music blog

Music Distribution: 10 Steps To Releasing A Song Successfully And Head-Ache-Free

If you’re reading this, you’re either struggling to understand music distribution, or you’re looking for ways to learn more about successfully distributing your music on streaming platforms. 

And by ‘successfully,’ I’m talking about generating significant streams, making noise in your industry, and making money off your independent releases. 

These days, anyone can get their songs on Spotify, Apple Music, or Deezer. However — not everyone reaps the full benefits of it. 

Everyday struggles of ‘not being able to reach >1000 streams’ or ‘not being able to collect revenue that is rightfully yours’ are very familiar. 

While online streaming services have been around for a minute and music distribution services, such as CD Baby and DistroKid, make distributing music easy, they often focus their support and knowledge bases on what’s important to them. 

And as a result, they’re skipping essential parts in the process of going from zero to publishing a song and collecting earnings that are rightfully yours. 

We wrote this guide to teach you how to make the most out of music distribution, and it will cover all of the above (and more). 

This is not going to be a quick-read (!) But I promise you, if you’re looking for a complete and concise guide to music distribution, you can stop going down the internet rabbit-hole to find answers. Most likely, you’ll find them here. 

Who Am I? 

My name is Jay Urban, and I’m a multi-genre producer from Vancouver, Canada with more than 8+ years of experience, previously worked with Sony Music, RCA Records, Macklemore, Jason Derulos’s crew, Soulja Boy, Rich The Kid and many other major and indie artists.

If you’re familiar with the industry of selling/buying beats, you’ve probably come across my name before. I’ve dedicated the past five years to share my knowledge about the ‘new music industry,’ and I have educated thousands of creators on topics such as ‘licensing beats,‘ ‘music business,’ ‘selling beats online,’ and more. 

So far my extensive catalog with beats has received more than 5 million plays and counting. I have lots of customers, artists, and labels that I constantly work with and they always come back to working with me. As I was told they love the way I talk to my customers, provide personal discounts and help with any troubles via email, txt or phone at any time of the day.
In addition to that, I have a great understanding of production, licensing, syncing and marketing aspects in this industry.
Today, songs with my production get played all over the world and being featured by online music stores, TV, radio stations, films, and shows.

I specialize in producing Pop beats, Hip-Hop Beats, R&B Beats, Afro Beats, Latin Beats and EDM beats in the style of today’s most popular artists.

What you will learn from this guide

Our primary goal for this guide is to teach you everything you need to know about distributing your music on platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube Music, and more. 

This guide will include all the required (actionable and practical) steps to gain followers, listeners, fans, and collect revenue from your independent releases. 

However — as we were creating this guide and testing it out with some of our clients, we noticed that there’s more to ‘music distribution’ than meets the eye. The creative aspect, as well as your marketing efforts and understanding of specific business aspects, are critical to make this work. 

This is why we’ve divided this guide into three different parts. (You can find a full breakdown of the table of content below)

  • Part 1 — The Creative Side of Distributing Music 
  • Part 2 — The Business Aspect of Distributing Music 
  • Part 3 — Down To Distribution 

Furthermore — these three parts will include links to sub-articles posted on our blog as well. These sub-articles will dive deeper into topics mentioned briefly and concisely in this full guide. 

The sub-articles hyperlinked within this guide may also direct to other valuable external resources we believe are useful in following the steps outlined in this guide. 

We recommend using this guide as a reference and bookmark this page right away. It will outline your course of action from start-to-finish, and you can refer back to this for every new song you decide to release. 

Table Of Contents

  • Who Am I? 
  • What you will learn from this guide
  • Step 1: The Writing Process
    • The Post-Writing Process 
  • Step 2: The Technical & Creative Aspect of Recording 
  • Step 3: Mixing Your Vocal Tracks 
  • Step 4: The Master
    • What is the difference between Mixing and Mastering? 
  • Step 5: The Importance of Compelling Artwork
  • Step 6: Rights & Limitations To Your Song
    • Licensing Beats From Online Producers
    • Refrain From Using Distributors’ YouTube Content ID services 
  • Step 7: Copyright Ownership: Who Owns What?  
    • Performing Arts Copyright 
    • Sound Recording Copyright
    • “Copy that?” 
  • Collecting Your Royalties 
  • Step 8: Performing Rights Organizations (PRO)
  • Step 9: Publishing Royalties  
    • Key takeaways for Part 2 & Checklist 
  • Why do you need a distributor?
  • Step 10: Which Distributor Should You Sign Up With 
    • Get your sh*t in order (!)  
  • Submitting your song(s) for Distribution 
  • 10 Steps To Releasing Your Song Successfully And Head-Ache-Free.

Part 1: The Creative Side 

The creative process of producing a song consists of four main steps. 

  1. Writing
  2. Recording
  3. Mixing
  4. Mastering

As apparent as this process may sound to some of you, I ask you to at least skim down this part of the guide, even if it’s to check and validate that you’re on the right track. 

I promise you, this part has everything to do with successfully distributing your music. Furthermore, in this guide, it’ll become much clearer how a lack of attention and effort put into these four parts individually can drastically influence your final results. 

Step 1: The Writing Process

The process of writing lyrics should be very familiar to you. This part of the creative process is different for everyone. As a producer and engineer myself, this is something I never give comments or suggestions on and stay away from intentionally. 

Your lyrics speak of your identity, and the process and methods you use are usually acquired through your way of life. 

While some like to write on-the-spot, in a studio session, or in the presence of others, you might feel more comfortable penning down your lyrics while being alone, in bed, or when you’re on your way to work or school.

Don’t worry. There’s no need to make any changes to your writing process to make a successful song. 

However — within this writing process, there’s a step that does not come naturally to everyone and is often overlooked.

The Post-Writing Process 

After you’ve penned down your lyrics, you need to analyze your lyrics and structure your song in a way that makes sense to the general listener. 

This sometimes requires (re)arranging your lyrics, moving parts of your song around (verses, choruses, pre-choruses), or — in more extreme cases — completely removing certain elements. 

All of the above helps grab people’s attention and hold on to it for as long as possible. 

Some practical examples: 

  • If the best and most catchy part of your song is the chorus, you might want to start with that. 
  • If your song consists of a story, you might want to build up to that slowly. A technique often used in slow jams and ballads. 
  • You also might want to cut your verses short and create quicker and more natural transitions into the chorus.   

You might think, how does this relate to music distribution? Well — across all platforms, your first intention should be to grab people’s attention with your music and have them listen to your songs for as longand as many times possible. This is particularly important for platforms such as YouTube and Spotify.

The algorithms that get your songs in rotation and in front of others (“recommended”) highly depends on “how long” someone listens to your music. 

On YouTube, this metric is better known as “Average Watch Time.” 

Also, on certain platforms, streams or views are not even counted if people listen to your song for less than 15-seconds.

If you would analyze the structure of some of your favorite songs (preferably songs that are similar to your style of music) — You would notice the similarities in structures. Professionals have developed and continue to apply these structures for a reason.

For example, 12-16 bar verses for rappers. Or a pre-chorus that consists of the same lyrics (in R&B and Pop songs).

Such repeat factors tie in with people’s attention span these days. If you skim the Apple Music charts, you must have noticed that songs are becoming shorter. (2,5 min. On avg. while it used to be 3,5+ min.) 

Two reasons why professionals carefully structure their songs these days:

  1. The attention span of listeners has shortened over the years
  2. Having quicker rotation and play-through on albums and playlists to generate more streams (thus more revenue) 

Step 2: The Technical & Creative Aspect of Recording 

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. 

To some degree, the same is true when it comes to making a song. Each step in creating a song is equally important and should never be rushed or considered ‘fixable later.’ (even though, in some cases, this might be possible.) 

If you happen to be an audio engineer reading this, you must be familiar with clients rushing their recordings based on the common misconception: “No worries, my engineer will fix this in post.” 

“You can polish a turd as much as you want, but you can’t turn it into a diamond. In the end, it’s still a turd.”

The process of recording is as much a creative process as it is a technical process. 

  • The creative aspect of recording speaks about the emotional load in a song, the deliverance of your story, or the showcasing of talent and vocal skills. 
  • The technical aspect of recording speaks about the use of proper equipment, and more importantly, the knowledge of how to work with such equipment. 

Both should be treated as equally important. However, I’d like to focus more on the technical aspect. From my personal experience — it is one of the main reasons why some songs do not live up to their full potential. 

For more information about recording vocals, please refer to this article: Creating Professional Music in an Amateur Studio.

Why am I covering vocal recording in this guide about music distribution? 

Everything is intertwined. The lack of quality of your recorded vocals may result in an unprofessional sounding record. You’ll learn more about this in the next topic of “Mixing & Mastering.” 

In other words; Mixing engineers can only do their best work if they’re working with technically good recorded vocals. 

And with these technicalities, I’m referring to things like: 

  • The quality of equipment (microphones, preamps, even pop-filters)  
  • The quality of the environment (vocal booths, acoustically treated rooms, low background noise)
  • The recording techniques mastered by the artist (microphone distance, vocal performance)  
  • The quality of audio (no clipping on audio files, leaving several dB of headroom)

The mixing & mastering process will determine the quality of your song. And the quality of your song — you guessed it — heavily influences the success of your release.  

While the internet sometimes makes it seem like you can record a song on your iPhone, mix it down, and upload it to Spotify, in reality — things don’t always play out this way. 

Step 3: Mixing Your Vocal Tracks 

First, I want to stress the importance of a ‘good’ mix and why your song is only as good as you can portray it to the listener. 

Imagine looking at the best photo you’ve ever seen, but you can only see the blue colors. Not only would it ruin the image or have you focus your attention on the blue colors, but it would also prevent you from seeing all the beautiful details hidden in the other colors.

The same goes for your music and how it’s mixed. You might have written the best lyrics ever or recorded the best vocals ever. 

All this won’t be noticed if your vocals don’t cut through the mix, meaning it sounds as if they are buried underneath a thick blanket of instrumental sounds, effects, or other elements in a song. 

A high-quality, professional mix focuses on the individual tracks first and then brings them together as one great sounding track. In the process, each vocal/instrument gets its place in a mix. Professional audio engineers have ways to make the slightest detail of your perfect recording noticeable.  

This makes the listening experience for your audience as ‘easy’ and pleasant as possible. In the best-case scenario, people will feel the emotion and get carried away in the songs you’ve worked so hard to create.  

And if the combination of high-quality recorded vocal tracks and engineering skills is right, it can take your songs to a whole new level. A level on which Spotify, Apple Music, and all the listeners you’re trying to reach exist to play your music on repeat, share it with others, and become fans of your music. 

While some artists have acquired the skill set to mix their vocals, most have not. These artists require the help of a professional to make the most out of their releases. 

Hiring a professional audio engineer is one of the best decisions you can make. Finding the right engineer that matches your budget can be challenging. But it doesn’t take away that collaborating during the mixing stage is essential for creating great music.  

Eventually, you want to feed not just your perfect listening audience but also Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube Music’s algorithms with beautiful music.

Looking for professional mixing & mastering services? Feel free to contact me here. — Let’s see if we can make some magic together! 🙌🏽

Step 4: The Master

People often confuse “mixing” with “mastering” or think it’s all the same process. But these stages have two different names for a reason. 

What is the difference between Mixing and Mastering? 

  • Mixing engineers make your song sound great
  • Mastering engineers make your song sound great on every platform 

Imagine baking a cake. The first thing you do is mix all the ingredients together and prepare the cake. Only when you’ve followed the recipe (and checked it twice) — you heat up the oven and bake your cake. 

