Welcome to the third and final part of the ‘How To Make A Mixtape‘ series. This series was started because we kept receiving mixtape related questions, from how to make a mixtape, to more complex and specific ones on pricing and releaseing your mixtape. After replying to a few of those questions individually, we decided to create a series of posts where people could get all the answers they need instantly. These posts becase the “How To Make A Mixtape” series, one of which you’re reading now. So far in this series we’ve answered beginner questions like “What is a mixtape”, to more popular questions such as “Can you use other people’s beats on your mixtape” and “How do you make your mixtape stand out from the crowd”. In this final part, we’ll be look at some questions you’ll need to ask yourself when pricing your mixtape, releasing your mixtape, and promoting your mixtape.
While there’s some very useful information in this topic, our previous topics on the subject of how to make a mixtape provide info on the earlier steps on making the ultimate mixtape. So if you haven’t already done so, you may want to check our previous “how to make a mixtape” posts before reading this one:
Other How To Make A Mixtape Parts
- How To Make A Mixtape, The Ultimate Guide Part One, and
- How To Make A Mixtape, The Ultimate Guide Part Two.
If you’ve already read those How To Make A Mixtape guides, we can move forward…
Pricing Your Mixtape
When it comes to pricing your mixtape, it’s often good to think about what the purpose of the mixtape is. Do you want to use the mixtape as a way or promoting yourself as much as possible, or are your goals more profit related?
If mass exposure if your main aim, you may want to give out your mixtape for free, or in a no cost exchange (E.G In exchange for an email address, or for a certain amount of promotion to be done by the fan). This type of pricing strategy can help get your music quite widely spread with the right promotion, but also runs the risk of being seen as a lower quality product (As it was free to obtain).
If making profit is your main aim, you will of course want to sell your mixtape. When pricing it you could go one of two routes:
- You can price it on par with other mixtapes within the genre. This’ll subconsciously give the impression it’s worthy of buying as it’s similarly priced as all the other CDs. You will of course need to back this up with a good product if you want people to choose your CD over the many others on display however.
- You could under cut the market. The aim here is to make it cheaper then the other CDs available, so people with less cash flow that want a CD will be more inclined to buy your CD over others. Once again, you run the risk of being seen as cheap (In a bad way) and therefore not of a good quality, but with the right marketing you can over come this.
A good strategy I’ve found is to do a mixture of both. You can release a short promo CD for free, then release a bigger paid one soon after. The smaller CD will hopefully get your name out there, then if people like what they hear they will go on to buy your full CD.
When it comes to pricing your mixtape, you also have to think about where you’re selling them. Mixtapes often sell at similar prices to albums in high street stores, but a bit cheaper in underground record shops. If you’re selling them on the streets you can expect to sell them for a fraction of the price, sometimes as low as what you’d get from a sale or return or distribution deal.
Releasing Your Mixtape
The next thing we’re going to look at is releasing your mixtape. There’s no point learning how to make a mixtape if you don’t ever release it, your mixtape will do no good in your bedroom collecting dust! Firstly let me say there is no one correct way of releasing your mixtape. The strategy of releasing a successful mixtape will vary depending on what you want to achieve for this mixtape and what music genre you make music in. There are some general tip that can be used for any type of mixtape however, so today we will look at those.
The first thing you need to think about is what format you want to release your mixtape in. Are you going to press it up and put it out as a physical product? Or are you going to keep it as a digital download only? Physical products have the benefit of making you look more like a serious musician, and give the chance for people who don’t like buying online a chance to get your product. A digital download however can save you money in the sense you don’t have to pay to press up your music to CD. It’s also cheap and easy to have your digital downloads distributed to big sites worldwide using sites like Songcast, so is worth doing even if you do press up a physical copy (Songcast is free to sign up to and will get your music on iTunes, Amazon and other online music stores).
If you’re giving away your mixtape for free I’ll advice you only release a digital download copy. While there may sometimes be reasons to press up copies of a free mixtape (If you want to give some to important industry figures to make a good impression, or you want some freebies for a show etc) you should generally make your fans go to your website and sign up to your mailing list in exchange for any freebies.
