If you make music for recording artists and/or visual media, then there’s a good chance that you spend a fair amount of time programming beats. Now, whether or not you go around calling yourself a “beatmaker” is entirely up to you, but there is a market for what you do. Question is — if you care to — how does one tap into it?
Well, like many things in life, there is no quick, easy answer, but if you’re ready and willing to make a strong commitment to your work, and you have a basic internet connection, then you pretty much already have everything you need to lay the foundation for a successful business. Of course, if you’re mining for immediate results on a shoestring budget, then the old adage “you get what you pay for” might be ringing in your ears, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take advantage of free and cheap alternatives that are made available to you. That being said, here’s a list of sites that will hopefully help you get started…
This is arguably the most obvious choice. Everything you could possibly want in a beat selling website is on display here. Also, Beatstars.com has teamed up with YouTube and SoundCloud to offer content creators special incentives and opportunities to maximize revenue. Content ID can be used to find YouTube videos that are using your productions so you can earn money for every stream. With “Pro” membership, you can monetize SoundCloud streams or you can have that plus a free SoundCloud Pro account with “Unlimited” membership.
Beatstars.com has a growing community with over 300,000 active members, and a Social Music Marketplace with built-in social networking for liking, commenting, private messaging and following your favorite producers and recording artists so you can preview their content in your feed. Also, you can export email addresses and import them with your newsletter service to keep contact information on hand. “Pro” membership allows for only twenty private messages per month, whereas “Unlimited” membership features unlimited private messaging.
You can easily browse Top Charts and Collaborations with filters for Genre, Mood and BPM (beats per minute). Also, there’s a “Sort By” filter that will let you browse collaborations in accordance with specific search criteria: Popular, Recommended, Trending, etc. The “Collabos” system lets you instantly connect with multiple artists, splitting the revenue percentages automatically, which you can determine beforehand within the application.
Pro Pages allow members to create their own domain with an integrated Pro Page Editor used to change the background, fonts, sizes and upload a custom header. Also, your profile image, social networking buttons and a comment feed will appear in the right sidebar. Not only can you stream audio, but you can host videos and live streams on your Pro Page as well. Unfortunately, you’ll have to put up with ads with “Free” membership.
Other important features include unlimited storage with “Unlimited” membership, and the ability to earn 100% revenue with “Pro” and “Unlimited” membership (only through the BeatStars Social Marketplace). I really can’t think of a downside here. If you’re looking for the most polished, professional beat selling website…this is it!
This site has been online since 1997. The old flash design might hurt your eyes a little, but that doesn’t mean you can’t pimp out your custom page however you want because you most certainly can; just take note that the graphic design for the site itself hasn’t been updated for six years, so try not to let that become a determining factor in your decision to sign up. You can very easily have a positive beat selling experience here, and since Soundclick has been around long enough for you to have raised a child from infancy to young adulthood, the site has accumulated a massive community with almost five million registered members, and also generates an impressive amount of traffic, with the best SEO (search engine optimization) for beats and instrumentals.
A broad variety of musical genres — and subgenres — appear in the “Music Charts and Genres” section, which offers a built-in search engine with several filters for browsing artists, songs, singles, albums or even searching for content by location. The integrated media player is actually one of the best embedded players I know of. The streaming quality is surprisingly crystal clear, and you can also create your own widgets for any page.
Unlike competing websites, Soundclick is absolutely free, with exception of VIP accounts and promotion tools you can take advantage of in order to promote yourself on the “Member Profiles” and “Featured Bands / Artists” section near the top of the front page. Of course, if ads aren’t a complete deal breaker, and you don’t require a custom layout, free membership includes more than enough features to get you started, such as an MP3 store, unlimited uploads and private messaging. But you can’t deny that $9.95/month is dirt cheap VIP treatment.
One thing that really put this site on the map is a fully automated, user friendly checkout system that distributes your content directly to your customers without the hassle of manual emails. Of course, MyFlashStore is not exclusive to beat selling, but the site has become a popular choice among beatmakers who prefer it to less intuitive platforms often furnished with ads that distract your customers and drive traffic away from your store.
