Escape the 9-5. Do what you love. Spend your days in the studio creating music. Take the day off and make your own hours. Get paid when you’re chilling with your friends and family. And get paid, even when you’re asleep.
That’s not a dream. That’s the reality. I know, because I’m living that lifestyle.
And so are hundreds of other producers.
To get started, you don’t need a team. You don’t need a manager. You don’t even need a lot of money.
You only need two things:
- Good music
- A way to put your beats in-front of an audience
If you plan on selling beats, make sure those beats are worth selling.
Are they? Great!
In that case, you can turn your beat making skills into a profitable business. There are thousands of artists who are willing to pay you for your music.
But selling beats online is not only about making music.
You need a plan to get started. How are you going to get your music heard?
How are you going to close deals and get artists to pay for your beats?
You’ve come to the right place because that’s what I will cover in this article.
Who am I?
My name is Robin Wesley. I’m a full-time music producer and co-founder of Urban Masterclass. I’ve been successfully selling beats since 2013. Only 4 years before I decided to write this guide.
I started making beats in 2012, but it wasn’t until 2013 that I sold my first beat online.
In 2013, I made less than $500. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing...
In 2014 I made $16,432 and started to get the hang of it...
In 2015, I made $31,231 from selling beats online.
That was more like it! And at that point you could safely assume I was making a living off doing music. But it wasn’t enough for me.
In the years after, I’ve automated and optimized most of my beat selling business. I’ve made 6-figures with less than 50 beats in my beat store and putting in about 20 hours of work every week.
I’ve built an email list with thousands of paying customers. I sold over 15,000 beats to artists worldwide. Landed placements with major artists, labels and television networks (HBO, Netflix, TLC etc.) Heck, I even scored a #1 hit in Vietnam!
And this all started as a hobby. Making music in my tiny little bedroom studio. Simply doing what I love most, day in and day out. Perhaps, just like you right now?
Today, I’m running multiple businesses and still making thousands a month from selling beats. I’m not telling you this to brag, I’m merely showing you what’s possible.
Enough about me, let’s dive into the specifics.
What we’ll cover in this guide
You can click to jump to a section.
- Who am I?
- What we’ll cover in this guide
- A throwback to selling beats and why you should consider doing it.
- Part 1: The Inner-Workings of Selling Beats Online
- Part 2: How to start a high-profit, low-cost beat selling business
- Part 3: How to become the type of producer that makes 5-figures a month from selling beats online.
- Part 4: Toolbox. All the tools I use in my beat-selling business
- Final word
A throwback to selling beats and why you should consider doing it.
The truth is, I always thought I was late to the party. I started selling beats in 2013, but I wish I started earlier.
Then again, back in the day, it was a struggle to sell beats online. I remember talking to producers that told me about the hassle. The whole process was clumsy, to say the least.
When someone purchased the tracked out files of a beat, producers had to burn the files to a CD and mail it to the artists. That’s a lot of work even when you only make 2 sales a day. I can’t imagine having to go through that every day.
Even when file-sharing was introduced. There was no easy way to automatically send beats to customers.
I used to wake up every morning and the first thing I’d check is to see who purchased my music. Then I had to manually email that customer all the audio files.
Lucky for us, it has become a lot easier these days.
We now have online beat selling platforms like BeatStars, Airbit and Soundee (the one that I'm using right now)—to name a few. They help beatmakers run an automated beat selling business.
You can sign up for free and start selling beats on their platform within 30 minutes.
These beat selling platforms give you a beat store and a personal website where you can sell beats from.
A place where you can direct your customers to and give them an opportunity to buy your beats. You don’t even need your own website anymore (although I recommend getting one).
Instagram, Facebook and YouTube are the most popular places to sell beats and to build a loyal fan base.
Is it profitable?
Definitely. In essence, beats are digital products that you can sell over and over again. The profit margins are crazy once you gain traction.
BeatStars recently posted a tweet about the monthly revenue made by their producers.
The fact that producers made over $1,000,000 in one month says enough about the possibilities to snatch a small piece of that pie.
This also proves that artists are willing to pay serious money for beats these days.
I ran the numbers to see how much revenue the beat selling market generates. I concluded that the market must be generating at least $30,000,000 a year.
Even if you manage to get 0.1% of that, you would still be making $30,000 a year.
Plenty of reasons to start selling your beats online, wouldn’t you say?
The dark side of selling beats online
If you’re anything like me, you’ve seen a dozen producers making 6-figures a year from selling beats. That sounds very promising!
Remember I told you that I only made $500 back in 2013?