Mixing engineers prep the ingredients and Mastering engineers bake it in the oven. Both steps are required to make a delicious cake.  

Mixing engineers work with individual tracks (the ingredients) such as instruments and vocal tracks and balance these individual tracks to create a ‘mixed’ version of your song.

Mastering engineers generally work with a single track (the batter made of your ingredients)and balance the sonic elements of this ‘mixed version’ to create the final ‘mastered’ version you will use for distribution.

The purpose of “mastering” is to create an optimized version of your song that sounds good on all audio systems and media platforms.  

You should never skip this step in the production process. Mastering is generally much cheaper than mixing and, without question, worth the investment. In fact, a necessary investment. 

Once the mastering engineer is finished working on your song, you will receive the final version(s) in radio-ready, industry-standard, and high-quality formats such as: 

  • WAV 24bit
  • WAV 16bit
  • MP3 320kbps

These are also the formats you will need to upload your song(s) to music distribution services such as CD Baby, DistroKid, or TuneCore. (more about this later)  

Step 5: The Importance of Compelling Artwork

The final creative step in producing and preparing your song for release is the use of artwork. 

First and foremost, you need artwork for all platforms you decide to use for distributing your music. But creating (or having someone else create) compelling artwork is not something you want to take lightly. 

Whether you like it or not, “people listen with their eyes.” Chances are pretty high people ‘see’ your song before they hear it. If it looks terrible or unoriginal, that could be a reason for someone to decide not to listen to your music. 

In regards to the topic of “playlists” and reaching out to “music supervisors” or “curators,” — your artwork plays a vital role.

The artwork is not only used on a per-song basis. It may as well be considered a way to sculpt your brand as an artist. You could create consistency in certain aesthetic elements when promoting your music so it continually reflects you as an artist.  

When given enough thought, attention, and when combined with a creative effort to make your artwork ‘stand-out’ and be unique — you can use it as both your business card and a way-in for new opportunities and connections. 

On a side-note: For as long as I can remember, I’ve seen fans collecting their favorite artists’ artwork and merchandise. 

As I’m writing this, I’m wearing a t-shirt with Michael Jackson’s famous “Thriller” artwork. I also have a snapback in my office that says “Purpose”, which I bought at the merch stand after a Justin Bieber concert. (Not afraid to admit, I am a Belieber). 

Long story short, artwork can go a long way, and it can even revolve into a brand of its own with no direct attachment to the music it once represented. 

Another example is a t-shirt I bought, which is old merchandise from the band AC/DC — Guess what? I have never been, and never will be, an AC/DC fan. I did like the shirt, though. 

Part 2: The Business Aspect 

It’s time to get to business! In this second part of The Ultimate Guide To Music Distribution, we’ll walk you through the business side of releasing songs and how to collect earnings that are rightfully yours. 

You should know that a 2015 Berklee College of Music report found that anywhere from 20% to 50% of music payments do not make it to their rightful owners. Not only are payment structures (intentionally made) complex. Many artists also fail to understand “how to collect all royalties rightfully theirs” and skip parts in the process which prevents them from claiming all their money. 

At the end of this part, you’ll find a checklist of every step you need to take before distributing your song. We will gradually work our way down to understand better why these steps are essential. 

If, at some point, you start wondering how these topics relate to the subject of music distribution. We’re covering this because most of today’s violations, conflicts, removal of songs, and errors in payouts are a direct result of insufficient understanding of the process prior to distributing. 

As you start working down your checklist to get your songs from Zero to Published, you will stumble upon these things undoubtedly. 

We’ll be covering the following topics in regards to setting up the business aspect required before sending your songs off to distribution services: 

  1. Using beats from online producers
  2. Copyright Ownership: Who owns what? 
  3. Performing Rights Organisations 
  4. Publishing Royalties 
  5. Music Distribution Services 

For the sake of keeping this part as concise as possible, we’re going to assume you’re an independent artist without a label, management, or publishing deal. And that you are not limited by any contracts that may entitle a person or entity a percentage of your song credits.

Step 6: Rights & Limitations To Your Song

This part applies to artists that are using instrumentals from (online) producers. You may skip this part only if you’ve created your own music and are the sole creator of all lyrics and music in your song, and have no other creative person to account to. 

Licensing Beats From Online Producers

In this new music industry and the business I’m personally active in, it’s very common for artists to license instrumentals

These licenses permit artists to create songs with other producers’ music and are usually acquired through websites such as BeatStars, Soundee, or Airbit. However — these licenses are often limited in usage rights. 

For example: 

  • Not every license allows distribution on digital streaming platforms. 
  • It’s also very likely that your license has a streaming cap, and when you reach this cap, the license becomes invalid and requires renewal. 
  • Most licenses have an expiration date. When you’ve reached the expiration date, you’ll need to renew your license as well. (Usually after 5-10 years) 

At this point, it’s a good idea to check your license agreement. Suppose this agreement states any of the above, and you ignore or surpass the usage-rights provided. In that case, you’re in direct violation of the license agreement and accountable for any copyright issues and damages caused by these violations.

If you do not have a license agreement or official written permission from the producer to use the instrumental for your song, you are not allowed to distribute your song, and you can not follow the steps outlined in the rest of this guide. 

Need more help understanding Online Beat Licensing? We’ve written an in-depth guide covering the ins- and outs. Definitely give this one a read later. 

Refrain From Using Distributors’ YouTube Content ID services 

Also applicable to those who use beats from online producers is utilizing YouTube’s Content ID services.

Content ID is YouTube’s automated, scalable system that enables copyright owners to identify YouTube videos that include content they own. 
https://www.youtube.com/embed/9g2U12SsRns?feature=oembed

Music Distribution services, such as DistroKid and CD Baby, provide additional services to upload your song to the Content ID system. This system will then detect any use of your song in other YouTube videos. Upon detection, they’ll notify you as the original creator and copyright owner. 

Simply put, when given that notice, you can decide to monetize these videos, track them, or block them entirely. 

This can help detect whoever is using your music in their videos and even allows you to monetize the videos that contain your song, thus generating an extra stream of (passive) revenue. 

However — and this will become clear in the next section — if you do not have master rights, you are not the copyright owner of the song. 

In other words; If you’ve licensed the instrumental non-exclusively from an online producer, you are not the copyright owner.

As YouTube claims and expressively mentions; Only copyright owners can submit their music into Content ID. 

I want to stress the importance of this, particularly for protecting myself and my fellow producers. But also for any artists out there reading this.  

If you’re using beats from online producers on a non-exclusive basis, you should never opt-in for the additional service of YouTube Content ID provided by distributors. It’s as simple as ticking a box when uploading your song, but this puts you in direct violation of international copyright laws regarding copyright ownership. 

Suppose you happen to own and control 100% of your song, including the music and lyrics it contains — good for you! You may take full advantage of these additional services. 

We’ll get back to this later in this guide as we walk through the submission process for uploading your songs to streaming platforms. 

Step 7: Copyright Ownership: Who Owns What?  

Before you can upload your songs to (1) a distributor, it’s common to register it first with (2) a Performing Rights Organization and (3) a publishing company. More about this in the next section. 

For all three, you need to know “who owns what” in your song.  

There are two types of Copyright we will be discussing here. 

  1. Performing Arts (PA-Copyright) 
  2. Sound Recording (SR-Copyright) 

Performing Arts Copyright 

In most cases, you are not in full control of the PA Copyright in your song, which means you’re sharing copyrights with producers or other writers who helped you with the lyrics.   

  • Producers own PA-copyright to the MUSIC 
  • Writers own PA-copyright to the LYRICS 

These copyrights are better known as Performing Arts Copyright (PA-Copyright) 

Suppose an artist wishes to register their song with a Performing Rights Organization or distribute their songs to streaming services. In that case, the artist must credit every person involved in the song for their part. 

Generally speaking, credits are divided as 50% Music & 50% Lyrics. 

Sound Recording Copyright

Another form of copyright that relates to your song is Sound Recording Copyright. In the industry, this is better known as the Master Rights. 

For the sake of staying concise and to-the-point, all you need to know before distributing your song is whether you are the Master Rights owner or not. Here’s some help. 

  • If the music in your song is licensed on a non-exclusive basis, you are NOT the Master Rights owner. 
  • If the music in your song is licensed on an exclusive basis, you ARE the Master Rights owner.
  • If you’re signed to a label (major or independent), your contract will state whether you control your masters or not — in most cases; you’re not. 
  • If you’ve written, produced, and paid for everything related to producing your song, you ARE the Master Rights owner. 
  • If someone else financed (parts of) the creative and production of your song, you may NOT be the Master Rights owner. 

Even if you are not the Master Rights owner, you may still be allowed to distribute your song based on the deals or agreements you have with others involved. (such as a license agreement from the producer for using their beats)

But utilizing services or opportunities that require you to be the Master Rights owner may be limited. 

For example, as mentioned in the topic of Content ID, if you’re not the master rights owner, you may not register your song for Content ID. 

Another example is submitting and entering deals related to Sync opportunities (TV placements, Film, Netflix, etc.) — this requires approval from other rights-holders. 

“Copy that?” 

If this is all new to you, I could imagine you’re feeling overwhelmed. In that case, I urge you to dive deeper into this some time to get a better understanding. The above section only covered the basics and ‘need-to-know’ before distributing your song, but there’s more to it. 

Here’s another helpful guide that goes more in-depth on the subject of Licenses, Copyright, Ownership, and Royalties.

 Recommended read: The Ultimate Guide To Online Beat Licensing 

Collecting Your Royalties 

The previous sections about usage-rights and copyrights all lead up to this point. From here on out, the steps are more practical. But even here, we will support the following sections with sufficient context to grasp the underlying reasons and real benefits. 

This is what it comes down to. 

As soon as your music is generating streams, it’s generating royalties. But every stream of your song is not just another dollar in the bank. The payment structures are complex and highly advanced. 

“Generating Streams” and “Collecting Your Royalties” are two entirely different subjects. It’s not as simple as signing up with a distributor, generating streams, and expecting to get paid. 

The money generated by streams is sent to different companies. These companies collect on behalf of you — the creator. You need to affiliate with these companies to get paid your rightful earnings as a creator. 

The following infographic might be of use to get a better understanding. 

music distribution payment structure
Source: CD Baby

Before you proceed, please understand that the following sections only scratch the surface and provide you with the practical steps to complete before distributing your songs. 

For a more detailed explanation on how to collect your royalties and earnings, we highly recommend reading “The Artists’ Monetization Guide.” 

Step 8: Performing Rights Organizations (PRO)

If you wrote or produced your song, you are the owner of at least one part of copyright — specifically the PA-Copyrights. It automatically means that you’re entitled to compensation when your music is played publicly. 

By ‘publicly,’ we are not only referring to streaming services. It also includes television, radio broadcasts, and live performances.

The royalties collected from this are “Performance Royalties,” and Performing Rights Organizations (a.k.a. Collection Societies) collect these for you. 

These collection societies will then pay out the creators they’ve collected for. 

Regarding streaming; For every stream that you generate on Spotify, Apple Music, etc., a percentage of that stream will be collected by the PRO’s — ready to be paid out to the creator.

To collect these royalties, you need to have:

  1. An affiliation with a PRO 
  2. Your song registered with that PRO. 

Preferably, you want to register your songs before you send them off for distribution, but it’s possible to do this after release. 

