How to Become a Professional Beat Maker
If your goal is to become a successful beat maker, you may have already realized that there is no one-size-fits-all path to becoming a professional. Making beats can be challenging and time consuming, but for some it can be a rewarding expression of creativity and a potentially lucrative endeavor.
How to Become a Professional Beat Maker: To be a professional beat maker, the most important component is to have the motivation to continue to create beats and market yourself. Start with a computer and a digital audio workstation and you can build your career from there as long as you work hard to perfect your craft.
If you have your sights set on being the best, read on to find helpful advice to avoid common mistakes and get on your way to becoming a professional beatmaker. Below we will address common questions that beginning beat makers might have, as well as advice for more experienced beat producers who are looking for how to elevate their business to the professional level.
Producing beats can be a satisfying creative outlet that pushes and challenges you to create the best new track. If done well, it can be taken from the realm of intriguing side hobby into a full-time career. Read on below to get well on your way to developing your beat making skills and taking the right steps to ensure your success.
How to Become a Professional Beat Maker
One of the biggest aspects of becoming a professional beat maker is simply having the ambition. You’ve got to dream big and have the motivation to put in the hard work and invest the time to reach your goal. If you are unwilling to put in the effort to perfect your craft and push your hustle, you will never become a successful beat maker, plain and simple.
That being said, don’t be discouraged when you don’t find yourself an overnight success, even after putting in a lot of hard work. Trust your ear and believe in your art and continue to make music, and each day you will learn and get better. You will build your marketing skills and gradually begin to reach a bigger audience, increase your catalog of beats, and make a name for yourself.
If you already have the gear and have already started making beats, then the next step to being a professional is to make your beats available to the public. The best place to start is by creating your own personal website where you can offer your catalog of beats for purchase. Some website builders such as WordPress have specific themes available for beat selling websites.
Once you have your base website, start promoting and selling your beats through other platforms. Upload your beats onto YouTube, Soundcloud, Bandcamp, and ReverbNation, for example, and then provide links back to your main website so buyers can find your whole collection. Join forums and communities where you can promote yourself and network with others to gain advice and make connections.
Work tirelessly to promote your work. Marketing your beats can be almost more time consuming than creating the tracks themselves. Promote yourself on every social media platform you can, such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Instagram. Offer mixtapes and collaborate on compilation albums to get your name out to a wider audience. Don’t forget to put yourself on internet stations like Spotify and Pandora, as well!
What Sort of Gear Should I Buy If I Want to Be a Professional Beat Maker?
For the new beat maker just starting out, it may be tempting to look at videos of successful artists in expensive studios and think the only way you will make good beats is if you spend thousands of dollars buying the best equipment possible. This is a common misconception, and truly you can make great quality beats with minimal initial investment.
Some items that are necessary, regardless, are a personal computer or laptop, a digital audio workstation (DAW) and a sound card. These items obviously can come in a widely varying price range depending on what you’re looking for in the equipment. While it is nice to have quality equipment to start, nothing says you can’t start with a cheaper setup and gradually upgrade as you get more serious.
If you plan on sampling or recording a voice into beat tracks, you may want to consider a good quality microphone to plug into your sound card. You may also need a turntable with audio outputs if you specifically plan to take samples from vinyl records. Both of these pieces of equipment aren’t necessary for just starting out but can be valuable additions to your process once you have gained experience making beats.
What Are the Best Digital Audio Workstations for Professional Beat Makers?
A digital audio workstation, or DAW, is the software you use to create your beats. If you plan on producing beats, you will absolutely need to utilize a DAW unless you exclusively work with hardware like a digital portastudio. However, you have options when it comes to selecting a DAW program to use, and each has its own strengths and weaknesses. Select a software that will best suit your intentions.
All DAWs will create music, so even if you select a less than ideal program to start, you will still be able to produce beats. The main differences in the programs boil down to preference of workflow and nuanced features, some of which you won’t even know if you prefer until you get a little more experienced with making your beats.
One of the best ways to get a feel for which DAW will work best for you is simply by giving them a test run. Most programs available today will offer free demos with limited use options or trial periods to help you decide if it’s the right choice for you. This can provide you with an idea of whether a certain software is worth the investment.
Some DAWs are completely free to begin with. While these options generally tend to be less robust than the DAWs which cost money, they can still create amazing beats and might be an excellent option for someone who is just starting out and wants to get a feel for beat making with a minimal starting investment.
Some of the top DAWs available today are Ableton Live, Bitwig, Audacity, GarageBand, Logic Pro X, and FL Studio. Each has their pros and cons, and some may cost hundreds of dollars while others might be already installed on your computer and you don’t even realize it (such as GarageBand, if you’re currently on a Mac.) If you’d like to see a more detailed breakdown of various DAWs, read on here.
Find Your Style: Make Music That You Like
One big mistake that beginning beat makers commit is falling into the belief that the only way you can be successful making beats is by making beats that are exactly what is popular or mainstream for the time, regardless of whether it suits your personal tastes. It’s easy to think that if you make something that sounds like everything else that is popular right now, it is bound to sell and be successful.
