today with Datpiff, LiveMixtapes, AudioMack, and MyMixtapez.
In my personal opinion, Mixtapes are in the weirdest place ever. With the explosion of streaming and artists and labels making more money than ever from it, it almost makes no sense to release a project on a platform that doesn’t pay per stream. I understand why a new or rising artist would use Soundcloud but Spotify has a user base of over 100 million people, and 40 million+ paid subscribers. Apple Music boasts over 20 million paid subscribers. Although Souncloud, Spinrilla, My Mixtapez and others may be accessible, but why not train your fans to find your music where it would benefit everyone involved?
Look, it’s not about being greedy, it’s about being smart. If SoundCloud shut down their platform tomorrow, all those streams there won’t count. but Streams from Apple Music, TIDAL and Spotify are counted by Nielsen. So, if you’re an artist, I’d think twice before releasing your entire project JUST on a platform that can’t translate to sales. Studio time ain’t free, production ain’t free, mixing ain’t free and your time… well, is your time free?
As for DJs, it’s time for ALL DJs to transition into playlists. Don’t wait until so-called “tastemakers” all get into playlists for you to join the wave. Whatever you do, as an artist or DJ, you have to think ahead, or get left behind.