Musician - Artist
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Getting started as a Recording Artist – The Checklist

So, you’re getting started as a Recording Artist?

Or maybe you already started out and just want to check and see if you’re on the right track. – All good with me!

Allow me to help you out getting started the right way.

First, let’s talk about being an Artist, shall we?

What is it like, being a Recording Artist?

It’s funny, though! If you ask Google this question, it comes up with the following answer:

What it's like being a Recording Artist

‘Intermittent periods of unemployment’ – “I guess that’s only positive when you have a passive source of income, right?” 😕

If I would ask you what you think it’s like being a recording artist. One of the first things that come to mind probably would be about that Luxury Lifestyle.

The money, the fame, the fortune.

Fast cars, million-dollar mansions, and sold-out shows in stadiums filled with 50,000 people.

And that’s perfectly normal since that is the picture painted by the popular artists who are your motivation and inspiration.

But, not many of these artists tell you about their daily struggles. The pressure of delivering quality music album after album.

The hard work they’ve put in over the years. And the long road they’ve traveled to end up where they are today.

Being an established artist comes with a high-level of stress and you’re constantly working under pressure.

Okay, hold-up!

I’m not trying to demotivate you. I’m just saying that being an artist comes with certain responsibilities and continuously putting in, effort, and hard work.

“Are you ready for this?”

If you’re reading this, you probably don’t have a personal manager to look after you. Nor are you backed by a (major) label that handles your funding.

You’re getting started as a recording artist – Independently.

Everything you need to get started as a Recording Artist

Basically, you’re flying solo towards the Land of Money, Fame and Fortune. (And don’t forget the intermittent periods of unemployment lol)

While there’s still a long road ahead of you, independently promoting yourself as an artist is not really that hard with all of the resources that are available today.

The Internet, Social Media, DIY Guides on how to promote your music. YouTube and Soundcloud. Just to name a few.

Before you even start promoting yourself and your music, you want all the fundamentals to be in place accordingly.

That’s where my checklist comes in.

You’ll find a detailed breakdown of this list after the next paragraph.

Most common mistakes made by artists

Here are 5 most common mistakes made by artists that I see every day:

  1. No links to (all) social media sites
  2. No biography
  3. Missing contact information
  4. Incomplete profile pages on YouTube, SoundCloud and/or other Social Media platforms
  5. No ‘call-to-action’ on profile pages

1. No links to (all) social media sites

Artists send over their music to me all the time. Mostly, SoundCloud or YouTube links. Whenever I hear something that I like, I want to hear more tracks by that artist and find out more about them.

Or at least stay updated about their activities.

Makes sense, right?

Well, the funny thing is, more than half of the artists I check out don’t have links to (all) their social media sites on their SoundCloud or YouTube page.

2. No short or long biography about the artist 

I believe over 80% of these artists don’t have their real name shown in a (short) biography that tells who the artist is or where he or she is located.

3. Missing contact information

Yes, contact information! A lot of artists don’t show a contact email for bookings or business inquiries.

How am I supposed to reach out to you if I want to work with you!? 🤓

4. Incomplete profile pages

When you register to an online platform, they ask you all these questions upon signing up.


  • Name / Artist name?
  • City, State and Country?
  • Official website?
  • Social Media links?
  • Contact information?

Even if these fields aren’t required to fill in before signing up, you should always do.

5. No ‘call-to-action’ on profile pages

‘Call-to-action’ sentences are SUPER important for your profile pages. This could be anything like;

– “Follow me on Instagram to watch my studio sessions” 

– “LIKE my Facebook page and stay updated about my new releases” 

– “New single OUT NOW! [link to Spotify]” 

Sometimes people just need that extra push to make them follow you or give you their email for a free download link to your music.

Breaking down the checklist

1. Biography

There are so many reasons why a well-written biography is super important for your (upcoming) music career. You’re not writing a biography (only) for your future fans and followers. More importantly, you’re writing it for Music Supervisors, Record Label A&R’s, Media Agents, Booking Agents, Event Promoters etc.

A biography is just a small part of a much bigger picture.

A good biography is simply a marketing/sales tool. (rather than a chance to tell your life story)

3 types of biographies

I always say there are 3 types of biographies;

– “(1) The short version, (2) the super short version and (3) the full version” –

The short version: Basically the first paragraph of your full version.

The super short version: Something like; “Joe Johnson – Independent singer/songwriter and recording artist from Los Angeles, CA”

The version that you would use for your Instagram or Twitter profile. Or any other platform where you are limited to a maximum amount of characters.

