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Article: Why You Aren't Making Money as a Music Producer (and how to Change That)

Why You Aren't Making Money as a Music Producer (and how to Change That)

Why You Aren't Making Money as a Music Producer (and how to Change That)

You've been producing for a while now, gotten solid with beats, know some cool people, and hit up a bunch of rappers every day. You go to school or work thinking about beats, finally get home and cook up until you're falling asleep at your keyboard. You bought a bunch of drumkits and VSTs that improved your game, and you paid for some IG promo for your beats...

...but you're still broke. 

Does this sound like you? This was me a few years ago when I was really wanting to take beats seriously for the first time. I had fallen in love with the process of producing music, had a few songs with local artists, and had no idea what to do beyond that. I'd watch endless tutorials and try to blow up my type beat channel, but there wasn't much money coming in - my goal wasn't necessarily to get rich, but to at least be able to sustain myself off music so I had more time to create it.

Fast forward to today and I've made well over $100k from music, live fairly comfortably, and don't have to go to school or work. How did I get here? These are a few of the most important things that I've learned along the way to getting where I am.

1. Networking is Key

I know, everyone talks about networking. Everyone says "dm a bunch of rappers", "you have to network", and "it's who you know, not what you know"...but what does that really mean? Networking is a very broad term, and it encompasses everything from liking someone's picture on Instagram to working with people in person. 

The most important skill you can have when it comes to networking is readiness. Readiness is the ability to keep an eye out for anyone or anything that's mildly interesting. You already have this skill, you may just not use it. All you need to know is one simple rule of thumb: if it's interesting, connect. Let's say you're scrolling through another producer's story and they repost a drumkit, and you think it sounds like something that you haven't heard before. Click on the post, find out who made it, drop a follow, and send them a message saying the kit looks cool. It doesn't matter if they respond or not, because you're going to do this EVERY time you see something interesting. You don't have to follow them at first, but it's a nice gesture and you'll be more likely to hear back from them. What's beautiful about this strategy is that the connection you make with them has potential to evolve into something more important than just a random drumkit. Maybe you liked the demo beats from it and want to send them loops, and you get a placement from those collab beats a year later. Maybe not, but you never know if you don't try. 

As long as you keep an open mind and interact with anything you find cool, you'll be well on your way to building the foundation of a career.

2. Everyone's Path is Different

Not every producer can make a career out of type beat channels. Every new trap producer goes through a type beat channel phase, making it incredibly saturated. This doesn't mean you shouldn't have a type beat channel (see my video going more in depth about this concept: https://youtu.be/BEowLZzwNX8).

A while back, I bought a consultation from Ed Talenti to see what advice he had for me since I look up to him highly as a producer. The thing that stuck out most from that conversation was that there are 3 main routes music producers have to becoming financially stable:

The first way is to work in the back end of music. This means social media isn't as important to you, you're likely in in-person sessions more than anything, and your goal is to stack up placements and eventually get to superproducer status. Metro Boomin is a great example of a producer who nailed this route.

The second way is to become an influencer. This route is much more reliant on social media, creating sample packs, and being on camera all the time creating content. Most of the time beat sales won't really be too important, and getting placements isn't the number one goal. Personally, this is the route that I'm on because I love creating content and working with other producers. 

The third way is to build a name around your beats, and focus primarily on selling beats rather than working in person. This route is great for anyone who likes mainly working by themselves or just wants to focus on selling beats with a type beat channel. This way can also be for people who make and send samples more than anything else. 

The best thing you can do for yourself is primarily focus on one of these routes, while still working on the other ones in the background. Sure, I mainly create content and that's what people know me for, but I also have a type beat channel that I post on once in a while and I send beats out for placements and do some in-person sessions. If one of those things blows up, then so do the rest, leading us into the next point:

3. Diversify!

Having your hands dipped in every bucket is MASSIVELY important to becoming full time off of music (or any other creative industry). I cannot stress this enough. Various streams of income mean more stability and a higher chance for you to be able to sustain yourself, and gives you more opportunity to strike some luck with one of those streams blowing up. If you run a type beat channel, create sound kits, send beats for placements, learn how to mix & master, learn graphic design, and learn video editing (all of these at a basic level at least), then you suddenly become a powerhouse. Now, let's imagine your type beat channel blows up. Not only will you start seeing more money from beat sales, but some producers will come across you page and want to sound like you so they buy your drumkit, and a big producer sees your beats and wants some loops, leading to you getting a placement somewhere down the road, and a rapper who made a song on your type beat needs a mix. Seems a lot better than just making some extra money from the channel, right?

That may seem far-fetched when you just read about it, but that's the reality for a lot of people who have their hands in everything and fall in love with learning. Even if your channel doesn't blow up, if you're doing 10 different things to earn money it's going to be a lot easier to support yourself than if you only did one thing.

4. Learn how to Attract

This point is really about building your brand, but I didn't want to label it as that because that's something else people talk about too much without really knowing what it means. Your brand is how someone reacts when they first see your page, how they feel when they interact with you, and your overall image. Your goal should be to build a brand around your content that is interesting. Remember how we talked about interacting with things that seem interesting? People won't interact if you aren't interesting.

Here are some examples of things that aren't interesting:
-posting a type beat on YouTube, posting a screenshot of the video on your IG story, and that's your only post for the day
-commenting "🔥" on every post you see
-posting random pictures that don't relate to your music
-sending people the same generic loops/beats and nothing more

and here are some examples of things that are interesting:
-commenting something thoughtful or funny under someone's post that shows you took the time to see what it's about
-posting good-looking/easy on the eye pictures with beat snippets of your most creative beats
-experimenting with different styles and sending out loops that don't sound like the normal styles everyone else is doing
-have a good profile picture
-creating something unique (this could literally be anything; a website, a service, a new type of sound kit, anything that makes people think "that's a cool idea")

It's easier said than done, but the most important thing is just being mindful about what works and what doesn't in the content you see. Do things that make people want to connect with you.

5. Consistency

This is the absolute most important thing you can have as a music producer. The best things in life come from being consistent. You are allowed to take breaks and step back if you need it for whatever reason, but not being motivated is the ONE thing you can't use as reason to take a break. If you want to make music as a career, you have to learn to do things when you aren't feeling 100%. If you don't you'll never make it unless you get extremely lucky, and even then that high will only last so long. 

It's okay to produce as a hobby, but there are certain things you just have to do to make it a career. Push yourself every day to be better than yesterday in all aspects of your life. Push through your lack of motivation. Push through your beat block.

You're going to be fine.



Thanks for reading this, and I hope you learned something you didn't already know. Feel free to message me if you ever have questions or need some more advice for making the most of your music career (IG @staffordbeats_)! I've also got a video on things I did to earn over $100k with music - you can check it out here: https://youtu.be/FB27tnTlnuA


-Stafford Beats @ theproducercrate.com

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