So now you know what format you’re going to release your mixtape in, now is the time to get your music to the general public. If you opted to release your mixtape as a physical product, your best bet would be to go through a distribution company. For a cut of the money you make, a distribution company can get your mixtape into shops you wouldn’t otherwise be able to get them into. This includes both physical and online music shops, and good ones can even get your music distributed worldwide. A typical distributor will take at least £ / $1 for each CD they sell for you, and while this many vary, the price is often worth the service they provide. Another benefit of using a distributor is that they can often collect your money from record shops as soon as the record shop have agreed to stock your CD. That means you won’t have to wait till your CDs are sold to customers to be paid.
While not all music distribution companies operate the same, many distributors that deal directly with independent musicians work like this:
- Once you have your product, you bring a set amount of pressed up CDs to your distributor.
- You agree a price that you want for each CD.
- The distributor then shows your music to shops and tries to get them to take them in. If the shop chooses to sell your product, the distributor receives money for the product.
- The distributor sells to as many shops as they can in a set period of time. Once the time limit is up they pay you for any CDs they sold, and give you back the ones that didn’t sell.
- If all CDs are sold they may ask you for more copies if there’s demand from the shops.
The other way to get your music into shops is via ‘sale or return’ deals. This is where you give your mixtapes to record shops, they sell however many of your CDs they can in a set period, then pay your for any CDs they sold in that time. Any CDs they didn’t sell they give back to you. Check out our previous topic What Is A Sale Or Return Deal (SOR) And How To Get One for more info on how to get SOR and distributor deals.
How To Promote Your Mixtape
So no you know how to make a mixtape and you’ve got it in shops, there next stage is to promote it. It’s no good having your mixtape in the shops if no one knows it there. Without the knowledge of it’s existence, no one’s going to buy it. It may sound obvious, but I’ve seen too many musicians put months into making a mixtape, get it into shops, cross their fingers and hope it sells. This is not an effective business strategy, and not one I’d recommend to anyone.
There are many ways to promote your mixtape, but often thinking out the box can do wonders your your marketing efforts (We already talked about making your mixtape stand out in part two of this guide). On top of that you should look into doing all the tried and tested marketing methods:
- Live or pre recorded TV or radio shows,
- Performing at live events,
- Getting your music to radio and venue Djs to play,
- Video promotion if you have the budget,
- Magazine adverts,
- Online promotion (Social media, on your own website, call in favours on other websites etc), and
- Flyers (These can be handed out at venues or left places for people to pick up) and other paper based promotion.
I’d suggest you pick a few of these to do rather then attempt all of them. Unless you’ve got a big team and / or budget behind you, it’d probably be best to focus on doing a few of these methods very well.
You should focus most of your promotional efforts pre-launch to raise awareness of your product and build up a want for it, as well as when it’s actually released to make people go out and purchase it. This is the period you’ll get most of your sales, so make as big a noise as you can during this time. The more people talking about it before and during its launch, the more sales you will make.
Having said that, promotion for your mixtape should never stop. Even when initial sales slow down you should at least have adverts for your mixtape on your website, and be promoting it on any radio and TV shows you do. Remember, not every one will have caught your initial launch, so giving new fans a chance to discover your mixtape can mean more sales.
How To Make A Mixtape Conclusion
That’s it for our “How To Make a Mixtape” series, you should no longer be wondering how to make a mixtape, but instead be out there making one instead! I hope you’ve found it useful, please leave any comments or feedback below in the comments section. If you’re currently in the process of making a mixtape, please let us know how it’s going. Similarly if you’ve already released a mixtape and have any advice for our readers let us know. Please share this guide with friends, if any of them want to know how to make a mixtape then forward them this link.
If you haven’t read them already, you can catch our previous posts with more tips on how to make a mixtape below:
I hope we’ve answered all your how to make a mixtape related questions, good luck with making yours.