The real reason labels are calling more and more albums “mixtapes”

It's an easy way to avoid paying producers fairly.

January 3, 2018

“Mixtape” has always been a fairly nebulous term, though, in hip-hop, one that has always referred to the umbrella of self-produced and independently releases distinct from “official,” full albums. But according to producer E. Dan of production crew ID Labs, Atlantic Records has been using the classification of late to get out of fairly compensating producers.

“I’ve seen it happen often over the last few years. Anything to save a buck for these labels.” says Eric “E. Dan” Dan,  a producer who’s worked with Wiz Khalifa and Mac Miller, in an interview with BeatStars. E. Dan says there’s one one big reason why labels like Atlantic Records will often label an artist’s release as a “street album,” “commercial mixtape” or “compilation album”: to avoid being obligated to fairly compensate the producers who made beats for the project.

“They called it a mixtape,” E. Dan said of Atlantic signee Snow Tha Product’s 2013 release Good Nights & Bad Mornings 2: The Hangover, an album on which he had four beats. “They didn’t treat it like it was an album, which is just their way of not paying me a whole lot.” E. Dan also experienced a similar with the 2016 release of Wiz’s Khalifa, a 13-track release (with six E. Dan productions) which was marketed  not as a full-length album, but rather a “compilation” of material that didn’t make the cut for earlier albums. Despite how Khalifa was billed, that didn’t stop Atlantic from rolling out a full slate of marketing and promotion, with the Travis Scott-featuring “Bake Sale” becoming a bonafide hit.

After E. Dan’s comments were made public, other notable hip-hop producers made it abundantly clear that they definitely weren’t unfamiliar with the shady practice, which will hopefully now be getting a whole lot more scrutiny:


Exclusive videos, interviews, contests & more.

sign up for the a.side newsletter

sign up