*** ill o.g. ***
We all love making beats. From banging out your frustrations on the pads of the MPC or Maschine, to laying down a nice melody on the keys - we've all been there. Some of us enjoy making beats for the sole purpose of making music to satisfy our own ears and to those close to us, and to others, making money is highly motivating. I'll show you the best ways for you to sell your beats to other artists, and how not to.
Making Money vs. Making Beats
There's a big difference between making beats for money and making beats. A lot of us will just make beats because it's either a hobby or we just like to have fun with the gear that we have. To others, they've progressed to the point where they want to take their craft and make some money from it, and understandably so. Why not make money from your music? You've invested a lot of time, energy, and money on getting to the point that you're at today, so why not make a return on your investment?
If you're looking for quick cash, you can definitely sell some beats, but be warned - it maybe not be exactly what you're thinking of.
Just straight up making beats is what a lot of us do. It's always fun when you sit down, turn on your equipment and get busy doing what you love. Sometimes we end up surprising ourselves with the creations we actually come up with, whether it be because we're getting better, or it may have been an accident (which has happened to me quite a few times). Nonetheless, making beats is something that we all end up doing no matter what level of the game that we're at, it's what you do after that beat is complete that sets you apart from the rest.
Let's Make Some Money
I'm not going to lie and tell you some secret on how to make money from your beats, because there's no magic formula. What I do know is that it takes a lot of hard work and dedication, which basically means that you have to know your stuff. You have to have some good equipment and software, that's a given, but you also have to make sure you know what you're doing.
There are far too many beat makers out there today and most of them just play around on their keyboard until they come up with a catchy 2 bar loop. Add some handclaps, 808 kicks, some extra layers of keys, and BAM - you're done. Is this the right formula? It depends.
Okay Fade, Get To The Point - How Can I Make Money From My Beats?
Fair enough. It's simple logic, really. It's not even about making beats, it's about producing. Remember that word. IllMuzik is a site about Hip Hop Music Production, not Hip Hop Music Beats. It's all about production and that's what you need to do - produce.
Ask yourself this - what sets me apart from Kanye West? Dr. Dre? Pete Rock? They produce. You make beats. Big difference.
So How Do I Produce?
This is where the hard work and dedication come into play. It's all about the hustle, really. Every single day I see guys that do nothing but spam every part of the internet with posts about themselves - "Hey check out my beats", "$1 beats, come check me out!", "Need beats? I got what you need", are some of the most common phrases I see - DAILY.
IllMuzik is on Twitter, and what I see is spam. I understand that you need to promote yourself, but it's way more involved that just posting a link to your site and telling everyone that you sell beats. You need to network and get involved with other beat makers and producers. Yes, get in touch with other people that are making beats as well. They're not your competition and I'll tell you why later.
Market Towards The Artist
Anyone can make beats. As long as you have the gear, you can do it, but just because you made a 4 bar beat with FL Studio, doesn't mean you're the shit. It also doesn't mean that every rapper on the planet wants to buy your beats either.
What you need to do in order to sell beats is make beats geared towards the artist - it's that simple. I'm not saying that you should "sell out" and make nothing but Top 40 Club type of beats, not at all. I'm saying that you should do you, but keep the artist in mind. What that means is that when you're making beats, structure your beat in a way with a rapper in mind. Ask yourself, "Is this a good part where I can do a breakdown, leading into the hook?", or "Can I hear a rapper like (whatever name) on this beat?".
That's really all it comes down to. Make beats geared toward the artist. If you want to make money from your beats, make beats that will appeal to rappers. If a rapper doesn't like your beat and can't picture himself over your beat, he won't want to buy it. Think about it - you're trying to sell your beats, well who do you think is going to buy it? Some rapper, that's who.
I released my own album months ago, "MisterFade - Camp Blood", and if you download and listen to it, you'll notice that none of my beats are geared towards rappers, because I wasn't going for that. I was making an album that was like a horror movie soundtrack, or something similar. If I wanted to sell any of those beats, it wouldn't work, I'd have to start from scratch and make new stuff.
This part is tricky. Like I mentioned earlier, it's about networking. There are tons of things you can do to network with people in order to be heard and to sell your beats. Here are some networking tactics:
Get Involved In A Community Like IllMuzik
By doing so, you will be able to communicate with other people that make beats, get tips, get feedback on your music, and get your name out there. Link: Sign Up to the IllMuzik Forums, and go to the IllMuzik Forums.
Upload Your Beats To The IllMuzik Beats Section
This is another way to get your name out there. You can upload your beats and get feedback (and leave feedback for others too). Link: IllMuzik Beats.