A year later, I made a whopping $16,432. Yep, this wasn’t bad—but it wasn’t good either. You probably get paid more by working a job at the supermarket.
Needless to say, I was hungry for more.
When you’re building your business, you will stumble upon people who tell you there are such methods.
“Want to get a 1000 YouTube views today? Buy now!” or “Get 500 Instagram followers for only $25!”.
Don’t fall for that sh*t! Accepting offers like these is a short-term play, usually with low return. Even if you decide to buy a “YouTube promo” and get 1,000 views. Those views never come from people who have an interest in buying your beats.
A general rule of thumb is: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
You can start an online beat selling business, on your own, just like hundreds of other producers. But, you have to do the work. You have to be willing to get up every day, create new music and be consistent with your online presence.
Still down? Good.
Who this guide is for
This guide won’t take you from zero to $10,000, overnight. Instead, it will show you the first steps to building a business that has the potential to scale towards a 6-figure income.
I won’t be telling you BS stories like: “How to make 5-figures a month, using ‘this secret strategy.’ Because there is non.
Instead, I will pull back the curtains behind my business. I’m sharing the mindset, the tools, the proven strategies and the knowledge that I’ve obtained over the years that I’ve been selling beats online.
Key takeaways at this point:
- Platforms like BeatStars, Airbit and Soundee help beatmakers run an automated beat selling business.
- Instagram, Facebook and YouTube are the most popular places to sell your beats and to build a loyal fan base.
- The beat selling industry generates at least $30M a year. If you can get 0.1% of that, you’ll be able to make $30,000 a year.
- Selling beats online is all about scaling your business one sale at a time. There is no “get-rich-quick” method.
Part 1: The Inner-Workings of Selling Beats Online
To this day, I haven’t found out who pioneered the business model for selling beats.
If you know the person who was the first, please let me know in the comments below. I’ll be sending that guy/girl some flowers, a postcard and a box of Hennessy! 💯
All jokes aside, the business model for selling beats is easy and straightforward.
Beat Licensing Explained: How does selling beats work?
There are two ways of licensing: Non-Exclusive and Exclusive.
There’s only one exclusive license, but you can offer and sell different non-exclusive licenses. For example, a Basic, Premium and Unlimited license. The Basic license would be the cheapest option. And the Unlimited license the most expensive.
More user rights and better quality audio files equal higher license prices.
You can sell non-exclusive licenses to an unlimited amount of artists. But an exclusive license can only be sold to one person.
When you create a beat and upload it to your beat store, people can (instantly) buy these non-exclusive licenses. You can also choose to sell exclusive licenses from your beat store. But it’s common to negotiate on the price before selling the exclusive rights.
When artists buy a non-exclusive license, they are granted several user-rights that allow them to use your beat for their (personal) music projects.
Once someone purchases an exclusive license, other artists can no longer buy a license for that same beat. Generally, producers then mark the beat as ‘SOLD’. Or remove it entirely from their website after it’s sold ‘exclusively.’
Artists that have licensed the beat before the exclusive rights were sold are still allowed to use the beat for the length of the term in the license.
How much money can you make from selling beats online?
It's pretty much the exact same as any other eCommerce business. With simple math, you can determine how much money you can make.
The best part of all this? This is a proven business model! Hundreds of producers, including myself, are making serious money from this.
Think about it…
How would an extra $12,000/year change your life?
How would an extra $30,000/year change your life?
How would $100,000/year change your life?
That graphic shows you the journey that producers have traveled to build their online beat selling businesses. But, let’s take it one step at a time.
How I went from $500/year to a 6-figure income
Back in 2012, I got one of my friends to build a website for me. Thinking back now, It was terrible.
I had a player on my website that didn’t work half of the time. Nobody really visited my website and I had no idea how to generate traffic.
But I was determined to sell my first beat.
So, I started uploading my beats on YouTube, Soundcloud, SoundClick and any other platform that I could think of.
I started creating promotional videos on YouTube.
Wow, this is so embarrassing... 😅
I even searched Facebook and Twitter for artists. Sliding in their DM’s asking if they were interested in buying my beats.
At that point, I was frustrated. I spent a lot of hours trying to sell my first beat and it seemed like nothing was working.
But slowly, more people were starting to listen to my beats. Until one day, I made my first sale on SoundClick.
My first terrifying sale…
November 23rd, 2013.
I woke up in the morning and jumped out of bed because I was late for work. I overslept because I worked on a beat the entire night.
I noticed that I had a PayPal notification on my phone: “You received a payment of $30.00 from email@example.com”.
