All this week, Digital DJ Tips is dedicated to helping you to make better mixtapes. On Monday we showed you how to assemble a fantastic shortlist of tunes for your mix. On Tuesday, we looked at how to plan your mix. On Wednesday we actually recorded it, and yesterday we looked at mastering and burning your mix. To end with, today we’ll help you with ideas about how to get your mix out there to the people.
Do let us know how you get on, and if you’re itching to get going, why not commit now to spending this weekend getting a mix finished and out the door?
5. Getting your mixtape out to the public
In the old days, you’d record CDs or even, gasp, real cassette tapes, and hit the road (or post box) to get them out there. We’ll look at that traditional method later, but first – because digital has really revolutionised how mixtapes are distributed – let’s look at some of the ways you can get your mix out there in the modern world.
Online mix hosting
You don’t want to host mixes on your own webspace – they eat bandwidth and cost you a fortune. No, hosted services are the way to go. SoundCloud is the most popular example of a whole range of sites that will host your mix for you (although see the caveat below). It’s the mixtape equivalent of putting your video on YouTube. Artists use it to showcase their productions, and DJs use it to showcase their DJ mixes too.
A free account will let you get a couple of mixes up there before you have to pay, so try it out! Go to http://soundcloud.com/ to play around with the system. You’ll have to register, then click “upload and send”.
SoundCloud is a bit like Facebook in that you can favourite and be favourited – so make friends, join groups, get out there – more people are likely to listen to your mix if you do. However, don’t use it as your only mix outlet – while it is easily the best for social features, you may struggle to upload your mix and keep it up there for copyright reasons. Pick at least one other service too.
We recommend using Mixcloud, but other services to look at in this area which are recommended by readers of this blog include mixcloud.com (which at the time of writing seems to be operating unlimited uploads), house-mixes.com and mixcrate.com.
Once your mix is hosted, you can promote it online of course, but why not also get some cards printed with the URL of your mix and some contact details, and give them out at your gigs? Good way of getting party bookings!
This is the “old skool” way. You can either burn them at home using your computer CD writer, or find someone to burn them for you (look on craigslist or somewhere similar). The latter method can be cheaper if you have, say, 100 done, and they’ll usually print your title in black and white onto the CD as part of the service.
If you do them at home, you may want to buy a labelling kit, or just write on them for that underground effect; be sure to use a CD pen and not a permanent marker, though, as these can go all the way through the CD and stop it playing properly. Adding “For promotional use only” may give you a line of defence if any copyright owners get shirty with you.
Once you’ve got them, you can package them up with a quick 1-page bio and photo and send them to local venue owners, promoters etc. Following up with a phone call may just get you a booking.
Or, give them out for free at gigs, making sure they’ve got your details on them. Sneakily, I like to leave mixes near the CD player at any parties I go to, or in friends’ cars. You cold try sending them to local or internet radio stations. It’s a numbers game, so get as many out there as you can!
A word about copyright
Remember that you don’t strictly have the rights to distribute music you don’t own the copyright to. Depending where you are, this could in theory get you into trouble. I’m not advocating doing it – but if you have created something new from the tunes you’ve used, and you’re not selling your mix, the general feeling in the fast-changing moral murk of music is that it’s OK.
You make it “more” OK by not enabling the “download” functionality (if you put your mix online somewhere), meaning people can only listen, not grab a copy. It also helps to credit the music’s creators. Mixing 10 Top 40 hits on big labels is different to showcasing 10 underground artists who would be glad of the exposure – so make your judgement.
So – we’ve done it! We’ve planned, recorded and distributed a mixtape of our own. I hope you’ve enjoyed Digital DJ Tips’s first even week-long series, and we look forward to doing it again sometime soon, covering another aspect of DJing. Thanks for reading.
Check out the other parts in this series:
- The Definitive Guide To Making a Mixtape – Part 1
- The Definitive Guide To Making a Mixtape – Part 2
- The Definitive Guide To Making a Mixtape – Part 3
- The Definitive Guide To Making a Mixtape – Part 4
How was it for you? Has this series inspired you to do your first mix? If you’re an old hand, what was the best mix you ever did? The worst? Let us know!