The Guide to Buy[ing] Beats > Finding Beats with Commercial Value > Basics of Buying: Customization, Production, Writing, and Compatibility.
Before we look at how to determine the commercial value of beats, let’s consider some important factors that can save you time and money. This is a classic chicken before the egg scenario. Is it more important to know that you can write to a song, customize it, and that your voice will sound good? Or, is it more important to know that the song has commercial value. I say let's focus on making sure it's a good first first, just so you don't get excited about a song that ultimately won't work and waste time and money, not to mention get your hopes up!
For your ease of navigation, this chapter, Basics of Buying Beats: Customization, Production, Writing, and Compatibility, is broken down into three sub-sections:
Make the best song you can: Matching your voice to the right beats (The need for trial Beats and Free Beats)
Customization and Music Production - Make your project shine
Ease of writing to the beats
Not all beats work with your voice: The value of Trial Beats
Before you fall in love with a beat and analyze it for commercial value, it’s good to know that your voice will sound good right? If the beat is a perfect banger on its own, but your voice won’t sit well on it – well that’s good to know right up front before you drop money, right? That’s what I thought!
Wait I didn’t know my voice may not sound good on a track?! Yeah, this reality sucks, music is kind of similar to clothes. Have you ever seen a shirt, hat, or shoes that looked amazing on display but when you tried it on, it… looked… terrible? Unfortunately, the same thing can happen when you’re buying beats. It is possible to buy a beat and then after you record your vocals on the beat, the song sounds ok, but not great. That is often because of the musicality and the way the natural timbre (tone, frequencies, pitch; timbre is pronounced “tam-ber”), the natural timbre and uniqueness of your voice interact with the sounds of the beat. An instrumental can sound amazing but the frequencies, (chords, notes, pitch), just do not vibe well with your voice’s timbre. It’s nothing personal, it’s just a matter of harmonics and acoustical physics, but… I don’t know enough about that to write it and I doubt you would read it if I did 😂 … so then, back to beats!
(Already bought a beat where this happened? It’s not completely hopeless)
How do you prevent this from happening? Can I try the beat so I know my voice will sound good? Good questions. Most sites offer free beats, but usually these are the lower quality ones. I have not seen many beat stores offer a trial download for their main catalog.
- - - - Side note - - - -
If you’re a serious artist, you don’t want to use free beats – unless you are specifically using them for a demo to give to an A&R professional. But 1. They probably are not good enough to be used for this and 2. If you have that connection already… well, you can do better than free beats and you REALLY want to impress that person. So use something that you know they haven’t heard before, free means they’ve probably already hear a lame song with that beat. You can only accomplish this by buying exclusive beats, but make sure they’re actually exclusive beats.
- - - - Side note over - - - -
So, for serious artists free beats are generally not a good idea, but trial beats are. Both from a beat store point of view (I know you’re reading this too competitors 😉) and as a consumer. Now trial beats should and will be extensively tagged (vocal watermark usually saying the writers name in the background), so that you are not able to edit the beat in a way which takes out the tag and then illegally use the beat.
So, ask for a trial version of the beat and be sure to say that they beat can be heavily tagged. If you find a beat maker who will allow you to have a trial version, record a ROUGH demo to make sure it has potential and go from there. This saves you time and money.
So, what can you do to fix this? This can be accomplished by a few things, changing the pitch of the music (making it generally higher or lower to bring contrast to your voice, and cheaper) or extensive mixing (depending on the issue this can be harder to do and more expensive.) You generally want music that naturally sits well with your voice and the mix just extenuates the goodness already there instead of removing clash.
Guess what, for someone that makes original beats (not using a bunch of samples) then changing the pitch or key that the music is in is very easy to do, and the beat maker should be willing to work with you.
Write to the buy before you buy!
While we’re on the idea of trial beats, it’s good to try writing to the beat before you make a purchase. I’ve had experience writing to other people’s music (a long time ago) and sometimes I would find that I’d be really excited about a beat but then after the initial excitement I found that I wasn’t able to write as much as I thought. So, I would encourage you to be able to write a verse or at the minimum have a chorus in mind BEFORE you buy the beat. This way you don’t end up buying beats that you end up forcing a song to because it didn’t have the natural flow.
Try to find trial beats so you know your voice sounds good on a beat before you buy it. Voices and music have to match well in their frequencies for a song to sound stellar. Avoid using free beats as these are generally low quality and A&R scouts have probably already heard a terrible demo using them. Free beats are only good for selling mixtapes (assuming the beat gives you that legal right). Write (at least a chorus) to the beat before you buy, so that you know you won’t get writer’s block and have to force a song; forced songs never sounds as good as ones that just flow off the pen.
Lastly Customization of the Music and Music Producer
If you’re buying the exclusive rights for beats – which I highly recommend, and reading WHY YOU SHOULD ONLY BUY EXCLUSIVE BEATS, the beat maker should accommodate your * reasonable * desires to customize the beat. Trying to define reasonable is outside of the scope of this article, but a minimum would be lengthening or shortening a verse or chorus, adding some transitional swoops or sweeps, adding or changing the place of a “breakdown” and “buildup.” If someone is resistant to this, my first question is, did they make the beat? Those are really easy things to do. Now, if you want to change the instruments, melody or something else about the beat it would make sense for you to be charged for the work to accomplish this, which also covers the time it takes to understand your request.
I haven’t seen many beat stores offer production, but whether you use the same person, a friend or someone else online, it’s wise to find a music producer. A music producer is someone who oversees the creative input for a project. Unfortunately beat makers often refer to themselves as “producers” or even “music producers” so it can be confusing because if you just make beats you’re not a music producer.
You need someone who has the skill and experience to say that the BGV’s (background vocals) need to be turned up, down, or replaced by an entirely different singer. You need someone who can visualize the project and say, “right here, you need a sick breakdown and build up,” “we need to add some more effects of your vocals or that guitar track. A music producer plays an active part in guiding the project so that it can be a hit. You need someone whose job is to make songs sound better. Now, if your budget truly can’t afford this, that is not the end of the world. Read up on my article on promoting your songs and landing a record deal. And, then you’ll need to work harder on my homework sections to perfect your craft and be your own producer.
Branding: Know your image and your audience
This is indirectly related to buy beats, but still an important topic to think about.
Know your brand and define your brand.
Defining your sound, your goals, and making pop music
TLDR; Full Summery
A beat store offering reasonable customization is a must. You’re dropping a few hundred dollars on music, they should accommodate. If you’re paying $50 for “exclusive beats” well I can almost guarantee 100’s of people have the same track (this is bad) and you won’t get any customization – you get what you pay for. You want a beat tailored to the final song you create with breakdowns and buildups happening at the perfect moment and other extra polishing that can only happen after you’ve laid down vocals. Lastly, you want to find a music producer, who will add value to the song and offer creative direction. This can be the person you buy beats from and is similar to customization, but more.
I have a lot of experience with making beats, but I don’t know everything. What are your thoughts, questions, comments? I want to hear from you, so don’t be a stranger. I believe in being collaborative and making the internet a useful and informative place – so please be courteous when leaving comments.
Keep in mind that the next chapter on the commercial quality of a beat is the most important chapter on buying beats in this guide. That doesn’t mean skipping the rest, or that this was a waste of time 😜 it just means make yourself the most familiar with the next chapter and be the most critical about a beat having the “it” factor.