I couldn’t believe it...
Even though I was late for work. I said to myself: “What the heck, I’m already late anyway.” I sat down and logged into my PayPal account because I still couldn’t believe it. I had to double-check.
But it was real. I just made a sale!
Like I mentioned earlier, we had to manually send the audio files by email. It took me almost 30 minutes to write a simple email (re-wrote it a bunch of times).
I thanked the guy for purchasing my music and acted like I had been selling a bunch of beats overnight...
“Thanks for purchasing my music. I’m sorry it took a while to send you the audio files. I had a bunch of sales to process this morning.”
I was so excited, I sent out the email without the attachments. Oh man, such an amateur…
But it happened. And it was one of the best moments of my life.
A moment that changed my life forever (how cliche that may sound).
Selling beats is not magic, it’s simple math and marketing
Later that day—at my boring 9 to 5 job—I was doing the math.
- What if I could sell 10 beats a month?
10 x $30 = $300
- Wait, what if I could sell 50 beats a month?
50 x $30 = $1.500
I mean... try it for yourself. We made a little beat sales calculator to play around with.
Keep in mind that a lot of customers spend more than $30.
💰 Beat Sales Calculator
|Beat Price||Amount of Sales||Total Revenue|
I was blown away! These were crazy numbers for someone that worked a 40-hour intern job for $750/month.
It hit me that I could make twice the amount of money by selling beats online.
That moment my mindset changed and the growth of my business began. Because within this story lies the plain old truth; “Hard work pays off…”
Key takeaways of part 1:
- There’s only one exclusive license, but you can offer and sell different non-exclusive licenses
- You can sell non-exclusive licenses to an unlimited amount of artists. But an exclusive license can only be sold to one person.
- Once someone purchases an exclusive license, other artists can no longer buy a license for that same beat.
- Selling beats online is a proven business model.
Part 2: How to start a high-profit, low-cost beat selling business
The road towards my first sale was dreadful. But selling beats online has never been easier. You can start an automated beat selling business for zero dollars.
All you need to start selling your beats online is:
- Beat Store
- Email List
- YouTube Channel
- Social Media
Beats and audio formats
If you have a hard drive full of beats, you’re already sitting on a pile of gold.
If you don’t have a lot of beats. Then make sure you create a catalogue of different kind of beats prior to starting your business.
Export these beats into different audio formats. These will be sold with different licenses. Think of it as several pricing plans.
These are the audio formats I use:
- MP3 with beat tags (128kbps)
- MP3 without beat tags (320kbps)
- WAV format (24 bit - 44.1kHz)
- Tracked Out files in WAV format (24 bit - 44,1kHz )
Mixing and Mastering
Once you’ve created a beat, you will need to mix the beat and create a mastered version for your beat store.
The process is as follows:
- Export a mixed version in single WAV format
- Export a mixed version in ‘tracked out’ WAV formats.
- Master the single WAV
- Export the mastered version to MP3 (128kbps) with beat tags
- Export the mastered version to MP3 (320kbps) without beat tags.
What are beat tags?
Beat tags are audio snippets that producers use to ‘fingerprint’ their work. You have probably heard songs that start with “Murda On Tha Beat” or “Mike Will Made It.”
There are two reasons why a producer tags his music.
- Branding (to let people know that you’re the beatmaker)
- Security (Avoid people stealing your music and using it unrightfully).
What are Tracked Out files?
Tracked out files are all the separate (un-mastered) files of a beat. They are used for mixing and arrangement purposes. Once you’ve created a beat, you export these tracks to sell them along with a more expensive license.
Licensing and pricing
Once you’ve got your audio files ready, you need to set up your non-exclusive licenses. This can be complex for some people. But it doesn’t have to be!
When you’re selling beats online, you offer different licenses with different prices.
- The more expensive the license the higher the quality audio files
- The more expensive the license, the more user-rights you grant the artists
Now you have 3 options:
- Create your own licenses and determine which rights you want to give the artists.
- Use the standard licensing templates from beat store providers (we’ll get to that in a second)
- Use our licensing templates which you can download below. (recommended)
It’s entirely up to you which user-rights you sell to your customers. It’s your music and you’re in charge.
We do recommend to stay within the standards. That’s why we’ve created these licensing templates which you can use for free.
Pricing your beats
I recommend creating 3 or 4 non-exclusive licenses, with different prices. Set the prices anywhere between $20 - $200.
Sell your exclusive rights for no less than $400 USD.
Here’s an example:
Beat Store Providers
This software makes it incredibly easy to sell beats online.
