In 2001 Colombia records dumped 50 Cent, or “fiddy” if you will. A small matter of him getting shot 9 times. They didn’t think it would do much for their reputation. A classic example of dinosaur thinking in the music industry.
Rather than look for a new deal, 50 Cent created a glut of mixtapes and spilled them out onto the streets. People listened, engaged with the story and passed the word round. His reputation soared. The result of this word-of-mouth buzz was a bidding war. As a result, Dr Dre signed him to his label. Their first release, Get Rich or Die Tryin’, sold 872,000 copies in a week.
Since then hip-hop mixtapes have been widely used as a way of promoting an artist in advance of an official release or tour. Often the tapes are rough-edit samples of the material to come. In a sense, they’re low-priced, or even free, marketing tools designed to designed to sell a premium product further down the line.
How to promote your mixtape
Websites like Fear Factor Marketing show you to promote your mixtape to make money on iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, Napster, Emusic and MediaNet. You pay a monthly fee (included in MEGA package), after which you can keep all of your royalties. We then give you free public store profile and links to your Facebook, Twitter and MySpace. You can also build a mailing list out of your buyers.
Another service called Mixaloo offers you free instrumental downloads which you can then turn into mixtapes. The idea is that you upload your music and share it with friends on MySpace and Facebook. You can even sell these mixes and keep half the profits.
The mixtape marketing formula
- Self-publish – even if you’ve got only a basic blog, a plain text email newsletter and no budget. Get yourself out there. Spread the word. People don’t mind lo-fi material. It’s all about the usefulness of your content. If you have something to say, that’s all that’s important. Don’t try and compete with the mainstream. Your content is underground, self-published and urgent – and people will love your for it.
- Word of mouth is a currency – even if you’ve not yet monetized your blog, email newsletter or free content website, don’t worry. The important thing is to build a reputation. If your email list is growing and you’re gaining followers and friends through your social media activities, you’re on the right track. Money will come later. With enough of an audience, you have the potential to promote premium products, advertise other people’s products, or even start charging for areas of your content.
- Share other people’s information – in the modern internet age, information is considered free, especially by the new digital generation. If you don’t have a mass of original ideas, or time to do research, then share the information out there already. Rappers used other people’s songs, samples and instrumentals. You can do a similar thing. We don’t advocate plagiarism. But these days you can create content by gather information from sources online, passing it on, and even linking to those sources. As long as you offer an opinion and give credit where credit’s due, the internet’s your oyster.
- Make your marketing valuable and desirable These days many mixtapes are a form of free sample marketing. Listeners know they’re being primed to pay for something later, but still they love hearing the music regardless. Who cares if it’s marketing? It’s quality! Likewise your content should have its own inherent value, regardless of whether you’re using it to market something. It should be able to stand alone. As advertising guru Leo Burnett wrote about sales copy: “Make it simple. Make it memorable. Make it inviting to look at. Make it fun to read.”