Selling beats to hungry rappers is a lucrative income stream for thousands of music producers. But how do you actually turn your music into cash?
The internet is your marketplace, so make sure you’ve carefully curated your shop window. There is room to be creative here. Get your socials up to date, with a cohesive aesthetic, your best images and sounds front and center. In marketing, they call it ‘brand consistency’. For beat-bangers, it’s a question of taking a step back and looking at yourself from a customer’s viewpoint.
Does your image make sense? Are you making neo-soul jams but snarling in every photo? Does your logo convey an accurate sense of your sound? You need to get your look matched up with your music.
If you don’t know how to price your beats, or what terms you want to negotiate, how will your clients? There are several key options for setting price structures, which we’ll come to shortly. Are you offering additional services? Sample packs? If you’ve got something to sell, make sure potential clients can see it within the first few seconds of landing on your homepage.
Put yourself in a rapper’s shoes. What would make you want to hit play on your set, over all the other producers out there? If you’ve worked with well known artists, achieved any kind of industry recognition or simply believe that you’re the best at what you do, tell us! That could be with a punchy, confident bio, or a simple tag-line that endorses you or your style. But whatever you decide on, don’t leave your ‘About’ section blank… it smacks of amateurism.
It’s totally cool to have a presence on multiple platforms. Youtube, Spotify, Soundcloud, Beatstars, Instagram, wherever. Be out there, it’s all increasing your chances of being seen. However, it’s a good idea to centralize with a single, unifying home page. That can be a personal website or simply choosing one of your socials to function as your main home. The key is to ensure that all your products and services are easily accessible.
Simply put, your beats need to be fuego if you’re going to to shift units. It’s subjective, and you can’t please everyone, but you can give yourself the best chance by making sure they are tight, production-wise, and packaged with finesse. “New beat Final Mix 1.2” might sound dope, but until it’s packaged with some decent artwork and a proper title, it’s unlikely to turn heads.
Similarly, metadata, proper tagging and a solid understanding of which artists your beats sound like really helps. Consider how L.Dre has tagged his beats with similar artist names and mood tags.
You can manage the metadata inside your files with Mixed In Key. This will ensure your files look professional when the client opens them up. It also lets you link your website inside the file – you never know who else might end up seeing it.
Your customers are usually rappers or vocalists, so try and understand what they need. They’ll want to be able to chop and change the beat to suit their unique style. It might feel like cheating, to sell a ‘half-finished’ track, but that’s exactly what it should be. 4 or 8 bars of top quality production, in a 1 miniute loop. Feel free to add a cool intro or take the beat out once in a while, but keep it simple.
By far, the most popular site for selling beats is Beatstars. It’s got different tiers from Free up to Premium, and is a stable, popular and well-known platformn. Any self-respecting beatsmith should have their wares available there.
It also offers a really clear breakdown of Licensing options, crucial for maximising your earnings and ensuring your clientsn know what they are buying.
Licensing can seem confusing and dry. But it’s crucial to understad this side of the busness if you want to make money and not get exploited.
Check out L.Dre The Giant’s licensing options, taken from his Beatstars page:
It’s perfectly calibrated to offer a cheap and cheerful option for hobbyists, while ensuring that serious artists and virally successful tracks remunerate L.Dre fairly for his efforts.
It’s not just rappers and vocalists who might want to part with cash for your craft.
One of the fastest rising sectors in the audio world over the last few years has been loop and sample packs. While sampling other media will always be part of the musical landscape, copyright is ever-more stringently protected, making selling music with unlicensed samples potentially hazardous. Sample pack companies have stepped in to the breach with aplomb. From genre-specific packs to field recordings, vintage drum machines and synths lovingly sampled, there is a buzzing sample and loop industry afoot.
You’d be amazed how many are happy to hear from new producers. Commissioned packs can fetch anything from a cut of sales to a one-off fee of a few hundred dollars.
Meanwhile, artists can use the impact of their homepage to advertise their sample packs, too. Sites like Beatstars, Etsy, eBay or Bandcamp all offer platforms for sample pack sales. Again, packaging and quality is everything. Make sure your samples are clearly labelled in high quality audio form, and are easy to use.
If you’re making quality beats, there will be tons of rookie producers that will want to see what you do and learn from you. Regular tutorials on Youtube act as a great way of certifyng your production credentials. But most importantly, they work as excellent marketing tools. A viral Youtube video can have a dramatic impact on sales.
But don’t put out shoddy work. Successful videos are all well-produced, with great audio and a clear structure.
Create your own chords, melodies and bass-lines with Captain Plugins. Visit the official Captain Plugins homepage and see how it will help you explore music and write your own original productions.