So, what is a Beat Store Provider? Exactly what it says, and more.
They provide you with practically everything you need to start selling your beats online:
- Beat Store
- Marketplace to sell beats from
- License agreement templates
- Beat tags
- And more…
Here’s a complete list of Beat Store Providers:
No doubt, the two major players in the game are BeatStars and Airbit.
I would recommend either Soundee, BeatStars or Airbit. Not because the other ones aren’t good enough. Simply because I don’t know enough about them to have an opinion.
BeatStars and Airbit practically offer the same services. I suggest trying out different beat store providers and make a decision. If it works, it works—don’t spend too much time here.
Why do you need a beat store provider to sell beats?
Well, the alternative would be to build your own beat store from scratch. That’s gonna cost you a lot of money and frequent headaches. Not even thinking about maintaining all that custom code on your website.
Beat Store Providers help you get paid (instantly). They also make sure your customers can access their files without hassle.
All you need to do is upload your beats and create your licenses. Then set your prices and connect your PayPal account.
They offer different subscription plans. Usually, the free plans come with a commission fee for the beat store provider. I recommend getting on a paid plan where you can keep all your revenue.
Here’s an overview of their plans.
The Email List
Oh man… The email list.
Whether you decide to use it right away or not. You can’t start soon enough with collecting email addresses.
An email list of customers or prospects is a gold mine if treated well.
With an email list, you can:
- Update your customers about new beat releases
- Drive traffic to your YouTube videos to gain views
- Send people offers or create a sales campaign
- Build business relationships with (potential) customers
- And the list goes on.
Imagine, you upload a new beat to your beat store. The first people you want to reach out to are the ones that already showed interest in your music.
Email is still one of the best ways to connect with your followers. Compared to social media posts, emails are way more effective.
On social media, you're always competing for a spot in someone's timeline.
With email, you decide when you want to show up in someone's inbox.
Selling beats on YouTube
YouTube has become the number one place for selling beats. Most artists search YouTube to find beats for their music projects.
Why? Because they’re comfortable using the platform. It’s where they spend a lot of time already.
That means that you’ve got to be up there too. Period!
A downside of YouTube is that it’s very hard to claim a spot in the search results.
Selling beats on YouTube is not easy. It takes consistency, dedication and patience. To be frank, it will not give you a lot of sales at first (if any at all).
But the producers that are winning on YouTube, are making 6-figures from selling beats. On top of that, they earn thousands of dollars from monetizing their YouTube videos.
Using SoundCloud to sell beats
Another way to get your music in front of potential customers is SoundCloud.
It’s the perfect hang-out for artists, which makes it a good marketplace for your beats.
A downside of SoundCloud is that there’s not an easy way to get your beats heard by artists.
Unlike YouTube, there is no SEO (Search engine optimization) game that can be played. In other words, It’s more a social community, rather than a place where people search for specific things.
Of course, there will always be people that search for terms related to buying beats online. But this is relatively small compared to YouTube.
To get noticed on SoundCloud, you need somewhat of a different approach.
Hit that like-button, repost songs and post genuine comments. Showing interest in music from artists that you appreciate goes a long way.
Social Media Marketing
Social media is the perfect crossover between a marketplace and a social community. But this is where it immediately goes wrong for a lot of producers…
Social media isn’t a place where people come to buy. They come to interact with friends, family or to find interesting stuff.
A lot of producers forget that it’s a social community.
And they start spamming their followers with meaningless posts like these:
“Just uploaded a new beat. Buy it here!”
“Download my new beat for free!”
“Check out my beats at xyz.com! I got that heat”
They also slide in your DM’s 24/7 with the same messages.
Social media is about telling your story and engaging with your followers and fans. Giving them a peek into “the-life-off” and building relationships.
People want to learn more about you, who you are, what you do and how you do it. It’s supposed to be fun and light content. Think of it as establishing more trust with your audience.
The opposite of pushing people to a sale.
So, instead of saying “Check out my beats at xyz.com! I got that heat!”
Post something like:
“I’ve been up all night creating this new beat. My first attempt at creating a Trap Soul type beat. What do you think of it and who do you hear on this?”
This will lead to more engagement. It will make people curious about the content you’re posting. That will result in getting more comments and likes.
If the beat is dope, someone will ask in the comments where they can get it. That’s when you pitch your beat store (see image below). 😉
Click here to follow me on Instagram so you can see how I market my beats up there almost daily.
And here's another image where you can see that this Instagram post converted into a $140 sale! 🚀
Building customer relationships
No customers means no business. It’s as simple as that.