Every country has its PRO, which any writer, composer, or producer can affiliate with. Click here to find out the Performing Rights Organization in your country. 

Step 9: Publishing Royalties  

In the music industry, a music publisher or publishing company is responsible for ensuring songwriters and composers receive payment when their compositions are used commercially. Similar to a PRO, yet very different. 

There are common misunderstandings and confusion regarding PRO’s and Publishing Companies. Many think you only need to sign up with a PRO. That is incorrect. 

PRO’s and Publishing are two different entities. You need to sign up with both to collect all your earnings

Again, royalties generated by a single stream divide into different types of royalties, all of which need to be collected. 

Publishing income consists of multiple royalty streams, and a PRO exclusively collects Performance Royalties

If you don’t have a publishing deal, a publishing administrator can help you collect your publishing royalties.

If you’re starting from scratch, you have two options: 

  1. Sign up with SongTrust (recommended)
  2. Use the Publishing Administration services provided by the distributor

Some distributors also cover publishing administration and can collect that for you. We advise against that because this ties you in with their service for a long time. If you wish to switch to a different distributor at any point, you can’t because you’re still locked in the deal. 

Key takeaways for Part 2 & Checklist 


  • If you’re using online beats: Check your license agreements and understand your rights and limitations 
  • Determine who owns what in your song and come to an agreement with all parties involved regarding splits and percentages. (Tip: use a split-sheet template)
  • Sign up with a Performing Rights Organization (if you haven’t yet) and register your song(s).  
  • Sign up with SongTrust if you’re not in a publishing deal yet and register your song(s)

Part 3: Down To Distribution

Once you’ve followed all the steps provided in the previous sections, you’re ready to get your songs distributed and released. As we move on to the actual distribution of your song, you will soon notice why we’ve provided the information and steps in Part 1 and Part 2 of this guide. 

Part 3 will be significantly easier to work through because we’ve covered all the possible roadblocks and questions you might run into in the previous parts. 

The first action in this is deciding which music distribution service you will choose. Keep in mind, the distributor you will pick will probably be one you’ll stick with for a long time. When you decide to switch to a different one — you will have a hard time transferring your already released catalog. 

We’re mentioning this upfront because in extreme cases (which our clients have encountered), songs needed to be removed entirely from streaming services before being able to sign up with a different distributor. It means losing all streams, data, and statistics you’ve worked so hard to build. Not to mention, you’ve paid for these services. 

Needless to say. It would be best if you made the right decision. No worries, we’ll help you out with this.   

Why do you need a distributor?

Streamings services have taken over what physical music stores used to provide. Back in the day, once every week, a huge truck would stop by the music store and deliver (physical) albums and singles. 

These days, thanks to the internet, music has become much more accessible. Most physical music stores have gone out of business (RIP), and streaming services such as Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music, and Tidal have taken over. 

Distributors have always played a big part in the chain of the music industry. They initially dealt with physical product distribution. Now, they are responsible for the technology behind digital distribution. 

In the early stages of streaming, companies such as Pandora, Spotify, and Apple Music have deliberately decided to work with distributors, functioning as the plug to access their platforms. In other words, the more prominent platforms do not allow artists to upload music directly to their platform. 

They prefer working with distributors than with artists directly to maintain an organized, standardized pipeline of data and ‘headache-free’ payout management. 

  

Step 10: Which Distributor Should You Sign Up With 

As mentioned in the preface of this part of the guide, it’s best to do your research and sign up with one distributor. Chances are, you’re going to be stuck with them for a long time. 

There are over 30+ Digital Distribution Platforms available. A few of those strictly offer services on an invite-only basis to labels or Major artists.  

The majority of distribution companies, however, are so-called “Open Distribution Companies.” Most likely, you’ll have to pick one of them. 

These are the top 5 most-used and most-popular companies among our clients and network. In alphabetical order:  

Everyone offers the same service: Getting your music on digital streaming platforms. 

However, — every company has its unique selling points. Better pricing, additional services such as Content ID, or Publishing Administration. 

The truth is, as much as we’ve been able to narrow it down, we’re not able to tell which of these is your best choice. It’s something you have to figure out yourself because we can’t tell what you value and need the most from a service. 

Get your sh*t in order (!)  

Just a quick side-note: During our research, we discovered some proclaimed experts recommending signing up with several distributors to spread out the risks of getting your music banned from streaming services. (E.g. Single 1 & 2 with DistroKid and Single 3 & 4 with CD Baby) 

There have been incidents where songs were removed from streaming services due to violating policy terms. Most music distribution companies have a policy of “Two Strikes and You’re Out.” When you mess up twice, they ban your account, and your songs are removed from streaming services.

Signing up with several distributors is only a band-aid and doesn’t fix the underlying cause of ‘why your songs are being removed.’ Instead, you should study and apply the steps outlined in Part 1 and Part 2 of this guide. That will ensure you have your sh*t in order (excuse my French). 

At the preface of this very guide and in the introduction of Part 2, we mentioned that there’s more to music distribution than meets the eye. The majority of issues, conflicts, and removals are due to insufficient knowledge and understanding of the business aspects. 

This particular issue and false recommendations from proclaimed experts are why we’ve structured this guide as it is.    

Submitting your song(s) for Distribution 

As soon as you’ve signed up with a music distribution service, they will guide you through the process of submitting your songs.   

In this process, you will need to provide the distributor with all your track information. While this is usually when my clients text me for help, you now have all the knowledge and information you need to go through this with ease. 

If you get lost at any point, refer back to Part 1 and Part 2 of this guide, and you’ll have no trouble completing your submission. 

Here’s a list of questions and options you can expect. (Perhaps, at this point, it’s good to go through this list and see if any of these questions raise any questions with you. If it does, scroll back up to find the answers.) 

  • Which stores (streaming services) you want your music to be on
  • Whether it’s been released before or not
  • If it’s an original song or copyright protected 
  • Your artist’s name
  • Song title
  • Date of recording
  • Release date 
  • Parties involved and their roles (including other writers and producers)
  • If you want (and are allowed) to apply for Sync opportunities, Content ID, or Facebook Monetization

Notably, all distribution services have a unique submission process. However, the data required to complete your song’s registration is precisely similar, just laid out differently. 

Before you hit publish 

I hope you’ve gotten the answers you were looking for and hopefully learned even more. If you enjoyed this music distribution guide, please drop a comment below and share this on your socials. It would mean a lot to us!

Before you hit publish to get your song(s) distributed to all online streaming services, I’d like to introduce you to another guide we’ve written that goes deeper into marketing your song

Eventually, we want you to get the most out of your releases. While the information provided in this guide already helped out a lot, I’m sure you’ll find more value in the following guides as well. 

  • Music Marketing Guide
  • The Artist Monetization Guide

10 Steps To Releasing Your Song Successfully And Head-Ache-Free.

  • Step 1: Writing your song
  • Step 2: Recording your song
  • Step 3: Mixing your song
  • Step 4: Mastering your song
  • Step 5: Creating the artwork for your song
  • Step 6: Understanding your rights and limitations
  • Step 7: Crediting (co-)writers and (co-)producers
  • Step 8: Register your song with a Performing Rights Organization
  • Step 9: Register your song with a Publishing Administration Service
  • Step 10: Upload your song to a Music Distribution Service
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The Artist’s Journey: The Road to Success

I’m not going to tell you to work hard, be consistent and to never stop believing. Instead, I want to show you what’s important on your journey as an artist and how you can become better every single day.

Before we do that, I want to talk about the different type of (undiscovered) artists I run across every day.

I’ve categorized them into the following three groups:

Group 1:

“My music is great, I only need a producer, manager, record deal or XYZ to help me take things to the next level.”

Group 1

These artists think that they need to rely on others to get traction. They could be insecure or incapable of taking action on their own. Usually, they have no game plan other than waiting for someone to offer them help. maybe their music is good, but often this isn’t the case.

Group 2

“I don’t need any help. I got this and I’m going to make it big one day.”

Group 2

This is the opposite of insecure. They’re determined that they will make it big one day — which is actually a good thing. But they often disregard the importance of the journey. And in their mind, they’re usually way ahead of where they actually are.

Group 3

“I made some great songs, but I don’t know how to get it out there. I’ll keep making songs and I hope one of ‘em will blow up.”

Group 3

These singers or rappers are in love with the process but have yet to create an actual plan. A plan that will get them to where they want to be.

Your journey matters ❤️

Whether you recognize yourself in one of these groups or not, it doesn’t matter.

There isn’t a wrong category per se, and I don’t wanna put you in a box.

We’re all in different stages of our journey and are all gravitating towards that same goal. Which in this case is success — which in term is different for everyone.

For some, it takes longer before they reach a specific milestone. Whilst others are celebrating midway.

It’s not about questioning where you are on your journey, but whether you are in control of the vehicle that needs to get you to the point you wanna be at.

Of course, your vehicle needs fuel. The fuel is what drives your engine: your passion, determination, and energy to work hard. That: “Jump out of bed every morning to rush to the studio” type fuel.

Your vehicle will take you where you need to go, it carries your talent, skills, and music.

If you forget one or the other, it’s going to be a long ass trip.

You can be passionate and hustle every day. But your talent, skills, and music will be the determinant factors.

How to get your breakthrough in music

Every day, we’re exposed to what most think is the definition of success.

You see your favorite artists drive foreign cars and partying all day.

Some might see that as if they are lucky. “Oh, they’re so lucky that they’re living their dream life. Oh, I wish I was that lucky.”. But you know what?

Screw luck!

I hate to break it to you, but if we are going to chase our dreams based on LUCK, the odds are always stacked against us.

Catching that big break in music is an event occurred in time, followed by a process

And that process, in this case, is your journey.

There will be no event without process.

If you consider that specific event as pure luck, then that means we can create our own luck.

As long as you focus on the journey and on what’s right in front of you, the event will come.

But, unfortunately, most artists don’t see it that way. And they are driven by what they see on their Instagram feed.

The main take away from this story is to put your focus on the process, NOT on the event.

And the latter is hard when all you see is the event.

Focus on the journey image
Don't focus on the end goal image

Remember my habit? Deconstructing songs and analyzing the journey of artists?

To optimize and speed up your journey it’s crucial to develop your skills and maximize your talent.

This is not something I came up with. This is what I’ve concluded from analyzing real-life examples.

Take Ed Sheeran for example. In this TV-show he lets people hear an old recording from when he couldn’t sing. The dude actually couldn’t sing!

He invested time in developing his talent and skills to reach the level he’s at right now.

Tory Lanez dropped about 14 mixtapes and a bunch of singles before he caught a big break. Yes, we all agree he works hard, but let’s dig a little deeper.

Compare this track from his first mixtape to his 2015 multi-platinum hit “Say It.”

He evolved into a completely different type of artist.

Tory Lanez in 2009:

https://www.youtube.com/embed/Bvzj2wC7mkU?feature=oembed

Tory Lanez – T Dot Girls

Tory Lanez in 2016:

https://www.youtube.com/embed/xUq1rZ7mmns?feature=oembed

Tory Lanez – Say It

This can only happen when you focus on the process, not the end goal. In other words; honing your skills and becoming a little better every day.

When you start digging you’ll notice that every successful artist was once where you are right now.

They all traveled the same road, but their journey was different.

The only common denominator is that they got a break-through with one song.

Yes, it only took one.

Yet, what’s hidden behind that one song are hundreds of songs they’ve created. Songs that didn’t do well or haven’t seen the light of day at all.

G-Eazy calls this process his Practice Years.

