So you’re new to buying beats online and you read all these things about people who lease beats.
Maybe you have already purchased a few licenses from producers online and you think it’s time to go for something exclusive now.
Or maybe you just don’t like the whole terminology behind beat licensing? That’s cool too.
I’m going to explain to you …
- When you should definitely NOT go for an exclusive license
- Why in most cases it can be far more beneficial to lease beats instead of buying exclusivity.
- 2 alternatives to exclusivity that are even better!
In this article, I’m going to assume that you’re an aspiring artist and that you’re familiar with the terminology of (online) beat licensing.
When you should definitely NOT go for an Exclusive license
Being an online producer myself, I’m fortunate to meet a lot of aspiring artists. Everyone is unique in their own way, but there are a lot of similarities and common mistakes a lot of young artists make. Especially when it comes to artists deciding whether they buy or lease beats.
If you can identify yourself in one of the following statements, it’s better to lease beats instead of buying exclusivity:
- You have a social follower/fan base under 5.000 people. (all channels combined. FB, IG, Twitter)
- You have less than 1.000 plays on your music releases on YouTube and Soundcloud.
- You haven’t released a promotional album or EP yet.
- You do not fully understand the basics of non-exclusive and/or exclusive beat licensing
This might be confronting for you, but realistically speaking …
How experienced as an artist are you?
If you did a show locally, would more than 100 people show up?
If you released a mixtape online for free, would more than 500 people download it?
Have you been featured on at least three music blogs run by people who weren’t friends with you personally before you put out music?
Do you have a manager, agent, or lawyer who’s doing some legwork to help your career, or have people approached you about managing you?
Get the point?
Why it can be far more beneficial to lease beats instead of buying exclusivity
So, when you go to all these producer’s websites, you always see a nice overview of the several licenses they are offering. Something like this:
For example, you just purchased a Basic lease and you have the rights to sell up to 5.000 copies of your track.
Obviously, you recorded a killer track and you release it to all your followers on your social channels and tell all the people on your mailing list that it’s up for sale. People start liking it and they go to your website looking to buy it.
Let’s be realistic, alright; You send it out to over 10.000 people and 500 people looking to buy it.
For simplicity, you’re going to sell it for $1 per download.
500 x $1 = $500 – $24,95 investment
Your profit = $475,05″WOOHOO!!”
The same way of promoting works when you purchase an exclusive license, right?
Let’s say, you purchased the exclusive rights for $800 USD
500 x $1 = $500 – $800 investment
No Profit = -$300 “OUCHH!”
Keep in mind that I haven’t even calculated additional costs, such as studio time and promotion costs.
REALITY CHECK 👉🏽 YOU ARE NO “MAJOR ARTIST” (YET)!
When you’re in such an early stage of your career as a music artist, you’ll have to understand that all extra’s are beneficial. Spend the extra money to purchase more beats and release more music.
Ask yourself; Would the small group of fans you’ve gained online care less if you lease beats instead of getting them exclusive? Heck, they don’t even know what the hell you’re talking about!
Do you really think you’re going to blow up overnight or that the track you’re releasing today will be in the Billboard Charts tomorrow?
Trust me, when that’s about to happen there are far other things you have to worry about.
1st priority for new artists:
Grow your follower/fan base and release as much music as you can.
Did you know the biggest artists of this time started out posting covers (copyrighted material, so no user-rights at all) online?
Let that sink in …
2 alternatives to exclusivity that are even better!
If you have the funds to actually buy exclusivity but decided not to because of the SUPER ADVICE I gave you. Here comes the good part!
Thank God for..UNLIMITED LEASES! 🙏🏼
Unlimited licensing is a new way to lease beats and most producers offer it as the most expensive form of licensing.
So, if you have the money and want as many user-rights as you can get to push your track to the fullest, the Unlimited licenses is the best option.
These licenses look a lot like exclusive ones but of course, there are some significant differences. For instance:
- It’s still a non-exclusive license, so the producer is allowed to sell it to as many people as he or she wants.
- 0% publishing rights (in most cases)
- Expires after a period of time
TIP: Read the small print on the PDF License Agreements!
When you lease beats, the user-rights remain valid until you have exhausted your amount of sales, or the usage period is expired. Even with an Unlimited license, the user-rights will be in effect for a period of time. (In my case, you’ll have to renew your license after 4 years.)
Not all producers show these limitations in their overview.
Every (online) producer has his own terms and methods, so make sure to check this before you purchase it.
When I ask my clients why they don’t want to lease beats, the answer is almost always the same;
“They want something exclusive for themselves and don’t want another artist to use it!”
Did you know that almost all online beats you are (or were) interested in buying exclusively were already leased to other artists before you?
How ‘Exclusive’ is it then?
If having something created exclusively for you, is what you’re after, you should go for a custom beat!
If you’re digging the style of the producer, ask for a custom beat!
Like I mentioned earlier, this might be confronting for you. I don’t mean to hurt anybody’s feelings. PROMISE! 🙏🏽
But it’s in your best interest to look at your current situation realistically.
If the statements in the first paragraph apply to you, don’t be ashamed or disappointed (in yourself). Keep up that hard work and make it happen!
You got this!
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.