Selling beats won’t make you go from 0 to $10k in your first months. To be honest, getting your first customers can be challenging.
But I want you to think about it like this:
- If you can get 1 person to buy your beats. You can get 10 people to buy your beats.
- If you can get 10 people to buy your beats. You can get 100 people to buy your beats.
- If you can get 100 people to buy your beats. You get the idea…
Your customers are worth gold. And you should treat them like that too. Building relationships is crucial for your beat selling business.
I have invested a lot of time and energy in the latter and it paid off in the long run.
Average Order Value
In 2019, I hit my all-time high record with an average order value of $85.23. (Meaning that for every order from my beat store I earned an average of $85.23)
Average order value (AOV) tracks the average dollar amount spent each time a customer makes a purchase from your beat store. AOV = Total Revenue / Amount of orders
That same year, about 40% of my sales came from returning customers. Which increases the lifetime value of a customer.
Customer Lifetime Value
Customer lifetime value (CLV) measures the profit your business makes from any given customer. CLV = AOV / (1 - Returning Customer Rate)
For every new customer in the future, theoretically speaking, I would earn about $83.
$85,23 / (1 - 0.3) = $142.05
I admit I’m a bit nerdy when it comes to this stuff. 🤓 But if you’re serious about selling beats online, then caring about numbers is important.
They tell you a lot about whether you are actually doing the right thing. And if you’re treating your customers the right way.
Key takeaways of part 2
- If you have a hard drive full of beats, you’re already sitting on a pile of gold.
- Beat tags are audio snippets that producers use to ‘fingerprint’ their work.
- Tracked out files are all the (un-mastered) separate files of a beat.
- Set your licensing prices anywhere between $20-200.
- Beat Store Providers help you get paid (instantly). They also make sure your customers can access their files without hassle.
- An email list of customers or prospects is a gold mine if treated well.
- YouTube has become the number one place for selling beats online. But it takes consistency, dedication and patience.
- To get noticed on SoundCloud, you need to ‘like’ music, repost songs and post genuine comments.
- Social media is about telling your story, engaging with your followers and fans. Giving them a peek into “the-life-off” and building relationships.
- If you can get 1 person to buy your beats. You can get 10 people to buy your beats.
Part 3: How to become the type of producer that makes 5-figures a month from selling beats online.
You don’t need to (immediately) quit your job to start a beat selling business. You also don’t need fancy papers or degrees. You just need beats, a marketing plan, and the right mindset.
The latter is probably the most important.
If you’ve read every single word of this guide up until now, that says a lot about your willingness to learn.
If you’ve scrolled right to part 4, it says a lot about how bad you want to get that money.
I’m not judging...
Just keep in mind; There’s no get-rich-quick method. If anyone tells you any different, they’re most likely trying to rip you off. There’s always a catch.
So, how do you become the type of producer that makes 5-figures a month selling beats?
The 3 fundamental M’s of a beat selling business
Finding the right balance between those three can be challenging.
The answer to that question explains the difference between a “Wantrepreneur” and an “Entrepreneur.”
Something that I’ve picked up from an entrepreneur I’ve been following for years.
- Hopes success comes falling from the sky
- Relies on others to launch their career
- Easily frazzled and overwhelmed
- Waits for the perfect moment to start
- Obsessed with needing “the right equipment”
- Works day & night to achieve a certain level of success
- Self-educated, self-made and continuous self-development
- Calm and deliberate
- Takes action
- Obsessed with getting results
The quality of your music influences how much money people are willing to pay for it.
Have you ever listened back to the music you created years ago? I know I did. It’s embarrassing.
If you’ve been producing music for a while, I’m sure you can relate.
Back then, I sold exclusive rights for $300 USD. Now, I’m selling exclusive rights for no less than $1,000.
And I get away with it easily. People aren’t stupid and they recognize quality music when they hear it.
It took me years to get to this level, but I stayed consistent and kept improving my craft and production skills.
Let’s say you sell 10 exclusives a year;
10 x (poor quality) $300 = $3,000
10 x (great quality) $1,000 = $10,000
That’s an extra $7,000 a year!
To get in a position where you can charge more for your beats and get away with it. You need to constantly improve your skills as a beatmaker or producer.
Selling beats using Online Marketing Strategies
Selling beats online is 80% marketing and 20% music production. I still stand by this, because this is how I’ve worked my way up through the years.
Here are some of the online marketing strategies I use.
