If you’re looking to start making music, there are generally two schools of thought. In the hip-hop and rap world, in particular, there are artists who buy beats from producers and artists who make their own beats.
While members of each camp might be quite convinced that they’re thinking is the right way to do things, there are in fact pros and cons for both approaches. Just the fact that there are two camps means that both sides have validity.
Let's have a look at what's right for you.
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Pros Of Buying Beats
Huge Amount Of Time Saved
Music production is a skill set that takes years to master. You’re not going to throw some drums, some bass, some strings together on a track and get something that sounds like the people you look up to.
Production itself is an art that requires a ton of trial and error with arrangement and instrumentation. It’s a hugely time-consuming, but very rewarding process. And you’re guaranteed to get better at it the more you practice, but you will have to practice.
The other side to making your own beats is that a great mix is often just as important as a great beat. Mixing is another art altogether. The best mix engineers in the world charge as much as $5,000 per song for a reason!
Buying beats allows you to bypass this part of songwriting and perhaps focus on where your strengths are.
Opportunity To Focus Entirely On Lyrics And Hooks
Many people are great lyricists, great singers, great hook-makers, and they simply do not need to be great producers! Some would say you should focus on your strengths and improve them until you’re better than the rest.
In my opinion, that is a very valid reason to buy your beats or work with a producer who will make beats for you.
Listening to a great instrumental can inspire a song that would have never otherwise come out. Being able to work on your skills as a lyricist is just as important as working on any other skill, and if that’s your area of focus and passion, it is not a bad idea to simply work on that.
Beyond coming up with great lyrics, coming up with a great hook can make or break a song. You’ll get better at creating and recognizing hooks the more you create them. Buying your beats allows you to get the best possible hook without worrying about anything else.
Opportunity To Collaborate
While making your own beats gives you lots of things to collaborate on, there's still something collaborative about having someone else make a beat and then coming up with an entire song around it.
When the producer made the beat, they did not know how it was going to turn into a song, but as soon as you hear the beat, you’re full of ideas. This is a wonderfully fulfilling process for both parties.
Cheaper Than Creating Your Own Beats
You know what is expensive? Gear. Guess what’s even more expensive? A whole bunch of gear. And trust me, once you start producing, you’ll start accumulating gear. Plugins, controllers, drum pads, DAWs, monitors, mics, the list goes on.
Working with a producer or buying your beats is almost certainly less expensive than diving into music production.
That being said, it’s possible to make beats for very cheap. But you’re probably going to end up wanting to buy a bunch of stuff. It happens to pretty much every musician, like, ever.
Pros Of Making Your Own Beats
The DIY route isn't the easiest, but you can't ignore the upsides of making your own beats. Here are the main advantages of doing just that.
Total Creative Control
For many, this is the principle reason for creating their own beats. If you want to make a beat inspired by the tango but also incorporates ragtime piano, you can do that!
Beyond that, you can set your own timeline. Sometimes, when two people are collaborating, they never end up making the time to finish the project. When you're making your own beats, you can create at your own pace.
The most important part about creating your own beats is the freedom to experiment. Textures, sound, time, it’s all at your finger tips. This allows you to create something that is uniquely yours, from the bass line to hooks.
Many Opportunities To Collaborate
If you’re a beat maker as well as a lyricist, you have a ton of opportunity to collaborate. You can work on other artist’s music, you can help other people learn how to produce, and you can work on your own skills literally until the end of time.
Maybe you’ve always wanted to work with someone who is fairly distant from you stylistically. You now have the opportunity to do that, because as a producer, your options are wide open.
Marketable Skill Set
You learn a ton of super valuable skills as a producer. Many super famous rappers have equally renowned careers as producers and beat makers. When you’re not creating beats for yourself, you can be creating beats for other artists, and make money from it.
You’ll also learn how to edit tracks, comp vocals, tune vocals, and mix. These are all skills that people will pay you for. There are lots of studios and producers that need someone to this kind of work and pay for it.
To me, this is the equivalent of being in a band, but being genuinely good at your instrument. I’m in a band full-time, but when I have time off, I fill it by playing with other artists for money, which is awesome.
If you can use the skills you learn making your own music to make money and move your career forward, do it. At the very least, you’re still making music!
Do What Works For You
If you’re doing either of these things and it’s working out for you, just keep doing it. The bottom line is that you need to be making great music all the time.
What do you do? Do you make your own beats? Do you buy them? Let us know in the comments!