There are a few problems with that logic. First, if you are making beats that sound exactly like everything else, that means you are going to blend in with the crowd and you’ll have a hard time setting yourself apart and proving that your beats are something special. Second, if you are making beats for the sake of fitting a certain genre but it isn’t what you like, you will not feel any creative fulfillment from the process.
Making beats is complicated and time consuming. If you aren’t loving it and aren’t feeling creatively engaged while making the beats, you likely aren’t going to last long as a beat maker. Make music that you enjoy listening to and that you can feel passionate about.
If you are making something you enjoy, your creativity and drive will be evident in the end product and people will take note. Music continues to evolve and adapt in unforeseen ways simply because artists and producers continue to push the boundaries of genres. Don’t limit yourself creatively simply because you think something isn’t mainstream.
Find inspiration in music that you like and analyze the details of the tracks and determine what makes you like them. Learn from other producers via online resources and work to develop your own sound. Keep working diligently until you find your style and pursue your sound. The hard work and attention to detail will set your beats apart from the crowd.
How Do I Start Making Beats?
Making a successful beat may come to you naturally or it may take a little more repetition and practice to find your voice. There are some helpful tips to keep in mind if you are just starting out that can give you a head start when it comes to making a great beat.
First of all, most beats consist of some basic elements. One of these elements is a drum kit. You may use a simple kick drum sound to pound out a steady time or you might throw in a snare or hi-hat for accent, but whatever the case, most beats are built upon a backbone of a drumbeat.
On top of this drumbeat is then layered either a melody, a selection of samples, or some combination of the two. The melody consists of instrumental overlays that are organic, meaning you produced them yourself by playing the instrument. Samples are snippets of sounds and melody that have been taken from other previously produced tracks and chopped and restructured to layer over your drumbeat.
Depending on your choice of DAW, the process for laying out your beat will vary. In general, it is best to focus on using only one DAW program and master it, rather than trying to learn too much at once. Set yourself reasonable goals. Study your favorite producers and analyze what makes up the beats you admire most. Learn about varying tempos depending on the genre of music you want to produce.
As a new beat maker, don’t be afraid to reach out for help on online forums or seek guidance in the form of online tip articles or YouTube how-to videos. The internet can be a great resource for finding inspiration and advice to help you hit the ground running. Don’t forget: the best beat makers make a lot of music, some good and some bad. The only way to get better is with practice, repetition, and hard work.
How Do I Promote My Beats to Get More Sales?
Having a personal website with your catalog of beats doesn’t automatically guarantee people will start buying the beats. You will need to drive consumers to your page and build an audience of listeners who seek you out. This can be accomplished in a number of ways.
First of all, it is helpful to have a strong presence on as many social media platforms as possible. This includes YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Pinterest, to name a few. Having a strong presence on these platforms means more than just having an account. You need to actively engage with other users and followers.
Upload content on a regular basis. This doesn’t necessarily have to be advertisements. You simply want to develop yourself as a brand and increase traffic to your website. Post videos of you working on a beat, write useful posts that help troubleshoot common beat making issues, or answer questions from followers. It doesn’t have to be staged or inauthentic.
You can also widen your audience by uploading your beats onto music libraries and internet stations such as Spotify and Pandora. Spotify and Pandora will pay you per number of plays on your tracks, while music libraries allow users to purchase your music in order to use it in a variety of content. It may be used on their website, or a video game, or an advertisement. You will get royalty payments for the use.
Encourage followers to submit their emails so you can send regular promotions straight to their inbox. Some beat makers get the emails in exchange for a free perk, such as a drum kit or a loop that can be downloaded. Use your subscriber list to promote your business regularly through email ad campaigns and automatic notifications when you release a new collection of beats.
Do I Need to Know How to Play an Instrument to Be a Professional Beat Maker?
Some people are attracted to beat making because it seems like an easy way to create music without actually needing to have any background in musical instruments. Some beats can be made entirely by sampling other instruments and sounds from previously recorded and published tracks.
Considering this, it is not absolutely necessary to know how to play an instrument in order to make beats. However, it can be helpful if you want to take your beats to the next level.
It’s important when making beats to understand the process of sampling and modifying sounds, but you should also be aware of how to create your own unique, organic sounds. Do you need to be a virtuoso on the piano or be able to shred on the bass guitar? Of course not. But having a working knowledge of how an instrument works and the rhythm and pacing of playing can help you make better beats.
Some of the most common instruments used in beat making today are guitar, keyboards, and bass guitar. Being able to work, at least on a basic level, with these instruments will give you a great starting arsenal for producing killer organic elements for your beats. If you want to branch out and learn more instruments, it may help elevate your tracks and provide a unique sound to your production.
Do I Need a Lot of Money to Make Beats?
One common misconception of beginning beat makers is simply that you cannot produce a quality track without the most expensive equipment and software. This simply is not true. For example, one incredibly successful album, Untrue, by the influential artist Burial, was created entirely with the DAW Soundforge and without a studio or any equipment.
That being said, you definitely shouldn’t count yourself out of becoming a successful beat maker simply because you don’t think you have the capital necessary to get started. A lot of DAW programs are free or offer free demo versions that can allow you to produce quality beats with minimum monetary investment.
