Recently I asked a group of friends, music artists and music producers what their top problems were at the moment when it came to making and selling their music.
Music Artists: “I can’t find the any producers that fit my style and have affordable beats…”
Music Producers: “I can’t find any artists that are willing to pay for beats…”
Back in 2003 when I first started making beats while still in high school, this was one of the main issues online.
Music Artists couldn’t find producers that fit their style because a lot of producers were making what was trendy and not authentic to them.
And Music Producers couldn’t find the artists they really wanted to work with to build their catalog, or find artists that were willing to pay a reasonable price for their beats.
Soundclick.com was the top place to sell and promote your beats, and the charts usually had the same artists and producers being featured. Usually because they could pay to get ads and placement that would boost their chart rankings. (Smart, but a bit of pain in the ass when you’re just getting started out and on your DIY-swag)
And things still ain’t change for those looking to buy and sell beats.
So what’s really the problem?
Is it the economy that’s forcing people to only buy what’s trending? Is it that producers and artists aren’t as important as they thought they were? Is real music production a thing of the past?
No. Flat out, no.
The problem is and always has been, is that music artists and music producers don’t know how to market themselves…and a lot of times, don’t care to learn how.
And then continue down a path of thinking no one cares about or listens to their music. And with music producers in particular, it’s been no different.
The usual producer strategy nowadays is
- make a beat
- name it and upload it to Soundcloud, YouTube or AudioMack
- promote the link on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or whatever social media they use…might tag some folks and sh*t…
- shoots another link out on social media…and then waits
And the producer expects an artist to hear this beat, contact them to buy it, and call it a day. And while there are producers who can and do sell beats this way, there is only one problem with this strategy…
There’s no actual audience you’re marketing to.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Soundcloud, YouTube…they’re not audiences, unless you work directly for and with those companies.
They are platforms you use to stand on and talk to your audience.
And there in lies the real problem with selling beats; music producers either don’t have their own audience or know how to get it.
So how DO you sell beats? (Playlists)
The Derek Halpern business model is to “build an audience and then sell them something”. As a music producer, you have to narrow down your style and sound. You have to pick something about your sound that is uniquely you and promote that about your beats.
For me, I’ve always been known for my sample chopping and snare drums, and also for making beats you can tell stories to.
And even though I started out in Hip Hop production, I was able to take the strong points of my sound and make other styles of music like Trap Hip Hop, Smooth, Chill & R&B. All while still using my sample-chop techniques and favorite snares.
Once I worked with a few different artists (and ones with talent like Jasiri X, Dominique Larue, & LiveFromTheCity), I was able to present artists with a portfolio of the type of music I currently make, by making a playlist. I also had a couple remixes of popular songs that I did and included those as well.
This gives the artist an idea of what I can produce. It also shows them that I have a track record (pun intended), which adds credibility and prevents other artists from approaching me asking for free work (which still happens but not as much anymore).
And by making a playlist, especially with AudioMack or Soundcloud, I can share or embed the playlist anywhere online like the ones below
Production Credit playlist
Beats For Sale playlist
Notice that there’s also a shopping cart icon in playlist audio player. So if someone wants to purchase the track, they can just click the shopping cart icon and it will take them to wherever you want them to go to buy it.
“But what if I have all that in place already??”…
Having the playlist with a shopping cart is just monetizing, and monetizing doesn’t exactly cause the bank to overflow with mad money.
It just gives a way for someone to purchase what you’re selling, but it doesn’t necessarily make them buy it. That’s what marketing strategies are for.
The marketing strategy we use will take us back to what we laid out earlier in this post; what’s the unique selling point of your sound? Or in other words, what problem does your music or audio solve?
Once you know that, you can attach it to the RIGHT style or mood in your marketing strategy (and not just any).
So lets say we use my unique sound (sample chops and snares) in an example. The style I’ll attach it to will be “hip hop and soul”.
Next, I need to find artists that may potentially buy my beats. The style gives me somewhere to start, so I can do a search on Google, Soundcloud, YouTube, etc. for “hip hop soul artists” and “hip hop and soul artists”.
Next, I’ll take a listen to a few pages on where ever I’m searching and when I find an artist I want to work with, I find their contact info and hit them up.
So now when I go to contact those artists that I DON’T KNOW, I have a portfolio they can reference but more importantly, I have the RIGHT sound and style that fits for them.
And I also have another lane, a “storytelling song”, to offer them if they’re having trouble coming up with song ideas.
This helps to prevent you from looking like spam and actually seen as a music producer that seriously works, because you took the time to FIND them and not SPAM them.
And artists appreciate the producers who appreciate them (and vice versa).
So here’s an overview of the strategy,
- Identify your unique sound and selling point of your music production
- make a playlist of the songs you’ve produced and remixed and another playlist of your beats for sale
- place them on your blog/website (optional)
- find artists that fit your production and contact them.
- close the sale!
Now you can make money by doing this strategy here in the post, but if you want to not only sell beats but sell beats well, you should have a website and know some email & social etiquette.
Having a website gives you credibility and makes it easier to sell beats by just sending everyone to ONE place. And knowing some basic email etiquette makes your email marketing easier because you’ll know how to just “talk and sell” and not “talk and spam.”
Take a second to join our free newsletter
If you like this article and want more like it that inform you on how to make better marketing and business decisions using graphic design and audio, and all this other good stuff, sign up.
It’s free, and no sense in wasting time on sites that just want you to buy something instead of educate, motivate and inspire you to do better with your online business.
What ways have you tried to sell your beats and it didn’t work out how you had planned? Leave a comment below and share your story.