“I have like twelve mixtapes to my name that I hope doesn’t exist on the internet. But the thing with hip-hop is, your practice years are documented in the form of mixtapes, songs online etc.”

G-Eazy

Where a lot of artists fail 😢

Over 60% of the artists are creating music that is far below the quality-standard.

And that is alright if you’re starting out…

It becomes a problem when you’re not making any progress after 10 songs.

To name an example. I sell beats online and I always try to push artists to buy the high quality tracked out files of an instrumental.

Almost every song on the radio is produced and mixed with the separate files of the instrumental.

I sold a total of 732 licenses from January to October 2017, yet only 179 licenses were with tracked out files. That is less than 25%.

Which means that over 75% of these artists don’t focus on the quality of their music.

Most of the people buy a simple MP3 version of the beat, which is even more disturbing! MP3 files aren’t for professional music production.

When I confront them, the reaction I usually get is…

“Oh yeah, I didn’t know that…”

The same problem occurs with the quality of the recorded vocals, mix and the production of their song.

This year I’ve surveyed 1.400 artists and asked them what their biggest struggle is. The majority struggles with mixing, recording, and songwriting.

Yet, they upload their music anyway.

Not noticing their mix sucks or aware of the fact that their vocals could use work. Like, real work.

They determine the success of the song on the number of views, likes, reposts, and comments. Whilst that is a contributing factor, again it starts with your music — it’s the foundation.

Work your ass off

In the decade that I’ve been working with artists, more than half the music I’ve heard was not ready for a big crowd.

A majority of those artists are walking an endless road to success. To be frank, most of them will not make it even close to the finish line.

The Fundamentals;

  • Becoming better every day.
  • Improving your writing,
  • Your recording
  • Mixing your own music

Are replaced by:

  • Settling for low-quality
  • Prioritizing marketing your (unfinished) track
  • Getting likes on social media
  • And the list goes on

They all want to have the same success as our favorite artists. But that’s exactly the point where they go wrong right from the jump.Don’t look at their success. The answer is in the process—the journey— the mountain they had to climb to reach the top they’re at now.

Don’t look at their success. The answer is in the process—the journey— the mountain they had to climb to reach the top they’re at now.

How did Post Malone go from sleeping on his friend’s couch to the number one song in the world?

What did it take for Ed Sheeran to become one of the greatest singers?

How did Tory Lanez evolve into an R&B singer, after releasing a dozen hip-hop mixtapes?

They all followed a process, which led to their big break. They respected the journey and worked their ass off.

Ready to start crushing and making better music… this week?

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music blog

Hip Hop and R&B YouTube Music Promoters

The Future of Viral Music

YouTube music promoters are, without a doubt, the current and future trendsetters when it comes to finding new music and discovering new talent. Still, a lot of artists are either not aware of it or simply ignoring the power of YouTube.

While electronic dance music (EDM) had a head start on this, Hip Hop and R&B channels are (finally) on the come-up. The most successful one is Trap Nation with over 27 million people subscribed to their channel.

It makes sense that they have a say in which songs go viral. Especially, when you line up the facts:

  • They have a large audience (subscribers)
  • They have a targeted audience (since the promotion channels tend to focus on specific music genres)
  • And they operate on the world’s most used streaming platform (YouTube)

But what are these music promotion channels? Who’s running it? And how do you get your music heard by millions of people?

Let’s dive in and see if we can find the answers to those questions. 

GET THE COMPLETE LIST OF 3,000+ Spotify Playlists Curators List and The Complete List Of Record Labels A&R Contacts FOR ONLY $25

What is a YouTube music promoter?

It all started with people creating their own YouTube channels and uploading a mix of music up there. Adding it to a playlist and creating flashy thumbnails for their videos. 

They would then share it with their friends and subscribers in the YouTube community. Actually, just like a mixtape in the days of cassette tapes and CDs. 

Basically, home-made compilations of music (typically copyrighted songs taken from other sources), but now uploaded as separate videos and added to a YouTube playlist.

The concept is still the same.

Since the introduction of YouTube’s monetization program, YouTube music promoters started managing their channels more professionally. They became aware that they could actually turn their channels in profitable businesses.

The business concept is pretty simple: They get to monetize the video(s) and the artists get the exposure.

Music promotion channel vs. Your own YouTube channel

YouTube music promoters offer you a way to market yourself as an artist. There’s nothing competitive about that. You might as well consider it a radio station, simply broadcasting your music to an audience.

Based on my research, new artists typically generate around 1,000 views (or less) when they release a new video. Regardless of the quality of the music. 

Those with a larger social following can get a little more but–in my experiences–anywhere around 1,000 views seems to be pretty accurate. Usually, with a little bit of sharing on Facebook and Twitter, you can get to these numbers pretty easy.

But when you’ve created a good song and invested valuable time and money in the process, getting less than 1,000 views is obviously very frustrating.

These results often lead to making the assumption that people aren’t supporting new (independent) artists. Thinking that you can only get the credits you deserve when you’re already an established artist and/or signed to a (major) label. 

Sorry, I don’t believe that.

The facts about YouTube Promoters 

YouTube music promoters have a larger and more targeted audience, release music more frequently and showcase different types of artists on their channel.

Your own channel is probably not even close to the number of subscribers.

You’re not uploading one or two songs a day and you only have your own music to showcase.

Here’s just a random example of a song that’s been released on an artist’s personal channel and later on a music promotion channel.

Lionaire upload Own Channel
Upload on own channel
Lionair upload Promotion channel
Upload on promotion channel

Crazy, right?

GET THE COMPLETE LIST OF 3,000+ Spotify Playlists Curators List and The Complete List Of Record Labels A&R Contacts FOR ONLY $25

Why you should use YouTube Music Promoters to promote your music

YouTube music promoters basically help you share your songs with the world. It’s an underrated, highly effective way of music marketing.

With YouTube being the #1 streaming service in the world and the recent ‘come-up’ of streaming services in general, it’s not strange that these YouTube music promoters can make a world difference for upcoming (independent) artists. Especially, since the top channels have thousands or even millions of subscribers.

Check out Trap Nation’s channel statistics and all their sub-channels.

14 YouTube Promoters

That subscriber rate is crazy! That’s twice the number of people that live in my country. 

So, why should you seriously consider pitching your music to a YouTube music promoter? 

The obvious reason; They have a lot of people subscribed to their channel(s) so they have a much larger audience for your music.

The more important factor is that their audience is already used to hearing good music from that channel (otherwise they wouldn’t have subscribed).

When they upload your track, the subscribers are going to assume it’s a good song. This is what generates a large number of views.

When your best friend tells you about a song you should hear. Whether you’re eventually going to like it or not, you will at least check it out.

It works the same with music promotion channels.

You have the song and they have a whole bunch of friends (subscribers) who they will share the song with.

The benefits

  1. Exposure
  2. Get noticed
  3. Grow your social followers and fanbase
  4. Sell more music (if you’re selling the song on iTunes or other platforms)

How do they operate?

While some of the top channels turned their YouTube channels into profitable businesses, most of them are run and owned by just a single person.

YouTube promotion channels also tend to focus on specific music genres. You might have seen channels like Trap Nation or Rap Nation passing your feed sometimes. They own some of the biggest music promotion channels and are still growing rapidly.

There are also channels that focus mainly on R&B, like Stereohearts R&B or EscapeTracks.

When you submit the right music to the right channel, you also reach out to the right audience. This makes converting these ‘first-time listeners’ into actual fans a lot easier.

With a little searching around, you should be able to find contact emails and submission requirements.

OR, YOU CAN DOWNLOAD THE LIST I ALREADY PREPPED FOR YOU!
GET THE COMPLETE LIST OF 3,000+ Spotify Playlists Curators List and The Complete List Of Record Labels A&R Contacts FOR ONLY $25

Don’t assume that they will just promote your music after sending it to them. Most of them mention specific submission requirements on their contact page.

They might ask you: 

  • If you own all the rights to the music (video) or at least have permission (in writing) from the copyright holder(s) of the content.
  • If you allow the YouTube Music Promoter to monetize the video
  • To sign a content license agreement

Make sure you’re ready to answer these questions or, better yet, take initiative and mention these things in your submission. Which brings me to the next topic.

Submitting your music to a YouTube Music Promotion channel

Since most channels are run by a single person or a small group of people, they have their hands full on all the submissions that come in on a daily basis.

If you’re submitting your music to these ‘Busy Bee’s,’ make sure you make the email well worth it.

Here are a few tips I collected from professional music supervisors that handle 50+ submissions a day.

  • Do not send attachments! Instead, send Soundcloud links (private or public) or any other streaming service.
  • Send a download URL along with it. Enable ‘download’ on Soundcloud or just upload it to your personal cloud. (Dropbox or Google Drive)
  • Only submit when you’re certain about your track and it’s quality.
  • Be professional in every way you can.
  • Mention some of your recent achievements if they’re worth mentioning. (E.g. passing 10,000 plays on Spotify or if you’ve been featured on a popular blog, radio or tv show.)  
  • Less is more. Get to the point and avoid long emails explaining how you started doing music when you were 9-years old etc. Let the music do the talking.
  • Make sure everything they need is in the email. Social media links in your email signature, a link to your website and a direct link to your biography.
  • Keep it personal with the goal of connecting with the person on the other end of the email. Say ‘Hi Mike,’ instead of just ‘Hi.’ Also, don’t use an email booster. They will see right through it.
  • If the promotion channel has specific submission requirements, make sure you follow them and address them in your email to show that you actually did your research.
  • The subject line has to be good and to the point. “Hey, this new song I made is FIREEE!!” does not really sound professional. Instead, go with the simple and professional one. For example: “Interested in promoting my song [track_title] by [your_artist_name]
  • Check, double-check and triple-check your email before sending it. All the links should work and all the required information should be included. If necessary, make a checklist.

First time submitting your music to a YouTube Music Promoter?

While it would be really cool to have your songs promoted on channels like Trap Nation with millions of subscribers, you might want to start out with the smaller channels first. They are more likely to accept your submission.

Follow the tips given above as they proved to work really well when I followed them.

14 Hip Hop and R&B YouTube Music Promoters

While there are a lot of music promotion channels on YouTube, I already did some of the legwork and selected the ones that have the most subscribers and are most active today.

Therefore, they are more likely to handle your submission. Accepted or not.

Trap Nation

26,740,719 subscribers
Genre: Hip Hop, Trap, Rap

Rap Nation

2,725,370 subscribers
Genre: Hip Hop, Rap

Chilhop Music

2,331,223 subscribers
Genre: Hip Hop, Rap

Elevator

1,739,858 subscribers
Genre: Hip Hop, Rap

EscapeTracks

1,099,708 subscribers
Genre: R&B

RnB Nation

614,604 subscribers
Genre: R&B, Hip Hop

I Am Hip-Hop

473,439 subscribers
Genre: Hip Hop, Rap

Stereohearts R&B

432,698 subscribers
Genre: R&B

Music Daily

265,306 subscribers
Genre: All

HotRnBSoundZ

202,100 subscribers
Genre: R&B

RnBass

178,222 subscribers
Genre: Hip Hop, Rap, R&B

Beats & Culture

109,609 subscribers
Genre: Hip Hop, Rap

Best Hip Hop | Rap | R&B Music

64,244 subscribers
Genre: Hip Hop, Rap, R&B

Steezy Tracks

54,616 subscribers
Genre: All

All the channels in this list are growing fast and gaining 50-1,000 subscribers a day. By the time you read this article, the number of subscribers is probably much higher.

