Are free mixtapes helping or hurting the music industry?

Thursday September 15th, 2011 / 10:45 Written by

I was recently a guest on middle Georgia radio station Love 103.7 with Missy E. We were talking about changes in the music industry and she posed a very interesting question. She asked if I thought mixtapes are hurting the music industry. I can think of pros and cons.
The Pros
Proponents of mixtapes would argue that it is a good idea to release free music because consumers may be more likely to listen. Let’s face it; in these tight economic times, many of us are more selective about the music we purchase. Since a free mixtape offers no monetary loss, more people may be willing to listen.
One could also argue that the buzz generated from a free mixtape could be a great marketing approach for artists who plan to later release an album for purchase. I’m sure we have all heard about the success of Drake’s mixtapes before his album release.
The Cons
If an artist is paying the production and engineering costs to release high quality music, should he or she not expect to recoup at least some of those costs by selling the mixtape?
Another counterargument is that mixtapes may result in consumers becoming so accustomed to receiving free music that that they stop buying music altogether. I think that may be a lesser issue, considering that music sales have endured other free music sources such as YouTube (but that’s another story).
So what do you all think? Are free mixtapes helping or hurting the music industry?


About the author

I'm the editor of Finding the B-Side.

View all articles by Mimi

2 Comments on “Are free mixtapes helping or hurting the music industry?

  • Good question! I don’t personally think mixtapes hurt the industry. I still buy music of the artists I love. Marketing is still key for any artists no matter if they sell the CD or giveaway a mixtape. Even if you are giving away a mixtape you have to market it for people to download it and it still has to be good enough for people to want to download it. The bottom line is artists have to make good music in order for people to want it (pay or free).

  • I kinda think they help, but I’m still a proponent of paying artists for their work. I understand the music industry is evolving and, as a result, artists may need to be creative with how to get their music heard by more people. But, I’d hate to see the situation arise where people no longer feel they need to pay for good music.

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