Online beat licensing is nothing new. Online music producers have been doing it for many years on sites like Soundclick, MyFlashStore and much more. Music/audio production has never been as easy as it is today and the internet makes it possible for almost anyone to launch a website to sell beats from.
However, when it comes to proper licensing their beats, it seems like a lot of (new) producers are just copying other established producers agreements. Some of them probably won’t even know what they are offering!
Although the term ‘licensing’ isn’t that hard to understand, the user rights granted to you in a beat license can be very confusing sometimes. I don’t want to go into the basic terminology of an agreement like who is the ‘Licensee’ or ‘Licensor.’ Instead, I’ll skip that part and move on to what matters most to you as an artist.
Non-Exclusive Beat Licensing
Non-Exclusive licenses grant you specific user rights to the beat that you are about to record your lyrics and vocals on. It doesn’t mean that you own it (exclusively). The producer of the beat still retains copyright ownership of the beat. It means that the producer has the right to license the beat to whomever he wants to, until someone purchases an Exclusive license.
So, now you have recorded your vocals to one of our beats, you must have some kind of copyright on your song right?
Well… Yes and No!
What you have created is a derivative work. So yes, you have copyright over the lyrics that you recorded over the beat but no, you still don’t have copyright to the music used for your song.
Upon submitting your song to TuneCore or CDbaby they ask you who the copyright owners of the song are. In that case, you’ll have to tell them that you only have copyright over the lyrics and that you’ve created a ‘New work’ with copyright protected audio that has been non-exclusively licensed to you by the producer.
With a non-exclusive license, you get 0% publishing rights.
Tracked Out files
A Premium License is an extended version of our Basic License in our beat licensing section. This license also comes with tracked out files of the beat. Tracked out files are all the separate audio tracks of the entire beat delivered in the highest quality WAV format. We highly recommend using these files in order to get the highest quality recording of your song.
Exclusive Beat Licensing
When you own the Exclusive rights to a beat, you can use the master (your song) without limits on user rights (in comparison to beat licensing). Meaning that you can exploit your song to the fullest.
You may exploit the master without any limitations in way or territory of use. So if you think you can get your record on #1 in ten different countries and sell millions of copies, then you are allowed to do so.
Beat licensing is no longer an issue because you will own the exclusive rights to the song you created with our beat. That also means that after you have purchased the exclusive rights, we will no longer sell or license the beat on our website.
Producers differ in how they define ‘Exclusive.’ In our case, we always ask to execute a 50/50 split-sheet and we retain copyright ownership over the music we created. (The way it should)
We negotiate a fair split of publishing rights with the artist (or their representatives) and work together with the artists to maximise the song’s potential. As that would benefit us both.
Some of the terms in an exclusive license can be discussed or negotiated, as we always advise artists to contact the producer first before purchasing an exclusive license.
Some producers sell/transfer their entire ownership including copyright upon their exclusive sales. This is not a smart thing to do for the producer, but I know it happens. This is called a work-for-hire contract.
Beat licensing explained; Non-Exclusive or Exclusive?
If you are serious about a certain beat and you have the potential to make your song big, you should go for an Exclusive license.
However, if you’re a young artist working on a mixtape or first album to get your name out there. Why would you spend that much money on the exclusive rights, while you are not even sure if the record is going to get big? Ask yourself what would be best for the artist that you are right now.
Building up a fan base and getting your music heard by the people who matter in the industry should be the first priority. When the time comes that you have enough followers who will share, repost and eventually buy your music, you should consider buying exclusive licenses.
I hope this article about Beat Licensing helped you out on deciding which license to choose. If you have any more questions, feel free to comment in the section below.
About Robin Wesley
Robin Wesley is a music entrepreneur from The Netherlands. Besides his activities as a music producer, he’s also the co-founder of Urban Masterclass. A community and educational platform for Hip Hop and R&B artists.
His Zero To Radio Ready program is his effort to help artists overcome the struggles that keep them from getting exposure. Helping new and more established artists take control of their music careers.