Producers it’s Curtis King of Airbit.com here to answer one of your most requested questions. Should music producers today pursue placements or should they be pursuing the leasing business? Let’s talk about it.
Producers if you were to ask this question fifteen years ago it would have been a completely different question. People were doggin the leasing business, you know the way we look at the leasing business today is much different than when people were talking about, “you’re gonna sell your beats for how much? And you’re gonna lease them like a car? You’re gonna rent them? What are you doing man?” It was a much different conversation the music industry was looking down upon the leasing business and in my opinion, I think there’s still figures who don’t necessarily understand it so sometimes it gets a bad rap but thankfully you guys understand what this business is about. Fifteen years ago, they were looking at it like you’re selling yourself cheap and the only way that you were going to find a universal definition of success in the music industry as a producer then, was that if you were getting major label placements, if you were getting corporation placements, that was the definition purely of a successful producer.
Now as you and I both know or maybe you don’t know that has transitioned to a new definition of what a successful music producer is. I think about individuals like Tone Jonez and I think about SuperstarO and Epik and OSYM and DopeBoyz Muzic. I think about all these producers that really represent a new echelon and a new brand of what it means to be successful producers. Now you have producers that you may not have been hearing necessarily within the mainstream realm, maybe you don’t hear them all over the top forty billboard charts but they’re making successful and comfortable careers basically using music as their avenue and producing for a living. That has not always existed just a kinda give you an idea about how fast forwarded we are and how in the future we are as leasing producers. Let me give you a quick little fact about myself. I have pursued placements, for the better part of my career for about ten years I pursued placements and I got placements, I got checks along with those placements, I got placements with Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul, E-40, MTV, Vans Skateboarding, an online video game called APB reloaded. I mean I was getting my placements but what I learned was that here’s the issue sometimes with placements, in order to really get the ball moving on placements, you gotta get that first one, that first one is always the most difficult and then once you get that first one you gotta follow it up with something else because here’s the thing about it as you’re waiting for your placements to clear, as you’re waiting to get payment for your placements most producers are still we’re working a 9-5, most producers are still having to find other income because your bill collectors are not gonna understand “hey I just got this placement with Chris Brown but it’s gonna be here next year, can I pay you for his car note next year?” No, they’re not gonna understand that, they not tryna hear that, ain’t nobody tryna hear that. They’re not trying to hear that and I understand they have families to feed as well. I know producers who heard the word they got the placement, actually got the placement and still had to wait a year, every label pays differently.
I mean there are some independent artist that pay you straight up and they give you a flat fee and you know really don’t give you points on a album but there’s different ways they work it out. It is a game that requires patience, it requires time and if you’re not getting it consistently you’re going to find that there’s gonna be a lot more heartbreak than triumphant moments.
Now can you make it happen? Absolutely, but it’s a game that you gotta oil it, you gotta make sure that you are always on top of it, building relationships making sure you’re in studio sessions, making sure that sometimes it’s just a stroke of luck, being at the right place at the right time will get you certain placements. But the placement game this is how it works you’re not getting paid immediately, and besides you not getting paid immediately, you gotta think, you’re not the only producer out there vouching for that business or for that placement maybe you want to try to get on, I don’t know, you wanna get on T.I’s album, and T.I is basically going from independent producers to Timbaland to Alchemist, to Toomp to all these different producers you’re having to compete with them.
Their motivation is not just to get their name out, their motivation is to pay mortgage on a mansion or to keep these checks going so that they kids have something to live off of. They come with their own names, they come with their own reputation and usually they’re going to win out between you and a dope beat.
Their name wins out. So, when you understand that, that is pretty much the rules of the game and sometimes it can be an unfair game, when you understand that the leasing business becomes so much more appealing let me let you know in ten years of pursuing placements, receiving checks I made more money in 2 months leasing my beats this is back when it was my myFlashStore, leasing my beats on myFlashStore in two months I made more money than I made in ten years. You think about that, year to year waiting for these placements to come and let’s not even talk about the label headaches sometimes you dealing with people that even though you’re in a business they’re not the most professional.
