Why You Should Never Pay To Be Featured

For some unknown reason, (or maybe it’s just pure greed), there is this practice amongst artists that they should be paid in order to have someone on their album, mixtape, or single. It’s true! The whole purpose of you selling your beats is so that YOU get paid, not you paying someone else to use your beat. Unfortunately, this is something that a lot of rappers think is common practice but we all know that it’s completely stupid.

You Don’t Work For Free

One of the biggest things that I was taught at an early age is to not work for free. Even cheap labor in third-world countries get paid some sort of salary, even though it’s insanely low. But the point is that you work hard on your music and you should be paid accordingly. I do think that there are times when you should work for free, but only in certain situations, like when you’re working together with an artist on a music project, to which both of you will profit from.

Some rappers tend to think that YOU should be the one to pay THEM. A few years ago I had a colleague of mine who knew a well known underground rapper, so I asked him to see if that rapper wanted to do an interview over at IllMuzik.com. When I heard back, I was astonished. I won’t name names, but this rapper said that he wanted US to pay HIM to do an interview!

I understand his thinking. He thinks that since he is well known, that by me having him featured, it will drive lots of traffic to my site. Granted, that’s what would have happened. On the other hand, why should he get paid?

The way I look at it is that I’m working with him in order for both of us to benefit, and here’s why. I do an interview with him, which brings traffic to my website, but the interview gives him lots of publicity as well because there’s lots of people reading the interview – because of the increased traffic to my website! See? Everyone benefits and nobody had to dish out any money for anything.

Money is always an issue in the music industry, and even though my example related to an interview on a website, the same scenario gets played out many times when it comes to selling beats.

Scams Are Always Going To Be Around

Countless times I’ve heard of beatmakers and producers that are trying to sell their beats to rappers, agents, or promoters looking to put out some sort of music project, whether it be a full album, single, or mixtape. What I commonly hear is that the person in charge of the project tells the producer that they need to pay in order to have their beat used on the project. How twisted is that? It makes no sense to me whatsoever, but I know why these people are asking to get paid.

The reason why these rappers (let’s continue with rappers as the example) are charging producers to have their beat on the project is because they think that since it’s their project and they have a small following of fans, that they’re doing the producer a favor. This is totally wrong and it still makes no sense to me. They’re basically saying, “Hey I have fans, I’ve released albums and mixtapes in the past, I’m doing a small city tour, and I have lots of followers on Twitter. Pay me and I will use your beat.”

The logic behind that is flawed. Now let’s take Jay-Z as an example. If Jay were to approach me and be like, “Yo Fade, I wanna use your beat on my next album”, after jumping for joy, I would then proceed to WORK WITH JAY-Z. This is the key phrase here. We would be working together, rather than me just tossing a beat at Jay-Z, paying him a fee, and being featured on his next album.

With the Jay-Z scenario, everyone gets paid. He knows that he’s the most popular and well known rapper on the planet, so on his next album he will sell millions and make that too. And since he will sell millions, everyone involved in the production of the album will get paid too, which also includes me. So everyone gets paid no matter what. Even if I just flat out sold a beat to him for his album, he’s going to make that money back thousands of times over.

So the thinking behind some rapper looking to get a producer to pay them for the privilege of using that producer’s beat, is mind boggling.


I hope that none of you have been suckered into this kind of scam and that’s why I’m writing this article. You make beats and you sell beats, period. In between that, you can also work with artists, labels, and anyone else that needs beats, but make sure YOU get paid, not you pay someone else to use your beat. That makes no sense! That is like going to the gas station, filling up your car with gas, then telling the gas station to pay you because without you, they wouldn’t be in business.

Does that make sense to you?

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