Since it took me a while to do my research, I figured I could save you a lot of trouble by creating a full list of all these channels and their contact details.

You can download it here for a small price and start submitting your music right away.

GET THE COMPLETE LIST OF 3,000+ Spotify Playlists Curators List and The Complete List Of Record Labels A&R Contacts FOR ONLY $25


A final piece of advice

As I’m writing this, YouTube music promoters are very underrated. I’ve asked around a lot about this topic but it seems that not a lot of artists use this method of music promotion.

Most of them aren’t even aware of it.

What I’m trying to say is; Don’t wait too long!

Major labels are already picking up on this and some of the bigger channels are offered exclusive deals by labels to release songs of their signed artists on their channel exclusively.

Hopefully, this article was helpful to you. I would appreciate it if you would drop a comment below and share your thoughts.

Wishing you all the best in your future music career! 

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Instrumental Beats: “Top sites to find music for your next project!”

First things first! 👋🏽

Did you come here looking for instrumental beats for your next music project? If that’s the case, check out our music catalogue below. We have some of the best Pop, Dance, Afro, TrapSoul, Hip Hop and R&B Beats available for you!

Visit the Beat Store


The best sites to sell or buy beats online in 2021

Type in “Instrumental Beats” on Google and you’ll get approximately 450,000 results. The internet is swamped with online producers who make beats and sell it from their online beat stores.

It’s super easy to create music these days and put it on a website. Social media makes it possible for producers to reach out to 10,000’s of artists without having to spend a dollar on advertising. Imagine the number of people they can reach out to when they throw in a couple of bucks for advertising.

Even though there are so many producers and instrumental beats to find online, the market is getting saturated.

The struggle of spending hours on that ‘vibe-killing’ search for the perfect beat. Having to go over 200 instrumentals before finding one you actually like and is of good quality.

With the enormous growth of online producers came a massive increase of low-quality, not inspiring and boring new instrumental beats.

After doing some research among a few hundred of my email subscribers and followers, I put together a list of the most popular websites to find instrumental beats.

If you’re an artist looking for the best instrumentals sites to find beats for your next project, keep reading. Also, if you’re a producer looking for the best platforms to sell your beats on, this guide will give you some unique insight into the online beat market.

The most popular websites to find beats

These are the most popular websites where producers hang out these days and where you’ll most likely find what you’re looking for. They are ranked in random order.

To speed up the process of finding quality music, I’ve also included some helpful filtering tips.


Google


Of course, Google will give you 100,000’s of search results but this will also include blog posts, video’s from YouTube or outdated forum discussions.

You might be surprised that I gave Google only 3 stars on search results. However, this is not all Google’s fault!

Believe it or not, a lot of producers simply are not active on Google.

They affiliate with an already existing platform rather than building their own website. Examples are Soundee, BeatStars or Airbit. A lot of producers on these platforms don’t even have a website of their own. (More about these platforms later)

That doesn’t count for everyone of course. You will find the most popular producers on the first 3-4 pages of Google.

Filter tips:

  • Narrow the search by searching for specific genres. Like, ‘R&B Instrumental Beats’ or ‘Hip hop Beats’
  • Add ‘2021’ to your search to show the most recent instrumental beats. Like, ‘R&B Instrumental Beats 2021’


YouTube


There’s a battle going on in ‘Producer World’ right now. Back in the day, Soundclick was the standard for selling instrumental beats online. I bet some of you won’t even know of their existence as their popularity slowly faded over the past years.

The power of YouTube is now overruling any and all platforms. Producers are fighting to get on page 1 for the most popular keywords.

In 2016, I predicted that YouTube would become the standard for producers. And that it will automatically bring along low- or less-talented producers. My predictions couldn’t be more accurate.

These days, it’s getting harder to come across good quality instrumental beats. Luckily, YouTube knows you better than you know yourself.

They have the largest number of visitors per day and are constantly updating their algorithm. They use the most advanced techniques to show you high-quality results while browsing their site.

For example; When you search for ‘R&B Instrumental Beats,’ YouTube keeps track of that. The next time you visit the site, they will show you the recommended videos based on your latest activities.

Basically, every recently uploaded video that is related to ‘R&B Instrumental Beats’ or popular videos about ‘R&B Instrumental Beats’ will be recommended to you by YouTube.  

And, even when you dislike an instrumental you come across, YouTube will make sure not to recommend another video of that same producer to you in the future. Pretty cool, right?

YouTube does not allow you to filter results by Genre or mood, so use these filter tips to narrow down the search.

Filter tips:

  • Search for your favourite ‘Artist type beat.’ If you’re a fan of Chris Brown. Search for ‘Chris Brown Type Beats’.
  • Add ‘2021’ to your search query to show the most recent instrumental beats. Like, ‘Chris Brown Type Beat 2021’
  • Add a mood to a genre. Like, ‘Hard Hip hop Beats’, ‘Smooth R&B Instrumental beats’ or ‘Emotional R&B Beats’.


Soundclick

As I mentioned, Soundclick.com used to be ‘THE’ website to search for instrumental beats but their popularity slowly faded the past years.

Their site hasn’t been updated since 1999 or something like that. Still, it made quite the name for themselves, back in the day as they were the leading beat marketplace. Every ‘new producer’ used to start out on Soundclick. (So did I! 🤣)

This is how SoundClick built an enormous database of instrumental beats but now a lot of them sound ‘outdated’ or lack quality.

In order to find the best quality beats, you should check out the Top 50 beats in the ‘Beats/Instrumental Charts’.

Producers get in these Instrumental Charts by paying for advertisements. Presumably, they make enough money to buy these advertisements, which means they’re popular sellers among artists looking for beats.

The website is pretty easy to navigate through and you can browse by different genre from the homepage.

Soundcloud

Whenever I search for instrumental beats on Soundcloud, I always seem to run across the same results.

While Soundcloud is a major platform for (unsigned) artists, they do not really offer filtered search results for specific keywords.

For example, they have different charts on their site. For all musical genres. But not one for instrumental music.

It’s hard finding something that you like up there, and there’s no filter option to show results sorted by upload date. Only by uploaded ‘Past Week’ or ‘Past Month.’

As a producer, I said goodbye to Soundcloud a while ago. It just wasn’t paying off as my beats were hard to find on the platform.

If you’re an artist, don’t waste time searching for instrumental beats up there. There are far better platforms to find what you’re looking for.


BeatStars


Beatstars.com is really starting to make a name for themselves when it comes to bringing artists and producers together. They’ve created a platform on which collaborating is made super easy. Producers can upload their instrumentals up there and monetize their content through them, while artists can upload their songs up there and do the same.

The features and services offered for producers and artists are good all though it doesn’t always meet the E-commerce standards for sellers. (That’s a different topic, though.)

In 2016, I predicted that over time, the majority of producers would sign up with them. Today, they control at least 60% of the producer market share, which makes it a good website for artists to shop around for hot new instrumental beats.

The navigation functions are really good. They know the problems artists are struggling with and have some very cool features to make it easy to find beats for your next projects.

You can search by Genre, Subgenre, Mood, Beats with chorus and BPM.

Also, you can make an offer on the Exclusive Rights of a beat, instantly from a producer’s profile.

I consider BeatStars a website similar to SoundClick but 50 times better. Their community and popularity are growing still. Also, a lot of artists that we’ve surveyed told us that they regularly visit BeatStars when they’re searching for beats.


Airbit

Airbit is a platform similar to BeatStars. In fact, they’re the pioneers of online beat selling platforms. They were the first to introduce ‘Instant Beat Stores’ where artists could instantly buy beats from producers. They’re formerly known as “MyFlashStore”. This was long before BeatStars achieved the popularity they have today.

The platform is still active and recently updated the UI and UX.

The platform has a lot fewer producers, compared to BeatStars which means the search results up there are lower.

Also, over time, a lot of producers made the switch from Airbit to BeatStars. Some still have accounts on Airbit but unfortunately, it only consists out of older beats. Which means a lot of outdated sounding beats.

On the flip side, I personally know some of the producers that stayed loyal to Airbit and they’re all incredibly talented producers. The top sellers on the platform are some of the best producers in the game. If you’re looking for quality beats, Airbit is still a great resource!


Soundee


Soundee is a new beat selling platform that was launched in January 2019. All though they are still developing the platform and updating it with features monthly, they’ve already proven to be a good resource for buying beats and selling beats online.

Even though it’s similar to Airbit and BeatStars, they do take things a step further. Where both Airbit and BeatStars lack meeting the E-Commerce selling standards, Soundee emphasises this part of the beat selling process.

It’s irrelevant to rate Soundee at this point, considering they’re just getting started. Regardless, they’re definitely one to keep an eye on.

Let’s summarise the results!

Top 5 sites with the most search results

  1. SoundClick
  2. YouTube
  3. BeatStars
  4. Google
  5. Airbit
  6. Soundcloud

Top 5 sites with the best quality instrumental beats

  1. YouTube
  2. BeatStars
  3. Airbit
  4. Google
  5. Soundcloud
  6. SoundClick

What do you think of this list? Are we missing a website at this point?

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Microphone - Art
music blog

When I lease a beat: “What if my song blows up!?”

Let’s start off with four questions I get asked a lot, concerning leased beats. 

  1. What happens when I lease a beat and the song I made with it blows up?
  2. What happens to other people that licensed that same beat?
  3. What if I lease a beat today and the producer sells the exclusive rights tomorrow. How will that affect me?
  4. I leased a beat and the song blew up, but some other artist has the exclusive rights.

Questions 1, 2 and 3 are probably in my top 10 of most frequently asked questions. 

Question 4 is what I consider the ‘ultimate goal + worst-case scenario’ an artist could think of. 

The possibility of this situation to occur is very unlikely if you handle your business the right way. Still, I’ll go into the subject, as you would probably want to know the answer to these questions. 

Going forward in this article, I will address all the frequently asked questions mentioned in the list above. 

“What happens when I lease a beat and the song I made blows up?”

First things first, if you’re using one of my beats, this situation is very unlikely to occur. And I’m not talking about the whole ‘blowing up’ part. 😊

When you lease a beat from my website, I’ll always follow up with you after you’ve made the purchase. I really am interested in the music you’re creating and you can expect e-mails from me looking to hear the final result of your song.

I also do this to see if there are any potential hit records out there. If something catches my attention, I’ll keep track of it and see how the song will progress after it’s released. 

In other words, if a song is about to blow up, I’m well aware of it and we can start negotiating a deal.

But that’s just me… Not every (online) producer takes initiative in following up with their customers. If a producer doesn’t follow up with you after you’ve purchased a beat from their store, simply fill them in yourself!

Let them hear the song and keep him up-to-date with everything that’s going on around the release of your song. 

So, “what happens when I lease a beat and it blows up?”

YOU BUY THE EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS AND NEGOTIATE A DEAL WITH THE PRODUCER! 

You’re probably going to need one too since you’re near exhausting the terms in your non-exclusive license agreement. 

Otherwise, the exploitation of the song is limited to the user-rights you get when you lease a beat. You will need the full exclusive rights to exploit it without limitations, whatsoever. 

Reach out to the producer as soon as you can and make a good offer on the exclusive rights. 

“What happens to the other people that licensed that same beat?”

Your song blew up, congrats! Did you buy the exclusive rights from the producer? Awesome!

“Now, what happens to the other people that have a license to that same beat?”

Short answer: Nothing…

Their licenses will still be valid until they’ve exhausted their sales limit or until the contract expires. Non-exclusive licenses are limited to a certain amount of user-rights and are only valid for several years.  

