Once you’ve produced a DJ mix (or “mixtape”) you’re proud of, it’s only natural you’ll want to share it. But how?
Actually the first question you should be asking yourself is “why?”, because the answer to this will dictate the best way – or combination of ways – for you to get your mix out to the world.
In this article, we’ll look at how DJs today share their mixes,. It should give you lots of ideas about how to make that mixtape – the one you’ve worked so hard to get right – work for you out there.
5 Places To Share Your DJ Mixes
Mixcloud is the king of online mixtape sharing. It is a website where you can upload a mix, add artwork and a description, add a timestamped list of tracks, and then get a link to your mix to share with others.
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Listeners can play the mix from their browsers, but also from dedicated mobile apps. They can also follow you as an artist on the platform, and “subscribe” to what you do via a scheme called Mixcloud Select, where you can actually earn money from people who enjoy your mixes on the platform.
The most important thing is that it is legal – everyone gets paid, including the artists. Mixcloud is reliable, works pretty well, and there are many DJs on there who actually make quite a bit of money from it.
Read this next: How To Master Your DJ Mixes (And Why You Need To Do It)
That said, it does have a monthly subscription fee that you’ll have to pay when you start using the platform seriously, and the majority of DJs would never make back in subscription payouts what they pay to use the platform – so don’t approach it as a money-making scheme. Instead, think of it as a safe, respected place to host your mixes online.
A similar system to Mixcloud, although it is designed for producers to host individual tracks, not for DJs to host whole mixes, and it is against their terms and conditions to do so (assuming you’re sharing copyrighted material, which you will be of course).
That said, despite the ups and downs DJs and SoundCloud have had in their relationship over the years, there are still many DJs who use this platform to host their DJ mixes, and many of them never encounter any problems with copyright takedowns.
Again, you pay for the more advanced features, but in this case, none of that money goes to the artists, so do remember the ethics of doing this. It may make sense to post your mixes to both Mixcloud AND SoundCloud – Mixcloud for posterity (they ought to stay up there forever) and to benefit the artists, and SoundCloud for its undoubted wider reach.
How mixtapes used to be shared…
In the “old days”, we mixed to cassette (metal or chrome if we were feeling posh – those who know, know!), then used a tape-to-tape player to make duplicate cassettes, to give out to promoters, sell to fans for a bit of pocket money, to take with us to gigs, and so on.
Later, it was DAT, then direct to CD-R, but essentially we’d still be giving out hard copies of our mixes one way or another. And then, of course, the internet arrived, and more importantly, the MP3. This, coupled with fast upload and download speeds, changed everything…
3. Online cloud services
If you just want to be able to let people access your mixes for professional purposes, it may be as easy as simply uploading them to an online cloud file-sharing service.
If you already use Dropbox (most DJs do), you’re good to go – but equally iCloud, Google Drive and all the others have similar feature sets. You upload the mix, then do whatever your system requires to make it “public” or “shared”. You’ll then be able to grab a link so that anyone can click the link to listen to or download the mix.
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It’s nowhere near as flash or consumer-friendly as the dedicated services above, and should be thought of more as a way of getting a copy of the mix out to people who want it, rather than emailing it, because your mix will almost certainly be too big to send as an email attachment.
One nice idea is to have some artwork as a JPG, a track listing as a TXT file, and your mix MP3, pop them all in a folder, and ZIP the folder up, so that it is the compressed ZIP file that you share – that way, people have something to “open”, then read and look at, while they’re listening to your mix.
4. USB drives
You could hand out actual physical USB drives, with a copy of your mix on them – even better if you take my advice from above and include artwork and track listing, and better still if you include an “electronic press kit” with more info about you and your DJing.
Nowadays it is much cheaper than you might think to get a pile of relatively low capacity USB drives to copy your mix onto, and indeed, if you research business promotional catalogues, you will find companies that can provide you with, say, 100 branded USB drives for pennies apiece, which can be really cool to give out.
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While sometimes it’s nice to give something physical out, do remember that ultimately, people will have to plug it into a computer to hear it, which maybe is a barrier you don’t want to put up. The combined press kit/mixtape idea is probably the best one if you want to go down this route.
5. CDs or cassettes
Yup, the old ways have still got legs. How many cars do you think are still out there with a forlorn CD slot in the dashboard? If you give out your mix as a CD, it may end up being the only CD that ever gets played in that car from today until the day the car is retired!
You’ll need to edit it down to 70-80 minutes, buy a CD burner (they’re cheap), and figure out how to add track markers (you can do it in Audacity, the free audio editor for Mac, PC and Linux). It is probably also worth trying to find printable CD labels, to make your CDs look nice, too.
I wouldn’t ever advise making this your primary way of giving out mixtapes, but for when promoters are giving you a lift in their cars, and you spot that CD slot, having a CD to hand to them from your bag will certainly get you remembered.
Read this next: Mixtapes: 5 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Hitting Record
We’ve even heard of DJs transferring their mixes to cassette tape, and handing them out with a cassette player – obviously expense dictates that this is a tactic you’ll want to reserve for the odd very special occasions, and the whole idea won’t fit the aesthetic of most DJs at all, but for some, it could be just perfect.
I’d recommend you put your mixes onto Mixcloud, and promote each one as well as you can, and additionally, have a SoundCloud backup. Here are some ideas for how to promote your mixes once you’ve done this:
- Share them with the accounts of every single artist featured on social media
- Share the link in your email signature, on your website, in your social bios
- Put playlists of the music you used on Spotify or other streaming services, to build awareness of the mixtapes
- Make sure all your fans know when you release new mixtapes – it’s a good idea to build an email list of subscribers for this, and for other purposes
- Have your business cards feature your mix URL
- Consider “performing your complete mix as a livestream, and telling people where they can find the “mixtape” version (ie without you talking over it)
- Offer them to online radio stations to add to their programming – you may want to add DJ idents to your mix, for some extra branding in this case
Making DJ mixes won’t automatically get you gigs any more, but they are effectively an “audio business card” for you, and for all kinds of reasons – helping you to improve as a DJ, documenting your journey as a DJ, forcing you to practise, and more – they are well worth doing.
Read this next: How To Turn Your Mixtapes Into A DJ/Producer Podcast
Hopefully this article has given you some new ideas about what to do when you’ve got a mix to promote – and remember, if you want to know how pro DJs actually make their mixes, quickly, easily and without having to start again every time they make a mistake, do check out our Pro Mixtape Formula course.