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Mixtape Malpractice: A New Problem for Hip Hop Artists

There used to be a time when a rapper could put out a mixtape using popular beats. And as long as that artist wasn’t selling it, he didn’t have to worry much about the beatmaker coming after him for any sort of copyright infringement. Well those days are quickly becoming a thing of the past.

Some independent hip hop artists are now building successful careers off of buzzes created by these free mixtapes. And now the beatmakers are starting to feel used and abused. A popular mixtape, for an artists, can lead to well paid shows and even a major label deal. Producers and beatmakers are starting to feel like they have played a role in the success of these artists, and are reaping no benefits.

Some of these artists neglect to give credit to the music source, so there isn’t even a promotional benefit to those that composed the music. Now that were living in a digital age, visible credit for those who contributed to these recordings are becoming obsolete. I personally used to enjoy looking at the liner notes in albums and CDs to see who produced, mixed, and mastered the songs I enjoyed listening to. Now that we’re in the era of mp3′s, finding those credits require some thorough digging…if it’s even available.

Artists like Mac Miller and others are finding out that those producers who feel wronged by this practice can wait for years before filing a lawsuit against you. So it doesn’t matter that you may not be famous yet. You may get sued for your very first mixtape by a producer who could make the claim that he contributed to your success. It may be hard to convince the courts of that claim, but even fighting a case against you like this could be costly.


So what do you do? I suppose the best thing to do is to get clearance from the producers. But many feel that this is too much trouble to go though for a project that’s not going to be sold. But beware, information these days travels fast, especially when you start creating a buzz. Usually the safest and most respectful thing to do is to always give credit if you use someones music without permission. Oftentimes that’s all people want in a matter like this. They don’t want to feel misused and disrespected.