“What if I lease a beat today and the producer sells the exclusive rights tomorrow. How will that affect my song’s potential?”

It won’t affect you!  

An exclusive sale of a beat you’ve previously licensed non-exclusively will not affect you in any way.

The exclusive buyer is fully aware of the artists that licensed the beat before him. 

In fact, this is a term in the Exclusive contract that they have to agree upon before getting the exclusive rights. This term is called a ‘Notice of Outstanding Clients’ and it protects non-exclusive licensees from getting struck by the exclusive buyer. 

If you’re in this situation right now, you have nothing to worry about. Essentially, you already know your song’s potential as soon as you purchased the license. 

The rights granted in the license agreement tell you exactly what you can and cannot do. Read your licenses and make sure you fully understand what the user-rights mean.

It will become a different story when you overstep the song’s potential (exhaust the user-rights). In that case, we’ll move on to the next question.

“I leased a beat and the song blew up but some other artist has the exclusive rights.”

I’m not going to try and sweet-talk my way out of this. If this situation would occur to me, I would bang my head against the wall until I knocked myself out. 

Then do it again, till I don’t remember what happened. 😅

Again, I find it hard to believe that this situation would happen to me since I’m very close to my customers (in terms of following up on all purchases made from my site). 

I’m also not that guy that sells exclusive rights to every artist that comes up to me with a bag of money. I need to see (hear) the potential first.

Similar situations did occur with artists like Trey Songz, T.I. and Slim Jesus and I assume it must have been a real mess to sort out.

I don’t have any experience with these situations but I can tell you how to do your best avoiding it.

  • Buy exclusive rights! (n.a. if you don’t have the money)
  • Buy the lease to get the producer’s attention 
  • If you don’t have any money, ask for a payment plan and offer a down payment
  • Get close with the producer, reach out often and send updates about the song – Show him the potential!
  • Ask if they would consider holding on to the rights (Make sure you have something to offer, other than ‘giving credit’.)

On a side-note: You don’t have to make a purchase from my site in order to get my attention. But it could help getting noticed by other producers who may have that ‘about-to-blow-up’ beat in their hands.

If you’re reading this to determine whether to lease a beat or buy the exclusive rights

This might be confronting to some and I’m probably bursting a few bubbles too but please look at your current situation as an artist and ask yourself if you’re on that level that your song could actually ‘Blow Up!?’

For most artists, leasing beats would be far more beneficial. 

I actually wrote an entire article covering “Why you need to lease beats instead of buying exclusive rights”. Read it here. 

Don’t let the ‘Dream’ trick you into spending too much money on the wrong things. Prioritise your moves and re-evaluate your latest releases. 

Keep developing your craft, create new music on a regular basis and build a following with actual fans of your music. 

When that ‘blow up’ is getting near, you’ll feel it. Trust me!

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Hip hop music - UNGAZINCISHI
music blog

Song Structure and Dynamics: How to add more excitement to your songs!

In this guide, I want to share some of the most important lessons that I’ve learned from analyzing 1000’s of songs. I want to show you the importance of song structure, dynamics and adding excitement to your songs.

These topics are rarely mentioned by music professionals but I believe they hold the key to creating hit records.

I’ve always found it interesting how people react to music. In the past 8 years that I’ve been producing music, I’ve taken a very analytical approach when listening to music in general. Constantly trying to figure out what makes a hit record a ‘hit record’.

  • Have you ever wondered why you sometimes skip a song on your Spotify playlist just seconds before it ends?
  • Ever wondered where you got that special power to determine if a song is good after listening to it for 15 seconds?
  • What about those ‘ordinary’ people who can tell if they like or dislike a song but can’t explain why they do.
  • Or wait… Ever had goosebumps?

By the time you’re done reading this article, you will know exactly:

  • How to properly structure your songs using proven hit-formulas.
  • Why most songs these days are only 2:30 minutes long and how it can benefit you as well.
  • How to add more excitement to your songs and have people play your songs on repeat.
  • How to create a dynamic buildup throughout your songs to expand the listener’s attention span.
  • How to make your songs ‘easy’ to listen to using The Power of Repeat.
  • How to get people hooked to your song from the start

Song Structure

There are lots of articles written about this important part of songwriting already so I won’t go really in-depth about it. Facts are you’ve probably noticed this already in today’s music.

EDM tracks are known for using the same song structure over and over again. The media even covered this when someone mixed four different Martin Garrix songs together.

But it’s not only in EDM. Similar formulas are used over and over again in Pop and Urban related genres as well.

Here’s a layout of a common song structure used in today’s Pop and R&B music:

Part: Length:
Intro 4 or 8 bars
Verse 12 or 16 bars
Chorus 8 bars
Verse 12 or 16 bars
Chorus 8 bars
Bridge 8 bars
Chorus 8 bars
Outro/Chorus 8 bars

There are other possible variations upon this as well. Your song structure depends entirely on what type of song you’re creating.

Hip hop tracks, for example, (usually) have 16 bar verses and 8 bar hooks.

The length of your song

Luckily, there’s a simple trick to determine the best structure of your song.

Make sure the total length of your song is no longer than 3:45 minutes. Preferably, make it even shorter. About 3:00 – 3:30 minutes tops.

Most songs these days are around 3:00 minutes long. Some even shorter! This is a major difference compared to ten years ago. Back then, songs were anywhere between 3:30 and 5:00 minutes.

There are two reasons why the length of songs have greatly decreased over the years.

  1. People have a shorter attention span compared to ten years ago. (We’ll cover this more in-depth further in this guide)
  2. Financial reasons

The financial reason why the length of songs have decreased has to do with the introduction of streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music. Hard copy sales are almost irrelevant in today’s music industry and labels are desperately trying to bring their profits back up.

Since streaming is far less profitable, decreasing the song length helps to increase the rotation speed of songs in Spotify playlists for example. Generating more plays equals more profit.

Needless to say, this applies to independent artists as well. It’s more beneficial to distribute an album of twelve 2-minute songs than an EP of five 4-minute songs.

The missing element of Surprise

“Why is it that you skip the last 15 seconds of a song in your playlist?”

The answer is: “The missing element of surprise.”  

You already know the ending. You’ve heard the same chorus several times already. Time to fast forward to the next song.

This element of surprise is critical for expanding the attention span of the listener and it applies to the entire duration of your song.

A rule of thumb that I teach producers all the time is to add a new element to a song every 4 or 8 bars. That way, you keep the attention of the listener and they don’t get bored after just seconds of listening to it.

This applies to the vocal production of a song as well.

Vocal Layers & Harmonies

The most effective way to add more excitement to your song is to add different vocal layers. But this is often used in the wrong way.

It’s not easy to master the skill of harmonizing. Unfortunately, once someone masters the skill, they often over-use it. I get it, you’re excited.

Here’s the thing… always keep that Element of Surprise in your mind.

Meaning: Don’t give too much away too soon!

In a way, vocal layers and harmonies are part of the song structure as well. Throughout the song, you want to dynamically build up the excitement in your track and keep introducing new elements (of surprise). That’s what gonna keep people hooked to your song.

Dynamically adding more vocal layers to your song will have a much better effect then stacking a lot of layers throughout the entire song.

For example, you can add more vocal layers in the second verse and chorus to make it sound more exciting than the first verse and chorus.

Here’s an analysis I did for Jason Derulo’s hit song “Swalla”. 

Getting people hooked to your song from the start

People have a special power to determine whether they like or dislike a song within 15 seconds. Yes, it’s true.

That’s why you have to get people hooked to your song from the start. To learn how to do this, we’re gonna go back to the song structure for a minute.

Let’s say you recorded a track and you feel like it has a very strong chorus. In that case, put it before the first verse even starts! Start with the chorus instead of an intro and verse.

Part: Length:
Chorus 8 bars
Verse 8 bars
Chorus 8 bars
Verse 12 or 16 bars
Chorus 8 bars
Bridge 8 bars
Chorus 8 bars
Outro/Chorus 8 bars

It works the same way if you have very strong lyrics in the first verse. You’d want to put that in the listeners head as soon as possible.

A mistake made by a lot of today’s independent artists is that they let the instrumental determine the structure of their song. Most artists get their beats from online producers and these beats are already structured when they buy them.

This might not always be the best structure for your song!

Don’t be afraid to change the structure of the beat. Usually, when you have the tracked out stems of a beat, you can switch it up yourself and make the music work to your advantage.

Dynamically building up towards the big BANG of your song

You watch movies right?

Have you ever noticed how the music in those movies grabs you, excites you, and determines your feelings at the time (or how you’re going to feel in 5 seconds when that creepy little girl with the wet hair pops up on the screen?) 👻


In a way, that’s exactly what you want to do with your music as well!

And that, my friend, is what leads to giving people goosebumps when listening to your music.

So how do you achieve this?

Again, use the element of surprise!

Start off small, then bring more excitement to your track by adding vocal layers and harmonies (if you’re a singer). Keep your listener’s attention for as long as possible. Grab them, excite them and lead them to the big BANG! (your chorus, obviously)

Making your songs ‘easy’ to listen to using ‘The Power of Repeat’

This may seem a bit odd after I just told you to keep the element of surprise in your songs so let me explain.

When I produce an instrumental for an artist, I always add a pre-chorus sounding section to it. This could be a simple 4-bar breakdown just before the chorus comes in or perhaps a change of chords. I do this with a clear reason to benefit the entire song.

Let me show you in a random example what a pre-chorus does


Listen to how the pre-chorus kicks in at 02:11 and again after the 2nd verse at 03:10, making it a repeat factor.

These 4 bars play a significant part in the song because it gives a lot of impact to the chorus.

The listener is ‘used’ to hearing the chorus drop right after it which makes it ‘easy’ to listen to the song.

This is very important in creating a potential hit record!

Sometimes the songwriter uses the same melody, yet other lyrics, in the 2nd pre-chorus. This is a common writing technique used in duets as well.

A pre-chorus is usually intended for singers but if you’re a rapper you could see this as using the same lyrics at the end of both the first and second verse. I’m sure you’ve heard this before.

This is a good example of a repeat factor too and can be just as effective.

The True Purpose of The Bridge

After 2 verses and 2 (or 3) choruses, you’re nearly out of options to keep up the excitement in the song. Then the bridge comes in.

“Halleluja!” 🙏🏽

The bridge of a song allows you to switch it up and build up towards an even greater climax the listener has already experienced in the choruses.

It can be used in several different ways and I really can’t tell what you should do. It depends on you and your song entirely.

Just make sure that, whatever you do, the last chorus has to blow the listener away! Work towards that.

Here are some examples of things to do in the bridge:

  • If you’re a singer, feature a rapper in the bridge (as a 3rd verse)
  • Break it down, singing your original chorus without all the extra vocal layers. Keep it small.
  • Break it down Acappella, singing your original chorus while muting parts of the instrumental. Put the focus on the vocals.
  • Use entirely different melodies as a singer
  • Repeat the pre-chorus

Ad-libs and how we all love to show off, don’t we!?

If you’re an R&B singer, you know what I’m talking about, right?

Adding these silky smooth R&B licks can really add the finishing touches to your song. However, if used in the wrong way, it can be super annoying as well.

As much as we all love to show off our vocal skills, hopefully, you understand now that it’s all about dynamics.

That’s why it’s best to never add ad-libs in the first verse or chorus of a song. After the first chorus, you may start recording ad-libs. But keep it small!