- Start a blog
- Create email funnels
- Join or create a Facebook group
- Take part in forums and discussions online
- Grow your YouTube channel
There are two approaches when you market your beats:
- Respect-based marketing
- Aggressive marketing
The difference between the two is of significant importance. While aggressive marketing seems to be more short-term. Respect-based marketing is a long-term strategy.
The truth is, the balance between the two is important. But ultimately the fundamental tenet should be respect-based marketing.
Here’s an example of respect-based marketing with a pinch of aggressive marketing.
- Writing articles that educate artists about beat licensing. Or about the principles of buying beats online. No sales pitches, just teaching them everything they need to know about it.
- Creating email sequences to build relationships. Show (actual) interest in peoples works, be there to help when they need it.
- Creating a Facebook group to help artists.
- When participating in forums and discussions, be the (humble) expert! Be that guy that’s always looking out to help others.
- Creating articles on your blog for every new beat release, with an instant sales pitch.
- Creating an email sequence to launch a sales period. E.g. “Buy 1 Get 2 FREE if you buy within the next 7 days.”
- Every now and then, drop a link to your new beat in Facebook groups.
The fact is, you need to utilize both. But sustain the right balance to create long-term business relationships. If you do this properly, the revenue generated from that 20% will easily make up for the remaining 80%.
The Mindset of A Music Entrepreneur
Mindset is everything. The difference between a growth mindset and a fixed mindset is perfectly explained in the visual below.
Still, this is the part where many producers fail.
If you came here looking to learn how to sell beats online, you might have got overwhelmed by information. And you’ve learned that there’s more to this than simply making music.
Maybe it discouraged you and you’re now less excited about it.
Perhaps, the opposite? You’re super excited to start, but you’re not quite sure where to begin?
Both are common responses I get when I explain to people how to build a beat selling business.
But how do you overcome the common struggles of:
- Being ‘too busy’ to start your own beat selling business
- Not knowing how and when to start selling your beats online
- Thinking you do not have the right equipment and tools (yet)
In the next section, we’re going to dismantle these seemingly massive barriers, one by one.
Struggle #1: I’m ‘too busy’ to start a beat selling business
Let’s say you’re working a full-time job, go to school 5 days a week or have kids that you need to take care off. It might seem impossible to start a business next to your daily routines.
I totally get that.
I started my business when I was working a full-time job whilst going to school two nights a week. Right now I probably got even more on my plate.
There were times I got so frustrated about not having enough time to grow my business.
But I never gave up.
On the other hand, I did give up many other things.
- Spending a lot of time with friends
- Going out on the weekends
- Stopped watching TV
- Stopped playing video games
Tell me... How much time do you spend on this every week?
8 hours? 16 hours? 24 hours?
When people say: “I don’t have time to start my own business.”. That means they’re not yet willing to let go of things that don’t matter.
Instead, they think about their plans with friends this weekend. Playing video games and watching TV three nights a week. And don’t get me wrong, that’s totally fine. As long as you’re honest with yourself.
But until you can step out of the day-to-day and take control of your time. You’ll always be reacting to the rest of the world’s demands, on your time.
In other words. You could go another 5 years going out with your friends every weekend. Playing video games and watching Netflix. And still not have your own business running.
What’s the alternative?
You can add 8, 16 or 24 hours to your weekly calendar. And take control of your time.
There’s also something to be said for momentum.
When you can’t run a mile, run around your house. When you can’t run around your house, take a few steps. When you don’t have inspiration for a beat, just create a drum loop.
What I’m trying to say is, all you need is a simple start.
Besides that, when selling beats online, you can basically automate your entire business!
In 2015, I was still working a 40-hour job and went to school 2 nights a week. I spent my Friday nights on marketing and my Saturdays on music production. I put in about 20 hours a week and still generated an extra $30,000 from selling beats.
Struggle #2: I don’t know how and when to start selling my beats online
Entrepreneurs are easily overwhelmed. They’ve got a ton of ideas going through their minds, constantly. And they take immediate action.
The latter is what most people often struggle with; Taking action.
In my life, I’ve come across so many talented people. Songwriters, artists, musicians, producers. Even people that had great business ideas, that were not related to music at all.
Most of these people failed. Talented people that I thought would become successful.
They failed because they were unable to take action. An idea is just an idea until you decide to do something about it.
If you have a dream, you can spend a lifetime studying, planning, and getting ready for it. What you should be doing is getting started.
- Drew Houston, co-founder and CEO of Dropbox
In your case, there are two things to consider here.
- How many beats do you currently have?
- How much time are you able/willing to spend on your business?
If you have more than 15 beats, you can instantly start selling them. And spend the majority of your (free) time on marketing. You’re already sitting on a pile of gold!
