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Beats by KHARMA

First Time Buying Beats: Transitioning from Free Beats to Leasing Beats

First Time Buying Beats: Transitioning from Free Beats to Leasing Beats​

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Table of Contents

I have been selling beats online for a couple of years. Before I started doing anything related to making beats, I sat on the other side of the table. I used to rap, I used free beats and I was buying beats from online producers.

Because I’ve sat on both sides of the table, I can imagine the situation that you’re in right now. The whole reason why you decided to read this article.

  • You’re getting started with music but you’re planning to take this seriously.
  • Or, you’ve already been doing music for a while but things are starting to get more serious.
  • You’re looking into buying beats because you’re done using tagged free beats. Or, maybe you’ve reached that level where the logical next step would be to properly license the beats you’re using

👆 If you recognize yourself somewhere in these lines then you’re right where you need to be.
You’re about to learn everything you need to know about buying beats online…

Using Free Beats

First, let’s talk about free beats.

The easiest way to recognize a free beat is by the producer tags that you hear every 30 seconds. Once you buy a license for a beat, it will no longer have the tags in it.

If you’re in the possession of beats without a license agreement from the producer, you could consider that a free beat as well. In that case, you’re not authorized to use the beat for commercial purposes.

There’s also a discussion going on for years between artists and producers. It’s definitely worth explaining a little more.

Producers hate it when artists ask for free beats. And yes, it happens all the time.

“Can I get this beat for free, I’ll give you credit”

This is so accurate 😂

In defence of the artists, I have to admit – The hypocrisy is REAL! When you’re looking for beats on YouTube, most of the titles you’ll find say “(FREE) BEAT” or “FREE DL”.

Basically, they’re offering free beats but then complain about artists using their beats for free. How is that NOT confusing? 😅

Well, let me explain…

The reason why producers add “FREE DL” in their titles has to do with marketing strategies and ranking on YouTube. In simple words: It’s just clickbait.

In defence of the producers, including myself. Trust me when I say that many artists are taking advantage of our craft and hard work. My own beats are downloaded hundreds of thousands of times in the last couple of years. Most of them illegally.

Imagine the headaches…

So, I don’t feel bad about asking someone to buy a beat with a proper license that comes with it.
It makes it easier for all parties involved.

What can you do with a free beat?

That’s the thing! Not much… At least, nothing commercially or profitable.
Uploading on Facebook. Is that commercially? These days, yes.
Same goes for YouTube and Soundcloud (both are streaming services and ways to monetise your music).

Producers offer free beats to let artists…

  • Try it out before they buy.
  • Record vocals and see if their vocals match the key of the beat.
  • Record a demo and get feedback before purchasing a license for it.
  • Make sure that it’ll be worth the investment.

Sometimes I do permit people to upload their songs created with my free beats to social media only. However, if I want to take the song down for no reason, it’ll be taken down within minutes.

Yes, I can do that. 😊

Do not mess with free beats!

Get this in your head: There’s no such thing as a ‘free beat’.
If you are going to ask for something for free, ask for a ‘free license’.

If you’re using a beat for which you haven’t received a license agreement in writing from the producer, you’re unauthorized to use it and you could get in serious trouble.

Buying beats online – How does it work?

By purchasing a beat, you are purchasing audio files that are copyrighted by the producer. In return for your payment, the producer grants you several rights to use the beat.

This is what we call the License Agreement.

There is a difference between:

  1. Non-exclusive licenses
  2. Exclusive licenses.

The biggest difference is that a non-exclusive license for one beat can be sold to several artists. Yet, an exclusive license can only be sold once and to one artist only.

In this article, I will only address the subject of non-exclusive licensing.

I wrote an entire guide about the difference between Non-Exclusive and Exclusive Licenses. Click the button below if you’re interested in learning more about this. 👇🏽

Different licensing options – Which one to choose?

Online producers offer different licensing options. In my case, I have 4 options.

