Miami native Danny Dueñas is the co-creator of My Mixtapez, the number-one hip-hop mixtape app for Android, iPhone, and Windows operating systems.
With his brothers Juan and Ricky, Danny launched the mobile service in 2011, giving fans a resource for discovering, downloading, streaming, sharing, and favoriting the freshest, dopest beats on the street.
"I wanted the most recent mixtape that had just dropped," he says, recalling the moment when the idea for My Mixtapez came to him. "But I couldn't get my hands on it because you needed a computer or desktop."
So he thought: Why not just create an app that directly downloads the hottest new releases to your phone or tablet?
See also: Five Signs You Might Be a Shitty Rapper
Danny remembers thinking: "If I could create that, that would be really nice, and I'm sure there are a lot of other fans out there that would love it."
He was right. To date, My Mixtapez has 5.7 million active users with 10 million downloads. It's available for free, with a premium no-ad, high-quality streaming version at a charge of $1.99. They even came full circle, landing the exclusive release of Lil Wayne's latest mixtape, Sorry 4 The Wait 2, earlier this year.
My Mixtapez has become a valuable resource for rap fans looking for the hottest mixtapes on the market, but it's also a useful tool for struggling up-and-comers hoping to get their voices heard. The app comes with a submission contact, so unsigned rappers can upload their tapes and earn a chance at trending, but only if they get through the vetting process.
"If Meek Mill and Lil Wayne are on the app," Danny explains, "we can't put someone who doesn't take their career serious."
See also: Ten Softest Rappers in the Game
My Mixtapez has a team of dedicated employees who listen to and look over every submission. They're not hardened critics, but they are looking for professional execution. You must have artwork, the music has to be decent, and you've got to have the right attitude. If you're not just playing around, wasting your time and theirs, the My Mixtapez crew is all about giving you that chance.
"That's how we feel about it," Danny says. "If you're putting in that much work, that much time, and that much money into your piece of art, then it should be out there to the fans."
After all, the My Mixtapez crew can relate.
"We're proud of being the underdog and being able to do what people said we couldn't do, and doing it without any funding or any help," the app's co-creator points out. "Just having a dream and putting it in the works."
Back in 2010, the Dueñases did offer partnerships when pitching the concept to friends and investors, but most prospective partners were skeptical, so the brothers were forced to hunker down and get to programming, marketing, and running the app, brand, and company on their own. Ten million downloads later, those old friends have come looking for opportunities. But Danny says, "I don't think that's how that works."
"We have the power to say where we're going. We own 100 percent of the company, and that's something I'm proud of and my brothers are proud of also."
It's a true family business. And though that can sometimes be a sticky situation for a start-up, Danny considers it to be an advantage.
"For me, it's a blessing," he insists. "If there's something one of us doesn't like, we can actually express ourselves. We say what we have to say, and if something said angers the other one, we get it out of the way, and the next day, it's like nothing happened. We get back to work."
Success has come slowly but steadily. And now, with five years under their belt, the Dueñases are looking for the next big project. Their development company, Vuziq, has recently released two more apps, Digibeats and Sertanejo Mix, expanding the My Mixtapez concept to EDM and Brazilian music.
"I really feel Digibeats will be the one to take it to the next level, because house music is growing so much," Danny says.
The concept is proven. And he feels that all they need is time.
"We're just a tech company trying to make it to the giants."
New Times' Top Music Blogs
Follow Kat Bein on Twitter @KatSaysKill.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!