The full version: See next paragraph.

Writing your biography

When you’re getting started as a recording artist, you probably don’t have the funds to hire a professional to write a biography for you.

I’ll show you how you can set up a good biography yourself.

First lesson – “Structure is everything!”

Like I mentioned earlier, there are 3 types of biographies and the short version is basically the first paragraph of your full version.

So, you want to make sure that your first paragraph includes a summary of all the important parts that are explained in more detail further in your biography.

The important parts and things you want to highlight in your first and second paragraph are: 

  • Full Name + Artist name + Type of artist
  • Location
  • Recent releases
  • Accomplishments
  • Quotes
  • Plays, downloads on recent releases (if it’s worth mentioning)
  • Follower count on Social Media (if it’s worth mentioning)
  • Upcoming releases
  • Collaborations (if it’s worth mentioning)

I have some pre-written examples for you. But first, let me tell you a little secret… 🤫

When it comes to biographies, most people really don’t care what age you started doing music. Or how your mum and dad were both musicians (unless they are big names in the music industry). They don’t care about why you started doing music or what your personal beliefs or life goals are.

In fact, most of the readers don’t even make it to 300 words before they skip the page.

That’s why you want to write everything worth mentioning in your first paragraphs.

Examples of how to write a Biography

Example 1:

Joe Johnson is an independent R&B singer, songwriter and recording artist from Los Angeles, CA. His latest EP, titled “On My Way To The Top” was downloaded over 3.500 times and has been featured on music blogs like WSHH and ThisIsRnB, who compared his sound to artists like Trey Songz and Chris Brown.

Now, with over 15.000 plays on Soundcloud and over 35.000 followers on Instagram and Twitter, Joe is working on his second project “I’m Here To Get Big” which is set to release in July 2017. On this next project, he collaborates with artists like Lil Yachty and features tracks produced by Music Producers Robin Wesley and MikeWillMadeIt.

Joe was born on November 24th, 1991 in Atlanta and moved with his parents to Los Angeles when he was 6-years old. Coming from a family of music

Example 2:

Joe Johnson is an independent R&B singer, songwriter and recording artist from Los Angeles, CA. He is currently working on his first EP, titled “On My Way To The Top,” which is set to release in July 2017. Joe’s style of music is often compared to artists like Trey Songz and Chris brown. You can hear the resemblance in his latest tracks on SoundCloud, which have already got a significant amount of plays for an artist like Joe Johnson.

Determined to break into the Music Industry, Joe is working hard on his next release. As well as building up his fan base and followers on Social Media. He hopes to sign a record deal one day.

Joe grew up in Atlanta, living with his mum who was a single parent. At the age of twelve, he discovered his love for music…

When you read over these examples. Do you notice how, for example, Event Promoters or Booking Agents can simply copy and paste the first and second paragraph and post that on their website when you’re having a show at one of their events?

Or, how the first paragraph might convince a Record Label A&R to look further into you and check out more of your work?

More importantly; Do you notice how ‘boring’ the third paragraph gets?

Well, that’s exactly the point where 90% of the readers will skip the page.

“It’s just boring .. 😴

Just a few more tips about writing a biography

  1. Keep it up-to-date. New developments or goals accomplished? – “Put it in there!” 
  2. The ‘boring parts’ might be interesting for your fans in the future. It’s okay to write it of course.
  3. Don’t make the full version too long. Keep it fun, alright?
  4. When you’re publishing the biography on your website, use hyperlinks in the text so that the reader can easily click on it.

2. Personal Website

I’m a huge fan of artist websites. It just tells that they are serious about being or becoming a professional recording artist.

While setting up a personal website requires certain expertise, I would strongly advise to let someone build it for you. (or build one yourself)

If it’s not at all possible for you, there are always alternatives to find online. Take Bandcamp for example.

The benefits of a personal website

On your personal website, you can show tour dates, sell merchandise (when you’re ready), collect emails, create pre-order options for an upcoming release and more.

You can also upload a bunch of high-quality press photos that promoters and booking agents can download from the site. To print a flyer for the event you’re performing at, for example.

What I find most important about a personal website is that you control everything yourself. It’s rather unlikely, but if YouTube, Soundcloud and/or iTunes would disappear from the web for some reason, you can always fall back on your own website and re-direct your fans there.

All the content you need to add to your website is listed in the checklist.