  • Non Profit
  • Basic (MP3 + WAV)
  • Premium Trackouts
  • Unlimited

These are my licensing options – the more expensive the license, the more user-rights are granted.
Also, the more expensive your license, the better quality audio files you will receive and tracked out stem files.

What is the best license to buy?

I am not gonna lie… Most people that buy beats online go for the cheaper licenses.
One that comes with fewer user-rights and low-quality audio files.
The user-rights granted in those cheaper licenses might be sufficient for them.

Yet, more importantly, are the quality of the audio files.

If you’re looking to create quality music or at least want to make music the right way, then make sure you get the Tracked Out files of a beat.

The best option is to go for a license that comes with Tracked Out Files. In my case, that would be the Premium or Unlimited license.

Don’t know what Tracked Out Stems are? I’ve written an article about tracked out files and why you need them. 👇🏽

If I buy a beat with a Basic License – Can I upgrade my license later?

On my website: YES! 😃

But honestly, I have not seen many other producers offering this service.
Meaning that it might not always be an option.

The reason why I do offer licenses to be upgraded is that I know what it’s like when you’re transitioning from free beats to buying beats for the first time.

Money is always an issue, right…? 💸

If you do not have the funds to go for a more expensive license, you can always upgrade later. You’ll only pay the difference between the standard prices of the licenses.

If you want to know if other producers offer this service too, you would have to reach out to them yourself. I can’t answer that question for them.

Once I buy a beat – Do I own any copyright?

Once you write your lyrics and record it over the beat, you will own the copyright to your lyrics only. And what you will create with the beat is a New Song, also known as a “Derivative Work.”

Click on the image above to learn more about Derivative Work

This means that you will own and control 50% of the so-called “Writer’s Share.”

The producer will own and control the other 50% of the Writer’s Share.

You have been licensed the right to use the beat and commercially exploit the song you make with it. Based on the terms and conditions of the license agreement you’ve purchased. The producer will remain the sole owner and holder of all right, title, and interest in the beat.

Again, more about this in The Ultimate Guide to Beat Licensing.

What happens to my song when someone else buys the exclusive rights for the beat I’ve licensed non-exclusively?

When it comes to buying beats online, you’re granted the rights the moment you purchased the beat. The license will go in effect immediately.

So, when someone else purchases the exclusive rights, it will not (immediately) affect you. Your non-exclusive license will still be valid.

But there are some things you need to know…

In the old days, you were granted the user rights in the non-exclusive licenses without an expiration date. A lot of producers still operate this way.

Nowadays, some producers sell licenses that expire after 2-6 years. In my case, my more expensive licenses does not expire. This means that you will not have to buy a new license after that term.

Expiration term in my UNLIMITED license agreement

If someone purchased the exclusive rights during your term. That will only mean that you will no longer be able to renew your license after your term is due.

Producers don’t always show this information in their licensing tables. Make sure you check that before you make the purchase. There’s usually a button below the tables which lets you view the actual license agreement. I have them too (scroll up to see the image of my licensing tables).

One more thing regarding non-exclusive licenses!

I’ve noticed recently that some producers install a new term in their license agreement. One that grants the producer the right to end your license agreement even before your term is due.

The producer includes an exit clause in their agreements stating they’re allowed to terminate the license agreement upon written notice to you.

In return, they will pay you double or triple of what you’ve initially paid for the beat.

That does not have to be a problem for you, but whether it is, depends entirely on the success of your song.

Again, always check your agreements before buying beats online!

What if I buy a beat with a non-exclusive license and my song blows up?

It’s funny that this is such a common question. That’s why I’ve written an entire article to answer this question.

If you’re interested in learning more about this, click the link below. 👇🏽

Is it safe to buy beats online?

Most producers use a Beat Store Provider to sell their beats online. The most common ones are:

All these platforms have a good reputation for representing producers and their music. The majority of online producers is also signed up with either one of them. That’s why a lot of producers’ websites and music players look alike.

