If you’re new to buying beats online and you may read things about people who lease beats and how it is cool. Perhaps you have already purchased beats from producers online and you feel it’s time to go for something exclusive now. Maybe you are a more senior artist who has convinced believe that it’s an absolute must to buy exclusive rights of the beats you use. Or, maybe you just don’t like the whole terminology behind beat licensing? All good. I understand.
Today, 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.
- What are the 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 read another article on my blog.
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 of under 10,000 people. (all channels combined. FB, IG, Twitter)
- You have less than 1,000 plays on Spotify, 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. And I learned it on my own because I’m coming from the background of an MC, who was always focused on quality, exclusive beats, and perfection. I was convinced that the only way to release a song is to have exclusive music (beat).
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 1,000 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 extras are beneficial. Spend the extra money to purchase more beats and release more music.
In my opinion (and you’re welcome 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
Did you come here looking to learn more before buying one of my beats?
If you have any questions or help, don’t hesitate and reach out to me.