by Anders Johanson July 14, 2020 9 min read
Selling beats online will always be a profitable business because it costs almost nothing to get started. If you're a beat maker that has a hard drive full of unreleased beats, you're basically sitting on a pile of gold. There's a huge demand for beats online, and producers generate revenues in tens of millions every year. It's not going to be easy to enter the market because there's a lot of competition, but if you're consistent in your efforts, you can succeed. Your biggest challenge, in the beginning, will be making artists aware of your music. Just being a producer isn't enough; you also have to be a great marketer. However, once the hard work is done and your brand starts blowing up, you'll make money hand over fist.
Things are a little bit different from the perspective of a total beginner. If you haven't produced any beats yet, you'll have to make some. To do that, you'll need a computer and DAW like FL Studio, which costs around $200 (if you're going for the Producer Edition). Other than that, you might want to download some free sample packs and drum kits, and you're good to go. From that moment on, you need to sit down and start banging out beats like a madman. The more beats you produce, the better you'll become at it.
The amount of time it'll take you to get to a point where your beats begin to sound like they're worth selling will depend on your experience as a producer. If you're coming from another genre like EDM, know some music theory, or play an instrument, getting into beat-making will be easy. If you're a complete beginner, however, it'll take a while to figure things out. Chances are your early beats won't sound anywhere close to the commercial tracks you hear on Spotify, but don't despair. Getting to that level simply takes time and practice. All successful producers went through a phase where they hated most of the stuff they made. You just need to persevere and push through it.
Once you have a catalog of 10, 20, or 30 beats that sound half-decent, you can start selling them. At that point, only your marketing skills will limit the profits you'll generate from those beats. Remember that you can sell the same beat to an unlimited number of artists by offering non-exclusive licenses. That's the crux of selling beats online, and the number one reason this business model is so profitable. And all it takes to get started is 200 bucks for a DAW and some free time, which shouldn't be an issue if you're passionate about making music.
Let's get straight to the point. You can make six figures selling beats online. And that's not an exaggeration. The internet is full of success stories of producers who came from humble beginnings but ended up creating a stream of income for themselves that surpasses any regular career. One of the most prominent examples is Taz Taylor, a 7th-grade dropout who was pulling in $500,000 a year selling beats online before branching out into artist development and making a name for himself in the music industry.
The story of Taz Taylor will resonate with many. After dropping out of school, with no real prospect of getting a job, he tried to make his first dollar on the internet by offering graphic design services. Because the business was slow and he had a lot of downtime, he picked up FL Studio and started making beats. He produced his first beat when he was 17, and by his own account, it was terrible. Nevertheless, he stuck with it, got a lot better over time, and eventually landed his first major placement with Desiigner and Gucci Mane, which later led to a publishing deal with Atlantic.
Admittedly, to some people, the rise of Taz Taylor will sound like a rare outlier. Taz had a well-connected manager who believed in him and put him in touch with influential figures from the music industry. Not every producer has that kind of support behind him. The reality is that thousands of producers are competing for every single placement opportunity, and artists' email inboxes are bursting with unsolicited beat packs. At times, it may seem like the beat market is oversaturated.
So how much money can a producer expect to make if he has no industry connections and is only now getting into the online beat selling business? The typical income of a beatmaker in his first year will rarely surpass $1000. The main reason for this modest number is that it takes time to establish yourself as a producer. Not only do you have to work on your brand, but you also need to develop your own signature sound.
It's natural and even recommended to look for inspiration in other producers' beats initially. Your long-term goal, however, should always be to make your beats recognizable and distinct from others. That's only possible if you work hard and invest many hours of practice into your beat-making skills.
Another key point is not to spread yourself too thin. It's better to focus on one type of beat and a few artists that fit the style instead of jumping from one hot rapper to another in the hopes of catching a trend. It's realistic to make $10,000 to $20,000 a month selling beats if you stay consistent, have your own sound, and dominate a particular artist niche in the type-beat market.
YouTube is a great place to start selling your beats. You can create a channel for free and begin uploading your music immediately. It's a good idea to verify your account because it'll allow you to add custom thumbnails and upload longer videos. Remember that YouTube is a video platform, so you won't be able to upload MP3 or WAV files directly. You'll need a simple video editing software like Movie Maker 10 to combine your audio files with a background image of your choice into a video. Make sure that for every beat you upload, you provide some contact information in the video description. Artists who find your beats should be able to reach out to you easily. Including your email address is the bare minimum, but you can also link to your beat store, social media, and website.
Having a dedicated beat store makes the process of selling beats a lot easier. First and foremost, a beat store will allow artists interested in your music to pay for and download your beats within minutes. They won't have to email you about the prices and different licensing options, and you won't have to micromanage every sale. Your beat store will have all of the important information laid out, the payment processing will be taken care of for you, and every beat you sell will be easily downloadable from the platform. There are many beat store providers, but the two most popular ones are BeatStars and Airbit. We'll take a closer look at both of them later in this article.
