Why You Aren’t Selling Beats
Or getting song placements.
The music production game is extremely challenging and competitive. You make beats, you put them up on a sale site, and then what? You begin a struggle to cut through all the other people who are making beats. The reality is, while there are some very young producers who get on very early, most producers spend years getting a foot in the door. Nothing in this article will change the fact that music production is a marathon, not a sprint. However, I can site a lot of the mistakes that many producers make that inhibit their ability to get placements and make sales.
1. Bad Mixing.
Let’s just get this one out of the way. In order to make a sale or land a placement an artist needs to be able to hear themselves in your production. If your production sounds like bullshit, the artist won’t be able to imagine their own voice blending with it. There’s four basic elements of what makes a “good” mix.
- Space – a sense of dimension.
- Dynamics – that knock.
- Personality – a unique character to your sound.
- Balance – a full sound with space for the vocalist.
That’s a large part of what I teach here at WeissAdvice.
2. Following the Herd.
Music is a trend based business. It’s important to understand what is in fashion and why. However, there’s a difference between following a trend and following the herd. As important as it is to stay relevant to the sound of the day, it is equally important to have a unique identity. Artists need to cut through the crowd as much as producers do, so make sure you have something about your production style or sound that no one else has.
3. Too Much Sampling.
I was raised on 90s Hip Hop, so I love me some good sample flips. Unfortunately, sampling is a major turn off when it comes to placements. The reason being that they inherently open up the artist or label to copyright issues, and make it virtually impossible to get sync placements. I remember working on a record for Mega Ran in which I added my own little distorted “yeah”s and “uh”s. Ran’s publishing rep hit me up to take those sounds out because he thought they were samples of someone else. Of course I explained it was my own voice, so the sounds stayed, but the point stands that anyone who is looking to place songs in film or tv will be very touchy about samples. I’m not saying never use samples, just know that if you do that shit better be hard as hell.
Sound designing your own “samples” can be a lot more fun anyway.
4. Underestimating Your Peers.
Time to move on to the networking side of the equation. One way to get placements is to chase managers and artists who are already on. Hey, if you can hit a home run, swing for those fences. But do not underestimate the people on your level, or even the people not quite as far along as you are. Well fostered relationships over long periods of time usually pay off much more than one-off placements. Of course fostering relationships takes time and effort. So how do you decide who to work with on your level? Your immediate instinct would be talent. Your immediate instinct would be wrong. Talent is not common, but also not particularly rare. The real value is in people who are dedicated and trustworthy. If a person is dedicated enough, they will acquire talent over time. Cultivate people who have seeds of talent, but already excel in hustle and integrity.
5. Missing The Basics.
When it comes to selling beats and getting songs placed, a lot of the effort just comes down to being on point consistently. With time, you can build up your network, build up your credits, and build up your clients. However, there’s certain small details that get missed very frequently.
- Making your name and contact info extremely accessible. More often then not I will receive production through a third party. This means someone’s music went to someone else before it came to me. The beat or song may have a title to it, but there’s no credentials anywhere to be found. And sometimes the records are older, so the channels that music came through might not even exist any more. Put your contact in the name of the production or song. At the end of the day, I’m often the one reporting production personnel credits to the distribution point person. If I can’t figure out who you are, I can’t get you credited. And more importantly, the next time we are all working on a project, we can’t hit you up to do another record.
- Being easy to work with. Even if your music is great, and even if your contact information is accessible, your music isn’t getting placed again if you are challenging to work with. That means being fairly accessible with communication. That means being able to deliver what is needed to make the record work. It is remarkably surprising how many producers do not know how to track out a record. I’m not even saying that you need to track a record out, some producers simply don’t. However, if the record is going to get a sync placement or there’s something that needs to be done in the production that requires multis, you still need to be able to do it. Ideally, you’d even put the key and bpm in there somewhere too. But most importantly – don’t be fuckin rude to people. You might think someone is just the intern, and come to find out they’re actually the artist’s right hand.
- Follow up regularly. Everyone is busy. A day can easily turn into a week, into a month, into years. You have to foster your relationships, not just leave it on the A&R or the artist or the whoever else to come to you. As much as it would be nice, it’s up to you to cultivate the relationships you already have, not just the ones you are trying to get.
Put yourself out there too. To be honest, this is my biggest challenge. I am not a particularly social person. I have to force myself to self-advocate, force myself to go to events, force myself to even make phone calls or write emails. But it’s either do that stuff, or don’t have a gig.
I hope that gives some good food for thought. Chances are you are already covering a lot of these bases, but if there’s even one thing in this article that you can pick up – well – that might just be the leak in your game that was holding you back.
And remember what we say at WeissAdvice.com – We are musicians, sound is our instrument!