“Good production is like a beautiful marriage, it makes a happy home”. These words come from the 4x Grammy winner, multi-platinum super producer, Timbaland. For artists, music is the yin to their yang. What most upcoming artists don’t know though, is how to go about properly obtaining the music they wish to use or release. The following is a guide on how to conduct proper business, and good business at that, when purchasing instrumentals off of the internet.
The first step is undoubtedly going to be locating the music. Once you’ve found the music you wish to purchase you’re going to most likely run into one of 3 situations. Either they have a contact to request pricing, they have a link to purchase a lease, or they have a link to purchase exclusive rights. We’ll save the email etiquette for another article and focus specifically on how to lease or purchase the exclusive rights to the music you want and what that means to you as an artist.
“What is a lease?” is probably the most common question a new artist will ask themselves. Leasing an instrumental means you have non-exclusive rights to use the music to a certain extent or capacity. The cost is generally low and it may just be an mp3 of the music. The composer of the music may choose to allow you to sell up to a certain amount of the final product you create but they will retain their ownership and royalties from those sales. There is generally a limit set to the amount you can sell before they require you to purchase the exclusive rights.
Now in theory, if your song reaches heights that you always dreamed of there’s a high probability the composer will reach out to you in order to come to an agreement where they receive their royalties. For beginner artists a lease will most likely be your best bet. You’re able to get a high quality form of the music you want, and test the market while building your fan base. And if your song blows up you can work out the more pressing details on the back end.
“Why do I need exclusive rights if I can just test the waters with a lease?” A phenomenal question that artists struggle with everyday. Purchasing exclusive rights from a composer means you are buying them out of their royalties and you will 100% own all rights to the music. It will be the most expensive option when purchasing music from a composer. This option is usually best suited for the more advanced artist.
You’ll most likely need to speak with the producer and have a contract set in place for what exactly you get when you purchase the exclusive rights. You’ll generally get a tracked out version of the music for mixing purposes. The benefit of this is when you are having your project mixed and mastered your vocals won’t sit on top of the beat, but rather feel like it is apart of the beat. This option is recommended artists who have built somewhat of a fan base and are looking to receive more income out of their sales.
Keep in mind, music is a business not simply a form of entertainment. Don’t ask for free music from composers. They may already have free versions of music that you can use to record demos over. You don’t expect people to listen to your music without paying for it so don’t expect the composer to give anything away. The relationship between artist and composer is the ultimate bond when creating music. Don’t taint the relationship by expecting them to invest in your career if you aren’t willing to invest in yourself.
With all that being said, go out there shop around to check for pricing and create a budget for your project. The more prepared you are on your end for your project the smoother things will go when purchasing music