Social media can be a great way to get in touch with artists directly. In the early days of beat selling, producers would email rappers who asked for beats on Twitter. It used to work quite well because the market wasn't as saturated as it is today. Although this practice is still going on, the amount of competition you'll face following this method will be immense. Even if you send your beats to hundreds of artists every week, it's unlikely that you'll receive a reply because artists' email addresses get bombarded with submissions within minutes.
Today, you'll have a much better success rate selling beats if you reach out to smaller artists on Instagram. Make sure that you have your beats posted on your IG profile and start DMing rappers that you think we'll be a good match for your sound. If your messages are personalized, polite, and genuine, artists will give you their email and check out your work. Once you establish a connection, selling your beats will be much easier.
BeatStars and Airbit are the two most popular platforms for selling beats online. Both websites offer very similar services, and the difference is in the details. What might not be evident at first glance is that BeatStars is way ahead of Airbit when it comes to market share. BeatStars has almost ten times as many monthly visitors as Airbit, making it the go-to marketplace for buying and selling beats worldwide. Offering your instrumentals on a platform that is so ingrained in people's minds will increase your customers' trust towards your brand. Moreover, if you ever decide to run a paid promotion of your profile or individual tracks, on BeatStars, you'll be able to tap into a much larger audience.
Being the clear number two, Airbit tries to entice new producers to use their platform by offering a slightly better free plan. Both on BeatStars and Airbit, the free plan limits the user to 10 beat uploads. However, on BeatStars, you'll have to pay a 30% commission on every sale you make, whereas on Airbit, you'll keep 100% of the money. It's apparent that with this offer, Airbit wants to gain favor with beginner producers who are looking to test the waters of the beat-selling business and don't have a large library of beats yet. For veteran beatmakers or simply those who are ready to commit to a yearly paid plan, the price won't be a decisive factor because both Airbit's Platinum membership and BeatStars' Pro Page cost almost the same.
One useful feature that does set Airbit apart from BeatStars is the YouTube Content ID integration. Airbit allows it's Gold and Platinum members to submit their tracks for YouTube Content ID. This way, the beats will be monetized on YouTube via Airbit's ad network, and the producers will get paid for every video that uses their music.
When artists lease your beats and acquire the right to monetize their finished song on YouTube, you'll have the option to whitelist their videos. Everyone else who downloaded your instrumentals for free and either re-uploaded them on a different channel or made a music video with them will be subject to a Content ID claim, and you'll be able to earn money from it. It's worth mentioning that Airbit will withhold 20% of the ad revenue for the service, but you'll still keep 80%, which is a fair amount that can definitely lead to an additional source of income over time.
Although BeatStars did offer monetization on YouTube before, it's no longer an option, and at the moment members can only monetize their tracks on Audiomack and SoundCloud. Airbit is the clear winner in this category since YouTube is a much bigger platform.
BeatStars or Airbit, you can't go wrong with either one because both platforms adequately fulfill the needs of producers who are looking for an easy to use beat store. But the truth is, it won't be the store that'll make the difference in your sales. YouTube is still king when it comes to selling beats online and is by far the best website to focus on.
The type beat phenomenon is no longer a fad; it's an accepted form for producers to market their beats and find the right audience. It became normal for rappers to go on YouTube and search for a particular type beat. One of the recent examples is the Memphis rapper NLE Choppa who found the perfect instrumental for his breakout song "Shotta Flow" on YouTube. For the producer Midas800, it was just another beat sale; he didn't even know the song with his beat went viral until NLE Choppa contacted him.
The mechanics of selling beats with the help of YouTube are pretty simple. You create a channel and start uploading beats of a particular type regularly. It's super important to title your beats correctly. You should always include a popular artist in your video titles but make sure the keyword has both high search volume and low competition. If you're just starting out, making "Drake type beats" won't bring a lot of traffic to your channel because although there are many searches for that keyword, the competition is also fierce. You're much better off finding slightly less mainstream artists who are on the rise.
If you're consistent, stick to an upload schedule, and choose the right keywords, your video views will grow organically, and if you include a link to your beat store in the video description, so will your sales. Using YouTube to bring traffic to your store is a proven way to drive beat sales. The success won't happen overnight, but if you keep uploading one beat a day for a full year, you'll be amazed how profitable selling beats can be.
Writer and musician based in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he lives with his wife, Hannah. Extensive career as both a writer and a musician previously working with brands such as Fox Sports, Yahoo Sports, and Sports Illustrated. As a musician, Anders has played in several bands throughout the last decade, and has experience in touring, booking, band management, engineering, producing, mixing, and composing. Anders has recently composed music for short films and media presentations in universities, and has launched a podcast focusing on giving musicians and artists a place to talk about their work and the process behind their creation.
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