If you're thinking of making a mixtape or are already in the process of doing so, you've probably asked yourself how many tracks you should put on it. Should you go for the approach of having a large number of tracks? Or should you have less tracks, say 10-15, like a lot more rappers are now doing?
Well, it will depend on what you hope to achieve. Today I'm going to guide you as to how many tracks you should have on your mixtape, based on what your aims for it are. While I feel less tracks are usually the way to go for the reasons I'll describe below, I'll also look at why you might want to make a longer mixtape.
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When To Make Longer Mixtapes
Longer mixtapes have become quite common practice. Some mixtapes have over 30 – 50+ tracks, but as you can imagine a lot of the songs on there aren't full length. Some tracks may be skits, while others are songs with only a single verse and one chorus.
When I say ‘longer mixtape' though, I'm not just talking about how many tracks it has. As well as how many tracks you put on, you also need to ask about how long it's going to be in terms of time. While 12 tracks with an average length of 3 minutes doesn't sound that long, 12 tracks with an average track length of 6 minutes will take up almost a full CD.
So while it's preferable to do shorter mixtapes in a most situations (I'll look at which below), there are some occasions when having a longer mixtape may be the better choice for you personally. These include:
Showing Your Diversity
A lot of rappers like to make their mixtapes longer as they feel it showcases more of what they can do. If you have a lot of different subject matters to talk about for example, or if you want people to hear you on a lot of different beats.
The only problem with this is that some of your tracks might start to sound too samey after a while. And even if you manage to avoid this happening, it can be difficult for some to reach heights of their early mixtapes if they've already used up all their best ideas. So only do this if you're confident you can continue to deliver quality time and time again.
If you want to go down this path, be sure to improve your rapping as much as possible first.
Giving Your Mixtape A Talking Point
The amount of tracks you have on your mixtape is often used as a boasting point. If you say you have a 40 track mixtape for example, even if the majority of tracks are quite short, this still sounds quite impressive to a lot of people.
Beware though, as on the flip side there are also people who feel that having a large number of tracks is just a played out gimmick. So if you go down this route, make sure you have good tracks to back it up. And make sure it's better then the level of most others.
When To Do Shorter Mixtapes
Now me personally, I'd advise you to do a shorter mixtape. Around 10 songs, 15 max. In fact, you don't even need to do as many as 15 tracks. Say 12 or 13 max.
Why is this? Well, first of all it'll help you achieve more beneficial goals. While the points of showing your diversity and giving people a talking point are something you may want to aim for, they aren't enough of a reason to make your mixtape super long. You can still show your diversity with 10 full tracks plus skits, and the quality can be a talking point in it's self.
In comparison, making your mixtape shorter has a number of bigger benefits:
It Won't Cost As Much Money To Make
The more tracks you have to record, the more money you'll have to pay in studio costs. This may sound obvious, but it's something that's sometimes over looked. If it takes you an hour and a half of studio time to record and mix down each song, it'll take you 15 hours to put together a 10 track mixtape. If on the other hand you're making a 30 track mixtape, it'll cost you three times as much when hiring the studio. This is money you're better off putting into the marketing of your release.
It Can Be Used To Up-Sell To A Bigger Project
Now this is one of the biggest points I'll make in this article.
If you create a shorter mixtape which you can't legally sell as you've used other people's beats on it, why not make a longer project alongside it? Or if not longer, at least one that's the same length but has all original material on it?
If you then release these two projects at the same time, you can make your mixtape free and use it as an advert for your original project which you can legally sell as you have all the rights. That way you start to recoup all the recording costs you put in, and hopefully even make a profit from your mixtape.
I often see rappers release a free mixtape without any real plan behind it. A short while after it's released, they go back to the studio and work on their next project. This is pretty much like starting from square one again for many, and in the time it takes to record another mixtape, the buzz you built from the first release has died down.
It's good to have a aim and follow up plan when releasing a mixtape, so don't just release one for the sake of it. Know what you want to achieve, and put it to good use!
I could talk about setting up a proper release plan in future, so if you'd like me to do that let me know in the comments below.
You Won't Rinse Out Your Best Ideas
While not always the case if you're extremely likeable and can vary your style a lot, the danger of having too many tracks on your mixtape is that people can get too much of you. If they've heard a lot of what you can offer, they may not be as excited about any future material you release. Furthermore, if you put a lot into your first mixtape and use all your best ideas, the material you come out with after may not be of as high a quality. This could lead to fans falling off and your popularity taking steps backwards.
You Can Turn Mixtapes Around A Lot Quicker
In the same way it'd cost less to make a shorter mixtape, it'd also take a lot less time. This means you can get them out a lot quicker, and also you can adapt to the feedback of the previous one. This is great for testing the market, and also to keep fresh in people's eyes.
As you can see, I personally feel you shouldn't put too many tracks on your mixtapes. 10 to 12 full tracks plus a few skits is more then enough, and it'll help you achieve what you want to achieve. That said, if you want to do a longer mixtape, then go for it. The choice is essentially up to you.
What do you think, should mixtapes be longer or shorter? How long should one be, and how many tracks should they have? Let me know your views in the comments.