For this week’s installment of our super-popular Blogger Q+A series, we got to talk with mixtape-maven Jesse Janson from Get Right Music. Janson began his dynasty while still in collage at Fordham University producing for artists out his own small studio in 2002. When he finally realized he didn’t have the connections or money to take it to the next level, Get Right Music, now one of premiere landing spots for hip-hop mixtapes, was born.
What were the early days of Get Right Music like and what’s your daily routine now?
I was always involved with mixtapes. Since back in the day, early 90′s, while in high school, I was very much into battle djing and turntablism. I used to make mixtapes on cassettes and sell them for a little extra money. I also used to compete in local battle competitions around New York. Fast forward to 2005, I realized that sites like Mix Unit were selling mixtapes and making good money, but mixtapes were supposed to be free as a means of promotion. So, I began buying those mixtapes, ripping and digitizing them. Then, posting and reviewing them on the newly formed site, running on Blogger, GetRightMusic.com. The site began picking up momentum and it started to really get known as a good place to download and check the quality mixtape releases. We then moved off of Blogger to WordPress. After years of up and down roller coaster type movement we are now on a custom built system and focusing on not only providing a place to listen and download the best in mixtape releases, but also an excellent platform for artists to promote their mixtapes and music videos to a global audience.
The daily routine for running Get Right Music is pretty much scanning through a huge list of RSS feeds, Twitter lists/searches, emails from artists, labels, managers, fans and PR teams and making sure that we don’t miss any releases. We’re also constantly listening to every mixtape before we post it up. Our main mission for the site is that we want to make sure that we are posting quality mixtape releases and music, and not just posting everything up and polluting the integrity of Get Right Music.
2) Is it still smart to release full mixtapes to generate buzz or is it smarter to tantalize with just the free single? Will there ever be a change?
If you’re an unknown artist, then I think it’s definitely best to release a mixtape in full. There’s still a lot that goes in behind a great mixtape release, with the marketing and promotion. If you already have a buzz going and people are curious about your music, then you can release singles here and there. The idea of “mixtapes” is constantly changing. From it’s beginning with a dj or fan putting music together, to now mixtapes feeling more like free albums without a DJ. Words are now being used instead of “Mixtape” like FreEP, Street Album, Free Album, etc… The industry is always changing, so it will most likely change in the future.
3) How come hip-hop has more free mixtapes than other genre? How does the mixtape model set hip-hop apart?
I think because mixtapes began with hip-hop and grew within the genre. I wish there were more live set “mixtapes” like other genres do. Rock and Bluegrass have huge groups of people sharing recorded performances. You could call those mixtapes, but they don’t. Mixtapes have just been tied to hip hop through the years.
4) How expensive is it to create a mixtape versus a studio album? What’s the secret to creating a quality mixtape without the support of a quality studio?
Artists always think that you need a big budget or a big studio to make good music. You don’t! Some of the best music has ben recorded on the worst equipment. Just like some of the worst music has been recorded on the best equipment. After college I went to the School of Audio Engineering in NYC and then got a few jobs at big budget studios around the area. So, I have a lot of experience with big budget recording. If you do it right, you prepare your music, memorize your lyrics and get everything together in pre-production phases, then you can record a mixtape or album for little to no money at all. Then, with the internet you can promote your mixtape for free. You don’t need money. That’s your mantra. Don’t be fooled into thinking you do. A big budget for recording is nice, but just like a luxury hotel. It feels good, but it’s not necessary to get a night’s sleep. Good music sells itself and is contagious.
5) Favorite mixtape this year?
It’s really hard to pick a favorite. So far, my top mixtapes this year are:
The Weeknd’s “House of balloons“
Cris Cab’s “Foreward EP”
Fabolous “The SOUL Tape”
Pusha-T’s “Fear Of God”
6) What’s the best way to market a mixtape if you’re an unknown talent?
The best way is to make sure you release a quality mixtape. Some artists get hung up on the “mixtape mentality.” The idea that this is just a mixtape to help promote the “real album” — that thinking will get you nowhere. Your mixtape needs to be your best material ever. Especially if you’re an unknown artist. Your mixtape artwork also needs to be visually appealing and something that causes people to want to check you out. After you have the best possible product you can ever possibly make… hit the internet hard and promote your mixtape. Host it somewhere, like GetRightMusic.com (shameless plug), and tell everyone and their mom to go listen and download. If it’s great, the music will sell itself and spread. If it’s not, you’ll stay unknown, but be able to go back and rework your talent and release something better.