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Difference Between a Mixtape and an Album

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Mixtape Vs Album? Both sound similar to many but what's the difference? Mixtapes are often used to promote upcoming albums, but can also be stand-alone projects. They are typically produced by DJs who remix songs with original beats or samples, or they may consist of tracks that were originally released as singles. Albums are typically considered more "serious" endeavors than mixtapes because they're longer (usually 10+ songs), don't rely on sampling someone else's work, and the artist puts more effort into marketing it.

What is a Mixtape?

drake mixtape e1637160350898
Drake's famous mixtape, If You're Reading This It's Too Late

A mixtape is a collection of songs, usually mixed and compiled by one DJ or producer. The purpose of the mixtape varies; it can either be to establish oneself as an artist (in which case they might produce their tracks) or simply put together some favorite songs that people like.

A mixtape consists of various recordings organized into a seemingly coherent whole. The tapes were originally passed around on cassette from one person to another in the 1970s, and later became a popular format for sharing music on CD. The songs can be sequential or completely different depending on what you'd like them to sound like.

What is an Album?

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One of Drake's latest albums, Scorpion

An album is typically defined as containing at least five songs (or 15 minutes if it's a single). Usually, albums are produced when artists want to sell music. This means there will have been more effort placed into promoting them than with a free mixtape. So you're likely going to hear about them before you get a chance to download them.

Differences between an Album & Mixtape

Difference in making

It doesn't take too long to create a mixtape, but it does take some effort. You need to know your music – really get into what you're doing and make sure that not only are the songs good, they fit together cohesively as well!

Making an album can be more time-consuming than making a mixtape. It almost always involves producing original tracks rather than simply mixing others' work. Because artists need to sell their albums if they want them successful.

The difference in the number of artists involved

A mixtape may contain songs from several different artists, but an album is typically only by one artist. This is because mixtapes are free promotional projects, and artists generally don't want to give away all their best tracks for no money.

The difference in the length of music

Mixtape songs typically run shorter than those on an album because they're not made without paying attention to how it's going to be marketed. Albums will often contain ten or more full-length tracks – this allows them enough time for listeners' interest levels to rise and fall naturally. The overall track length can vary significantly though, a mixtape can also be very long in terms of length. This is simply because it involves the work of various artists. An album on the other hand is restricted by the fact that only one single artist is involved so the overall length of it can be normal.

Difference in marketing

Albums will have more promotion behind them than mix tapes because the artists are trying to make money off of their music with albums, so they need people to know that it exists! Mixtapes won't be sold anywhere – you'll usually download these for free or listen to events where DJs play this kind of stuff. They're also less likely to have official cover art and track listings which makes them stand out even less from all the other mixes available online. In some cases, you may see some websites that do sell mixtapes. But it is not something that happens very often.

Comparison Chart: Mixtape Vs Album

Focus OnSeveral artistsSingle artist
Dominating genreHip-HopAll genres
Minimum lengthNo such length specified15 minutes
Bonus TracksNot presentMay be present

Similarities between a Mixtape and Album

  • A mixtape and album are both pieces of music.
  • They contain songs, may or may not include instrumentals, and usually have a theme to them (i.e., all love songs; dancehall reggae).
  • The tracks on the albums will vary in tempo but remain consistent with the musical style chosen for that particular project.


Why do rappers call their albums mixtapes?

The answer is simple. A mixtape refers to any release that isn't an album or single, and albums were originally released on cassette tapes, so the name stuck.

Some artists choose not to use either term—mixtape or album—for several reasons: They want to remain independent and not signed with a record label. These artists choose to release their music themselves, usually for free or at cost, on websites. The project they are releasing only contains one song (usually the single). There is no theme but rather a variety of songs that are either unreleased or could be considered throwaways.

What is the purpose behind releasing mixtapes?

The main goal for rappers who choose to release mixtapes rather than albums is to gain a buzz and build their fan base. They want people who listen to the mixtapes or download them for free on websites so they can continue being discovered by music fans everywhere.

Is a mixtape only for rap?

Although mainly used by rappers, a mixtape is not exclusive to the genre. It can be used for other genres of music as well, such as R&B and pop.


A mixtape is a compilation of songs that are usually not associated with one artist or band. It's often just labeled as "mixed tapes." An album, on the other hand, can be thought of as an exclusive collection of music by one particular artist. Both formats have their place in modern music consumption and marketing to fans. Hopefully, this article has helped clear up any confusion about these two terms so that you'll never get them mixed up again.


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About the Author: Tom Vincent

Tom Vincent graduated with a bachelor's degree in economics and social studies. He then started his higher education at the University of François Rabelais in Tours with a DUT Information Communication. To expand his knowledge, he also followed a professional degree in e-commerce and digital marketing at the Lumière University of Lyon. On this project, he is in charge of articles covering language, industry and social.
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