Our guide gives you helpful tips for any independent artist thinking of buying beats online. There are several factors to consider when buying beats – including exclusive rights and track-out stems. We’re taking you through everything you need to know to make the buying process easier for you.
These are six tips that we wish someone had told us when we were starting in the music industry. We’re covering everything from licensing agreements to the type of files you should look for and red flags you need to be aware of. These tips will save you time, money, and your sanity!
1. Check Availability
Creators who use YouTube to promote their beats rarely update their titles or descriptions to reflect their beat availability. You want to visit the producer’s website or e-commerce store to check the availability of your beat.
2. Purchase Directly
If you use a third-party website, they usually have an immediate downloading system. As soon as your purchase is confirmed, you’ll usually receive the downloaded file for you to go straight to work. A personal website or e-commerce store for a producer usually has a similar system, although you may need to wait until it’s automatically emailed to you.
Other producers may email you the beat after they’ve processed the payment on their side. If the beat doesn’t come with an instant download, you want to check that the producer is still active online. Otherwise, you could end up buying a beat and then not having it sent to you.
Whatever method you choose to use to purchase your beat, it’s always a good idea to go through PayPal to get an extra level of protection. If your beat isn’t sent to you by the producer, you can open a case and have your money returned to you.
3. Say No to MP3 Files
When a music label is looking for new artists to add to their books, they’ll check the quality of your work. If the first few notes are disappointing, they’ll likely switch off and forget about you. To succeed in the music industry, you have to start by investing in your music and its quality.
When you use an MP3 file, the vocals of the audio seem off-balance and not in unison with the instrumental music. It also reduces the overall quality of your piece. The problem with an MP3 file is that you can’t do much with a single track.
You can’t master something that has already been mastered. If you go for a cheaper non-essential license for your beat, you may find that you get sent an MP3 instead of a proper tracked-out file.
The tracked-out stems are a win-win. Your producer can make a little extra money, and you can enjoy the benefits of a high-quality product. You can promote your music across social media and other platforms, including radio, without worry about the sound not being ‘summer ready.’
If you’re on a budget and can’t splurge on a higher licensing agreement with more user rights, you can choose a WAV license instead. While it’s not as good as track-out stems, it’s a better alternative to an MP3 file.
We’ve written an in-depth guide about the benefits of track-out stems and why MP3 files aren’t suitable for use within the music industry. You can check out our track-out stems vs. MP3 file guide here.
4. Understand the Licensing Agreement
The most popular form of licensing is non-exclusive. As an artist, this is usually the best option for you as it’s pretty inexpensive and allows you to use the beat on music distributed through Apple Music or Spotify. You can still make money with this licensing agreement, which is automatically provided when you purchase the beat from a producer’s online store.
A non-exclusive beat licensing agreement is typically auto-generated, filling in the basic information required to personalize your agreement. With this license, a producer allows an artist to use their beat in the production of a song, which can be distributed by the artist.
An exclusive licensing agreement is more expensive. When a producer provides the option for exclusive rights to their beat, it comes with no limitations on the user rights. As an artist, you can do whatever you want with the beat. There’s no limitation placed on the number of streams allowed under your license, and you don’t have to worry about renewing.
Most websites allow producers to write their own licensing agreements. You want to make sure to read the agreement before buying. The producer can add in unfortunate clauses like an exit clause on their part, allowing them to terminate your contract and purchase the licensing agreement back from you.
If you’re a new artist, you can be confident that a non-exclusive licensing agreement will usually be a good enough fit for you. If you have the support (both financial and business support) of a management team or music label, you may be able to purchase the exclusive rights to the beat.
We have a more in-depth article about exclusive vs. non-exclusive rights here, which you can read to become more familiar with the differences. We’ve covered all the nuances and the benefits of each option.
Whatever you do – make sure to read the agreement before buying the beat.
5. Not Everyone is a Good Guy
Before you part with your cash, you want to make sure the person on the other end of the message chain is someone you can trust. The golden rule of thumb is always, ‘if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. If someone offers you the exclusive rights to a beat for the same price as the average non-exclusive agreement, it should be an instant red flag.
If you’ve included the fact you’re an independent artist in your social media profiles, you can be sure that you’ll have received a DM from someone claiming to be a producer. They’ll sugar coat the offer and make it seem like the best on the market. To seal the deal, they’ll send you a PayPal link and promise to send you the files after you’ve paid.
People who send these links are either trying to scam you or make a quick dollar off you with a sub-par product. Don’t go with the first option presented to you; and instead, take the time to research your options. You might find the perfect producer for you, who you can use for all your beats in the future.
Before you pay for any music content, including the beat, that will be subject to copyright; you want to have prior sight of the paperwork and licensing agreement. You should never part with your money before you can see the document. You’ll also need a signed copy from the producer whenever you may need your purchase. If the producer is the real deal, they won’t have any issues signing their licensing agreement for you.
Anytime you’re using PayPal to pay for anything online, you need to check out with ‘goods and services selected. If you transfer money to someone through the ‘friends and family option, you won’t have access to the extra layers of customer protection.
6. Check from Bulk Offers + Promo Codes
It’s worth checking to see if your chosen producer offers promo codes or bulk discounts. A quick check through their social media channels will show if they’ve previously promoted a deal. Some producers offer ‘buy one get one free’ promos on non-exclusive rights, while others may provide you with a discount code for a specific percentage of the retail price.
Most producers will promote their deals on their website, but it’s also worth checking their social media feeds if they are offering an exclusive discount or promo. If you’re interested in making a bulk purchase and don’t see any information on the producer’s website, don’t fear!
Reach out directly to the producer to discuss the possibility of a bulk discount. It’s a good idea to ask them what their best offer is, as you may end up offending them by suggesting too steep of a discount. As long as you’re spending between $50 to $100 on their store, most producers will give you a discount for bulk orders.
Hopefully, these tips will make sure you have a positive experience when purchasing beats as an artist. Navigating your way through the online music industry can feel overwhelming at first. You don’t want to feel rushed into buying the first beat you see (or hear!). Instead, take your time and make sure to do your research. You don’t want to forget that if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
It’s never been easier to buy and sell beats online, making it easier for you to start creating music and turn your hobby into a side hustle or business. If you remember these tips, you shouldn’t have any issues while buying beats online.