The further you get into the song, the more you can add.

Just listen to any R&B song from the ’90s or ’00s and focus on where they’ve placed the ad-libs. You’ll notice that it’s almost always later in the song.

Your time to shine – The Last Chorus

And there it is… The final chorus. We’ve all been waiting for this!

This is your moment to shine. Enhance the excitement and drop your vocal skills on that last chorus as if your life depended on it.


No, seriously. The ending of a song is critical to make a song sound ‘finished.’ Believe it or not, the listener can make his judgment about a song in the last seconds.

Keeping the excitement going on throughout the whole song is hard. At some point, you really are out of options to take it to a higher level.

This is where ad-libs come in and more the reason why you shouldn’t add too many too soon in your song. Leave those R&B licks for when you really need them.

What kind of ad-libs? Big ones, smaller ones, it all depends on your song. Either way, ‘something’ has to happen there.

Final Word

Every day I come across new talented artists, yet a lot of them lack professionalism in their self-recorded tracks. I understand since it’s not easy to do this music thing on your own. Just keep in mind that the answers you’re looking for are all around you. Especially, when it comes to producing songs.

Take the time to analyze some of your favorite songs. Break it down and try to identify the key parts of it. Not only will this give you a better understanding of what hit records are about. It will also keep you inspired, motivated and on a consistently growing learning curve.

Hopefully, I’ve given you some helpful tips to become an even better artist or songwriter than you already are. Nonetheless, thank you for reading throughout this entire article and I wish you all the best in your music career.

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Music video - Video production
music blog

The simplest way to get fans as an independent artist

Before I tell you about this simple way to get fans as an artist. What do all these artists have in common?

  • The Weekend
  • Charlie Puth
  • Shawn Mendes
  • Tori Kelly
  • Justin Bieber

They all started out on YouTube!

YouTube is the #1 platform for musicians, producers, and aspiring artists. A serious number of today’s superstars started their music careers on YouTube and the website has over a ‘BILLION’ users right now.

That’s a nice audience to showcase your music to, right?

One of the biggest mistakes aspiring artists make is not acknowledging the power of YouTube. The second big mistake is not knowing how to use it properly. All though, that can also be the result of not having the right information at hand.

Let’s go back to that list again. What do all these (Youtube) artists have in common? Besides big houses, fast cars and lots, lots, LOTS of money?

They all messed around with Selena Gomez? 😜 “Probably… but no.”

“COVERS!”

“They all.. did.. COVERS!”

By the way, If you’re a rap/hip hop artist, I probably lost your attention now but don’t be too quick to leave the page. I GOT YOU! 👊🏽

Covering popular songs and posting them on YouTube, Instagram, and other social channels is THE way to get fans as an artist. With all the people on YouTube, searching hashtags on social media, you are simply lifting on the hype of the popular artist.

So what if you aren’t a singer? For example a rapper.

“REMIX THAT SH*T!”

Make your own version and post it on YouTube, naming it (for example);

“Drake – Fake Love REMIX Ft. [your artist name]”

Check out this dude remixing Desiigner – Panda and get millions of views;

Trending topics & timing

Covering popular songs is 100% guaranteed a good way to get fans as an artist but, in order to get the results you’re looking for, you have to be very much up-to-date with what’s going on in the music industry.

Let me show you how I used trending topics and timing in my line of business. The most crowded and competitive ‘Beats & Instrumentals’ niche. (Ughh how did I end up here… 😩)

Take a look at this screenshot from my YouTube channel:

Notice that I changed my strategy mid-November and how I almost tripled my view count per day about a month later. This growth all came from a single video.

I noticed a popular artist named August Alsina. (Ironically, also became famous through YouTube)

He was announcing big things and an official album release was coming up. The date was set and with a little searching on Google I found the entire track list.

On the day that the album was officially released, I uploaded an original instrumental of myself in August Alsina’s R&B style.

By choosing the right keywords, my video popped up in the same results as if you were searching for ‘August Alsina New Music’.

He created quite the buzz for himself and I lifted on his hype. Artists were digging that type of style and started to search for ‘August Alsina Type Beats’.

And that’s how I ended up ranking for anything related to August Alsina, beats, instrumentals, R&B etc.

What if you’re an R&B singer?

Say you’re an R&B singer and you’ve noticed a popular artist announcing a new album.

  1. Search for the release date
  2. Listen to the samples they share on pre-order sites.
  3. Be ready to record your own version.
  4. Upload it to your YouTube channel as soon as the album drops

Same goes for single releases or music videos released by major artists.

Be part of the hype!

What if you can’t find the instrumental track?

This is a problem for a lot of YouTubers (even the big ones) so there’s an opportunity for you.

Acapella Versions

Simply record it acapella. (vocals only, no music)

This works very well on social channels, such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, but it works on YouTube as well.

Don’t sit around waiting for an instrumental version to come online. Grab the momentum!

What about Hip Hop tracks?

Yeah, it’s not really cool to drop a rap verse without music, right? Luckily, the online producer world is filled with hip hop producers and it usually doesn’t take long before someone re-creates a popular track.

Be on the lookout and follow specific producers who are known for re-creating instrumentals.

Alternatively, you could team up with a producer. If you’re an aspiring artist and you have the potential of becoming BIG. Out of the 100,000’s of producers online, there must be one of them willing to work with you.

Acoustic versions are the best!

Look at this dude right here.

If you have people in your network who can play the piano or guitar, an acoustic version of a popular track always works really well.

New to this?

If you are new to what I have just introduced to you (which I highly doubt), trust me when I say that this can make a world of difference in growing your follower base. Just take a look at the example (superstar) artists I listed at the top of this article.

They started out the same way you did. What makes you any different?

They are all talented, dedicated, and hard-working people. JUST LIKE YOU! 💪🏽

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Car - Driving school
music blog

Why you should Lease beats instead of buying Exclusive Rights

You’re new to buying beats online and you read all these things about people who lease beats. Some people might have convinced you that it’s an absolute must to buy exclusive rights. Perhaps you have already purchased beats from producers online and you feel it’s time to go for something exclusive now. Or, maybe you just don’t like the whole terminology behind beat licensing? No problem. 

I’m going to explain to you…

  • When you should definitely not buy exclusive rights
  • Why, in most cases, it can be far more beneficial to lease beats instead of buying exclusivity.
  • Two alternatives to exclusive rights that might be better options for you!
  • Which artists should buy exclusive rights

In this article, I’m going to assume that you’re an independent artist and that you’re familiar with the terminology of (online) beat licensing.

If you’re not familiar with online beat licensing, I recommend you check out our Ultimate Guide To Beat Licensing here.

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. While everyone is unique in their own ways, there are a lot of similarities and common mistakes a lot of these artists make. Especially when it comes to deciding whether to buy exclusive rights or lease beats.

If you can identify yourself in one of the following statements, you’re better off leasing beats instead of buying exclusivity:

  • You have a social follower/fan base under 10,000 people. (all channels combined. FB, IG, Twitter)
  • You have less than 1,000 plays on YouTube and Soundcloud.
  • As for right now, you haven’t released a single, promotional album or EP yet.
  • You do not fully understand the basics of non-exclusive and exclusive beat licensing

For some, this might be confronting but, realistically speaking…

How BIG of 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 listen to 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?

Trust me, I’m not trying to discourage you in any way. I’m merely trying to help you reflect on your current situation and let you understand that buying exclusive rights might not always be the best option.

And there is no shame in that, at all! In fact, there are many benefits to leasing beats as opposed to buying them exclusively. 😃

Why it can be far more beneficial to lease beats instead of buying exclusivity

Let me sketch out a possible scenario here.

Let’s say, you just purchased a non-exclusive lease for $30 which permits you to sell up to 5,000 copies of your song. 

Obviously, you recorded a killer track! 🔥💪🏽

You drop it on iTunes and you promote 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 like the song and they go to your website looking to buy it.

Let’s say, you promote it to around 10,000 people and 300 people are interested in buying it. For simplicity, you’re going to sell it for $1 per download.

300 x $1 = $300 – $30 investment

Your profit = $270 ″WOOHOO!!” 🎉

Now, let’s say–instead of a non-exclusive lease–you purchased an Exclusive License for $800 USD.

300 x $1 = $300 – $800 investment

No Profit = -$500 “OUCHH!” ☹️

This is just a simple example and sure, there are other ways to generate income from your music these days (streams, live shows music videos etc.)

Then again, I haven’t even calculated additional costs, such as studio time, audio engineers and promotion costs.

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.

In my opinion (and you’re welcoming to disagree), the first priority for upcoming independent artists should be to grow a fan base and release as much music as possible on a regular basis.

Ask yourself; “Would the small group of fans you’ve gained so far care less about you leasing beats instead of getting them exclusively?”

Heck, they don’t even know what the hell you’re talking about! 😅

Two alternatives to exclusive rights that might be better options for you!

1. Unlimited Licenses 

Even if you have the budget to purchase exclusive rights, I’d strongly recommend looking into Unlimited Licenses. Most producers offer it as the most expensive non-exclusive licensing option.

The biggest advantage of an Unlimited License is that for a relatively low price, you are allowed to sell, stream and play your song without a streaming cap. In other words, you’re not limited to (for example) 5,000 sold copies or 100,000 streams on Spotify.

The profits could be substantially higher compared to other licenses that are limited to a certain number of sales, streams and plays.

In many ways, this license looks a lot like an exclusive license but of course, there are some significant differences. 

  1. It’s still non-exclusive. Producers are allowed to sell it to others too so you won’t be the only one with such a license.
  2. Publishing rights are usually set in the agreement to the standard 50/50 split. Whereas, opposed to exclusive rights, the publishing rights are usually negotiable. I wouldn’t consider this a direct problem but it’s still a difference.
  3. There’s still an expiration date which means the license will be valid for several years after which a new license has to be purchased.

Just a little disclaimer here… Every (online) producer has his own terms and methods of licensing beats so make sure to check the agreement before you purchase it. 🤓

2. Custom Beats

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 interested in buying exclusively were already leased to other artists before you?

How ‘Exclusive’ is it then?

This is a common misconception of the term ‘exclusive rights’ within the beat licensing industry.

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!

Which artists should buy exclusive rights? 

Most of you reading this right now would probably be better off with a non-exclusive license. To round this off…

We only recommend the following artists to purchase exclusive rights: 

  • If you are on the verge of blowing up
  • If you already have a large following (over 100k, all social platforms combined)
  • When you’re signed to (major) labels
  • If you have a publishing deal
  • When you’re preparing to make a substantial investment in marketing plans
  • If you are investing over $5k in music video production
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music blog

5 Tips for Buying Beats Online (From the Artist Perspective)

Have you ever bought a beat online without knowing what user-rights you actually have? Can’t wrap your head around these different licensing options that producers offer? Or, maybe you’ve finally found that perfect beat after hours of searching and spent all night writing a potential hit song. Then, you go to the producer’s website only to find the following words; “This beat is SOLD!”

I’m a producer too, selling beats online. But I’ve been on your side of the pond as well.

Yes, that’s right! I had this crazy fantasy of becoming a successful, rich and famous artist one day. Sounds familiar? 😜

I used to spent hours online searching for that right beat. And when I found it, I downloaded the free version and recorded my song the next day. I wasn’t even buying a proper license for it!

Without knowing a thing about recording, mixing and mastering, I bounced the track to an MP3 file (In low quality so that it wouldn’t take too much space on my 128MB MP3 Player) and let all my friends hear it the next day.

