Rap artist Travis Scott performing in front of huge crowd

Exclusive vs. Leases – Beat Licensing Explained

New to buying beats online? Understand the differences between exclusive and non exclusive licenses before you buy a beat.

A song can change your life. Since you are investing your hard earned money into a beat to make a song that might be your breakout hit or might put you on the spotlight tomorrow, it is very important to understand the licenses and leasing terms.

Rapper Drake performing his sold out shows in front of the crowd
A hit song can take you from a nobody to performing in front of thousands in no time.

Recently, we have seen a lot of hits come from beats that are leased online. These days you do not need to invest thousands of dollars into making the next hit. You can buy rap beats for affordable prices from talented producers worldwide and make your next hit.

The beats for songs like Lil Nas X – Old Town Road, Desiigner – Panda were leased online from producers who sell rap beats online in beat selling platforms like Beatstars & Airbit. While all the beats sold through these platforms come bundled with the written agreement, it can sometimes be very hard to understand if you’re new to leasing beats / instrumentals online.

Lil Nas X got viral off a rap beat that was leased online

Lil Nas X got viral off the song Old Town Road which was leased in BeatStars.

Why should you purchase a license?

Purchasing a lease or exclusive license to a beat allows you to make a song out of the beat and use it commercially. All licenses come with limits to number of sales, streams and time till which the agreement will be in effect. The lease contracts also mention the publishing share / credits for each parties in the song. This is something that every artist has to be very careful about.

What is a lease?

A lease is a non exclusive license where the producer is able to license the beats to more than one artists. The artists get to use the beat without having to pay hefty licensing fees for the exclusive. Leases are cheaper and they allow you to see how the song performs before investing into exclusive.

Remember, there’s no use in owning the beat, if the song you make isn’t going to benefit your career. If you do not have a solid marketing plan / budget for the song, it can not reach the audience it deserves. It’s always wise to buy a non exclusive lease and see the response from your audience beforehand. There are licenses (unlimited lease) that allow you to sell unlimited copies without stream limit available for just $150. This gives your song all the room to grow at a fraction of the price of an exclusive license.

Keep in mind, you get 0% publishing rights with leases. So, if you want publishing, exclusive licensing is the way to go.

You can check the licensing options that I have on my website here.

Non exclusive Licensing Options

I’ve explained the differences between different non exclusive licenses in another article here.

What is an exclusive license?

An exclusive license is a license that will make you the sole licensee of the beat. Once an exclusive license is sold, no other artists will be able to lease the beat again. When you buy the exclusive, the beat is taken off the store to ensure that no one else is able to lease it again.

An exclusive license allows you to exploit the master (song) in every ways without any limitations.
One of the major good sides of owning an exclusive license is that you own publishing rights to the song. Usually the publishing rights on exclusive is split 50-50 between the producer and the artist.

A lot of the terms of the agreement is negotiable when an artist purchases the exclusive. So, it’s always smart to contact the producer before purchasing an exclusive license to the beat.

Exclusive can be expensive but if you have a song with potential, audience & marketing plan, go for exclusive. It ensures that you are able to exploit the song to the fullest.

Which license should I choose?

Still confused? Let’s figure out which license is the best for you.
  • How serious are you about your music?
  • Is this your first time recording a song?
  • Have you made money with your music before?
  • Do you have a marketing plan and the budget for the song?

These are a few things that you need to consider before deciding which license is better for you.
For someone who is a hobbyist I’d always recommend buying non exclusive license. It allows you to make songs without spending too much money in one. You can invest your money on better studio or promotion. You can buy non exclusive license to almost an album / mixtape worth of beats in price of one exclusive license.
Once you see yourself making money off your music and doing shows, you can invest on exclusive licenses and take your career to the next level.

(Shameless plug: If you want to buy bundles for your project, message me at my instagram @prodbyalexx. I’ll set you up with a bundle deal)

For a serious artist with an audience and budget for promo, exclusive will always be the best option. It ensures that no one else will be able to lease the beat again and you’ll have full rights to make the most out of the record. Most importantly, you get the publishing rights with exclusive.

I hope this article helps you in some way and you’re able to decide which license is the best fit for you. If you have any queries, comment below and I’ll get back to you!

I hope you have a great day ahead! Happy hitmaking!

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