Production In The Studio: Would You Ever Sell Out?


The Beat Strangler
*** illest o.g. ***
Battle Points: 1

The question of whether you would sell out or not is one that has often been asked in many Hip Hop circles. Being a beat maker or producer, it can often be tough to be heard and to meet the right people in order to have your career progress. The safe bet is to find a middle ground between selling out and keeping it real, but even that can be a very tough decision.

What Is Selling Out?

The term "selling out" in the Hip Hop world is usually when someone goes from the underground to Top 40. There's an unwritten rule that if you're an up-and-coming artist and you have that underground sound, that you should stay like that forever. However, some artists end up "selling out" in order to get fame and money, thus resulting in a big loss of fans, but at the same time they end up gaining many new fans. So is that selling out? Not necessarily.

Selling out is when you don't stay true to yourself and your music. In other words, let's say you make underground-type beats and that's what you're known for. You're very good at what you do and you've gained a small, but loyal following, and you've maybe even defined a new genre of Hip Hop music. Now let's say that you are approached by a music industry person and they like your sound but they want you to work with one of their well known artists - should you do it?

Here's where it can be tricky. Because you have your own distinct sound, people like that because it's new and different, so that's why you've been approached by someone in the music industry. They tell you that they want one of your beats on the next album of their artist, but they want you to change your beat a bit - should you do it?

It's A Fine Line

Obviously, working with an established artist is a great thing and that's basically what most beat makers strive for, but there's always that fine line between keeping it real and selling out. There will be a part of you that wants to keep your beat the same, but the other part of you will want to make the recommended changes because you want the fame and money. Everyone wants to get paid to do what they love doing, but should you change your music because some industry person asked you to?

If you were to say no, then what would happen? I don't know, but it's very possible they might just part ways with you and never speak to you again. It's also possible that they might side with you and stick with the original beat because they like it so much. Basically, in this type of situation it's like as if you're calling their bluff.

So What Do You Do?

Of course, it all depends on the situation. If you could possibly get paid big money for your beat if you make the recommended changes, it's a tough call. What you have to ask yourself is, "Why did I start making beats in the first place?". I'm sure most beat makers will have the same answer, and that is, because they love it. I don't think I've ever heard anyone say that they started making beats because they want to get paid lots of money, it actually doesn't even sound right!

The Money Factor

Money, however, is very enticing. Money can make or break a deal and if you're not careful, you could call their bluff and end up without a paycheck. I'm not here to tell you to solely keep it real and forget whatever money they offer you, but you have to really think about what your end result should be. Should you keep your beat the same? Or should you change it to whatever they want and get paid? It's a tough call but you have to always think outside the box.

There's Other Options

The way I see it is, if someone in the music industry that represents an established artist approaches you and wants your beat, that tells me a few things:
  1. The beat is dope.
  2. It has a sound that record labels are looking for.
  3. Other industry people are probably interested too.
If they're interested in the beat, that means for sure that it's dope. There's something special with your sound and they can hear that in your beat. The fact that record labels are asking about it, means that you've reached a certain level of beat making. All of this means that there are probably other industry people interested in your beat as well, but even if the other labels have never heard it, now you will have enough confidence that YOU could approach THEM!

The End Result

Whatever it is you want to accomplish with your beats is up to you, but the end result should always be something that you are content with. Selling your beat just for the money is a good option, but not in this situation. Selling beats when you're first coming up is expected beat maker practice, but not at the industry level. Instead, you should weigh your options.

If you can get to the industry level of beat making, then this automatically gives you power because now you can decide if you want to continue what you're doing, or just make music to make money. Money plays a big role in everything people do in life, but when it comes to anything creative, such as making music, you have to remember why you first started - most likely because you love it. The key is to find a nice balance between the two, because once you start making beats just to put money in your pocket, that is the day you start to sell out.

So, would you ever sell out?

Further Reading Related to Beat Making

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2GooD Productions

Im back
*** ill o.g. ***
Battle Points: 796
IMO selling out is taking the money while sacrificing one of a few things...
Your originality, your morals, your self built image(if it doesnt fit the target demographic), and most importantly knowingly doing it.
A couple examples of artists that really sold out...
Busta Rhymes, Fat Joe, LL Cool J("I Need Love"), PM Dawn, 50 Cent.