Mind you, I was only 14 at the time and facts are, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. It was only until I started making beats myself and selling them online when I realised a lot of artists are struggling when they’re using beats from online producers.

So, let me give you a few tips I wish someone gave me when I was still pursuing my dream of becoming an artist.

1. Check if the beat is still available on the producer’s website

Let’s say you’ve been checking out beats on YouTube all night and finally found a beat you like…

Don’t even start writing a single word! ⚠️

First, visit the producer’s website to make sure the beat is still available.

You really don’t want to know how many times I had to disappoint a good artist by telling them that the beat they wanted to get is no longer available. Many times, they’d already written an entire song to it. If the record is really good, that sucks for both of us.

When you’re looking for beats on YouTube, you can not always tell from the video title or description whether the beat is still available or not. Visit the producer’s website instead.

Once a beat gets sold exclusively by a producer, they are no longer allowed to license it to other artists. It’s also not possible to buy the beat from the person who purchased the exclusive rights. The exclusive contract does not permit the purchaser to re-sell the instrumental in its original form and if not overlayed with lyrics.

Another reason why you would want to buy from the producer’s own website is to check if they’re trustworthy to do business with. Most producers will direct you to a third party website such as BeatStars, Soundee or Airbit where you can make a purchase and get the beat instantly delivered after checkout. That’s perfect!

But there are still some producers who use alternative ways to sell beats. For example, some ask you to make a payment first and then they’ll manually send you the files. In that case, always check if the producer is still active since this is a very old method of buying/selling beats online.

If you have doubts, just make sure you use PayPal when you’re buying beats online. You can always open up a claim if a producer is not sending you the beat(s) you have purchased.

2. Don’t buy the MP3 Leases if you consider yourself an Artist!

Like I mentioned, I used to download crappy MP3 formatted tagged files. This is wrong!

MP3’s are low quality and you can really tell the difference when you send your song off for mixing and mastering. (Ask any audio engineer you know.)

Also, major labels and A&R’s are constantly looking for potential artists to sign. Even if you created a potential Billboard charting track, when the audio is bad, they fast forward to the next track in a blink of an eye.

Licenses that come with tracked out files will give you the best bang for your buck. These tracked out files are all the separate files of a beat and haven’t been mastered, limited or compressed.

Yes, these licenses are more expensive. If it’s not within your budget, go for the WAV license instead.

3. Know your rights before you buy a beat online

This is pretty obvious but still, I want to address one particular subject. You’re probably familiar with the licensing tables that producers have on their website. They tell you the difference between each license they offer.

Don’t be fooled – READ THE PDF LICENSE AGREEMENT!

Everyone who sets up some kind of a contract has small print added somewhere. Trust me (or better yet.. don’t trust me!) because it’s not going to be all up in your face while browsing through a producer’s website.

Always make sure you read through the license agreement before buying a beat online.

If you don’t know the difference between Exclusive and Non-Exclusive, here’s an article I wrote that will help you understand it better. It’s called “The Ultimate Guide to Online Beat Licensing”

4. The Online Beat Market can be shady, keep your eyes and ears open!

There, I said it… But it’s true! Selling and buying beats online has become too damn easy. Make sure you know who you are dealing with.

Have you ever come across a producer who sells Exclusive Rights for $50 without providing the contract details?

Have you ever had a producer sliding in your DM’s trying to sell you an exclusive beat, then sends you a PayPal link to buy and promise to manually send you the beat after you paid?

Those are the kind of producers who are in it for the fast money. A lot of them (not everyone!❤️) have no idea how the business works. Most of them are just starting out. In all honesty, they can be dangerous people to be doing business with.

Why?

In my opinion, people who are driven by money and money only are the ones who can’t be trusted.

Whenever you’re doing business with an online producer, especially when it comes to exclusive rights, make sure you have all the paperwork reviewed before making a payment. Discuss all the details of the sale and make sure you get a signed copy from the producer once you’ve made the purchase.

This is not a strange thing to ask and if the producer is trustworthy he will do that for sure. But when he starts acting all weird about it, it’s in your best interest to get out as fast as you can.

Again, I’m not saying that this is typical for all producers who sell $50 exclusives of course! All I’m saying: Know who you are dealing with!

5. Always check for Bulk Deals

Let’s say you’ve found several beats from a single producer but your current budget only allows you to purchase one right now. You could save up some money and come back later to purchase the rest of them, sure.

Well, let me tell you this. Producers have Bulk Deals going on all the time. Like, buy 1 get 2 free for example.

It’s funny. I’ve had many occasions when artists bought 2 beats from my site while they could have gotten 4 instead for the same price. They just didn’t see the advertisement to add 2 more to their cart for free.

What if the producer doesn’t have a Bulk deal going on?

SEND AN E-MAIL!

Producers are ALWAYS in to make a deal. Just tell them that you found several beats that you wanna use but can’t afford to buy them all. Ask if he got any deals going on right now or if he’s willing to negotiate a bulk price.

100% guaranteed that you’ll be offered a good deal which allows you to buy several beats for a special price.

It does depend on how high the total price of your order will be. Producers are most likely to make a deal if the total amount that you are offering is anywhere above $50. Just make an offer he can’t refuse.

Try it and you’ll see that it really works.

Final word

These tips I gave you all came from my personal experiences as both an artist and producer. Again, selling and buying beats online has become super easy these days. You just have to know what you’re doing and understand a little about the basics before you start spending money with producers.

If you have any questions about this, let me know in the comments below! 👇🏽

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Tracked Out Stems of a beat and why you need them!

If you’re looking to record your songs professionally, you really can’t go without the tracked out stems of a beat. Tracked out stems are of tremendous value but that’s only if you use them appropriately. For some artists, this is new territory. So, allow me to explain why you’re much better off buying a beat license that includes these stems.

In this guide, you will learn:

  • What tracked out stems are
  • What they are typically used for
  • Why they are so much better than a single MP3 or WAV file of a beat
  • Why they are more expensive compared to licensing options with a single MP3 or WAV

What are Tracked Out stems?

The terms ‘Tracked Out Files’, ‘Track Stems’, or Tracked Out Stems’ are commonly mentioned in online producers licensing option. They generally come with a more expensive (non-exclusive) license.

First, we have to separate two different types of stems typically used in the music industry.

  1. Individual stems (Tracks)
  2. Group stems

Individual Stems (Tracks):

Individual stems are single instrument tracks or vocal tracks. For example, an individual audio file for the Kick, Snare, Guitar, Piano or Lead Vocal, backing vocal, ad-lib etc. When you’re buying beats online, these are usually considered as the stems.

Group Stems:

Group stems are a group of sounds of a category packed in a single audio file. Such as the group of all drums, the group of all guitar tracks or the group of all recorded vocals of a track (also known as an acapella track). These group stems are often used by mastering engineers, video editors and producers in film productions.

individual stems group stems
Individual Stems vs. Group Stems

In order to increase the overall quality of your song, you’d want to go for the individual tracks, rather than the group stems.

Producers generally consider ‘tracked out stems’ as the individual stems anyway so no worries about that (including me).

On a side note: After a song is mixed by audio engineers, they sometimes export your song to group stems for mastering purposes. But to avoid confusion, we’ll not go into the details of that in this guide.

What are tracked out stems used for?

There are many reasons why professionals work with stems but it all comes down to the same thing.

Being in CONTROL!

  • Being in control of the overall mix
  • In control of the song arrangement
  • Controlling the volume levels of each individual track
  • Being able to control certain frequencies of an individual track
  • And so on…

Producers and audio engineers need to have control over the mix in order to deliver a song that meets the industry quality standard.

This is where tracked out stems are used for.

What if you’re an artist, recording and mixing your own songs?

A lot of independent artists record and mix their songs themselves. If that’s you, the same principles apply.

Tracked out stems will offer endless possibilities to make your vocals stand out better and increase the overall quality of your songs.

Small tweaks to the volume levels of the beat stems can already make a world of difference. You don’t have to be a professional audio engineer to do that.

The same applies to equalizing instrumental tracks to make room for your vocals. Take control of the entire mix and do not depend on just your vocal tracks and a single file of the beat.

Facts are every song needs (small) adjustments in different areas. Always!

Why stems are better than a single MP3 or WAV file

First of all, if you’re serious about your music career, don’t use MP3 files for your songs. 🤦🏻‍♂️

MP3’s are not industry standard and won’t even get you close to a level of quality similar to what you hear on the radio. Simply because the quality of MP3 files are poor.

If you’re outsourcing mixing and mastering to an audio engineer and you send him your vocal tracks and an MP3 file of the beat to work with. He’ll probably laugh in your face.

Like I said, mixing songs is all about being in control. Having just a single track to work with that’s also of the lowest quality possible prevents the audio engineer from doing a proper job.

But there’s another reason why I would not recommend a single-track MP3 or WAV file–for that matter.

Beware of Mastered versions!

If you’re buying beats from online producers, almost all single-track (MP3 or WAV formatted) beats have been mastered by the producer before they uploaded it to their store.

What this means, in simple terms, is that they’ve boosted the volume and enhanced certain frequencies of that beat. They do this to improve the quality and have it meet the volume standards in, for example, their YouTube videos.

However, for some producers, it’s also the version that they sell to you when you buy a license.

This greatly impacts the quality of your song. Because, after you’re done recording your vocals, you’ll have to send it off for mastering yourself.

Unfortunately, you can’t master an already mastered instrumental!

This is a major issue for artists that typically go for the cheaper licensing options. Even worse for those who download beats (illegally) from YouTube! 😤

Again, some producers sell these mastered versions with their cheapest licenses.

In my case, only my Standard and Premium licenses come with a mastered version. All other licenses come with both mastered and non-mastered versions of the beat.

Why licenses with tracked out stems are more expensive

Producers ask a higher, yet fair rate, for licenses that come with tracked out stems. It could be anywhere between $50-150 a license.

By now, you’ve learned all about the benefits of using stems and hopefully, we can agree that it’s a good investment to make.

It simply gives you the best bang for your buck and it’s all about creating a song that has the potential to become big. This is in both you and the producer’s interest.

If I may speak freely about my own reasoning for the price, user-rights and benefits of the more expensive licenses.

With these tracked out stems, I’m giving you more control over the instrumental. The opportunity to make a good quality song with it.

But, besides the stems, you’ll also get better user-rights. This allows you to distribute the song across multiple streaming platforms, maximise your exposure and see a higher return on investment.

What if you really can’t afford the more expensive licenses?

Understandable! We all have to work with what we have.

In that case, I would recommend getting at least a license with a WAV version. It’s limited in terms of mixing and mastering but with the right audio engineer, you can get a pretty good sounding mix.

However, I do not recommend this for singles, albums, EP’s, (official) music videos or any tracks that are going to be sold on iTunes or other platforms. Or streamed on platforms such as Spotify or Apple Music.

These are the platforms where songs blow up these days. You can get added to Spotify playlists or get on the radar of major labels through the exposure you’re getting there.

Trust me, you don’t want to have a hit record in your hands but miss your big break because of a low-quality song. 🙂

Did you come here to determine which license to buy from my store?

If you came here to make up your mind about which license to buy from my store. Hopefully, I’ve given you the answers that you were looking for.

If not, feel free to reach out anytime and contact me.

On a different note; If you’re not up for making the investment right away and your budget forces you to go for a less expensive license. Just know that you can always upgrade your license at a later stage. You’ll only pay the difference between the set price of the licenses. (This does not apply to all online producers!)

This blog post was written by Robin Wesley
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