3. Social Media

Every professional recording artist has healthy (growing) social channels. Social channels are available for everyone and everyone is ON social channels 24/7 too.

The best way to market yourself a recording artist, if you ask me.

Then again, setting up a social channel like Instagram or Facebook should be done with care.

We’ve already talked about short and super short biographies. Now, this is the time to use it!

If you read the paragraph of “Most common mistakes made by artists” you already learned a few things about how to set it up properly. ( I hope so 😅)

Just breaking it down for you one more time.

All the information that needs to be on your Social Channels

  • Your Artist name
  • Your short or super-short biography
  • Link to your website or at least to a site where they can listen to your music
  • A Call-To-Action (Follow me on my Journey!) 
  • Contact information (for bookings and business inquiries contact

 4. Music Channels

SoundCloud and YouTube are most common and an absolute requirement these days. There might be other platforms useful as well. Of course, you can add those to the list too. Whatever works for you!

For both SoundCloud and YouTube, you can use the same things listed for Social Channels in the previous paragraph.

Just add 2 more:

  • Links to ALL social media accounts
  • Different Call-To-Action

For example; You can put something like “Download my new single for FREE at [url to download page]” in the description of your video on YouTube or track on Soundcloud.

5. Network & Contacts

I’m near close to writing this whole section in all capital letters and bold print.

Seriously, I’m still so surprised that so many artists aren’t working on networking, finding contacts, and building relationships with people who can make a difference in their music career.

Network and contacts are important if you want your music to be heard by the world. I can’t emphasize this enough.

Once you’ve got a list of contacts together, you’ll only have to submit your new releases to them and wait till (or if) they publish it on their sites.

And when they do .. – BOOM! 🚀 -“Follower count reaching critical level”

If you’re still wondering what I’m talking about. Proceed to the next chapter.

YouTube Promoters and Music Blogs

I decided to write entire articles about topics such as YouTube Music Promoters and Music Blogs.

Also, luckily for you, I already took the courtesy of setting up a list of contacts for both of them.

Check out a separate blog post about YouTube promotes and music blogs that you can pitch to!


Music Supervisors

There might be some work in this for you, but it’s well worth it.

With a little searching around on the web, you should be able to find a few contact emails from music supervisors.

These are people where you can submit songs to and they might pick your song to get played in TV-Shows, movies or advertisements.

There’s some good money in this and it’s always good to have a few Music Supervisors in your network.

On a side note: If you’re really just starting out as a recording artist, don’t be too quick to submit your music to Music Supervisors. Your music has to be on a certain level before you decide to submit it. Saving these contacts to your list is important, but does not necessarily mean you have to exhaust all your resources right away. You might scare them away. Forever.

Facebook Groups

Who isn’t on Facebook these days?

Step 1: Type in “R&B Music” in Facebook’s search bar. (or any other genre related to your music)

Step 2: Search for groups

Step 3: Pick out the largest and most active groups and join them

Now, the next time you’re releasing new music, Kindly ask the moderator of this group if he would be okay with you sharing your music up there.

There are groups on Facebook with 10,000’s of people. All potential fans of your music.

“Ain’t that a nice audience to share your music with?”

Sign up with CDBaby or TuneCore

I already told you. You’re flying solo towards The Land of Money, Fame and Fortune.

That means that you’re basically managing yourself too. And you’re responsible for the business side as well.

We’re living in a digital world right now and recording artists no longer have to outsource distribution management and financial management.

In fact, you can do everything yourself.

Do not make the mistake of thinking you’re not ready to sign-up for these services yet.

If you are creating original music right now, there are several ways to make money from it. You probably don’t even know about it.

Without going into detail about this myself, I want you to check out the following links and read what they are all about.



Ultimately, you’ll have to join one of them.

Sign up with a PRO (Performing Rights Organization)

A Performing Rights Organization basically collects and pays out Royalties.

Another subject that I would rather explain to you by directing you to their websites.

Ultimately, you’ll have to join on of them.



There are a few more performing rights organisations in the U.S. and if you’re not from the U.S. your country might have his own PRO. You can find a list of all the PRO’s in the world here.

The importance of building an Email List

Last, but definitely not least.

The Mailing List. 

I can tell you right away. Whatever business, industry or niche you’re in, an email list is or will become one of your most powerful marketing tools.

You can’t start soon enough with building that list.

Compared to Social Media, emails are far more personal. Several studies have shown that conversion from emails is at least 6 times higher compared to social media posts.

