You spend months, even years, recording material for your mixtape – don’t throw it all away with poor planning and rookie mistakes. This article mostly applies to artist mixtapes, not DJ compilations. But DJs can take some advice from this as well.
Can’t find a DJ – Not wanting to wait on a DJ, lack of budget, or lack of connections are no excuse for omitting a DJ’s assistance. A popular DJ will open ears that otherwise wouldn’t check out an unknown or disliked artist. Personally, I will listen to a DJ Pharris, DJ Lomaxx or a Drumma Boy mix before a DJ-less tape. Plus technically, it’s not a mixtape without a DJ; it’s an album. Calling it a mixtape without finding a DJ makes the artist look lazy, and broke. The DJ may also be able to assist with promotion, which is arguably more important than the music itself.
A talented and experienced professional can also arrange your hard work into a cohesive, organized sounded project. Proper mixing and mastering will also earn you some brownie points. The music industry can tell the difference, even if you can’t. If you want to give fans the music without drops, tags, etc., pick a couple of the best tracks as single releases. Use the fans as a guide, they’ll tell you what they want. Ask Them!
Excessive DJ Shouts – On the flip-side, a DJ shouting all over the songs will ruin a listening experience quick. The wrong DJ drops will sound like your girlfriend’s yapping while you’re watching the game. Go with a DJ who will enhance your music and brand, not try to steal your shine. Sometimes the most expensive/popular DJ isn’t always the best. Do your research. Read forums; read comments on your favorite mixtape hosting sites; search the DJs name on Twitter; ask other people who have used the DJ about the quality. Also, it helps to use a DJ who’s taste matches your style of music. Rather to do some pre-planning than after-regretting.
Limit your songs – A standard CD is 80 minutes so if the tape is any longer you risk duplication problems. Unfortunately, there are some people left on earth who prefer physical discs. Not to mention, nobody is going to give a new artist 30 chances to impress, you must catch listeners attention during the first few songs, sometimes the first 30 seconds of the tape. Remember the competition is HUGE. Plus, we don’t want to hear every record you’ve ever made. Leave it to the established artists. If your project goes over about 10 songs, give or take a couple, it becomes redundant. Somewhere in there is material we don’t want to hear. Give us your best.
Old Songs – Please do not recycle songs from prior works, it’s a no-no to reuse it unless you remix it. Reusing the song will make you look incompetent when it comes to producing new material. Don’t be afraid of wasting the material because you think it hasn’t seen enough light. Your fans will do their research when you get big enough, and if the material is truly good, it will surface on its own. Future is a perfect example of this – he had several mixtapes and songs floating around before he popped off. Once his buzz took off, people found his old material on their own.
Recycled Beats – If every major artist has remixed the song using the beat already, leave it alone. It’s too old. If it’s a current number one radio hit, leave it alone. I heard about 100 different versions of Otis and N*ggas in Paris! Your mixtape should not be filled with copycat songs. Be Creative, Stand out from the rest.
No Promotion – Why spend all your time and money in the studio making a mixtape and invest nothing in the marketing and promotion? A good rule of thumb is to spend as much on the back end putting out your product as you spent creating it. Cross-promoting with other companies/artists is a good way to make up the difference, if your funds are low. Just remember cross-promotion should always be a win-win situation. Don’t ever ask for free promotion – you’ll piss people off(excuse my French), look cheap, and land your mix tape in the trash.
Unprofessional Graphics – The truth hurts and you may not want to hear this, but most times a mixtape’s cover is more important than the music itself. Provide Eye Candy, People are subconsciously thinking: if you can’t catch my eye, you can’t catch my ear. Have a professional create it, not your boy that is the neighborhood mixtape designer.
Unrealistic Expectations – One mixtape won’t make or break you. Overall consistency wins. Effectively ,Saturate the market with quality mastered music.
Publishing– Please make sure before posting your works on various sites that you’re registered. The companies that you can register with is BMI, ASCAP or SESAC. You may also want to register with BDS as well.