Get Your Artist Page On Facebook, Twitter, Google+, SoundCloud, & YouTube
This is a no-brainer. When I say "artist page", I mean just that. Don't mix your personal Facebook or Twitter account with your artist account. Separate the two because the last thing you want is to have lots of useless posts on your artist account, it will turn potential clients away.
Get A Website
If you want to really increase your chances of being heard, get yourself a real website. It's fine to have facebook.com/yourname, but having www.yourname.com is way better. It looks much more professional and plus it's easier for people to remember (and for you to promote).
Get some business cards made up, even if it's low-budget. You can get them done pretty cheap nowadays, but even if you print them yourself, you can get some decent results. At least have something that you can hand out to people.
Hit The Streets
This depends on where you live. If you live in a small, isolated area, you should stick to internet-based tactics. You can still try to network in person, but if the closest thing you have to a record store in your town is the library, no. But if you hit the streets, you can hit up record stores and see if you can put your flyer in their store (a flyer promoting your website or CD, for example). You can even get your CD sold in a small record store too, just talk to them.
That's the easiest way to promote your name. If you can find a decent T-shirt design place, get your shirt printed up with your name and website on it, and wear it around as much as possible.
The list can go on and on, use your imagination.
So, How Do I Sell Beats To An Artist?
Once you have a name built up for yourself, it's time to get in touch with some rappers. There are many ways to do this, let's explore a few.
Local Hip Hop Shows
Depending on where you live, if there's a show happening, go there. Even if it's just local talent having a show, go. For example, back in the day I would see guys waiting in line at a Hip Hop show and they'd be freestyling to pass the time before the doors open for everyone to go in. Take that opportunity to listen to them. If you like what you hear, walk up to them and start talking. Tell them you make beats and that if they want to hook up, to contact you, then you give them your business card.
You can also go to the show but not actually attend. Instead, you could print up some flyers with your name and website on it, then wait outside for when the show is over, and hand them out. Or you could hand them out to everyone that's waiting in line to get in!
Simply browsing various sites could easily do the trick as well. Facebook and Twitter are a great place to start because there's millions of users worldwide and they're all promoting themselves as well. You can also hit up YouTube and watch videos of all sorts of rappers that are doing their thing and looking for beats, and even SoundCloud is a great option nowadays. Plenty of artists are on there showcasing their music and talent. If you were to go to any of those websites, you'll eventually find a rapper that you like and then you simply contact them.
As I mentioned earlier, being part of an online community is HUGE. First of all, a forum like IllMuzik for example, will open up lots of possibilities for you. There's plenty of other beat makers that are going through the same thing as you. Never consider another beat maker a threat, instead, align yourself with them and network together. There may be another beat maker that has sold beats for some rapper and then contacts you and tells you, "I told rapper so-and-so that you might have the type of beats he's looking for on his next album". See? Networking.
You're Sort Of Like An A&R
The way I've always looked at it is that when you're looking for rappers to work with, you're kind of like an A&R. You're looking for talent, for someone that you think will sound great over your beats. So with this in mind, look for rappers that will be good over your beats, and make music with them. You have to remember that just as there are rappers listening to tons of beats and trying to find the type of beat they like, you're essentially doing the same thing with them. You're listening to tons of rappers, trying to find the best one for your beats.
This is how you'll eventually find someone you like and then you can start working together, which will then lead to an unlimited amount of possibilities. Let's say you find a rapper and you do an album together, then someone he knows likes your beats and contacts you. That's more work for you right there.
Leasing Your Beats
You most certainly can lease your beats, but it's not recommended. Sure, you can lease all your beats for $5 each, and if you do the math, that can be quite profitable, but in the long run, no. Let's say you lease a beat for $5 and it gets leased 100 times. That's $500 and you just made that beat and posted it on your website. That's also a beat that will keep getting leased over and over again until the day you die.
It sounds great, and if that's what you're after then by all means, proceed. If, however, you want to make some serious money in the long run, then your best bet is working with artists. This option gives you many more options and will open up more doors for you as your career progresses.
What you really want to do above all else is to be different. Don't get stuck in the same category as thousands of other beat makers that lease beats for $5. Once you get into that category, you might get comfortable and end up staying like that, rather than moving forward and opening more doors, which will lead to more money.
The main point to remember is that YOU have to find the work. Rappers aren't going to be knocking on your door asking for beats, just like an employer won't be knocking on your door asking you if you want a job. By spamming lots of websites and using that as a way to advertise your beats, you'll quickly end up in the same pile as every other beat maker on the planet. In order to sell beats, your best bet is finding artists that you want to work with.
Further Reading Related to Selling Beats