Computer Love: Rappers and Technology

September 14, 2012 11 comments

LL Cool J Looking At A Computer

Imagine Pimp C in front of a Mac Book befuddled asking Bun B “What the fuck is a ID3?”

Doesn’t seem natural does it? Seems kind of silly, really. Technology has crumbled the traditional music industry foundation. No longer do you need a major deal to be heard by thousands of people. Technology allows artists we might not otherwise ever hear get shine. The motif being “do it yourself.” Artists are recording their own music videos, RARing albums, making their own cover art, sending out PR e-mails, etc. But, how much of that are they doing well? Probably, maybe, around 50%? And, that’s being generous. We can certainly excuse little-known urchins asking random people on Twitter to “RT & SHARE MY LATEST SONG [Link Redacted] NO SPAM JUST PROMO,” when their YouTube video is terribly tagged. However, when you are a buzzing star or a platinum-selling rapper it’s unacceptable to drop an album with error-laden, all-caps ID3 tags or release your highly anticipated mixtape on DatPiff.

How many times have you seen a rapper tweet with excitement “HELL YEAH WE CRASHED LIVEMIXTAPES?” I know of eight in the last year off the top of my head. That is nothing to celebrate. In fact, it’s frustrating for fans trying to get the album: CTRL+R, wait, CTRL+R, wait, CTRL+R, die a little on the inside… And, if you are one of the lucky few to get a working link in the first 2 hours, best believe that download is transferring to your pirated-music-laden hard drive with the blazing quickness of a sloth. Why would you want to make it frustrating for your fans to get your much-hyped and oft-promoted project?

I understand the function of DatPiff and LiveMixtapes (and they certainly area a decent option for relatively unknown artists) but they are essentially the Rap Game Fax Machine. Their infrastructure can’t support the traffic of a mildly established artist, and their embed players are like a giant “I swear it’s just a simplex virus type 1″ herp on the face of a well-designed blog. Let us take a look, shall we?


DatPiff

Nice and compact. However, there is no option to download individual tracks or the entire album from the embed player. Users are forced to visit the DatPiff.com site to download, which is just a ploy for them to make more ad money off you (Unique Page Views All Up In This Bitch [“Bitch” meaning Google Analytics Report]). Furthermore, unless the mixtape is sponsored users have to log in to download… ewwwwwwwwwww. Moreover, DatPiff fucks with ID3 info on exclusive mixtapes (I’m looking at you Meek Mill, Lloyd Banks, Rockie Fresh et al), which really irritates 70% of the music-loving world out there who like a tidy iTunes library. In their eyes, this offense is punishable by death.

Side Note: I understand uploading mixtapes with “(Prod. by GUYWHOPRODUCEDTHIS)” in the track title for promo/credit, but consider removing it and placing that information in the “Composer” field. It’d be cool to eventually be able to search for songs in your music library by producer that way. Shouts to Craig for that one.


LiveMixtapes

First off, this thing is hideous. 70% of the player is not related to the songs you want to listen to. The color scheme/design is not aesthetically pleasing; it is an affront to web designers everywhere. It does get a few tenths of a point for the shuffle and repeat function, but it’s nothing special. Taking a move out of the playbook of illustrious file sharing sites as MegaUpload et al, LiveMixtapes makes you wait 30 seconds before downloading OR they will force you to tweet or post to Facebook before downloading… And when you do, it automatically makes you follow/Like them. If I had a Facebook Like on this aritcle for every time someone has unfollowed LiveMixtapes after downloading a mixtape, Mark Zuckerburg would hire me and ask for my secrets to Facebook domination.

“But Bauce Sauce, why do you care so much about the embed player? Why aren’t you critiquing the actual mixtape pages on these sites?” is something a mark-ass buster is thinking right now. BECAUSE, dummy, most people will get their music from blogs and not the mixtape page on DP & LM. So, the elements I’m discussing are relevant to that aspect.


Solution

I know this will sting a bit: Pay for a SoundCloud Premium account. The Solo plan offers unlimited downloads and 12 hours of upload space (more than enough). The great thing about SoundCloud is that it has a sleek embeddable player, mobile-friendly, people can leave comments AND you can create a set of your mixtape, which allows for easy downloading of individual songs or the whole thing. Moreover, bloggers get love-boners when they can use SC embeds. Cop an unlimited bandwidth VPS hosting plan for $80/year for your website, and point the “Buy” link directly to the hosted .zip file. BOOYAH. That simple. Instead of buying a $250 pair of socks, invest in your online presence. Fools Gold did this for Danny Brown’s “XXX” and it’s the best implementation of a mixtape I’ve seen to date.

Every time you release music it should originate on, and drive traffic to, your own personal website. The first “GET MY MIXTAPE HERE” social media message should be directing people to your website not a third-party. Yet, this all seems to be a foreign concept. Rappers, your use of computers, and your subsequent quest to keep them ‘puting, is appalling at times and lazy at best. That’s not your fault though. You don’t get paid to know about virtual private servers; you get paid to tell us all how often you fuck our bitches in the raunchiest of detail. You’re surrounded by people who have used a Mac Book for two years… it’s not your fault. Especially since everyone thinks they know how “to do the Internet.” But it was just this year where someone who told Action Bronson that they would handle the album computer stuff mistagged one song and left another one completely off the tape.

The Big Baby Gandhi “NO1 2 LOOK UP 2″ songs all had the track number in the title track. Some mixtapes don’t even have the track numbers/names/artwork correct. Short answer is don’t be a jack of all trades and a master of none. Let someone who knows what they are doing handle the stuff you aren’t familiar with. Someone at the label or someone you sort of run with should be able to help you out.

An announced digital mixtape is like “Leak Night” on a retail album. It’s a social event. If only 25% of the people who want to listen to it can because of site crashes, then you’ve removed a crucial, beautiful element of your music. It’s time to start caring about user experiences of your fans. Make great content and make it as easy as possible to obtain. And, STOP USING DATPIFF AND LIVEMIXTAPES.

PS: Hire me as a technology consultant. I am very good at the Internet.


Image Credit: Mashable.