The leasing business gave me freedom, the leasing business gave me the opportunity to say hey I get to wake up whenever I want. I don’t have to answer to anybody, I don’t have to wait to get paid. Really all I have to do is deliver to my customers give them the best customer service I possibly can, listen to what they wanna hear from me. They want my beats, they want me to do me they don’t want me to go and try to make a little Lil Uzi Vert type beat. They want me to make my interpretation of if I produce for a Lil Uzi Vert. “How would you do it? But I just want you.”
At the end of the day, these rappers, these singers, these recording artists are willing to invest into you. Now there’s producers out there that are probably saying “well, can’t anybody get to your beats and isn’t some of the songs not so good?” Yeah, that’s true but to me I feel like it’s much more valuable to have a human being that is willing to invest their hard-earned money whether or not they step up to your particular plateau or your, your idea of what a quality artist is, it doesn’t matter. They’re willing to invest into you.
Now, let me ask you a question and it’s gonna sound like a really crazy analogy but, do you think that Colgate the toothpaste company would rather have somebody who has pearly white teeth, come into the store and steal their product and then advertise like, “hey man I just got this Colgate you know, I had it for free and all that you know, using it.”
Do you think they’d rather have that business or the business of somebody with little to no teeth who’s willing to buy twelve tubes of them toothpaste? At the end of the day this is a business and at the end of a day you gotta reward the people who are willing to invest into you. They’re invested into more than just your beat. They’re invested into your future, they’re investing into your freedom, they’re investing in to you have the ability to do this on a regular basis and not have to answer to a boss, you don’t have to deal with the industry politics when you’re leasing beats.
Now there’s a lot of producers who were veterans and OG’s who have talked dirty, talked terrible about this industry and I kinda understand where they’re coming from, they come from a different generation when this wasn’t available. But what they have to understand is that now because of the over saturation, because of the competition, because of the payouts being so spread out amongst each other, this is the most appealing business for somebody who’s a music producer especially a young music producer you have the opportunity to put your money where your mouth is. Are your beats really dope? Do you feel like your beats are better than your competition? Now, you get to put your money where your mouth is, you get to take your money from your job which I always consider your angel investor, take that from job, invest it into some promotion, invest into promotion Airbit and basically invest into your own line e-commerce business because this is an e-commerce business. What makes it an e-commerce business is basically when transactions are handled online, this is your e-commerce business, you are an entrepreneur, you are an independent producer that has a website. You are not just a beat maker, you are not just a producer. These are titles that you hold but you are businessman and businesswoman, you’re an entrepreneur, you are self-made, you have the opportunity to create your freedom right now.
The question is, what do you desire more? Some producers don’t desire the money, they don’t worry about the money, they say “you know if I get my fame first, the money will come”. That’s not always guaranteed. So, I challenge you, if you want to make a living at this, look into the leasing business, if you’re already in it, be thankful that you’re in it but don’t stop your knowledge. I mean if you dedicate one hour in your field, over the next five years just one hour a day reading something about e-commerce or reading about how to deliver better customer service, just one hour a day, you will probably show up as a national expert or at least an expert within your industry.
One hour a day, so the choice is yours should you pursue placements as a music producer I have had many benefits as a producer who got placements. I’m thankful for the relationships. I’m thankful for having my name out there but at the end of the day the bottom line for me was that I had to be able to make this a sustainable career. Going that about it at that particular time was not sustainable for me, you may be the exception to the rule and that’s fine should you get into the leasing business. Well, I’ll tell you like this, if you have the heart, if you are a risk taker, if you desire financial freedom, if you desire a freedom from a job, if you desire these things and you have a passion for creating music and delivering what your customers ultimately need. I don’t see why you don’t at least take a chance.