If you've been producing music for a while and are at the stage where your beats are good enough for people to use, you'll probably want to think about selling your beats online.
Getting your beats up for sale isn't that difficult, and can be done within a day or so with a website and beat selling software such as Airbit. Two days max, so there's no reason not to.
You spend time and energy producing music, so it's only fair that you get something in return if people want to use them. In this case, money.
So, let's look at how to sell your beats online. If you find this guide useful, please share it with other beat makers in your network.
But first, if it's your aim to do music professionally, you'll want to check out our free ebook while it's still available:
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Should You Be Selling Beats Online?
There's a chance you've been giving out some of your beats already. Maybe you've given them to friends to vocal over, or you've put them up on the internet for all to hear and download. If so, and you've got some good feedback from giving out those freebies, should you really now try and sell your productions? Well, yes.
First of all, forever creating free backing tracks for others isn't a sustainable business model for producers. If you're studying or have a lot of time on your hands, you may be able to do this for now. If you've got a full time job, however, or have other commitments (e.g. children), you won't have as much time to dedicate to your producing. If it was making money, then you probably could. Otherwise, you probably couldn't justify dedicating that time.
What you offer has value, so you want to start monetizing your talent from as early as possible. Even if you still give out a few freebies to raise awareness of your music, you should put your best material up for sale. And do this before you give your freebies out, so those who like it and want more have the option to buy.
Where To Sell Your Productions
So where should you sell your beats? There are two main places for this:
- Your own website.
- Stock music websites.
First of all, you should 100% have beats to buy on your own website. In fact, you want to own a website even if you're not selling beats yet, simply so you can get people knowledgeable about you and collect their contact details (i.e. add them to your email list).
If you've already set up a music website, setting up a digital shop page on it isn't difficult to do using certain services. I'll show you a few later on.
The main benefit of selling beats on your website is control. You can charge what you want, change beats as quickly as you want, and generally make sure everything's running how it's supposed to be. You can also go on to sell other people's music on there in the future if you want, but that's a big guide for a whole other day. 🙂
The second option is to get on stock websites such as Premium Beat, ShutterStock Music and others. These websites have a pre-established audience, so if your beats are good enough and you manage to get your music on there, there's a chance you'll make sales even if you don't market these songs yourself. That said, you should always promote your music to give it as much exposure as possible.
The Tools Needed To Sell Your Beats Online
While there are some free ways to sell your beats online (which I'll look at soon), many of them aren't very practical. To make things much easier for yourself, I recommend using software which is specially made to do this job.
The software needed to sell beats from your website doesn't cost much, so if you have the money, you should definitely invest in it so you can be efficient.
There are a number of services which connect with your website and allow you to automate the selling of your music, but many of the top name beat sellers use Airbit (previously ‘My Flash Store'). Other options which I haven't tried personally, are Soundgine, and Beat Stars. There are others out there too and new ones are always springing up, so have a look around and see which one is best for you. But Airbit is definitely a strong option.
If you want a more hands-off solution however, a service like GemTracks could be perfect.
What To Look For In Beat Selling Software
While there are many tools which can help you sell your productions, you'll want to make sure you get a good one. There are a few things you'll need to look out for when deciding, for example:
- You should be able to add a ‘store widget' to your website. So once you've uploaded all the music, you should get code which allows your music to show up and be bought from your website.
- Once people buy your beats, the software should deliver it automatically to the purchaser. You shouldn't have to manually send tracks yourself.
- They should accept a reasonable amount of payment methods. Accepting credit and debit cards is essential, and if you can accept PayPal as well that's ideal.
- They should have the ability to add samples over your music. This is to prevent people from recording it off of your website and stealing it. Even though your beats are technically copyrighted once you've recorded them, this won't stop anyone who's determined to get their hands on your tracks.
- You should also be able to do other basic things, such as select a price, give samples of your music, pause / forward / rewind your sample, etc.
If the software you look into doesn't have the above features, move on to the next one.
A Free Way To Sell Your Productions
While using software to sell your beats is ideal (it's easier to set up and anything people pay for will be delivered automatically), if you haven't got the money, there is another way. I'll detail how to do this below, as well as look at why you should sell your strongest beats, how to find buyers, whether your should lease or exclusively sell your beats, and more.
What you can do is find a general music player for your website, and upload samples of the beats you make into those. Be sure to add in samples so people don't steal your music – this needs to be done during the production stage.
Alongside the music player, you'll have to add a PayPal button that's set up to receive the amount of money you require for each beat. If you have a few of them at the same price, you can use the same PayPal button for all. Just give people a way to mention in their order which beat they want to buy, leaving clear instructions on your website how they can do this.
Once you receive a payment, you'll have to manually send the beat over. While this isn't the most tiring work if you only get the odd sale, if you start getting more, this can get inconvenient. Furthermore, most people won't like the idea of having to wait for you to send their beat over, especially if you're on holiday and haven't got access to the internet.
Although it's not ideal, you can use the above method to sell your beats. If you have the money though, I would advise you go with the automated software.
