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Selling Beats & Music Tracks

How To Sell, Lease, License Music Tracks

Music production is the engine of the music industry, so producers need to know the business side of music, including the breakdowns of producer fees, royalties, advances, selling a beat, licensing music, master buy-outs, publishing, a work for hire, and online web and license issues that might (and probably will) come up. This is true for producers as well as musicians, artists, DJs, Engineers, Managers, Production companies and Recording studios.


When deciding on whether to lease or sell a beat, you must remember the time-value of money. Even if everyone in the world agrees that your beat will be worth $1,000,000 next year, no one will pay you that entire amount today. In reality, it will be impossible to definitively predict what a beat will be worth in a year. Therefore, you must essentially estimate how much money the beat could make you in the long run.

If you are being offered an up-front amount that you believe is much less than the beat's long-term value, then leasing the beat or quasi-selling it may make sense. However, if you are being offered an up-front amount that is close to, equal to or larger than the beat's long-term value, then selling it outright may make sense. But let's keep it real. You may produce a beat that you feel "sucks," and some cat that you know couldn't sign a deal with the devil, loves it. It may be better to just take your money and run, rather than getting old and gray waiting for him to sign a record deal.

7 important things that Producers that sell music tracks should think about

1. Whether the beat is being sold/leased?
2. How long is the artist entitled to use the beat?
3. How much money do you get in exchange for the artist's use of the beat?
4. Who owns the masters?
5. Will you retain your publishing?
6. If leasing the beat, are you entitled to produce the artist on a later album?
7. If there are samples, who's responsible for clearing them?

When a beat is sold to an artist, it is always good practice to catalog your beats so you'll know where your beats are being sold, to whom, and to which labels those artists are signed to. This is important in forming your discography and biography. Furthermore, it is important to have such information handy when it is time to issue mechanical licenses. All businesses should maintain accurate and detailed records and, again, your music is your business.

A simple cataloging system can entail (1) categorizing your beats by number or name, and (2) creating a track log. Make sure that you always give your beats either a reference name or number so they may be easily tracked. It might be difficult to name every track that you produce, that's why a numbering system might be a better convention. Any naming convention will do, for example, it could be as simple as naming your tracks starting from 0001, 0002, etc.  You can also add in information on the genre or style of the music track; hip hop beat, rap beats, dance, a pop style track, or ballad instrumental.

After naming your tracks, it is best to input those reference numbers into a track log. A simple track log can include the following: The beat reference number, the artist, the designation of whether the beat was either sold or leased, the date the track was provided to the artist, the label the artist is signed to, the writer's split for the song (e.g., 50%), and a column to provide any types of comments or notes. With modern technology, you can easily create a nice track log on an Excel spreadsheet or a tabled Word document. However you choose to catalog and track your beats, one thing that you definitely do not want to do is sell your beat twice.

If a beat or music track is sold outright, it is the artist's responsibility to get samples cleared, because the producer has signed over all of his or her rights in the beat. The artist might try to come back to the producer and argue that they paid for a beat that was "free and clear" of any further obligations. The parties' bargaining position will determine whether the producer can stand strong and avoid responsibility for the samples on the beat. To avoid any dispute, the producer should make it clear to the artist that he or she is responsible for clearing samples on a sold track, before the artist begins using it to shop for deals. This should be clearly stated within the agreement. After all, once the beat is sold, it isn't the producer's problem anymore.

With respect to "leasing", you should never agree to a term that is longer than 18 months. Limiting the term to no more than a year is ideal. A term of one year to 18 months gives the artist ample time to shop his or her song to a record label or production company. However, if the artist's songs are not strong enough to get him or her signed, you should not be forced to tie-up the beat with an artist that cannot get signed; possibly wasting an opportunity to sell or lease the beat to another up-and-coming artist who does have "signing potential." Who knows, good fortune may even lead to an established artist wanting to purchase that beat.

Tracks typically have a short shelf life - meaning a track that might be hot today may have "dated" sounds and a "dated" groove a year from now. You must view your beats not only as art, but also as a commodity. In view of that, a producer cannot afford to waste his or her beats on artists that can't commercially exploit them. After all, isn't fame and fortune at least one of the reasons you got into the game? Don't you dream of six-figure producer advances, and producing "platinum" artists? Well it won't happen if you waste your tracks on three-figure advances and "aluminum artists". All in all, limiting the term will force the artist to "use it, or lose it!"


“The Business of Selling & Leasing Beats"

Chapter Includes: 

Putting it in writing - Selling vs. Leasing - Contents of the Agreement  - The Term - The Producer’s Fee - Advances - Producer Royalties - Ownership of The Masters - Production of Subsequent LP(s) - Sample Clearance / Sampling - Your Credit on the Record - Cataloging & Tracking - Protecting Your Beats - The Attorney Hire - Sell Beats online using the World Wide Web / Internet - Leasing Rights - Exclusive Rights - Purchasing Beats 

Written by Raaqim Knight, Esq. - Uleses C. Henderson, Jr, Esq, & Cirocco

Selling beats and music  tracks can be big money in the music business.  The Music Powers book will teach you how to do it the right way.

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