Mixtapes the New Radio Single of the Social Media Generation

It seems that the idea od the radio single is starting to fade out of existence for the current generation of music consumers in place of the digital mixtape. Larger Artist have been releasing mixtapes for their Fans for example Drake recently released his mixtape “If You’re Reading This It’s too Late” With the music hungry generation always craving more at the stroke of a key and a number of up and coming music producers artist ect. able to create full albums from the comfort or their homes. The current internet savvy generation is use to an overwhelming amount of music nearly instantaneously from multiple free digital download and streaming websites and apps such as sound cloud band camp spotify and many others.

This has led to artist making around 15 tracks the 12 best for their album and 3 to be released as a downloadable mix tape to build hype for the record that will be following it. The mix tape originally created as bootleg 8 track recording that you could purchase in the 1960’s, the mix tape contained all the radio favorites of the time. The mix tape eventually evolved into recordings on cassette tape of hip hop Dj’s club performance to the general releases of a mix of songs for free from an artist to multiple artist to get them notoriety and to get there name out there. Although no longer on tape or in an actually or in physical form the mix tape industry in thriving and becoming an even more impactful force now that most artist are putting them up for free download off of their website.

Mix tapes have allowed for independent artist to find there footing to rise in popularity and success. One of the large utilizers of the mixtape is the rap and hip hop community. One of the artist that uses this tool relentlessly is the independent Berkley California based rapper Lil B, in his 10 year career Lil B has only released 5 studio albums and nearly 50 mixtapes. His career has been centered highly around his mixtapes and has led him to perform in some of the largest venues and festivals in the United States. With the sales of recorded music dwindling the power of the mixtape in combination with the Internet has allowed the independent artist to achieve some acclaim with out the backing or connection and perks of being signed to a huge label.


Although traditionally mixtapes are thought of as something geared towards the hip hop community other artist in other genres and even labels have been utilizing this tool to help promote albums tours or other projects that they are currently working on. An example of this is the band Hiatus Kaiyote went back to work with it’s old label Wondercore in the middle of a tour to promote the last leg of their tour. This not only helps the larger indie band hiatus Kaiyote but it helps all the other bands on the mixtape that are now associated with the band Hiatus Kaiyote.


The power of the mixtape has been so monumental that it has started to be incorporated into the mainstream music market as a cheap advertising tool. With mixtapes being easily available to be put up on the internet and downloaded for free rather than the label having to go to the radio station and work under the station stipulation cough payola cough to get a track played at a prime time so the artist gets the marketing they need for their album, tour, or whatever combination of events they are trying to promote the label is able to put a mix tape up on the artist website and have the artist use whatever social media outlet they are connected to advertise the mixtape to his or her multiple fans getting free publicity and coming off as a more generous artist willing to indulge in fan service.

In the case of drake he had multiple events and projects to advertise he was touring with Lil wayne, he had a new album coming out. Although he claims he was releasing the mixtape because a hacker had the tracks already so he wanted to release them before the hacker beat him to the punch. Regardless of if it’s true releasing the mixtape has effectively helped Drake to create buzz on social media and bring attention to the fact that he is on one of his largest tours yet and has created buzz over a new potential album to be released.


Although conceived originally as an underground or indie marketing tool created by DJ’s in the early hip hop era mixtapes are becoming a standard practice in the music culture crossing over to major artist as a cheap source of publicity. This only makes too much sense seeing as the vast majority of people now would rather have control over what they are listening to while they drive rather than waiting for the local radio station to play the song they want to hear slowly and slowly the mixtape is working it’s way into the mainsteam with the help of streaming and is becoming the way people get to hear singles.

-Andrew Beeh

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