Written by Justin Lamar | @itsjustinlamar
COSIGN Magazine

Streaming has become a pivotal game changer in the music industry. Streaming services such as Tidal, Apple Music, and Spotify have molded a new era for the emerging independent artist to take control of their audience all while getting paid. Streaming services revolutionize how stats from the RIAA are measured. In short, streaming is a big deal for the music industry and looks like it is here to stay. However, with a birth of a new wave, we have to put to rest an old wave: The Mixtape Era.

Yes, The Mixtape Era is no longer with us and streaming is the culprit.

Many would argue against the point, stating that our favorite artists such as Lil Wayne and Juicy J are dropping mixtape projects and making them available through popular sources like DatPiff and HotNewHipHop. However, if one can look at the bigger picture for our music climate thanks to streaming, mixtapes through the classic channels are slowly becoming DOA.

So what’s changed?

The power of the independent artist! During The Mixtape Era, sources such as DatPiff and HNHH housed some of the top tier tapes from all-star artists and launched careers. Tapes such as Wiz Khalifa’s “Kush and Orange Juice” and Nipsey Hussle’s “The Marathon” launched through these mixtape channels and solidified their careers with top free music. However, that’s just what it was…FREE. Most artists did not pay to host mixtapes on these outlets, however; to maximize exposure, artists had to pay a promotion fee to maintain relevance and popularity. The Mixtape Era was all about the clout to then get paid. Artists like Lil Wayne solidified careers through killing the mixtape circuit, which made commercial projects a success. The talent and composition of those projects are literally priceless.

Streaming has opened a window of opportunity for artists to get paid for their work even if considered an EP or mixtape. Streaming contracts give artists more opportunity to stay independent while learning more about their target audience. Streaming essentially gives artists an opportunity The Mixtape Era did not give most artists: the ability to get PAID.

While streaming has created an avenue towards more revenue, the issue of producers and other collaborative artists not getting paid for projects still remains. This was a common issue during The Mixtape Era, and now even though artists may have more opportunity to pay more, seems like they are pocketing more instead.

Do you think streaming has eliminated The Mixtape Era? What sources do you use to check out the hottest and latest from your favorite artists? Let us know what you think.


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