The Mixtape isn’t dead; it’s evolved
In the mid 90′s, while other kids were rollerblading and trading NBA cards, I remember sitting by my dad’s big silver boom box cassette radio, tuned into my favourite show hosted by my favourite DJ.
I had a shiny new cassette tape loaded in the deck with my finger resting on the record button waiting for a banger track to add to my homemade mixtape. I would pick carefully which songs to add and it took precise timing to get it right, if I managed to get a song that was hardly played on the radio it would make my day. I’d even go to the extent of ensuring I had upbeat tracks at the start of the tape to captivate my audience so they’d listen right through to the end. I’d make mixtape after mixtape, showing them off to my friends, making copies and driving my parents insane by insisting they play them on long drives.
I’ve always been into hip-hop and in my high school days my friends and I would make mixtape’s of ourselves as aspiring artists, rapping over other peoples beats, using that same big old boom box that belonged to my father. The quality was rubbish and we had no way to promote our music other than handing the tapes out to our mates at school. 10 years later it’s a whole new ball game.
As a hip-hop artist, I appreciate and embrace the tools available in today’s digital age to gather inspiration, network, collaborate, market and distribute our music to audiences all over the globe. Some close friends and I started our hip-hop crew, The Brothahood, in 2005 when social media was just taking off. We began our online presence and built our fan base through MySpace; this evolved to facebook and Twitter where we now communicate directly to our 6000+ fans and network with artists and producers from around the world. Through these social networks we’ve collaborated with artists from the UK, USA and the Middle East. We’ve toured through South East Asia and the UAE reaching out to global audiences – the success we’ve seen previously would only have been possible with the signing of a record label.
This month we released our MIXTAPE 2.0. The mixtape includes a bunch of works with different styles featuring local and international artists. We released it as a teaser but also as a marketing strategy to increase exposure through social networks.
Everyone involved in the mixtape, from the cover artwork to photography and production was done pro bono – what they get in return is promotion through social media; re-tweets, Facebook tags, shares, comments, likes which will likely translate into viral activity meaning more exposure for the artists, photographers, producers and anyone else involved in the release.
Since the MIXTAPE 2.0 is free and only available in digital form, the music social sites like Bandcamp and Soundcloud have worked wonders to promote and distribute the release. Both these sites can be integrated with Facebook so when The Brothahood post an update with a link to our MIXTAPE 2.0, those who are subscribed to our Facebook page can play our music directly through their newsfeed without having to leave Facebook. They have the option to comment, like and share the link which will appear as an embedded music player on their profile also.
Mixtape releases are more prevalent than ever and are being featured in most major music publications, print and online. It’s unlikely you’ll find a mixtape in the form of a cassette tape anymore, it will either be a CD or a digital download but it still serves its original purpose – using a variety of styles to create buzz and generate exposure for up and coming artists. The mixtape isn’t dead; it has evolved.
The views expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Telstra.