If you want a little more exposure and you can’t afford the luxury of an expensive ad campaign, for a %25 commision, you can promote your content on the MyFlashStore Marketplace. But don’t worry, you won’t be charged a commision for anything sold directly from your account profile or integrated media player. Also, within the “Discounts” section, you can fine tune special offers to potential clientele (i.e. “more for less”) or even generate a coupon code for any occasion to promote your business…or maybe you’re just feeling generous.
Another useful feature is Social Integration, which has become more and more common for eCommerce sites, enabling you to to post directly to Facebook and Twitter in the upload process, saving you from having to connect the dots manually. There’s also Mailing List Integration that hooks up to your email marketing service (such as AWeber, iContact or MailChimp) allowing you to keep in touch with your customers after checkout.
Similar offerings are on display here, although some of the key benefits of becoming a “beat broker”, including copyright assistance and publically verifiable entitlement to royalties, says a lot about how you can expect to be treated as a member and how your content will be distributed in a responsible and professional way. Your protection is of utmost importance, and the good people at Beatbrokerz.com have made that abuntantly clear.
Of all the sites on this list, I think this might just be the most feature-rich. Elite Brand Pages, including a fully integrated mobile interface, serve as a one-stop shop for soliciting your own creations, and also third-party content from people in your Producer Groups…if you so choose. Almost everything you can expect from a beat selling website is here in spades, such a social networking, customizable graphics, HTML5 and CMS support.
Unfortunately, this one doesn’t generate a lot of traffic, and the user base (now consisting of little more than two thousand members) pales in comparison to Soundclick. Also, the general look and feel of the site isn’t as streamlined or intuitive as Beatstars or MyFlashstore. Of course, if you don’t require all that jazz, then you should be very satisfied with Beatbrokerz.com, but you might have to rely more heavily on outside marketing.
5. Your Own Domain
We’ve all dreamed of creating our own domain, but even though web hosting sites offer affordable monthly membership fees, it’s just not the same as starting your own website from little more than a few lines of HTML scrawled on a cocktail napkin. However, if you don’t have any programming experience, you could be in for a long, uphill battle, but if you came prepared for a considerable learning curve, there are plenty of educational resources online such as html.net, w3schools.com and teamtreehouse.com that will put you on the fast track.
Also, nearly half of the websites we visit everyday are based on WordPress.org, which offers a user friendly Content Management System, plus several tutorials to help you learn CMS. Of course, if you’re not up for the challenge or you just don’t have the time, there are freelance web developers and proffesional marketing experts specializing in things like graphic design, branding and search engine optimization you can hire on websites like upwork.com who will be more than happy to roll up their sleeves and do the heavy lifting for you.
Marketing is undeniably the most expensive aspect of any business, but fortunately for online businesses, it doesn’t have to be. Youtube is a great way to market your music. However, if you decide to go that route, you are now faced with the task of driving traffic to your YouTube channel. Even though there are many ways to pile up as many subscribers as humanly possible, it doesn’t make very much sense to open up shop if you don’t have anything on display, so fire up your editing software and push out as much content as you possibly can!
If you are eligible, you can become a YouTube “Partner” in order to monetize your videos and earn money through ads and paid subscription services. Eligibility hinges on a minimum of five hundred views per month, averaging at least seventeen views a day. That should give you an idea of how productive you need to be if you want to break into the Partner Program, which isn’t a pressing issue, but one of many options at your disposal.
In any case, starting a business on your own is a tall order. At first, during your “make-or-break” era, you might feel like a circus animal leaping through flaming hoops. It’s a bit daunting when you’re the new kid on the block, but fortunately there are resources available to you that will help you find your way. There are other websites similar to those summarized in this list, but these are the most respected ones I know of. However, it’s possible you might have found something else entirely that works best for you. If so, please let us know in the comments.