These music players have an ‘instant delivery’ feature included. After you’ve made the payment, you will be redirected to a download area where you can safely download the files. You’ll also receive an order confirmation by email.

If you’re not sure if a producer is affiliated with one of these platforms, try to locate their producer name’s on the different platforms. If they are on it, you can make the purchase directly from the platform itself, just to be safe.

If they’re not on these platforms, reach out to the producer with any concerns you have. I’m sure they’ll respond once you tell them that you’re interested in buying beats from them. Make sure you’ve checked the website for an FAQ section, though. If you’re asking questions for which the answers are right in front of you, they do not always respond.

Keep in mind… On platforms like BeatStars, Airbit or Soundee, producers still create their own license agreements. They operate on their own terms!

Before you buy a beat, always check the full license agreements or licensing terms. Those flashy pricing tables don’t always show you everything! 😉

Here are some tips for buying beats online:

  • Pay with PayPal or Stripe (they have buyers protection)
  • Check if the producer sells through a BeatStars, Airbit or Soundee player
  • Read the License Agreements (!)
  • Reach out to the producer with your concerns

Did you come here looking to learn more before buying one of my beats?

If you have a second, drop a comment below and share your thoughts. 👇
Good or bad, it’s all appreciated! 🙏

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Price: $50

 

Beginners license that is typically used by beginner artists that do not expect the song to go big.

This license comes with one single industry-quality WAV-file, but not with tracked-out files. (harder to get a better mix).

Radio airplay is not permitted. 

This license does not give the rights to a music video.

 

Allowed on Spotfiy & Apple Music
- but only for up to 50,000 streams combined

 

 

Price: $99 $95

 

Professional license, most popular among artists that are releasing their song on platforms like Spotify, iTunes - or perform with the song in live (paid) performances.

This license comes with high-quality tracked-out files which are essential for mixing songs professionally. 

Allowed 100,000 streams and 10,000 sales - possibility to upgrade if you get above it.

 

We do not recommend this license if you’re looking to create a music video for YouTube. 

 

 

Price: $199 $195

 

Professional license with no limitations on streams, plays or sales.

This license is generally purchased by artists that believe their song has the potential to surpass the streaming caps of other licenses. 

We strongly recommend this license to artists that want to create and monetise a music video for YouTube. 

 

Allows for radio play.

 

This license allows your song to be played on TV/Movies.

Basic License 

Trackouts + Premium License

(Most Popular)

Unlimited License

 


Price: $30

 

Promotional license that is typically used by beginner artists who does not want to profit from their song.

Comes with MP3-file.

Radio airplay is not permitted. 

This license does not give the rights to a music video.


Not allowed on Spotify, iTunes Music, YouTube with monetisation, or any other service with monetisation.

Good for FREE mixtapes and FREE downloads.

Non Profit License

This is a basic-level non-exclusive license agreement (the “Non Profit Agreement”), effective as of (the “Effective Date”) by and between the “Producer” or “Licensor”); and John Doe residing at {CUSTOMER_ADDRESS} (“you” or “Licensee”), regarding all the terms for Licensee’s use of, and the rights granted in, the Producer’s master recording and underlying musical composition entitled Track Title (collectively, the “Beat”). 

1. License Fee: Producer’s receipt of a – licensee fee (the “Non Profit Fee”) from you is a precondition to this Non Profit Agreement. 

2. Delivery of the Beat: Following receipt of the Non Profit Fee and execution of this Non Profit Agreement, Producer will email a link to the Beat in MP3 for the Beat (as such terms are understood in the music industry), to the email address you provided to Producer.  

3. Term: The Term of this Non Profit Agreement shall be ten (10) years and this license shall expire on the ten (10) year anniversary of the Effective Date.

