Why I Stopped Selling Beats To Independent Rappers

Posted by Ill Mind on

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

120 comments


  • much reSpect for this article. Only working with those youre passionate about is something most of us aspire to do

    DRew wARd on

  • I would say selling beats to ‘’half ass rappers’’ may not be a lifetime goal, but it is something that new producers can try out. I just sold my first few beats about two weeks ago. Here we are in 2016 and selling beats has become my main focus. Some transactions online, some in person, but regardless I think we must go through a faze before we realize what we really want to do with our music, and understand who we want to market our sounds to.

    I’d love to be able to choose who I work with but for now i’m simply motivated to inspire basic artists that don’t have much leverage or creativity within their work.
    One day I believe this will change and I can begin selecting artist to work with. Every producer is at a different point in their craft/careers. As long as you have a solid drive to inspire the world, and become a better producer, eventually making music for your artist of choice may come sooner than you think. Keep pushing, don’t stop striving and being creative, innovative and fresh.

    Mr.Deejayk on

  • reply to FRANK MATTHEWS: i’m definitely humbled and of course thankful to have eventually reached a point in my career to make that conscious decision for myself. of course i got shot down. i still do. i’m not the best, i just enjoy what i do and strive to attract people who are on the same creative wavelength. i’m equally thankful if a “rich whack rapper” or an up-coming rapper gave me money. receiving money for services is a blessing, but the whole point of this post was to let the world know that i’m not going to take just anyone’s money. being inspired to create music will always be a priority over any amount of $ thrown at me.

    illmind on

  • !Llmind I have to humbly disagree with this train of tought. It’s absurd to think that beat makers turn bourgeoisie against rappers. When you first started out I’ll bet you were not the producer you are today. I’ll bet that there was a bell curve and timeline to your growth.
    Did rappers shoot you down? Tell you to stop? No, some just went and picked another beat you had and supported your growth by giving you their hard earned money. Be grateful for that money and for God giving you the talent to inspire others. But keep in mind all yo beats don’t knock, even you can make whack shit fam. oh and please spare us the bs bc you let a rich whack rapper pay you for all kinds of beats so does your argument really hold up? fk no

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/up217uykgmtrqep/FM%20Radio%20Rolling%20Stone.mp3?dl=0

    #RollingStone

    Frank Matthews on

  • What are your thoughts on entering weekly or bi weekly beat battles? Is it a good way to keep yourself organized and prolific? or a waste of time?

    Kris van Huystee on

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