What to know when buying beats online

Just a few things to take note of if you’re new to buying beats online.

Instrumental (beat): A piece of music performed solely by instruments, with no vocals.

License: A permit from an authority to own, use or do a particular thing.

Licensee: The person or entity buying the license. Doesn’t necessarily have to be an artist, can be anyone at all.

Licencor: The person or entity selling the license. This is often times the person who made the beat as well.

Copyright: the exclusive legal right, given to an originator to print, publish, perform, film, or record literary, artistic, or musical material. The second you create a new song/beat you own the copyright to it but in some countries you may need to submit and pay for copyright registration with a government body if you wish to have the facts of your copyright on the public record and have a certificate of registration.

Non-exclusive license or Lease:  The most affordable and most common way beats are sold online. A non exclusive license grants the licensee the rights to use an instrumental under strict terms and conditions set out by the producer. The producer retains all rights to the instrumental including being able to continue reselling it. A non exclusive license cannot be transferred or sold to another individual by the licensee without permission from the licencor.

Full rights: This is complete ownership over the instrumental including copyrights and publishing. The licensee may or may not be entitled to future payments of any kind.

Exclusive: When exclusive rights are sold or bought the licencor can still retain ownership (copyright) but can no longer license the instrumental. This license can either be set in perpetuity (forever) or have a time limit depending on the contractual agreement between the licensee and the licencor. All other license terms are decided upon at the discretion of the parties involved. Exclusive and full rights are often priced significantly higher than non-exclusive licenses (leases). Prices in the thousands and up are not uncommon.

Sample: In the context of buying and selling beats online a sample is usually a portion of an original song or composition used in another instrumental as a composition element. A sample can be clear for use or not. What that means is, if the original copyright owner of the sample has given express permission for their content to be re-purposed in other people’s works then the sample is clear. If they haven’t then the sample has not been cleared. There are possible legal ramifications involved if an uncleared sample is used and distributed commercially or non-commercially, meaning legal action can be taken against copyright violators by the original copyright owners of the sample. If you’re not sure ask a producer if any samples used have been cleared or not. If uncleared samples have been used it wouldn’t be unwise to request sample source information if you intend to go through the necessary channels and procedures to get sample clearance after you purchase the instrumental (especially exclusively).

Mp3: The lowest quality audio file usually sold with the lowest tier license type. Often delivered as a master track.

Wav:  A higher quality file also often delivered as a master track.

Tracked out stems (track outs):  Stems are separated wav files of the individual mixer tracks used in an instrumental (e.g , one track is for the kicks, another for snare(s), another for strings, etc..). The advantage of these over the other two file types is that they allow a lot more creative flexibility in the mixing and post production process.

Tags (water marks): These are usually an audio file dubbed over the instrumental either for branding purposes or as a form of copyright protection (often both). These are usually the producers name and or website.

Royalty Free: This means no future payments are owed to the licencor of the instrumental after the initial purchase is made.

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