Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Mix(tape)ing It Up

Two interesting stories this week bringing the mixtape debate back to the forefront. One has Universal Music experimenting with a legal mixtape series called "Lethal Squad Mixtapes" to the bemusement of retailers who stopped carrying the product after the RIAA's crackdown on DJ Drama and wider-spread mixtape outfits. The other details a brand new initiative between Hot 97's DJ Envy and mobile content distributor, Cellfish Media to distribute seven-track mixtape compilations as ringtones and full downloads to paying consumers.

Both touch upon the viral power of mixtapes in generating critical buzz and artist credibility. Maybe more telling is the stated importance of the DJ actually doing the mixing. Universal's foray is being criticized for using an unknown DJ. Envy offers a supporting claim that "if I have a hot mixtape, it'll sell out. A new album will be hot only for a few weeks, then die down. That's what the kids want."

With the above in mind, as labels move away from the "record company" moniker to operating as talent developers/brokers, etc., should once 'antagonistic' street DJs be brought into the fold? And must mixtapes only be a tool for Hip Hop if their value can be capitalized upon?

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