How To Make A Mixtape, The Ultimate Guide Part 3

How To Make A Mixtape, The Ultimate Guide Part 3Welcome 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

  1. How To Make A Mixtape, The Ultimate Guide Part One, and
  2. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
Get your music on itunesSo 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:

How To Make A Mixtape, The Ultimate Guide Part 1,

How To Make A Mixtape, The Ultimate Guide Part 2.

I hope we’ve answered all your how to make a mixtape related questions, good luck with making yours.

P.S. Want to learn how to take your music career to the next level using music marketing? Then click here!

Comments

  1. Stop Sleeping says:

    Nice post!

  2. Independent Music Advice says:

    Glad you enjoyed it, hope it helped!

  3. That was a very informative post. I am now in the process of composing my second mixtape and i was wondering about constructing my own website for it as well as other underground artists. Would you happen to have any information on building your own website? Also, are there any free mixtape upload sites that you may be aware of outside of the few mentioned in conjunction with songcast? Contact me back @ kanethepoet@gmail.com

  4. Independent Music Advice says:

    Hi Kane, glad you found the post useful. I’ve written a article on how to build your own website, so you might want to check that out. It’s the same method I used to build this website as well as some of my others (Both music and non music related).

    Although I’ve found SongCast to be the best choice for digital distribution, CD Baby also provide a good service as does one other service I’ve tried (The name of which has slipped my mind though).

  5. 6pound says:

    Awesome information. I am about to step into making a mixtape and this was just the knowledge i was looking to gain. Thanks for the heads up.

  6. Young White 216 says:

    To this forum couldn’t have came through at a better time. As an up-and-coming rapper in Cleveland, I was looking for info about how to drop a mixtape. Thanks for this family…

    -White

  7. Independent Music Advice says:

    No problem, glad I could help.

  8. Otherworldly Affair says:

    this was a very informative. i have plenty of material to begin working on my mixtape. im just looking into ways i can record

  9. adminima says:

    Glad you enjoyed it, if you can afford it i’d advice going to a proper studio. This shouldn’t cost you more then say $30 an hour, but will give you a good quality product to work with. Good luck with your mixtape.

  10. NeedAMixtape ! says:

    Ill Pay Someone To Make A Specific Mixtape *Depends On Rates*

  11. juvie says:

    thanks for the series very informative, i will like to know more about publishing rights because i payed the beatmaker/producer for everysong i recorded, so do i owe him anything when i realese my mixtape?

  12. Abel says:

    I want to make a mixtape but dont have that much money and I already have some instrumentals and raps laid down! is it possible makin them on your own with out studio time, if so, what software, instruments, electronics etc. do I need to make this happen?

  13. adminima says:

    It’s down to the individual deal you set with him. If you agreed to pay an upfront fee as well as a percentage of sales, then that’s what you owe him. If neither of you mentioned him getting any money after you paid him the initial amount, then you shouldn’t have to pay him anything additional. In future you should discuss this from the start however, and get the details of your deal in writing.

  14. adminima says:

    It’d be very hard to make a mixtape without any money. If you’re doing vocals for your mixtape, then you will need to go to the studio to record those vocals. If you have a local youth club with a recording studio however, you may be able to use that for free. I’d advice you don’t compromise the quality of your mixtape to save money though, as getting a good quality recording will help you gain a lot more fans and make people see you as being more credible.

  15. kardinal kolonize says:

    must say i was richly blessed by ur articles,couldn’t have come at a better time. Am an emcee out of nigeria and the competition to break into the rhyme scene is pretty intense,nw i want to make a mixtape with a mixture of rap instruments and jamaican dancehall riddims,think is worth a try?

  16. adminima says:

    Hi Kardinal, glad you found them useful. Yer it’s definitely worth a try, your mix of different music styles might be what’s needed to make a name for yourself in your country. Let us know how it goes.

