How many times have you picked up a mixtape or checked out a myspace page only to hear Rapper “X” spittin’ 116 bars over your track… without any mention of a check or even a PayPal deposit for your hard work! I know, I know… too many times! Well this sad scenario begs the questions:
Who should you give copies of your beats to?
How can you you prevent them from being used without your permission?
What should you do if they are used without your permission?
Well my friends… the answers are not as clear cut as they may seem. For anyone other than a “Name Brand Producer” like Timbaland, Kanye West, or The Neptunes, the need to get someone to record to your beats can often outweigh the need to protect them. A hard drive full of the sickest tracks ever created won’t earn you a dollar if no one ever hears them….
Let’s back track and look at how a producer gets paid:
#1 The Label Pays Upfront: Never happens see option #2.
#2 The Label/Artist Pays After Hearing a Demo: You submit your track to an Artist who then records a “demo” for his Label. The decision makers at the Label listen to the song and at the last possible minute before they release the Album (if not after!) they decide they want it and offer to pay you half.
#3 The Song Becomes Popular: You submit a track to an Artist (or more often than not the Artist gets a copy from his homeboy you never even met), he records to it and releases it. The song becomes popular on some level at which time his Label or attorney decide they had better get the rights to the song. You finally get paid fairly if not handsomely.
As much as I get sick at the thought of someone using my beats for free, I realize that sometimes that may be the quickest route to getting paid for it. My biggest fear is that Jay-Z will pick a track for his album only to change his mind after hearing it on Lil Boo Boo’s myspace. But let’s come back to reality now… getting Jay-Z to listen to your beat is next to impossible… do you really think he would ever hear Lil Boo Boo’s rendition? And if he did, do you think he would take a song he liked off of his album because of it? What if, God forbid, Lil Boo Boo’s version became a big enough hit for Jay-Z to hear it. I guess that would be terrible having to negotiate your producer’s fee after the fact on a song that is already a hit! You get the idea. The fear of having your tracks stolen is a little exaggerated if not completely imagined…. Don’t forget to copyright those tracks though!
I’m curious to hear other Producer’s thoughts and experiences? This is an important issue for every Producer. What do you think?