The main equipment you will need to start is simply a computer and a DAW. The rest is just icing on the cake that might help you polish your beats.
In the same way that an expensive pair of basketball shoes won’t automatically make you play like Lebron James, an expensive array of studio equipment won’t suddenly endow you with all the skills necessary to create good beats. It is important to put in the hard work and research to understand what makes a good beat and how to translate your inspiration into a finished track.
The most critical element that sets an average beat maker apart from a professional is simply the passion and the drive. If you have the motivation to produce beats and constantly work on your craft and strive to push yourself creatively and artistically, you will not be limited by your equipment or your starting funds.
How Much of My Music Should I Give Away for Free?
It may be very tempting when you are just starting out as a beat maker to give away your beats for free or for bargain prices. It helps get your tracks out there and reach more people, right? While that is true, giving your beats away for free can actually have a negative influence on your business if you don’t practice some discretion.
When you give away a beat, make sure it will benefit you to do so. That means if you are giving a beat directly to a rapper, you want to make sure it is a rapper who has a decent sized audience and who is regularly producing tracks, so you know that there is a higher likelihood of your beat reaching a large fan base. Make sure the rapper gives you credit, both in the track title but also preferably making a social media post, as well.
Keep in mind that the artist who uses your beat likely plans to profit from the resulting track. So, you should not be afraid to charge for your beat, especially if it is a low price. The artist will likely make back the money spent on the beat if even a handful of people purchase the track or listen to it. Don’t sell yourself short simply out of fear of being turned down or overlooked.
Offering all your product for free also significantly discredits you as an artist. In the same way you likely wouldn’t trust the skills of a surgeon offering free services, you won’t be taken seriously as an artist if you are constantly giving your product away for free. Be selective about what you offer for free or at a discount and be sure to charge reasonable prices on other tracks in your catalogue.
No one wants to pay for something if they know they can get it for free. If you earn a reputation for giving away all your best work for pennies, then it will be hard to convince your buyers to later pay more for the same product. You want to be seen as a business and that means you will need to give yourself a value and demand a certain amount of respect from potential buyers.
How Much Should I Charge for a Beat?
Once you realize you shouldn’t give all your beats away for free, the next logical question is simply “then how much should I charge per beat?” Many beat producers fall into a habit of setting the wrong price for a track, either by placing it too low or much too high. In order to find the right price point, it is important to approach pricing in a logical fashion.
Sometimes, emotions can govern the price of a beat. You may think because a beat didn’t take very long to make, it isn’t worth much. Or you worry customers won’t be able to afford a particular price point, so you intentionally undercut yourself with the idea that some money is better than no money. The problem is that you are likely missing out on sales simply because you are approaching the sale with preconceived notions.
One of the best ways to determine what to charge for a beat is simply by doing some research. Look at beats on the market you consider to be your competition with similar genres and sounds. Don’t get locked into the idea of artist reputations. Instead, concentrate on beats that are similar to what you produce and see what they are selling for, on average. One website that can be helpful for this research is SoundClick.com.
One of the main things that will determine the price of a beat will be whether you intend it to have an exclusive or non-exclusive license. An exclusive license means you will only sell that beat to a single buyer. A non-exclusive license means you will sell the beat to multiple buyers. An exclusive license will often sell for much more than a non-exclusive license because you only have one opportunity to profit off it.
Eventually, as a professional beat maker, the goal is to sell mostly exclusive licenses only, as these will make the most money. However, for most amateur beat makers it is best to start with listing only your best beats as exclusive and offer everything else as non-exclusive. Understand that there will be a smaller market for exclusive beats, so if a beat isn’t selling you may need to slightly lower the price in order to make a sale.
Joining a Music Producer Forum Can Be a Great Way to Network as an Upcoming Beat Maker
If you are just starting out with producing beats, you may be wondering where to go next or desire general advice for how to build your career. Many times, while friends and family might be supportive of your efforts, they often don’t have the knowledge base to help with any technical questions or they might not be able to fully relate to your passion. This is when an online music producer forum can be incredibly helpful.
Online music forums can allow you to connect to other beat producers and find advice and inspiration to improve your craft. Forming connections on these forums can also help advance your career and gain followers if you are able to gain respect from your peers. Some forums also have artists and musicians who might be willing to work on collaborative projects with you and help get your beats to the public faster.
Some forums offer contests and beat battles that can be a great way to test your production skills and also promote your beats. IllMuzik is specifically geared to those looking to produce hip hop beats and routinely offers contests in addition to providing forums for advice and discussions on various topics of making beats.
Another helpful forum is Future Producers, which is an extensive website connecting artists, DJs, beat makers, audio engineers, and musicians. Whether you have technical questions about a piece of hardware, or you are looking for a musician to contribute to a beat track, Future Producers can be an incredibly helpful resource for the novice and professional beat maker alike.
If you are specifically just starting out at home and need a welcoming community for beat making novices, the Home Recording forum may be just what you are looking for. Whatever you might be seeking, if you want to read more of the top music producer forums you can find a comprehensive listing here.