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For some, making beats is a hobby and for others, it's big business. If you want to make money selling beats, then there are a few things you should consider first. Forget about just making a beat, uploading it somewhere and then spamming Twitter all day. That is not beat selling. What you need to do is make beats a certain way, which will in turn help you get sales.
1. Do Your Own Style
Whenever I see postings from various beatmakers that are trying to sell their beats, it's pretty much all the same. Not only are they posting alike: "Hot beats all day, get at me", but their beats themselves just sound the same.
This is probably one of the biggest dilemmas when you are trying to sell beats because you either make beats with your own style, or make beats that are "hot" and in demand with today's artists. I understand where you're coming from if you're in this situation, but my advice would be to do your own style.
The reason for this is simple; people will buy it if it's hot, period! I always think back, and I mean WAY back to 1992 when Dr. Dre released "The Chronic". Dre had tons of fame before that album, but once he split and went to Death Row, he literally changed the Rap world with his new style of music. Not only did he hook up with a bunch of unknown rappers at the time, he also made beats that no one had ever heard before. A lot of his beats had high-pitched synth tones, but it just worked and everyone loved it.
So thinking about that, you have to know that it's not about what's hot at the moment, it's just about what's hot. That's it. It's up to you to make a hot beat. Otherwise, all you're doing is making a hot beat just like everyone else is, so to me that seems counterproductive because why would anyone buy your beat when they can get the exact same sound from some other beatmaker (and probably cheaper too)?
2. It Must Have a Dope Vibe
When you work on doing your own type of style, of course it also has to sound really good too. And that's when your beat has to have a certain vibe to it. Back to that Dr. Dre example - every single beat he did for that album had such a unique vibe to it, that combined with his very own (and new) style? Money.
But how do you get a special vibe? How do you make a beat that has that certain "something"?
For me, I've always tried to think outside the box. I don't mean that you should make beats with a 4-track recorder (although that would be unique), but you have to work hard at beatmaking. As you keep working on it, you should eventually have beats that just sound monumental. Sometimes when I'm making a beat and I find a really dope sample (especially from a movie soundtrack), and it can take the beat to another level because the sample just sounds epic.
Most of the time when I hear a bunch of beats, they all sound similar or they don't have much to them. There's no vibe and no substance. To get a special beat with a vibe to it, it all comes down to just immersing yourself into beatmaking. Once you do that, you will see the difference. Don't just go through the motions of making a beat, instead, you have to give it your all. In the end, your beat will have that something special.
3. Give Your Beats Variety
Some of you might disagree, but I think that most beats should have a good amount of changeups. I don't mean that you have to thrown in tons of sounds and have an over-the-top production, but just make certain adjustments.
For example, take out the snare or bassline once in awhile, bring in a new sound half way through your beat, or stop the music altogether.
I understand that for Rap music there are many famous beats that were simple one or two bar loops. But we're way past that point in time and there's nothing wrong with adding some variety to your beats. If you were a rapper that wanted to buy a beat, would you be interested in a 1-bar loop for 4 minutes? Me neither.
By giving the listener (potential buyer) something to actually listen to, they will be interested in your beat and style because you're keeping them guessing. In the end they might not want those exact changeups in the beat, but that's where you can negotiate with them and make the necessary changes for them, if needed.
I would much rather buy a beat that has a decent variety, instead of something that was looped for 4 minutes.
4. Always Have a Great Mix
Countless times I have heard beats that were really dope but the mix was terrible or subpar. I know mixing is not the most glorious thing for any beatmaker, but it's very necessary, especially if you're trying to sell beats.
I have written a few times about the art of mixing, and even though I'm far from an expert, it really boils down to one thing: keep it simple. The minute you start adding a bunch of plug-ins to your DAW, you're complicating things. When you first sit down to mix your beat, you should have a clean slate. No plug-ins and nothing added in at all.
If you start your mix with each track clean and set at zero, then it's not so difficult from that point on. All you have to do is try to get the best sounding levels of each track in their raw state, THEN you can start adding in plug-ins. It's a rookie mistake if you don't mix raw first. Because if you can get a good enough mix with all the raw sounds, then the rest of the mixing process is straightforward.
Now this all leads back to one thing: having a great mix. Notice how I said "great" and not "good". If you're trying to sell a beat, it will get sold much quicker if it sounds great. This doesn't mean that you need to go crazy and add a bunch of mastering effects to your DAW's master track. One of the great things about mastering plug-ins is that they have presets, but the bad thing is they have presets!
This means that even though they make it easier to have a song that sounds mastered, many people will use it as a shortcut to get a great mix. They might just load up their tracks, add the plug-in and click the button. This not mixing.
The best tool you can have in the studio is your ears. Let your ears guide you and your mix will be dope.
5. It Has To Be Made For The Buyer
What do I mean by this? Well, it's quite simple. Take a listen to someone like Pete Rock. There are many producers and beatmakers that I can refer to, but Pete Rock is perfect example. When you hear his beats, you can clearly tell what parts the rapper is supposed to come in on.
Many times I hear beats from various beatmakers and the beat is just a beat. I don't always hear the part for a rapper or singer, so just that alone can make or break a beat sale. If you were a rapper and you heard a beat that sounds dope but there was no distinguishable hook and verse, how would you react? You would probably be confused because the beat is dope but you don't want to necessarily buy it because you want parts of the beat to clearly show you where you're supposed to come in.
I know that buyers can always negotiate with beatmakers and have things changed up, but if you're a rapper and you just want to buy a beat, spit your verse, and be done with it, then you will want your money's worth.
Make sure when you're mixing your beat that you leave plenty of room for the vocal parts. This might mean that you will have to go back and take certain parts out of your beat, but so be it. You will have to do it if you want to sell your beat.
So you now have a beat that is unique with your own style and vibe. It has plenty of changeups to keep the listener (and potential buyer) interested in the beat. It sounds great overall because the mix is on point, and you also left enough room in your beat for the rapper or singer to do their vocals.
Now you can sell your beats!
Further Reading About Selling Beats