Free Beats vs Licensed Beats

Many artists asked me about a subject I’m going to cover next. Some consider this taboo, but I think it has to be done at some point! 😂

It’s about Free beats vs Licensed beats.

There are some things you need to know before uploading your song to digital stores like Spotify, Apple Music, and so on, so you can be protected against song removals and other problems that can arise. 🥽

The first thing is do you actually own a license for the beat you used? (eg. do you have permission from the producer to use that beat commercially?) Because, even if you don’t have lots of streams/downloads, this is still considered a commercial use.

Anyways, let’s get into a few of the most used license types you can come across.

Free beats

Depending on the producer, you can use these beats only for non-profit projects like free mixtapes, free singles, youtube videos, etc.

They’re mostly tagged and without any commercial rights.

This means that you can only use beat just for non-commercial and non-profit projects.

Again, this depends on the producer and even better, your relationship with the producer or vice versa.

Some producers, like myself, are giving away free beats with commercial rights that you can use right away (which is still considered a rare practice)!

Non-exclusive license

This license is further divided into several types. Mostly basic, premium, or unlimited license. They differ in what you get and just like with everything else, more goodies, higher the price. This depends on your needs and ambitions.

Most licenses are limited by streams, radio plays, or money you’re allowed to make with it.

Basic License

This would be the lowest cost version of a non-exclusive license where you get some rights and in most cases, a high-quality untagged mp3 version of the beat.

Useful when you’re starting out and don’t wanna spend lots of money on beats, or when you’re on a very tight budget.

Premium License

This one will get you a WAV file of the beat (sometimes with trackouts, depending on the producer). If you only get WAV and no trackouts, I’d go with a Basic license instead.

That is because you’re paying double but you only get WAV, which in my opinion isn’t worth the price.

If you’re getting trackouts, get this one, because you or your engineer will be able to fine-tune the beat (like remove this or that sound, add certain effects to a specific sound, etc.)

Unlimited License

This one is very popular because you mostly get all possible beat files, like MP3, WAV, trackouts…

But not only that. You also get unlimited rights to sell and profit from your song. This counts for unlimited streams, sales, and unlimited public performances. And this is what makes this type of license so close to an exclusive one.

Except the producer is still able to sell the beat.

But you are removing all limitations, and if you’re looking long-term, but don’t have an infinite budget, in my opinion, an Unlimited license is a winner in the “Free Beats vs Licensed Beats” battle.

Exclusive license

With this one you’re getting everything as in Unlimited License, except the producer will stop selling this beat any further.

But, if you think you are the only owner of the beat, you gotta think twice. Somebody may already have licensed this beat with a basic or unlimited license.

You can always ask the producer if that’s the case.

If you care about exclusivity, you can consider custom beats. This way you’ll be sure that you are the only user of the beat. But with this comes Mr. Higher Price, so be sure to hone your negotiation skills against him. 😂

Let me know if this helps you.

Also, let me know in the comments if you have any other subject you would like me to cover.


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