Time is your most valuable asset. But your time to start taking action is always NOW.
Simply determine how many hours a week you can spend on your business.
Pick a number, schedule it in your calendar and stay consistent to work on those hours.
Struggle #3: But I don’t have the right tools and equipment.
Every producer struggles with their gear. We are always looking to get better sounds and more expensive equipment. Frankly, it’s never good enough.
This includes me.
In my early years of selling beats online, I blamed my equipment for the lack of sales and slow growth. Thinking that I needed to invest more in studio equipment so I can make better beats.
The biggest mistake I made. 😑
The lack of sales had nothing to do with my equipment. And I had to learn that the hard way.
In 2015, I spent roughly $20,000 on equipment. Most of that was invested in expensive audio interfaces, two sets of studio monitors, three (hardware) synthesizers and a $4,000 iMac.
I also went from a 200ft² studio to a 1100ft² studio.
But sales didn’t sky-rocket. Looking back now, I realise that I could practically make the same amount of revenue from selling beats if I was working from a smaller studio.
Because let’s be honest. We’re not running a recording studio. We’re not recording bands or doing a lot of live recordings. We’re beatmakers.
And what do beatmakers really need?
- Computer or Laptop
- Drum samples and VST’s
- Audio Interface
There are producers out there that make a massive amount of money every month from selling beats. Beats that are made on a ten-year-old computer with free drum samples. Created in a 200ft² bedroom studio.
Again, it comes back to marketing and conversion rate.
If you got money to spend, spend it on marketing tools and information.
Key takeaways of part 3
- You don’t need to (immediately) quit your job to start a beat selling business. You don’t need fancy papers or degrees either.
- The 3 fundamental M’s of a beat selling business are Music, Marketing and Mindset.
- To get in a position where you can charge more for your beats. You need to constantly improve your skills as a beatmaker or producer.
- Selling beats online is 80% marketing and 20% music production.
- Aggressive marketing is short term. Respect-based marketing is a long-term strategy.
- Until you can step out of the day-to-day and take control of your time. You’ll always be reacting to the rest of the world’s demands, on your time. Add 8, 16 or 24 hours to your weekly calendar. And take control of your time.
- An idea is just an idea until you decide to do something about it.
- Time is your most valuable asset.
- Lack of sales has nothing to do with your equipment. If you got money to spend, spend it on marketing tools and information.
Part 4: Toolbox. All the tools I use in my beat-selling business
Building a profitable business from selling beats already takes a lot of time. That’s why I use web-apps that help me speed up my workflow. And to help me stay focused on the things that matter.
Please understand. To sell beats online, you don’t need to install all these applications.
The apps from what I think are “must-haves” are marked with a star*.
Backup & File management
I use Google Drive to backup files and business documents. Audio files, images, video’s, sales reports, legal documents. I also use it to share files when I’m collaborating with another producer. I prefer Google Drive over Dropbox, but it works the same.
Google Drive is free up to 15GB of file storage. You can upgrade to 1TB for about $10/month.
There are a lot of different mailing list providers and I’ve used a bunch of them over the years. I’m currently with ActiveCampaign but I don’t recommend it if you’re just starting out with email marketing. MailChimp or MailerLite would be better options. Why? ActiveCampaign is a lot more advanced and more expensive.
MailChimp is free up to 2,000 contacts and MailerLite is free up to 1,000 contacts.
Trello is a project management app. It allows you to create so-called ‘Boards’ where you add tasks to. Think of it like digital memo’s. Since selling beats online is not only about creating them and you’re probably running the business on your own. You have a lot of stuff on your list that you don’t always have time for right away. With Trello you can create memo’s and make sure they won’t be forgotten.
Trello is free to use.
Just recently I started doing Facebook Messenger marketing next to email marketing. ManyChat is an app that allows you to send auto-messages through Facebook Messenger. It’s a very advanced application and I wouldn’t recommend using it if you’re just starting out with selling beats.
ManyChat is currently $10/month but prices will probably increase soon.
Team collaboration and communication
Slack is a cloud-based team collaboration app. I use Slack to communicate with other producers about active projects. Or to share information about topics related to selling beats online. Everything that we discuss on there is business-related. If we want to chit-chat about random stuff, we move the conversation to Facebook Messenger.
Slack is free to use.
Business management & operations
Notion is an all-in-one workspace where you can create workspaces to manage your business operations. I use it to save important business information. Instructional guides, YouTube videos and ‘must-read’ blog posts. I have a content calendar for new beat uploads in there. And I also use it to create instructions for interns and employees. A very complete application that helps you organize your business operations.