4. Use of the Beat:

a. Non-Exclusive. The Beat is being licensed to you on a non-exclusive basis, which means for example without limitation that Producer may continue to exploit the Beat and/or license it to other third parties. 

b. Making One New Song. You will have a limited, non-exclusive, nontransferable license to create one (1) new, substantially different (i.e., with substantial unique addition) derivative musical composition (the “New Composition”) and one (1) new derivative master recording (the “New Recording”) incorporating the Beat. For example, you may choose to record your own topline vocals over the Beat, and/or incorporate all or portions/samples of the Beat into the instrumental music of a New Composition and New Recording. You will have the right to modify the arrangement, tempo, duration, and/or pitch of the Beat in preparation of the New Composition and New Recording. You will not have the right to sublicense the New Composition and/or New Recording to third parties (e.g., you may not permit anyone to “sample” your New Recording in a subsequent master recording). 

c. Promotional / Free Use Only. You may only exploit and/or permit exploitation of the New Composition and New Recording in non-paid uses—e.g., where people don’t have to pay to listen to and/or download it. For example, you may release the New Recording for free download, include it on a free mixtape or free compilation of music, or release it on non-monetized digital streaming service (such as SoundCloud, but not, for example, via Spotify or Apple Music). 

d. No Public Performances. Notwithstanding anything to the contrary herein, you not may perform the New Recording (and/or underlying New Composition) publicly (for example, in a live concert performance, at a festival, or in a nightclub), and even if people are paying to see you perform.

e. No Radio. You may not pitch, submit or permit the pitching or submission of the New Composition and New Recording for performance on terrestrial, satellite, or internet radio (e.g., over-the-air radio, Sirius XM, Pandora, etc.)—any such use would require your purchase of an UNLIMITED License in connection with the Beat. 

f. 0 Video. You may synchronize (use) the New Composition and New Recording in zero (0) audiovisual work (“Video”). The duration of the Video can’t exceed the longer of: (i) five (5) minutes; and (ii) the duration of the New Composition as embodied on the New Recording. The Video can’t be used to promote any third- party product or service—it can only be used to promote the New Composition and New Recording. You may exploit the Video only on free-access internet video platforms (e.g., YouTube, Vimeo, Instagram, Facebook, and/or Vevo), and you may not monetize the Video (on those platforms or otherwise). The description of the Video on such video platforms must include credit to KHARMA as producer. You may not license or permit the Video to be broadcast on television networks, or to be otherwise licensed to third parties. For the avoidance of doubt, the New Composition and/or New Recording (and/or Beat) may not be synchronized with or incorporated in any other audiovisual work—for example without limitation, in any commercial, television show, film, or video game. 

g. No ContentID Registration. You may not register or permit the registration of the New Composition and/or New Recording with any content identification system or service (for example without limitation, with YouTube’s ContentID, whether directly or through a third party). This is a non-exclusive license agreement, and the Beat may have been or may yet be licensed to third parties for their own use; if any licensed users of the Beat tried to register their derivative songs, the content identification system might improperly flag all other users of the Beat as infringing uses. 

h. 0 Distribution Copy/10,000 Stream Cap. Your rights to exploit a New Composition and New Recording are subject to a maximum aggregate number of ten thousand (10,000) streams and zero (0) distribution copies (physical, or digital downloads), across all services and platforms (for illustrative example, if the Video had half (50%) of 10,000 plays on YouTube and the New Recording had half (50%) of 10,000 + one (1) streams on SoundCloud, that would be a breach of this paragraph). If you are approaching the foregoing cap on your rights to use the Beat, New Composition, and New Recording, you must either remove the New Composition and New Recording from all platforms, or you must purchase a new higher-level license of the Beat from Producer (e.g., an UNLIMITED License), before exceeding the foregoing cap. 

i. No Direct Use of the Beat. For the avoidance of doubt, you are not getting any right to exploit the Beat directly, only to create and exploit a New Composition and New Recording that incorporates the Beat along with sufficient new and unique material to distinguish the New Composition and New Recording from and not directly compete with the Beat. 