Why You Should Only Release Your Strongest Beats
I briefly mentioned above that you should only sell your strongest beats. But why is this? Simple, because you want to give people the best impression of yourself! There's no point in charging people for music that isn't good quality. Not only will you not get as many sales, but you'll also get less repeat customers. Of course, this isn't a good thing.
If there are any beats you make which you feel aren't of a good quality, bin them and start again. That, or rework them until they turn into something you'd be proud to showcase.
If you have some tracks that are good but not great, you could either sell them for a cheaper price (which means you'll reach more of an audience), or you could give them away in exchange for getting officially credited on the song. This means that if they use your beat and it gets radio play or played in venues, you'll be able to collect a share of the royalties from this.
Where To Find People To Buy Your Beats
You could make really good quality beats that people want to buy, but if you don't promote this fact, no one will know about you. If that's the case, no one will buy your beats.
If you want to make a name for yourself and sell more music, you'll have to get in front of a targeted audience.
In this case, your audience could be musicians looking for backing tracks for their projects, and who are willing to spend money to get them. Other target audiences could be people who are working on films and want music for syncing, event organizers, and DJs.
Whichever market you decide to go for, you need to reach out to them. You can do this on music forums, via YouTube videos (which you'll also need to promote), and the like.
A good idea is to team up with known musicians and let them know they can use your beat free of charge, as long as they push your name with it.
I've already covered a lot of music marketing techniques on this website, so have a look around for how to promote your music.
Extra tip: You should also look into how musicians find beats so you can appear in those places. Here's a video on just that.
In summary, as someone selling beats, your music should appear on:
- SoundCloud. You can make your tracks available for download, or have artists and producers request permission of the use of your song in a future production. You can also check out SoundCloud alternatives like Clyp, Chirbit, and YourListen, though they may not offer much exposure.
- Premium Beat. A high quality, royalty free music library. Appearing here will give you a good amount of exposure.
- Google. You can rank in Google for specific keywords by creating targeted content (i.e. blog posts) for people who are looking for beats. For example, “free beats”, “royalty free beats”, “beats for YouTube videos”, “free hip hop beats”, and so on. Think about the kind of keywords people would be using to find beats, and pretty soon you will have a long list of key terms to target.
It will take some effort to get your music into the hands of the people who need it, so be patient and stay consistent with your ongoing promotional efforts.
How Many Beats Should You Be Selling, And How Many Should You Give Away?
So what percentage of your beats should you sell compared to the amount you give away for free? Well, it'll depend on where you're currently at in your career.
If you're a well established-producer who is already making good sales, of course you won't need to give away many freebies at all. The only time you may want to is if it means working with a superstar, and you know you'll be able to make good money from collecting royalties on all the airplay, etc. Even then however, you'll probably get paid something upfront for that track.
If you're still quite new, however, and haven't got people coming to you for beats, you'll want to give more free music away in exchange for promotion and getting your name out there. The key is to work with people who already have reach and influence, as they'll be able to promote you when they use your beats. In other words, find those who are a step ahead of where you are in your career and work with them.
They'll be able to get your music out there more than if you were just giving it away for free on your website, so if you're doing the whole freebies route, do it like this. That said, giving away one or two beats on your website for free isn't a bad idea, especially when you're exchanging it for an email address. Building a list is one of the most important things you can do for the future of your career and your marketing efforts.
Should You Lease Your Beat Or Allow People To Buy?
Now, when it comes to selling beats, there are two ways you can go about doing this. You can either give an exclusive license and allow someone to buy it exclusively, or allow multiple people to buy a non exclusive license (aka lease the beat).
If someone buys a exclusive license from you, it'll mean that they have exclusive use of your beat. Only they can buy it, and you can't sell other people the rights to use it again in future. Because you can only sell it once, you should of course charge a lot higher for this kind of license.
You'll find that if the beat is really good, there will be someone who is willing to buy it from you. If however it's good but not great, you'll find less people will be willing to spend that amount of money on using your instrumental exclusively. So if you have your beat up under an exclusive license for a while (say two or three months), you've been promoting it and it's not selling, you may want to consider switching the license type.
If you lease your beats they can be sold again and again. So when someone buys your music, they get to use it for their projects under the terms and conditions you set out. That said, others can come and buy it too, so you may find that your beat gets on multiple projects. This can be a good thing; you get paid by multiple people, and you have more people promoting it on their own material.
Because this is a non exclusive license type, you can't charge as much for it. Usually these kind of licenses sell for around $15 – $40, depending on the beat quality and how big your name is. If your name is growing, some people will buy a non exclusive license just to say they have worked with you.
You should probably offer both of these license types to people, and as you start selling more beats, you'll get a better idea of which is best for you to offer your audience.
Producers, Ask Any Additional Questions You Have
So, that's how to sell beats online. While I've covered a lot today, I know there are probably other questions you have that I have yet to answer. If so, please leave a comment or ask questions below. I'll do my best to give additional help and get you started selling your beats.