Why I Stopped Selling Beats To Independent Rappers

Why I Stopped Selling Beats To Independent Rappers

Before you judge me and assume I'm blatantly saying "I refuse to work with independent rappers!", continue on, and you will see exactly where I'm coming from...
The first beat I ever sold was back around 2001/2002. I think I got paid $50 for it. At the time, it was such a proud moment in my career. Just starting out, I was just getting my feet wet. Making tons of beats. Learning. Seeking artists to work with (or sell *ehm* beats to) and sort of make my rounds to see if this is really something that could potentially become lucrative one day.
Of course along the way, I've managed to build and maintain relationships. Everything functioned on a case-by-case basis. There were artists that I wasn't really inspired by, whom were willing to pay $ for beats. There were others that I genuinely liked, whom were NOT willing to pay any $ for beats. And of course there was sort of a mixture of both.
As my career slowly started to build, I was catching the attention of more and more rappers. Rappers of all kinds. It felt good to receive that validation. It felt good to know that there are rappers out there, willing to shell out some $ to buy my beats (even though it really wasn't THAT much, in the grand scheme of things). 
For about 5 years, I was on a roll. I was selling beats every week. I was on my hustle. A couple hundred here, a couple hundred there. Every so often, they'd buy my beats in bulk for a few thousand. It was working. I was actually making money. Real money to get me by. There were a small handful of these rappers whom I genuinely was a fan of. I liked their music. I was excited to sell beats to them. But unfortunately, most of the rappers who purchased beats from me were merely treated as a business transaction. I wasn't inspired by these people. They were obviously inspired by MY music, but I couldn't say the same about theirs. Either way, something didn't feel right. Something was missing. A sort of emptiness inside. The true satisfaction of creating music was lacking.
Eventually, I realized that what I was doing was the equivalent of being a beat-whore (let me LOL that to lighten the tone a little bit). Any taker willing to shell out $ was good in my eyes. They could have been terrible, but I didn't care. I was selling beats, and it felt great!
And then...
I stopped.
Cold turkey.
Why?
Because I've gotten to the point in my career where I didn't have to do it anymore. More importantly, I realized what I was doing. I realized that it wasn't helping me grow. It wasn't challenging enough. It felt too easy. It felt too comfortable.
That day changed my life.
Prior to that, I was producing the same "type" of music. Whatever you want to call it. Boombap. Big drums. Headknod. (and please, don't get me wrong, I hold that dear to my heart and still shines in my music).
I started experimenting and challenging myself. I started listening. Ultimately, I stepped up and challenged myself, musically. I did things that were uncomfortable. I stepped out of the box. 
In stepping out of the box, my taste level for music evolved. The way I created music evolved. The type of artists I was attracted to evolved. The music I was making was exciting as hell. It was liberating.
So today I ask myself this question. 
"Would you ever sell a beat to an independent rapper/artist that doesn't inspire you?"
The answer is no. (And THIS doesn't count. It's a fun competition where I get to dig deep and find out who's hungry + talented enough to potentially become inspiring. In fact, It's making my job easier.)
I'm at the point (thankfully and humbly) where I get to choose who I want to work with. Years and years and endless beats later, I've paid my dues to this point. I'm still growing, still learning, still wanting to achieve more greatness. But one thing holds true: no amount of money will coerce me into working with you. All you have to do is be incredible enough to inspire me to want to grow with you, as an independent artist or established.
Be inspiring, and you will inspire.
This is why I stopped selling beats to independent rappers.
- !llmind

69 comments

  • Angry Bunny

    Hi.

    Good article.
    I am not selling my beats. I give them for free with exclusive contract must pay royalty.

    Although they need to have verified fanbase

  • MaiconBeat

    An interesting and positive story.It is about doing what you enjoy. A lot of people are trying to imitate someone but little looking to create something new.Originality. This is appreciated. It’s about people. When it comes to money. It becomes something else. Reputation It is knowing that you can count on it. For real people who want to say something.My English is not good. But one thing I know for sure. Never stop doing what you enjoy. I know we’re all replaceable. But without losing there is no winner.

  • Joey Handsome

    I wouldn’t just put all independent artists under the same umbrella and just not sell to any of them. But def wouldn’t just sell to any old study either without checking them out and having a discussion with them regarding what ideas they had for the song.

  • Joey Handsome

    I respect the love for the craft. It’s not about having the “I’m to good attitude”. It’s about not having someone make your music sound like shit. It’s about not giving your material you take serious and spend a lot of time and money on, to just anybody, especially if they aren’t going to respect it and not do anything with it. You can say a customer is a customer but a particular customer could have the power too make you look bad, not professional and associated with someone that comes across as a clown.

  • Michael A. Jordan

    I have personally produced beats for 18 yrs. The last 10 years, my music has evolved tremendously and I have reached a very high level. From the beginning I was a natural from a long line of musicians. At 3 yrs old I was playing Beethoven.
    My music is up for grabs to anyone who desires it. I’ve found that mediocre producers tend to fill the void by making themselves feel as if they are too good for Unsigned artists when in reality, it they were that good they would be more inclined to spread the love just to see the young and hungry artists get excited and pumped! All it takes is one hit! The best producers are hungry to inspire and love a challenge! The mediocre producers have been in my way for years… They charge… I didn’t. They hustle and grind… I waited to be discovered and if I never do then I never do. My music speaks for itself and it’s only a matter of time before I am sitting on top and known. Even then I will never forget where I came from and no fellow artist will ever be denied my work. This is the problem with the industry today. These young bucks think they too good when in reality… My worst work is still better than these “I’m too good” clowns best!

    It’s artists like the author of this forum who are adding to the problem.

    Step aside. For every producer in the game that is nothing but “ok” … There is a much better naturally talented producer with serious next level type shit, who is sitting at home waiting for the posers and wannabe’ to move aside so those who truly deserve a spot can get to work!!!

    - A producer who grinded for years, earned local respect as one the best, has a different sound and can really get the most out of a track… Suddenly had enough and stopped writing music for 10 yrs! The breaking point? Terrible artists flooding the market with some of the worst music I’ve ever heard… Many are from the same area of Florida that I am from. They were no where to be found at all the events, artist events… They were complete trash and most never even laced a track… Yet they getting signed when they suck, never paid their dues, was too garbage to even get a spot on stage at local events etc.

    Meanwhile, we have many many MANY talented artists who are no joke! They have that natural stage presence, booth/mic presence, takes maybe a couple takes and each verse and the work comes out polished and professional! Yet! No deal for them!!?? Yet!!! Deal for the awful no respect for the game having ass frauds who have no business even thinking they deserve to be where they at when they didnt pay their dues at all!!! I personally can guarantee that I am better than Tekashi 69 in every single way possible! I would embarrass him and all these modern “MCs***” Straight trash! Garbage! A joke! No respect for those who put their blood sweat and tears into making it!

    So with that!!! I will leave it off with…

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