Digital Mixtapes: The Future of Music Distribution

by Dexter Bryant Jr. on February 19, 2010 · 22 comments

in Promotion

Mixtapes have been a staple in hip-hop culture for decades. Artists primarily use them to build buzz for their commercial releases in an effort to increase their album sales. As useful as mixtapes have been for the artists who use them, it wasn’t until relatively recently that their effectiveness as promotional vehicles surfaced in pop culture.

More Than Hip Hop
Mixtapes are no longer exclusive to hip hop music. In fact, I am convinced that we are at the dawn of the golden age of electro mixtapes and rock and roll mixtapes.

Hip hop success stories revolving around mixtapes (see: Lil Wayne and Drake) have become so prominent that it’s only a matter of time before artists and bands in other genres start exploring the full potential of mixtapes. Digital mixtapes are an incredibly useful marketing tool so it vexes me that the indie rock community as a whole (known for their DIY business savvy) has yet to embrace a “mixtape renaissance”, so to speak.

6 Key Advantages
Mixtapes have a number of advantages over traditional models of physical distribution (such as CDs and LPs):

  1. They’re free, thereby allowing an artist to establish and nurture relationships with his/her audience without the barrier of price restricting consumption of the artist’s music
  2. They can be easily copied and transferred to as many portable music devices as the user wants (screw DRM!)
  3. They require very little monetary investment to produce and distribute
  4. They’re a great tool for artists to grow their mailing list by collecting email addresses for each mixtape download
  5. They are an inexpensive promotional vehicle for retail products (CDs, merchandise, liquor brands, clothing brands, and anything else you can imagine)
  6. Through endorsements and other clever sponsorship deals mixtapes can generate revenues for the creator(s) yet still remain free to the public

Limitless Potential
Mixtapes hold limitless potential for artists and entrepreneurs who recognize the opportunity and are willing to develop forward-thinking business models around the distribution of free music. Because the commercial exploitation of mixtapes is a fairly new area of business, everything is experimental at this point.

A Hustler’s Spirit by Ludacris is just one example of how to generate revenues using a mixtape but there are other ways you can make money with mixtapes. It’s up to you (artists, creators, and entrepreneurs) to explore this uncharted territory, forge your own path, and ultimately create your own success. Don’t expect record labels to do this for you (mixtapes irk them)–this is something you’re going to have to do for yourself.

You can do this. I have faith in you.

The only way to make this work is to stop viewing the ubiquitous availability of free music as an obstacle and start seeing it as an opportunity. This fundamental shift in your mindset is imperative for the success of your music career. Once you stop allowing the availability of free music hold you back, it will empower you. Stop making excuses for why your career isn’t successful right now and go out there and create the success you’ve always dreamed of.

Dexter Bryant Jr [d.BRYJ] is the go-to songwriter/producer of dance rock and electro crunk music for modern-day hippies. Dexter works as a digital branding consultant and digital content producer for indie bands and media 2.0 entrepreneurs. He is the Digital Marketing Director of Dynasty Music Entertainment and d.BRYJ Music Media Group. Dexter blogs about music and business @

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February 24, 2010 at 6:13 pm
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