Are "Mashups" Changing the Game?
Updated: Mar 28
Imagine scrolling through social media, specifically TikTok, and coming across a video with a unique audio. You hear a familiar song but it’s not THEE song, it’s combined with a newer, more recent song that you may or may not have heard. What you’re hearing is a mashup. It’s where DJs take two songs, usually one older, more notable song, and mixes it with a newer track. The mashups we hear on socials are only about 30 seconds to a minute long. Oftentimes these tracks go on to become trending sounds on social media, and sometimes the originators of these mashups will post the entire track on their SoundCloud accounts.
One of the first mashups I ever notably heard was a mix of Keith Sweat’s- Make It Last Forever and Migos’- Straightenin. The final product was so smooth and so perfectly curated that the video went on to have over 2 million views with over 23 thousand people using the sound for their own videos.
Sometimes a DJ will combine two songs from totally different genres, like TikTok user @ihearcanvas combining The Dream’s Falsetto, an R&B single, with Dan+Shay’s Speechless, a country song I had never heard of until I came across the mashup. The mashup inspired me to go to Spotify and look up Dan+Shay. I was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed each of the songs that I listened to.
The question is, what do things like “mashups” mean for the music industry? I truly believe that social media, specifically TikTok is changing the game for how artists are discovered, how new music is released, and how listeners discover new music for themselves. There is a tremendous amount of influence on social media and if your mashup is good enough you may end up getting Beyoncé to make an official remix with your mashup. Tiktok creator itsesentrik created a mashup (made popular by JAYbeats) that included Beyoncé’s Cuff It and Twista’s Wetter. The mashup did so well that Beyoncé made an official song with it called Cuff It-Wetter Remix, and the fans LOVED it!
I asked DJ Suave, based in Atlanta, how he decides on what two songs he's going to combine for a mashup, he said
"I usually pay attention to what's going on currently (new albums from artists, current events etc) and then base my song selection off of what hits they have that are most popular. From there I look at my music library and pray I find a good song to mash with it".
It's truly a creative expression for many of these DJs. There's no rules, no necessary strategy, but fun.
In addition to being a creative expression for a love of music, these mashups provide another level of reach for artists who may not be as current as they once were. They help introduce the younger generation to their music, or for people like me, introduce listeners to an artist they hadn’t previously heard before. In the case of Beyonce’s mashup, it reminded listeners about the hits that Twista had in the early-mid 2000s, which in turn boosts streams for that artist.
It has also provided opportunities for these DJs outside of social media. DJ Suave said that since he started posting his mashups, he's been in conversations with party promoters in other states, people looking for DJs for personal events, and just overall people trying to collaborate and work with him. He also uses these opportunities to "shed light on other artists and DJs" with an Artist Spotlight series.
DJ Saige is another DJ who has seen opportunities come in with her successful mashup of Coi Leray-Players and Busta Rhymes-Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See. The mashup has over 2 million views and is now an official remix.
These mashups are really changing the music industry and I'm interested in seeing how music execs and producers utilize these mashups to their advantage while providing opportunities for talented DJs and musicians.
Nonetheless, it’s quite a skill to be able to combine two songs in the right way to make a good mashup. While the future of TikTok is still unclear, for now, I’m going to enjoy listening to all the creative DJs and hearing what musical combinations they come up with! Check out a few of the individuals creating dope mashups on social media.