5. Credit: You will have the right to use and permit others to use Producer’s approved name “KHARMA” for purposes of the New Recording and “KHARMA” for purposes of the New Composition, but solely in connection with uses of the New Composition and New Recording permitted hereunder. You will use best efforts to have Producer credited as a “producer” of the New Recording (e.g., “Produced by KHARMA”) and co-writer of the New Composition (e.g., “Co-written by KHARMA [and other co-writers]” in any and all metadata, liner notes, and/or other customary place for such credits in connection with all exploitations of the New Recording and/or New Composition (as applicable), and in a manner no less favorable to Producer than credit accorded to any other producer or songwriter of the master recordings and musical compositions (respectively) bundled with the New Recording and/or New Composition. In the event of any failure to have Producer properly credited, you will use reasonable efforts to cure such failure immediately on a prospective basis.

6. Royalties: In addition to the Non Profit Fee, you agree to pay the following royalties to Producer, either by directing the distributor of your records to do so (i.e., your record label, or the digital distribution company you use, e.g., DistroKid), or by doing so yourself (e.g., to PayPal ID: whoismarcel@gmail.com, or via Producer banking information that may be provided upon emailed request): 

a. Mechanical Royalties. When a copy of a master recording like the New Recording is sold (either on a CD, or when someone buys it on a service like iTunes) or streamed (e.g., on a service like Apple Music or Spotify), copyright law requires that the songwriters get paid a royalty called a mechanical license. You agree to make sure that Producer is paid mechanical royalties for Producer’s 50% songwriting share of the New Composition, at the minimum statutory rate. 

b. Producer Royalties. For Producer’s production of the Beat you intend to use in the New Recording, you agree to pay Producer 50% of everything you make from the New Recording. 

7. Ownership: Producer has written and composed the Beat, which is commonly treated as one-half of the total songwriting on a musical composition (and you agree that Producer retains a 50% ownership of the copyright in the New Composition). The Producer is and shall remain the sole owner and holder of all right, title, and interest in the Beat, including all copyrights to and in the sound recording and the underlying musical compositions written and composed by Producer. Nothing contained herein shall constitute an assignment by Producer to Licensee of any of the foregoing rights. You may not register or attempt to register (or permit the registration or attempted registration) of the Beat with the U.S. Copyright Office. You may own a copyright to the extent of your contributions embodied in the New Song and New Recording (e.g., your topline lyrics, melody, and/or other new instrumental elements), but any registration or claim of copyright as to the New Song and/or New Recording must be as a derivative work disclaiming any ownership to the copyright(s) in the Beat.  For the avoidance of doubt, there is no intention of the parties for the New Composition and/or New Recording to constitute a joint work for purposes of copyright law, and Producer does not herein grant to you any rights in or to any other derivative works that may have been or may yet be created by third parties based on the Beat. Producer reserves to itself any and all rights in and to the Beat not expressly granted to you herein. You will, upon request, execute, acknowledge and deliver to Producer such additional documents as Producer may deem necessary to evidence and effectuate Producer’s rights hereunder, and you hereby grant to Producer the right as attorney-in-fact to execute, acknowledge, deliver and record in the U.S. Copyright Office or elsewhere any and all such documents if you fail to execute same within five (5) days after so requested by Producer. 