Head of Music Production/Mix Master Pro (DC)
Battle Points: 89
Originality is key. There are way too many flaws in the music industry to sell your soul and your sound for a dollar. We all enjoy this thing called music! We do it for the love and that is what counts! Great read!


Battle Points: 128
To me the sell out is someone who does something that is a disrespect and in direct contrast to who they are and where theyre come from.
Sell out is a term used by fans usually in the wrong way.
Just because something is popular doesn't me they sold out. People feel a sense of entitlement because they heard it first. But this doesn't mean the artist owes you anything but what they have given. But if you don't act all upset because they're not playing small clubs any more you might be remembered and catch a dap or fist bumb first.
Speaking from experience.
I got in on Run The Jewels early early not because I be seeing the future. But because I'm a grown man who watches cartoons on adult swim. I watched them grow and Mike Saw that I was there at every show. I got a "oh shit El we got us an OG jewel runner right here timmy tommy tom yea tom idk some white boy shit all love to ya my Caucasian brotha" that shit made my life at the time haha
If you like good music by artists who work hard they're going to make it bIG some day but unless youve been in that man's shoes who are you to judge ?
Oh he did a pop song ? Well did you know your favorite artist has an ex wife bleeding him dry because of some bull shit alimony and a judge told him "sorry but your ability to pay doesn't erase your obligation to pay" (true story do ya research)

Don't act like you and this artist were boys and you know he's a sell out.
Circumstance has many victims many of them start out poor and get rich young and by the time they figure it out they label fleeced them for 20 million and they don't own their masters.

Being broke sucks but being broke getting a little something and having it all disappear is a tragedy. you think flava flave wanted that mtv life shit no he had no money so he had to do what he had to do. Did he sell out? Most would say yes but what I see is an aging man trying to stay a week in front of the end of the line.


Cool Black Woman. Cig Blit Energy.
@tomkillsjerry people forget Flav was the real draw to Public Enemy and him doing Flavor of Love was him still being him: hype man. I'd rather be popular as myself than be obscure and still myself any day.

Dahmi Mortals

Battle Points: 39
I can say with out a doubt, "sell out" if you want the monster providing enerrgy to fuel your passion then be your self or ride it till the fuel burns out or stand your ground and sacrifice all to maybe and I mean maybe with the smallest chance to build your own monster to self power your movement. I didn't sell out and I regret it for a long time untill I found peace with my self and with what and why I'm in the music business. I remember them saying to me "you will never have another chance at this again and you will never make it" I was 1 1/2 years with a multimillion dollar company as a subcontractor for audio engineering and had the opportunity to get the keys to the studio and be apart of being credit to major albums. But I gotta say I am the most satisfied as I ever been and Blessed for the suffering. Rich or Poor your decision needs to go past that because you have to live with your self. And to be on the other side, they needed to know I can swallow my pride no matter how bad of a pill they gave me to intrust me in there circle, I mean through your morals out the window.
Battle Points: 27
"Selling out" is a term butthurts say when they see their friend become successful. Usually used by lazy ass dudes who just loaf around at the house all day trying to score dope, bum in front of the TV, askin people if they can buy a cigarette, glued to Facebook, and hollerin at neighborhood thots. Then they see their homie who was grinding hard 24/7/365 making moves, and get a deal, and they say "that mfer a sellout, he forgot about us". Smfh... If your music takes you to the top, then by all means do it. Let those crabs in the bucket stay in the bucket. They don't pay your bills, and don't share your vision. They will always be bums, if you get successful doing music, then you are living the dream. You deserve it. Keep grinding, keep winning.


Old and dirty...
*** ill o.g. ***
Battle Points: 304
Selling out is a term by people who are broke.

If you're making music your full time job, your job is to make sure you keep your job. If you have to adapt to maintain your employment, then do what you have to do. You want to do music for a living so you don't have to "work" like common-folk.

People get mad at me because when I DJ, I don't do hip-hop that much.......

But those who are mad aren't the ones booking me and paying my bills.

Same with selling out. Those who complain about you selling out aren't the ones keeping your lights on.

2GooD Productions

Im back
*** ill o.g. ***
Battle Points: 796
Coming back to this after 7 years, like @Sucio said, its about paying the bills.
I worked in a reggae studio as recording/mixing engineer and producer. I had to step right out of my comfort zone and do music I wasnt really feeling.

On the downside it lead to my 7 year creative block, so there is that.

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