Simply sign up with a mailing list provider like Mailchimp or AWeber. Or you can just collect the emails in a personal file for future usage.

Just make sure you save the addresses.

Good luck!

This blog post was written by Robin Wesley
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Digital marketing - Marketing
music blog

First Time Buying Beats: Transitioning from Free Beats to Leasing Beats

I have been selling beats online for a couple of years. Before I started doing anything related to making beats, I sat on the other side of the table. I used to rap, I used free beats and I was buying beats from online producers.

Because I’ve sat on both sides of the table, I can imagine the situation that you’re in right now. The whole reason why you decided to read this article.

  • You’re getting started with music but you’re planning to take this seriously.
  • Or, you’ve already been doing music for a while but things are starting to get more serious.
  • You’re looking into buying beats because you’re done using tagged free beats.
  • Or, maybe you’ve reached that level where the logical next step would be to properly license the beats you’re using.

☝🏽 If you recognize yourself somewhere in these lines then you’re right where you need to be. I am going to tell you everything you need to know about buying beats online!

Using Free Beats

First, let’s talk about free beats.

The easiest way to recognize a free beat is by the producer tags that you hear every 30 seconds. Once you buy a license for a beat, it will no longer have the tags in it.

If you’re in the possession of beats without a license agreement from the producer, you could consider that a free beat as well. In that case, you’re not authorized to use the beat for commercial purposes.

There’s also a discussion going on for years between artists and producers. It’s definitely worth explaining a little more.

Producers hate it when artists ask for free beats. And yes, it happens all the time.

“Can I get this beat for free, I’ll give you credit”

free beats
This is so accurate! 👌🏽😂

In defence of the artists, I have to admit – The hypocrisy is REAL! When you’re looking for beats on YouTube, most of the titles you’ll find say “(FREE) BEAT” or “FREE DL”.

Basically, they’re offering free beats but then complain about artists using their beats for free. How is that NOT confusing? 😅

Well, let me explain…

The reason why producers add “FREE DL” in their titles has to do with marketing strategies and ranking on YouTube. In simple words: It’s just click bait.

In defence of the producers, including myself. Trust me when I say that many artists are taking advantage of our craft and hard work. My own beats are downloaded hundreds of thousands of times in the last couple of years. Most of them illegally.

Imagine the headaches…

So, I don’t feel bad about asking someone to buy a beat with a proper license that comes with it. It makes it easier for all parties involved.

What can you do with a free beat?

That’s the thing! Not much… At least, nothing commercially or profitable.

Uploading on Facebook. Is that commercially? These days, yes.

Same goes for YouTube and Soundcloud (both are streaming services and ways to monetise your music).

Producers offer free beats to let artists…

  • Try it out before they buy.
  • Record vocals and see if their vocals match the key of the beat.
  • Record a demo and get feedback before purchasing a license for it.
  • Make sure that it’ll be worth the investment.

Sometimes I do permit people to upload their songs created with my free beats to social media only. However, if I want to take the song down for no reason, it’ll be taken down within minutes.

Yes, I can do that. 😊

Buying beats online – How does it work?

By purchasing a beat, you are purchasing audio files that are copyrighted by the producer. In return for your payment, the producer grants you several rights to use the beat.

This is what we call the License Agreement.

There is a difference between:

  1. Non-exclusive licenses
  2. Exclusive licenses.

The biggest difference is that a non-exclusive license for one beat can be sold to several artists. Yet, an exclusive license can only be sold once and to one artist only.

In this article, I will only address the subject of non-exclusive licensing.

I wrote an entire guide about the difference between Non-Exclusive and Exclusive Licenses. Click the button below if you’re interested in learning more about this. 👇🏽

Different licensing options – Which one to choose?

Online producers offer different licensing options. In my case, I have 4 options.

Some producers might name them differently. They call them MP3 Lease, WAV Lease, Standard Lease etc. It’s all the same.

The more expensive the license, the more rights granted by the producer.

Also, the more expensive your license, the better quality audio files you will receive.

What is the best license to buy?

I am not gonna lie… Most people that buy beats online go for the cheaper licenses. One that comes with fewer user-rights and low-quality audio files. The user-rights granted in those cheaper licenses might be sufficient for them.

Yet, more importantly, are the quality of the audio files.

If you’re looking to create quality music or at least want to make music the right way, then make sure you get the Tracked Out files of a beat.

