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Leveling Up Your Music Brand

The CAB Portal blog provides articles on tricks of the trade and best practices, as well as news, interviews, artist showcases and recommended products/services, that emerging artists can utilize to take their music brand to the next level of success.

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Four Things to Consider When Artists Ask For Free Beats

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For aspiring producers, especially those who have invested a considerable amount of time or money into perfecting their craft, “free” might as well be a curse word when it comes to their instrumentals. While it can be aggravating to have artists ask for free services in exchange of the promise of “putting you on”, there may be instances where it can be convenient for both the artist and producer collab instead of chasing payment. Deciding whether giving a free beat can be beneficial to your overall goals or a waste of time can be as simple as asking these four questions.

1. What is their plan for distribution? 

In the internet age, distributing a project is no longer the difficult task it used to be. Even with a minimal budget, an album can be placed on multiple streaming services including Apple Music and Spotify. The strategy of simply making a bunch of copies and pushing them out of the trunk of your car are obviously obsolete in this day and age. This is especially an important question to ask when an artist brings up potentially sharing royalties.

If an artist has a solid game plan to distribute their project, your chances of gaining momentum and earning a few more fans and potential customers is much higher than if you gave a free instrumental to a rapper who is going to post on YouTube, share on Facebook a couple of times for two weeks. This is why this is a crucial thing to consider before you send those .wav and MIDI files. 

2. What is their marketing plan?

How does the artist plan on pushing their project? Does he or she have a manager, publicist or someone on their team who is capable of landing interviews and features on blogs, magazines and podcasts? Do they have a strong enough following on social media to get the song they made over your beat to the ears of future fans and potential customers? If the artist has a tangible game plan to get their sound heard and people mentioning their name, this can lead to more people becoming familiar with your brand as well, making the collaboration very beneficial. 

3. What other ways can you be compensated?

Free isn’t always bad, especially when you can barter other skills. For example, if a rapper also happens to have mixing and mastering experience, then having someone who can mix and record your projects is definitely worth a free beat every once in a while. If an R&B singer wants a free beat, you can scratch his or her back with a free beat knowing they will scratch yours by agreeing to sing hooks for beats that you are placing online.

Even if an artist isn’t willing to shell out cold hard cash for an instrumental, it’s hard to go wrong when going tit for tat on other services so that you can either save money or valuable time in exchange for a free beat, especially if you know the artist is going to make a hot track on top of that!

4. Are they ready to sign on the dotted line?

If you have a phobia of writing, reading and signing contracts, then you might be in the wrong industry. While verbal agreements and handshakes amongst fellow artists is enough for a solid agreement in a perfect world, having the agreement in writing and signed by all parties involved is one of the few guaranteed ways to eliminate confusion and misunderstandings while also keeping the producer covered.

If a rapper is receiving a free instrumental, whether it’s a temporary lease or exclusive rights, then they have very little to lose by signing the contract with a producer compared to how much a producer is risking by giving out free beats without a legally binding agreement. If a rapper is always down to discuss royalties with the producer when discussing free beats, but puts off signing the contract, then you should handle that situation just like any other business owner in a different industry may treat clients who don’t want to sign to paperwork. 

By asking these four questions, you can easily determine just how beneficial it would be to either give a free beat or build a collaborative relationship with an artist. Asking an artist these questions is also an excellent way of figuring out whether an artist is actually serious about taking their music further, which makes the collaboration worth your time.

While you don’t have to outright demand answers to these questions (being pleasant while negotiating tends to help a lot), simply bringing these things up can definitely let you know whether an artist is someone who is ready to work, or someone looking to waste time and energy with a freebie.