8. Breach by You: 

a. If you fail to cure any breach of this Non Profit Agreement within five (5) business days of Producer providing you with written notice of a breach, Producer will have the right to immediately terminate this Non Profit Agreement, and if Producer notifies you of such termination, you will have no further right to use the Beat in the New Composition, New Recording, and/or Video (and you must immediately cause them to be no longer available to the public). 

b. If you use the Beat, New Composition, New Recording, and/or any Video in a manner not expressly permitted in this Non Profit Agreement, you agree to pay Producer any and all amounts previously or thereafter collected, received, or credited to you or any third party in connection with such exploitation of the Beat, New Composition, New Recording, and/or Video (as applicable). 

c. You recognize and agree that a breach or threatened breach by you of this Non Profit Agreement could cause irreparable injury to Producer, which may not be adequately compensated by monetary damages. Accordingly, in the event of a breach or threatened breach by you, Producer shall be entitled to a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction restraining you from violating the provisions of this Non Profit Agreement. 

d. Nothing herein shall prohibit Producer from pursuing any other available legal or equitable remedy in connection with breach or threatened breach of this Non Profit Agreement, including but not limited to the recovery of monetary damages from you. 

9. Representations, Warranties, and Indemnification: 

a. Producer represents and warrants that Producer has the full right and ability to enter into this Non Profit Agreement and grant those rights granted herein. Producer warrants that the exploitations of the Beat permitted hereunder will not infringe upon or violate any common law or statutory right of any person, firm, or corporation; including, without limitation, contractual rights, copyrights, and right(s) of privacy and publicity and will not constitute libel and/or slander. 

b. You represent and warrant that exploitation of the New Composition and/or New Recording hereunder will not infringe upon or violate any common law or statutory right of any person, firm, or corporation; including, without limitation, contractual rights, copyrights, and right(s) of privacy and publicity and will not constitute libel and/or slander. Just to be clear, Producer takes no responsibility whatsoever as to any elements added to the New Composition and/or New Recording by Licensee or any third party, and Licensee indemnifies and holds Producer harmless for any and all such elements. 

c. Parties hereto shall indemnify and hold each other harmless from any and all third party claims, liabilities, costs, losses, damages, judgments, costs, and expenses as are actually incurred by the non-defaulting party (including, without limitation, reasonable attorneys’ fees) arising in connection with any breach or claim of breach of this Non Profit Agreement by the defaulting party, their agents, heirs, successors, assigns and employees, which have been reduced to final judgment or settled with the defaulting party’s consent. The non- defaulting party shall give the defaulting party prompt written notice of all claims giving rise to indemnification obligations hereunder, and the defaulting party shall have the right to participate in the defense of such claims with counsel of its choice at its sole expense. 

10. Miscellaneous: In no event shall Artist be entitled to seek injunctive or any other equitable relief for any breach or non-compliance with any provision of this Non Profit Agreement. This Non Profit Agreement constitutes the entire understanding of the parties and cannot be changed or waived, in whole or in part, except in writing signed by both parties hereto. This Non Profit Agreement supersedes all prior agreements between the parties, whether oral or written. Should any provision of this Non Profit Agreement be held to be void, invalid or inoperative, such decision shall not affect any other provision hereof, and the remainder of this Non Profit Agreement shall be effective as though such void, invalid or inoperative provision had not been contained herein. No failure by Producer hereto to perform any of its obligations hereunder shall be deemed a material breach of this agreement until you give Producer written notice of its failure to perform, and such failure has not been corrected within thirty (30) days of notice (or, if such breach is not reasonably capable of being cured that quickly, Producer does not commence to cure such breach within said time period, and proceed with reasonable diligence thereafter). This agreement shall be governed by and interpreted in accordance with the laws of Sweden applicable to agreements entered into and wholly performed in said State, without regard to any conflict of laws principles. You hereby agree that the exclusive jurisdiction and venue for any action, suit or proceeding based upon any matter, claim or controversy arising hereunder or relating hereto shall be in the state or federal courts located in Sweden. You don’t have the right to make any money off the Beat, the New Composition, or the New Recording except as specifically allowed in this Non Profit Agreement. You shall be deemed to have signed, affirmed and ratified your acceptance of the terms of this Non Profit Agreement by virtue of your payment of the Non Profit Fee to Producer and your electronic acceptance of the terms and conditions (e.g., at the time of your payment of the Non Profit Fe