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There seems to be a mix up between mixtapes and albums these days. It’s 2016 and people still fuss over whether or not there is a difference between the two.

Mixtapes used to be underground productions of freestyles, remixes or use of popular songs with replaced lyrics. Until recently, mixtapes were not something the hipsters would consider “mainstream.” A large handful of today’s mixtapes contain original content. If an artist releases a project for free, the term tends to automatically get slapped onto it. In addition, if there isn’t a label attached to it, it’s apparently not worthy enough to be an album (or win a Grammy).

 

Mixtape

Album

·      Released for free ·      Released for profit
·      No record label ·      Record label
·      For the “art” of music ·      For the “sale” of music
·      Seemingly spontaneous ·      Conceptual, thought-out
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Nowadays, more music than ever is being released “free to stream” through platforms like YouTube, Spotify and Apple Music. Almost every album ever produced is accessible to listen to for free on Spotify, unless you get a monthly subscription to avoid the interruption of ads. However, the albums are not free to download. With the convenience of platforms like Spotify on a computer, tablet or phone, downloading music has become basically obsolete.

Mixtapes are beginning to be taken as seriously as albums in terms of creation, but the release is different.

Albums usually have a hyped release date along with a marketing plan, whereas mixtapes are usually spontaneously released for free. Here’s a current example: Drake released “mixtape” (by his definition) If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late without a heads-up. Although IYRTITL is affiliated with a record label and wasn’t free, it had a successful release as a mixtape, just like any album would. Chance the Rapper just released his called Coloring Book, free of charge and a labeland it’s already gotten loads of recognition as well. Rap artists tend to start out making mixtapes as they launch their careers and work their way up to albums. Take Kid Cudi as another prime example. His mixtape A Kid Named Cudi was released a year before his first album Man On the Moon: The End of Day.

Maybe the term mixtape needs to finally die off so everyone is on the same track? If you take the two and rid them of their definitions, they are both a product of music that the artist put time and effort into producing. It’s ultimately up to the artist to decide what they consider it to be (unless they want to win an award…then it’s up to the academy, haha).

Featured photo: World Report Today

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