Do I need to lease or buy exclusive rights to a beat to put my song on Youtube? Can I put the song I did to this beat on Spotify, iTunes or Soundcloud? What’s the difference between a license and a beat lease?
The internet can be a confusing place when it comes to beat leases and licenses.
There are all these different terms: commercial rights, non-exclusive licenses, beat lease, exclusive rights, etc.
What does it all mean?
And more importantly: what do you need to know before using a beat and putting your song out?
Part of the confusion comes from the fact that different producers (the guys selling the beats) use the same words, but might mean different things.
What one producer calls a beat lease another one might call a non-exclusive license.
Even “Exclusive Rights” can mean something different to different producers.
The only way to really be sure is to read what the actual agreement says or reach out to the producer and ask them.
That being said…
Let me see if I can shed some light on how these different terms are used and what they will usually mean for you.
One major distinction you’ll see is “Commercial Rights” or “Non Commercial Rights.”
Usually this comes down to whether you can monetize your songs or not.
“Monetize” is just a fancy way of saying “make money.”
The rule of thumb is if it says “non commercial use only” that means that you can’t directly profit from the use of that song in any way.
Another way of saying “non commercial use” is “promotional use only.”
So that means…
No Amazon, iTunes, or other music marketplaces,
No Spotify or any streaming service that pays for plays,
…And no live shows (unless it’s like a house party down the street where there’s no money involved)
What you can do without commercial rights is…
Record your vocals on the beat,
Put the song up on Soundcloud or Youtube and other streaming services that either don’t monetize or at least have an option not to monetize
…And, you can put the song on Instagram, Facebook and other social media platforms that don’t automatically monetize.
Usually if you're getting a beat for free, you don't have commercial rights. But, sometimes producers will give away free beats with commercial rights.
Now if you purchase (or receive) a beat “with commercial rights” that means you can make money from the song.
But…there are still most likely going to be limitations.
…And that is all based on the specific type of commercial rights that are being allowed by the producer.
OK, so it comes down to each producer, but here are some terms and ideas that should help:
Non-Exclusive License: this means that you’re being given some rights to use the beat. The “Non-Exclusive” part means that other artists could be given the same rights to that beat as well.
Beat Lease: this is another term that means the exact same thing as “Non-Exclusive License”
Exclusive Rights aka Exclusive License: This is a type of license that is only given to one artist. It almost always means that the beat will no longer be available for any type of purchase. But, it may be understood that other artists already have a non-exclusive license.
OK let’s back up a little…
So far we have 2 major categories: Commercial Use (you can make money with the song) and Non Commercial Use (no money for you, promo only)
Under the category of “Commercial Use,” we have a few options:
Non-Exclusive License (this is another way of saying Beat Lease)
Exclusive License (this is another way of saying Exclusive Rights)
For most beat leases or licenses, there are going to be some limitations on what you can do with your song.
Some examples of what those limits might be:
How many times you can sell the song and/or how much money you can make with it.
How many total streams (audio or video plays) you can get. This is usually a total of all the places the song is available (Youtube, Soundcloud, etc)
Whether the song is allowed to be played on the radio, and how many stations
Whether or not you can make a music video to the song
If you can monetize the song on Youtube or other platforms
If you’re allowed to submit the song to be used on TV, Movies or other types of licensing opportunities
…really the producer can put whatever limitations they feel comfortable with.
You can find an example of what we allow with different licenses here
Some producers also offer Unlimited Rights, which is pretty much what it sounds like. It means you can do almost anything you want with the beat.
If you’re getting the Exclusive Rights, it almost always means you’re getting the unlimited rights.
Some producers (like Legion Beats) also offer Non-Exclusive Unlimited Rights to beats, which basically means you can do what you want with it, but you understand that there are other rappers or singers out there who can potentially do the same.
This is usually the option that I would recommend, but it really depends on your situation and budget.
Exclusive Rights to beats can be thousands of dollars, but if a producer offers Unlimited Non-Exclusive Rights, you can get almost all the same benefits for a small fraction of that price.
We offer this option to all of our beats, which you can check out here.
So hopefully you have a better idea of all the different options and what they mean when downloading or buying beats.
Just remember that each producer will have different terms and agreements so it’s always best to check their website for the info or reach out to them personally.
And if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me at [email protected].