The best option is to go for a license that comes with Tracked Out Files. In my case, that would be the Premium Tracked out or Unlimited license.

Don’t know what Tracked Out Files are? I’ve written an article about tracked out files and why you need them. 👇🏽

If I buy a beat with a Basic License – Can I upgrade my license later?

On my website: YES! 😃

But honestly, I haven’t seen many other producers offering this service too. Meaning that it might not always be an option.

The reason why I do offer licenses to be upgraded is that I know what it’s like when you’re transitioning from free beats to buying beats for the first time.

Money is always an issue, right…? 💸

If you do not have the funds to go for a more expensive license, you can always upgrade later. You’ll only pay the difference between the standard prices of the licenses.

If you want to know if other producers offer this service too, you would have to reach out to them yourself. I can’t answer that question for them.

Once I buy a beat – Do I own any copyright?

Once you write your lyrics and record it over the beat, you will own the copyright to your lyrics only. And what you will create with the beat is a New Song, also known as a “Derivative Work.”

Click on the image above to learn more about Derivative Works

This means that you will own and control 50% of the so-called “Writer’s Share.”

The producer will own and control the other 50% of the Writer’s Share.

You have been licensed the right to use the beat and commercially exploit the song you make with it. Based on the terms and conditions of the license agreement you’ve purchased. The producer will remain the sole owner and holder of all right, title, and interest in the beat.

Again, more about this in The Ultimate Guide To Beat Licensing.

What happens to my song when someone else buys the exclusive rights for the beat I’ve licensed non-exclusively?

When it comes to buying beats online, you’re granted the rights the moment you purchased the beat. The license will go in effect immediately.

So, when someone else purchases the exclusive rights, it will not (immediately) affect you. Your non-exclusive license will still be valid.

But there are some things you need to know…

In the old days, you were granted the user rights in the non-exclusive licenses without an expiration date. A lot of producers still operate this way.

Nowadays, some producers sell licenses that expire after 2-6 years. In my case, my licenses expire after 5 years. This means that you will have to buy a new license after that term.

non-exclusive license expiration date
Expiration term in my license agreement

If someone purchased the exclusive rights during your term. That will only mean that you will no longer be able to renew your license after your term is due.

Producers don’t always show this information in their licensing tables. Make sure you check that before you make the purchase. There’s usually a button below the tables which lets you view the actual license agreement. I have them too (scroll up to see the image of my licensing tables).

One more thing regarding non-exclusive licenses!

I’ve noticed recently that some producers install a new term in their license agreement. One that grants the producer the right to end your license agreement even before your term is due.

The producer includes an exit clause in their agreements stating they’re allowed to terminate the license agreement upon written notice to you.

In return, they will pay you double or triple of what you’ve initially paid for the beat.

That does not have to be a problem for you, but whether it is, depends entirely on the success of your song.

Again, always check your agreements before buying beats online!

What if I buy a beat with a non-exclusive license and my song blows up?

It’s funny that this is such a common question. That’s why I’ve written an entire article to answer this question. Will post it later.

Is it safe to buy beats online?

Most producers use a Beat Store Provider to sell their beats online. The most common ones are:

All these platforms have a good reputation for representing producers and their music. The majority of online producers is also signed up with either one of them. That’s why a lot of producers’ websites and music players look alike.

These music players have an ‘instant delivery’ feature included. After you’ve made the payment, you will be redirected to a download area where you can safely download the files. You’ll also receive an order confirmation by email.

If you’re not sure if a producer is affiliated with one of these platforms, try to locate their producer name’s on the different platforms. If they are on it, you can make the purchase directly from the platform itself, just to be safe.

If they’re not on these platforms, reach out to the producer with any concerns you have. I’m sure they’ll respond once you tell them that you’re interested in buying beats from them. Make sure you’ve checked the website for an FAQ section, though. If you’re asking questions for which the answers are right in front of you, they do not always respond.

Keep in mind… On platforms like BeatStars, Airbit or Soundee, producers still create their own license agreements. They operate on their own terms!

Before you buy a beat, always check the full license agreements or licensing terms. Those flashy pricing tables don’t always show you everything! 😉

Here are some tips for buying beats online:

  • Pay with PayPal or Stripe (they have buyers protection)
  • Check if the producer sells through a BeatStars, Airbit or Soundee player
  • Read the License Agreements (!)
  • Reach out to the producer with your concerns

Did you come here looking to learn more before buying one of my beats?

This blog post was written by Robin Wesley
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