As the world is transferring into using streaming services for music, mixtapes are harder to find. This is due to the copyright laws which keeps them from streaming platforms. This is a big deal because of one of the most exciting part of music in the 2000s will be left in that era. Even though some labels are trying to bring some of their key artists earlier works to streaming, what will the fate of them be in the end?

The Importance of the Mixtape

When I think about the history of mixtapes I think of Lil Wayne’s success with them in the mid-2000s. His output of quality tapes helped him peak as an artist and carry over his success between albums. During that time, Wayne released some of the greatest mixtapes ever. With No Ceilings, Dedication, and Da Drought series, Wayne showed us how important it was to have quality mixtapes. Mixtapes at the time were a useful tool for artists to promote themselves by performing over original or popular beats. These projects were mostly recorded over beats that weren’t cleared and released on popular mixtape sites such as Datpiff and Livemixtapes.

Artists by the likes of Big Sean, Wiz Khalifa, Mac Miller, Nicki Minaj, Childish Gambino, Future, Gucci Mane, and more released a significant amount of material which was a huge part their earlier careers. Now their projects face extinction as streaming services don’t have them and mixtape sites are beginning to shut down.

The Future of Mixtapes

As more people are beginning to use streaming services, labels are working to update their artist’s catalogs. Some of these updates do include some tapes. Not all mixtapes will be added due to the cost and time to get them cleared. In order for a label to make that risk, there has to be proof that the audience wants it. For obvious reasons, some Mac Miller and Wiz Khalifa’s tapes have been uploaded to services. The fans have shown an interest in these projects so Rostrum feels that they will make a return re-releasing these projects on streaming. Over time a lot of these mixtapes will fade away with the sites that hold them.

Now most labels are treating mixtapes like albums releasing them with fully cleared tracks. For example, Future and Logic both released sequels to their earlier tapes on streaming services. Both Beast Mode 2 and Bobby Tarantino 2’s original projects were free mixtapes. The industry is just repackaging mixtapes and presenting them a different way than before.

So when you look over the complete picture of what’s going on with mixtapes now the future is clear. There isn’t any future for them in the age of streaming. The new version of what they call a mixtape isn’t any real defining difference between them and an album. As time goes on they will eventually die out along with the sites that host them and become lost in time.  So it’s best to get a large drive and save the tapes on it. In less than ten years it may be almost impossible to find some of these tapes.