Notion is $4/month per user
This app and chrome extension lets you store passwords and other sensitive information. You safely store it in a virtual vault that is locked with a master password. 1Password is a very helpful tool when you have a dozen sites where you log in to every day. With a simple keyboard command, you can auto-fill your username and password. Without having to think about which one you used.
A password is only as strong as its weakest link. Make sure your stuff is secure, you're not the first one who gets hacked. Seriously, invest in security.
1Password is $2.99/month
Adobe After Effects and PhotoShop*
I use the Adobe bundle to create artwork for new beat uploads and videos for YouTube. Adobe apps are more advanced and expensive compared to some free apps that do the job as well. Alternatives for After Effects are iMovie (Mac) or Windows Movie Maker (Windows)
The complete Adobe bundle costs about $70/month.
My WordPress website is the bread and butter of my business. This is where artists purchase my beats, get on my email list and where most of the marketing activities point towards. Flywheel delivers blazing fast speeds, solid performance, and support needed to keep your WordPress site running smoothly. Cheap hosting is—in my opinion— a short term play, you're usually sharing your server with others, the performance is minimal and there's an increased security risk. I never had major downtime with Flywheel, and their support is 24/7/365.
TubeBuddy is a must-have YouTube extension. It lets you see channel statistics and video statistics from your competitors. It also has several useful tools to help find the right keywords to add to your videos. A similar alternative is VidIQ which is just as good. All the producers that are successful in selling beats online use it.
TubeBuddy costs $9/month or $19/month. Depending on which plan you choose.
Grammarly and Hemingway*
Grammarly is an application and chrome extension that does spell-checks and auto-corrections. Hemingway is an online application that helps you write bold and clear. It’s a very helpful tool when writing sales copy for email or articles on your website.
Both are free to use.
This is an absolute timesaver. The more popular you get as a producer, the more emails and messages you’re going to receive. But most of the time you’re getting the same questions asked. You don’t want to spend hours on giving answers over and over again. Rocket Typist lets you pre-write text snippets. When typing a keyboard command, it will automatically insert that snippet. For example, you type in “TTYS” and Rocket Typist turns it into “Talk to you soon”.
Rocket Typist comes with the SetApp bundle which includes a lot of other useful apps as well. The bundle costs $9.99/month.
Station is a smart desktop app that lets you manage all your web-based applications in a single app. Instead of opening Messenger, FB Business Manager, WhatsApp and Google Drive separately. You can use Station and manage all these apps from a single desktop application. It’s perfect for speeding up your workflow.
(Marketing and customer relationship management)
Paperform is an online platform that enables you to create online forms. I use it collect information from customers and prospects. Once someone fills in your form, you will get an email with a summary of their answers. You can also choose to send those answers to a Google spreadsheet. Then you can feed the data to Google Data Studio (see next app).
Paperform costs $15/month for a single user.
Google Data Studio
Sales and analytics
Even though Data Studio is still in beta, this google app is super powerful. You can turn data into a visual dashboard by feeding data from a Google spreadsheet. I use it to turn my sales reports into bar charts, tables and pie charts. It lets me keep a summarized overview of the number of sales I’m making each month. My top selling beats, the amount of returning customers and most popular licenses. I also use it to summarize the data I collect from my customers through paper forms (see image).
It’s an advanced application and you need to put in some time to understand how it works. I do not recommend it if you’re just starting to sell beats online.
This app is free to use with your Google account.
I promised to pull back the curtains on my business and show you the ins and outs of selling beats online. It took me 2 months to write this guide. I rewrote it a bunch of times and I kept adding new content to it. Even now, there’s so much more I would like to share with you.
With that being said. I genuinely hope that this guide will inspire and motivate at least one person. That’s the goal for now.
All though there are many (controversial) opinions about selling beats. I hope I’ve been transparent enough to show you the possibilities. I can honestly say that this business has taken me on an incredible journey so far.
I’m not gonna lie. It’s been tough. I’ve had ups and downs. Bad sales months and I’ve been broke several times over the years.
But if you love making music as much as I do. And if you’re dedicated to turning your love for music into a profitable business. You’ll find a way to get back up.
Before you leave…
Make sure you download the checklist and licensing templates that I prepared for you. It will help you get set up quickly and makes sure you won’t forget anything.
I also created a Facebook group for producers called The Art of Selling Beats. I and a few other successful producers are in there to help you with any questions you have.
Last but not least. Either slide in my DMs to connect with me or leave a comment below. I would love to hear your thoughts on this guide.