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Vince Staples Explains the Difference Between Albums & Mixtapes

According to record labels, anyway.
Vince Staples, 2019

Record deals can be confusing. Luckily, Vince Staples, who is signed to Def Jam, is here to explain the music business to us. 

In a newly released interview from ComplexCon, which took place this past November at the Long Beach Convention Center, Staples breaks down the difference between a mixtape and an EP, from an album, to record labels.

"They'll pay for your mixtape, right? But they won't monetize it, but that goes up on your budget," Vince said. "Let's say you got four albums on your commitment. They'll be like, drop a mixtape, get hot. Drop a EP, get hot. Do this, get hot. That's all money that's going back towards your budget, but that don't count towards your commitment. Because once your commitment is up, you good. So basically, you running up your budget, staying in the red until they see something they can monetize, get max profit, but you still owe money. So, now they takin' money from everything because they put everything on streaming services."

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While journalists are busy arguing over what is and is not an album, Vince Staples has broken it down based on the way record contracts unfold. Seemingly, it is not about the length of the project, but about whether or not the project will count towards the signing commitment with the label. This, of course, makes sense as it keeps artists in their contract for as long as possible.

Per a 2015 Verge article: "Some artists have worked out what are effectively contract sabbaticals: when Miley Cyrus released Miley Cyrus & her Dead Petz earlier this year, it didn’t count against her contract with Sony subsidiary RCA, and the label issued a statement supporting her passion project." 

As in, Miley still owed the label an album despite dropping a project. This is why Kevin Gates was not allowed to drop another album following Islah, despite his massive success.

DJBooth has reached out to four record executives at Def Jam for comment. We will update this article if and when additional information becomes available

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