Are artists constantly messaging you asking for custom-made beats? Perhaps they love your beats but want a beat made specifically for them? That’s awesome!
Before you get started on the project though, I highly recommend reading this blog post. I’ll give you important tips how to make sure every project will go smoothly and that you get paid.
I’ll tell you a secret…
It’s very easy to fool a beatmaker, especially online. This happens constantly with custom beats.
To be honest, I’ve stopped counting how often artists magically disappear when it comes to actually paying for a beat. You could spend weeks creating a custom beat for an artist, and the minute you request a payment, they disappear. In fact, this happens often even when we agree on a price with the customer beforehand.
However, there are a lot of artists who handle things professionally. There’s also steps you can take to make sure you don’t waste your time.
Remember, these rules can change based on the customer. You can use these four tips as a general guideline when working with customers you don’t know.
NOTE: You don’t have to follow these tips if you just want to work with artists. But, if an artist wants you to help them with their project, usually you want to get something in return for your time and energy. At that point, these rules are important.
1. Agree on the price
Before you start creating anything, discuss the price with the customer. If you’re not sure about the exact price, give an estimation (for example: $300-400). Also, clarify if the beat is non-exclusive or exclusive. Usually custom beats are exclusive, meaning that you won’t sell the beat to anyone else, but that can vary, as well.
Never make assumptions. Even if your website clearly says that custom beats costs $400, don’t assume the artist has seen the price and understands it. Always discuss the price directly. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s business.
How much should you charge for a custom beat? I can’t answer that because it can vary so much. Some beatmakers charge based on the working hours, some based on how good the beat is. I know rookie beatmakers who charge $50 and I know professionals who charge $1,000.
2. Clarify the process
Every beatmaker does beats in a different way and at different speeds. It’s important that you discuss the process with the customer so they understand it, as well. When do they have to pay? Can they hear the beat before paying? What if they don’t like it? Can they get beat files before paying?
It takes practice and experience to form an efficient workflow for your custom beats. I’ve done custom beats for a long time and here’s how the process usually goes.
- Customer contacts me and gives instructions what they want. Try to get as much information about the beat as you can. The most helpful thing is getting a song reference so you can actually hear what they want.
- We discuss the price, process and schedule. Once we agree on everything, I get started.
- I create a beat demo in 1-3 hours for free. The beat should give the customer a clear idea what the beat will sound like. You need to impress the customer. Usually you want to have a basic verse and chorus arrangement on it. When you send the beat, always use vocal tags so the customer can’t steal it.
- If the customer likes the beat demo, I ask for a down-payment. I won’t move forward with the beat before I receive a 20-50% of the total payment. By doing this, I can be quite confident that the customer is serious and I can spend more time working on the beat. NOTE: This is the point where most customers stops responding or starts making excuses.
- After I receive the payment, I move on to making a full-length version. I basically create a full but un-mixed beat that has all the instruments, sounds and sections done.
- I send the full-length beat to the customer. Again, use vocal tags on the beat so they can’t steal it. Once you get a confirmation that the arrangement is good, you can move on to mixing and mastering the beat. The reason you don’t want to fully mix the beat yet is that the customer may not like the full-length demo. You don’t want to waste time mixing something for nothing.
- Mix and master the beat. Once you know the customer likes the full-length demo, you can mix and master the beat professionally.
- Request the final payment. Again, do not send any untagged or separated audio files before you receive the payment in full. I’ve made that mistake and have lost thousands of dollars because the artist disappeared.
- Send all audio files. Done!
That’s essentially how the process goes with artists I don’t know. It sounds like there’s a lot of steps but it’s actually very simple. In short, constantly send new versions of the beat as you move forward and always use vocal tags until you receive the payment. Constantly get feedback from the customer. You don’t want to work on a beat if they have any hesitations about it.
By having a process like this, the customer always knows what’s happening and they can request changes to the beat along the way.
3. Bend your personal preferences
Remember, you’re creating the beat for the customer. Sometimes you have to bend your own personal preferences and rules to make the customer happy.
It’s not uncommon that the customer requests something you personally don’t like. Perhaps you love certain type of drums on the beat, but the customer don’t. Don’t get too attached to anything in the beat because the customer is the one who makes the final decision.
However, it goes without saying that you should do this within reason. Constantly provide your professional opinion if something doesn’t make sense from the production standpoint. The optimal final result is that you both like the beat.
4. Be tough
Sometimes the customer may start making inappropriate requests and be totally unreasonable.
I’ve encountered cases where we have been working on a custom beat for weeks. The customer was constantly saying they love the beat and are eager to get it finished as soon as possible. The moment the beat was finished and it was time to pay, their mind changed. Now the customer tells me they don’t want the beat anymore. They want something completely different.
As you can imagine, this is totally out of line.
At this point, be tough but professional. Politely explain that they cannot waste weeks of your time, constantly assure they love the beat throughout the process, and then back out when it’s finished. They either buy the beat and you’re happy to do a completely new beat, or you will never work with them again.
This kind of action from the customer is wrong.
In addition, if a customer purchases a custom beat from you and asks for a refund later, usually you should not give it. I’ve had artists come to me years after purchasing a beat asking for a refund because they didn’t use the beat. How can you ever be sure they didn’t use it? You can’t.
I wouldn’t say these types of situations are common, but they do happen every once in a while so you should be aware of them.
These are some of the most important tips for creating custom beats for artists you don’t know. Again, I bend these rules constantly based on the situation but this is sort of the main framework I use with new customers.
Again, you don’t have to follow these tips. If you want to work with certain artists without necessarily getting paid, that’s fine. Even I do that with some people. But, when an artist wants me to help them with their project, I want to get something in return for my time and energy, usually it’s money.