salsaricky asked: I recently watched the Rosana video again and woah! Those views! I know it's gone platinum and gold in certain countries and it's on Far Cry 3, etc. How does it feel to know that something you produced has gotten out there on such a massive, global scale? I'm not trying to say this is the only thing you've done that has gotten notoriety lol but I feel like it's unique bc of in the places and mediums it's reached.
Yeah, 28 million, kinda crazy! I didn’t even know it was on Far Cry 3, haha…I just looked it up, cool stuff.
It’s really dope man, been working on music for a while now so it feels good to have something blow up on that scale. Glad it was with Wax too, dude been working super hard for a long time and is a good dude, he deserves it!
It was placed on my heart to sit down and write this. I don’t know why. May it will help up and coming producers. Maybe it will create some understanding in the minds of aspiring artists. Who knows? But here it is…
I am a music producer with some decent accomplishments. Platinum record in three countries, one of the most played songs in the world over the summer of 2013, music on video games and TV, created the music for an entire documentary film, and more. In my rapper days I was blessed to perform at legendary spots like the House of Blues and the Key Club on the Sunset Strip in LA. My music even took me to Brazil where I met some amazing people, learned a lot, and got to perform and share my music with the people there.
To get to that point took years of focused action and hard work. When I started producing, I made some okay beats, but I knew I had a very long way to go, and to this day I think that way, I can always get better.
A typical day for me was like this. I started making music right before I graduated high school, so I already had a late start. When I entered college, I would go to my classes everyday. I never skipped because I knew I didn’t really want to study much and figured I could pass by simply going to the class every day and having a study session on Sunday afternoons (I don’t recommend that, but I passed). After I got home from class, I’d sit down at my computer to make beats and write songs. When I got hungry, I’d go to the dining hall, eat, come back and make beats. The majority of my time spent outside of class and hanging with friends on the weekend was spent creating music.
I set a goal for myself early on. I told myself that when I listened to something from a 6-8 weeks prior, what I was currently making had to be noticeably better. That was my only goal, get better, learn, and perfect my craft. I think this is where a lot of folks fail in the process, no matter if it was beat making, rapping, a sport, or learning something new. They get impatient. They want to make the money now, they want to win now, but they don’t want to invest the time and energy needed to really take the steps to get to the level they desire to be at.
I’m sure you heard the quote “It takes 10 years to become an overnight success.” Well, for the most part that is true.
So I spent a lot of time getting better at what I do. I would stay home making music while my friends were out partying. When I graduated from college, I took the entire summer off and I set a goal for myself to be involved with 100 songs in 3 months, whether it be mixing albums for other artists, making songs myself, or remixing. I improved greatly over that summer.
After that summer I spent about 6 months saving up and then I hopped on a one way flight to LAX and started grinding there, building up a name for myself which led to all the opportunities I mentioned earlier. So as you can see, I sacrificed a lot and took some big risks to get some big rewards.
Why I Don’t Produce for Free
I get hit up all the time from people asking for beats. “Yo, I love your beats, they sound different than everything else, I want to work with you, send me some beats.” There is also my favorite “Let’s do biz” which is always funny to me when they don’t want to pay because money must be exchanged for a good or service for a business transaction to take place.
It amazing me how many times I get this, and I know I am not the only one who gets messages like these. Let’s just break down why you shouldn’t send these people free beats.
Now that software is at the forefront of music production, the ability to produce music is a lot cheaper than it was in the past. Even if someone uses a bootleg copy of FL Studio, they still had to buy the computer. They may get tired of pointing and clicking, so they may buy a MIDI keyboard and maybe a drum pad too. Then they want to hear what they are making, so they will buy some headphones and monitors. All this costs money. It is an investment, and with all investments you’d like to see a return on it.
Imagine if you had some money laying around and you thought to yourself, “It’s hot outside and I make really good homemade ice cream, I bet I can sling some ice cream cones today.” So you invested that money into an ice cream cart and ingredients, whip up several batches, and go to the park and set up. After you were there for a while people start coming up to you saying they like what you have to offer and as you to give them a scoop of chocolate. You tell them it will be $1 they look at you like you are crazy and say “It’s not free? It’s hot out here, you should give this to me for free!” What would you do? Probably put the ice cream back in the freezer and serve the next person.
Now translate that to beats. You purchased this gear and you put in YEARS to learn how to make something worth listening to, and then (insert rapper name here) comes up to you like “Yo! Let me get that beat.” and you tell them they can visit your site and purchase it, or that they can send the money via Pay Pal and they are like “Oh, you don’t understand, I am the hottest thing out, when I’m on you’re gonna be on and I will even put your name on the track.” Think about that for a second.
I have come to learn if they don’t respect what you do as a producer, the time you put in, the money you invested, then chances are they don’t value their own career either. Let’s say you are leasing beats for $25, if they aren’t willing to invest that into production for themselves, they aren’t serious, it is almost like a music career litmus test.
Why I Will Produce for Free
Now there are time where I will produce for free (or below my normal rate). Let’ say an artist is serious about their career and they come to me and say that they want to work with me and have a budget of X amount of dollars for a project $X is going to pay for the publicist who is respected in the community and gets results (major blog posts, interviews, etc.), and $X is going to the mixing and mastering of the album, and $X is set aside for tour (they have 15 shows lined up), and they only have a little left for production of the last few songs on the album, what do you think I would do? I will work with them. Why? Because they are INVESTING in themselves and they have shown that they have invested in their career in the past.
You are not going to drop thousands of dollars into a project if you don’t believe in it. When someone like that approaches me they are essentially saying to me that they are putting all they have into this and they would like me to be a part of their project, their team. That is a long way from “Send me these beats and I will put your name on it, it’s free promo for you.”
Another way is if someone has purchased beats from me in the past. I do this all time time, someone gets two or three beats from me and said they want (insert beat name) next, they just have to get their money together, they may find that beat sitting in their inbox shortly after. At the end of the day, if someone has invested in their career and project, and chose me to be their producer for it, I am honored, so I try to look out for them in every way I can. Not only will I send them free beats here and there, but I will also connect them with people I know who can further their career.
Those are two of the ways I will produce for free, there are many more and if you’d like to know about those feel free to hit me up.
So there it is, that is why I don’t produce for free, and why I will produce for free. If you are just starting out, my suggestion is to pay your dues and learn your craft first, and above all just stay humble. If you are doing these things and handling the business side of things like networking, marketing yourself, and building your brand, you will find some success as a producer.
Also, don’t limit yourself in terms of genre and opportunity. There are more ways to make money from music than just producing for artists, there is film, TV, video, games, etc.
Hope this helps in some way!