  17. Grand Royal says:

    handy piece of work you guys have here, good job! Me and the guys have been workin on the tape for a while now and we werent sure to promote it, so thanks for the advice.

  18. No problem, glad you found the information useful. Good luck with your mixtape 🙂

  19. Rockstar says:

    This series was wonderful!! I have been looking for a mixtape ‘how to do” for awhile now. I am releasing my mixtape next month. I am going to do a digital download and distribute physical copies. I am concerned about performing my songs. Can I perform other people’s beats at an open mic? What do you think is an appropriate amount of cds to start off with? Would it be a waste to leave free mixtape cds at a music store? What is the most appropriate way to market a mixtape when using popular beats? Thank you !!!!!

  20. Thanks for the kind words. You can perform other people’s beats at an open mic, this is what’s usually happens. You’re not making any money from it, you’re just show casing your vocal ability. If a DJ is there he’d be playing a load of other people’s instrumentals anyway.

    I mentioned in the article that you should start by pressing up 100 CDs just to test the water. If you think you can sell 1000, just do 100 1st and see how things go. If you sell them fast and there’s still a lot of demand for more CDs, then press up however many you feel you can shift. If you do too little, you can always press up more later. Remember, pressing up too much will mean you’re out of pocket. By pressing up too little will mean that people demand it more and buy it quick next time before it sells out again (A good thing).

    Music stores is a good place to leave free CDs as it’ll get in front of people who are into music. You can see some of the best ways to market your mixtape in the Academy.

  21. Ravizee says:

    This was really great info that couldn’t have been said any better. Now i believe even my mixtape will make more noise and sell even more with these methods of promotion. Thanks for tips you guys, peace.

  22. That’s great Ravizee, glad I could be of help! 😀

  23. Chillz says:

    Great Post’s. i am creating my mix tape as we type. its been a up and down process. anyhting i could advise people of is dont make what you think the people want to hear. the only people that have to follow a guidline are the people in big contracts and they have a quota of records to sell. other then that make the music you like and if people like it then they like it, if not well it was only a mix tape and you can make a million more of these with out loosing out. also, dont cheat yourself, dont go broke tryin to make a mix tape but you dont want to produce muddy,choppy music with a cheap recording session. good luck to all… see you at the top!

  24. Chillz, very good advice! The mixtape stage is where you get to really try out your style, and see what people take to. Good luck with your mixtape, let us know how it goes.

  25. Oscar says:

    Hi,my name is Oscar Noah, my aim is to get signed by a major label. I am sixteen years old and i published my first mixtape,i’m self-released. I’m a singer and i produced every single beat of my mixtape. The mixtape is GREAT i published it on a lot of websites and i still do,but my question is
    How can i get it really noticed?,how can i make sure that the right people listen to it? i have a the right things,the music,the talent,the story but how can i make sure that all this will be noticed by the right person?

  26. Oscar, you may want to check out this guide on getting your mixtape noticed. Good luck.

  27. Johnie says:

    These tips were so helpful and really got me thinking about promotions but maybe in a more covert way… Are you familiar with launching a guerilla campaign, or any methods that are similar – promoting while not seeming too commercial-ly?

  28. Yes I am Johnie. I’ve mentioned a good number of marketing tactics that could be considered Guerilla marketing on this site, have a look around and you may pick up some more ideas. 😀

  29. Echo says:

    Awesome article, I have learn a lot by reading this. And I’m dropping a mixtape this Friday hope it’s a good learning experience.

  30. Good luck with that Echo, let us know how it goes!

  31. bryan says:

    Hi, your very helpful article to a good extent covered using other people’s instrumentals with your own vocals but I was wondering what is involved with commercially producing a mixtape made up of tracks that are remixes of original popular vocals remixed with my own beats and instrumentals. Thanks!

  32. If you want to make a mixtape for commercial use, it’s recommended you use only material you own. If you want to use someone else’s beats or vocals, contact them to see if this is possible (And if so how). Make sure you get any agreements down in writing.

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