When Beatstars was founded in 2008, no one knew that 15 years into the future online beats stores would change the music production game.
Just a few years back, the standard was going to music producers, and creating original beats completely depends on their ability to create your vision. These days, you can browse through thousands of beats online, and all you need to do is pay $30 and choose your favorite beats out of hundreds of thousands of beats made by music producers worldwide from the comfort of your bedroom.
For most of us, that sounds like a dream, right?
But there’s a downside to buying beats online, and today we will discuss the pros and cons of buying beats.
THE PROS OF BUYING BEATS ONLINE
Buying beats online starts at $20\beat for the MP3 version, $40 and up for a WAV version, and $150 and up for the beat and stems. (stems are the individual instrument track that allows your mixing engineer to create a better mix after recording your vocals, assuming they know what they’re doing). (Pricing is for nonexclusive licensing)
Note that mixing your vocals into one track is more limited when mixing into a complete track, and won’t sound as good as having stems and mix the vocals while having the individual instruments tracks; I’m not going into the technical reason why that is the case; the best analogy I can think of is adding sugar to cookies after baking them vs. having the sugar added while making the actual cookies.
Buying beats is a great way to be heard for a lower cost; it can be a great tool to put your vocals and style out there and see how listeners respond. If a label ends up liking you, they might sign you and decide to create original music for you anyway with their music producers.
Instead of going to a record producer to make one or several beats you might not like, with online beats you can sit in the comfort of your home and choose the beats you like from a limitless amount of options before paying a dime.
THE CONS OF BUYING BEATS ONLINE
The beats are not yours and might never be yours only:
If you buy the cheaper license of beats, you don’t own them; others can also buy and release them. Even when you do buy an exclusive beat (which usually costs as much as going to an actual music producer and creating an original one) – all the people who had purchased the beat before you purchased your exclusive license can still use it, which makes your “exclusive” license not that exclusive. This is not a huge issue when you’re just starting, but things can change quickly if the song goes viral or as you grow as an artist, and then you find out you need to start paying royalties to others.
One thing you should do (and you aren’t doing) is read the terms of the agreement you’re entering into when purchasing a beat to better understand what might happen if the song blows up. (Same applies when you go to a music producer to create an original beat, but people usually think about the royalties and ownership a bit more when they spend more money on an original production.)
For example, do you own the master of your track after buying a beat on Beatstars? Is a label able to use the track if they ever sign you? Will you need the approval of the beat creator? Would you need to negotiate with them? You probably want to figure that out before a record label comes and not after. If you don’t dive in, in most cases, you agree to predetermined requirements created by the product in advance.
A quick observation – it might just be that if a hundred users purchased the beat before you that labels will decide to pass and not sign the track, not wanting to deal with potential negotiations with the beat creator, lawsuits, and headaches (Sometimes labels would be interested in just a track and not in the artist itself.)
Download and Stream Limits:
When you buy the cheaper versions of a beat, you will likely be limited to how many streams and downloads the agreement allows. Ensure you understand the limits; you will open yourself to potential lawsuits if the song goes viral and the beat-maker finds out.
They say that for a track to be successful other than good, it needs to be 70% familiar and 30% original. Your chances of getting an original beat by buying it online are low. In my opinion, many of the beats online sound the same, and products tend to copy each other, and that’s why you don’t hear many success stories of artists buying beats.
A good producer works with your vocals and style and can develop something that fits you and sounds more original.
If you want to create changes to a beat you purchased online (structural or musical), you might hire a music producer or engineer anyway, making the price difference not worth it. You need a mix engineer to mix the track and record vocals and studio time to record the track. Sometimes this can also be as expensive because you can find a music producer to mix and record vocals as part of a deal.
You can also take a beat you like to a record producer and play it for them to give them a direction so they can create an original for you.
To summarize, purchasing beats online is a great starting point for any artist looking for their sound and doesn’t have the budget to create originals, but as your career starts to take off, it’s time to start looking at creating originals.