Disclaimer: This is not legal advice
I am not your lawyer, this is not me providing legal advice for you to take.
Seek a Music attorney to understand the depths of illegal copyright infringement…
I'm just speaking based on my personal experience and the common practice of getting beats.
(Had to get that out of the way first!)
Copyright is a legal right granted to the author of an original work.
Should you lease OR OWN THE beat?
10 benefits you have from owning a song's complete copyright:
- Reproduce the work in copies
- Create derivative works
- distribute copies or make a public performance
- publicly display the work
- publicly perform the work
- import or export copies of the work
- use or sell copies of the best edition
- rent out and/or license other rights
- transfer ownership of a copy
- Use an illustration of the works for commercial gain
copyright protects your creative property from unauthorized use.
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Are rap beats automatically copyrighted?
The world of rap can be a scary place for new artists.
They are buying beats online, but the question is who owns the rights to those beats?
The answer is that it depends on who made the beat and what they did with it.
Regardless of the type of producer, unless you pay them for a beat, they have ownership rights. You can't even sample it without paying them first! Beats are copyrighted for the composition and master recording rights.
There are many different types of beats that you can buy:
- Free beats
- Free beats for profit
- Royalty-free beats
Some producers will sell their own beats as an artist or musicians, while some producers will allow rappers to purchase their beats for use.
Royalty-free music definition?
Royalty-free beats are a type of beat where you pay an initial cost and can use it without making residual royalty payments.
Royalty-free beats are not the same as an exclusive, since you don't own the beat. You just have the right to use it.
Royalty-free beats could be the answer for you!
In this case, the original artist is essentially giving you the music. You are allowed to use that particular rhythmic pattern when you make your own music!
A Royalty-free beat is most common in the rap genre and lo-fi genres.
In rap, it's really hard to find a free beat that really resonates with you. Rap producers understand this and so they offer royalty-free music for you to use!
Why do beatmakers make royalty-free music?
The end goal is if you use their hip-hop beats, then you won't go to anybody else's music for a source of beats. The hip-hop producers will then get in your loyalty as a customer and become your primary beatmaker.
If you don’t want to pay a monthly fee or give up a percentage of your royalties, you can simply upload your music directly from your computer.
Royalty-free music is a type of copyright-free music that can be used in a variety of contexts without the need for a license.
3 dope royalty-free music site
A lot of people think that getting a free download from a music website will be of lower quality.
In reality, there are a number of royalty-free services out there that offer high-quality downloads.
Some sites offer their tracks on a pay-per-license basis and others offer monthly or annual subscriptions.
The difference in pricing can vary, but typically you'll end up saving money with the pay-per-license option.
Here are the best websites to purchase royalty-free beats
|Royalty Free Platform||Cost|
|Splice||$8.00 a month|
|Looperman||$10.00 a month|
|Epidemic Sounds||$49.00 a month|
This way you can make an informed decision about which site is best for you without having to spend hours combing through each site individually.
Almost all beatmakers in the market (at least the good beatmakers) use the services to provide royalty-free music.
I personally use them and they're a great way to access other people’s beats for free.
(Note: although splice does have many royalty-free beats, you will also find paid BEATS as well!)
The rap genre is all about sampling but you still want to make sure that other people’s beats get the credit it deserves.
If you've found a beat online and decide to create your own beat without crediting the original creator, then you should contact them first before proceeding any further with creating your project.
You can also try contacting copyright law experts online at sites like Copyscape to verify whether or not the song is copyrighted before using it.
The issue with royalty-free hip-hop beats
I'm not going to claim that all cheap or royalty-free music is bad, but in some cases, it can be a problem.
For starters, many of them have been taken from YouTube videos and the artist might not have been credited for their work.
These types of tracks can also be a problem if you're using them for a commercial project.
For example, let's say you're planning on using one of these beats for a new track and you're being sued because they've been receiving complaints from listeners claiming you copied another company's song...
Protect yourself and own multiple copies of any lease you purchase for compliance.
If you are simply using a royalty-free music site this is less of an issue...
But there are some malicious beat makers out there that will try to earn views and publicity by releasing other artist’s beats as their own!
Can you rap over anything?
It doesn't matter what kind of music you're making, stealing beats will always be frowned upon.
You need to get permission and full legal rights to wrap over someone else's beat.
Giving credit (and I mean PROPER credit) is the right thing to do, even if you're just using someone else's beats for non-commercial promotional use.
How do you find legal ways to use music without getting into trouble?
Here are legal ways to use other people's music without getting into trouble.
- Get the original tracks from the artists that made them.
- Do not use anyone else's vocals or instrumentals without permission
- Purchase the rights from the artist and copyright holders
- Free-for-profit beats are generally fine, so long as you profit and do not content ID
Most rap producers are pretty accessible, so there is no excuse for ripping other people’s beats.
You can get in trouble for using free beats
Even the famous rapper XXXTENTACION faced a little bit of scrutiny for using a free beat on his song Vice City, without credit!
Tap below to hear vice city! 👇
How to get publishing rights in the music industry
Check the terms and conditions of the site where you found the track or song.
You can also see what other people have done with the songs they've found on their websites.
If they've shared it on their YouTube channel or other social media, it's likely that they have a license as well.
At the bottom of the video, the description is a list of the rights owners. Creative work, like art or music, is protected under copyright law.
Getting in contact with hip-hop beat owners
The higher you go in the music industry, the harder it is to use hip-hop beats that you like.
For example: if you see a beat that a famous beat maker such as Timberland used… You'll really struggle to get in contact with him.
That being said, you can search his management team and try to find a contact that way.
Don't just send an email asking for permission; get in touch with them directly and explain why you're using their work.
- How much money would they make off your use?
- Would they benefit financially from your music?
If they're not willing to give you permission without getting something in return, like royalty payments and/or marketing assistance, then start working on securing a mechanical license from them.
How can you copyright your music?
Copyrighting your music is a legally binding agreement that grants you exclusive rights to your original composition. Copyright law only protects the expression, or specific arrangement of notes and sounds, of an original work.
There are a few different legal methods for registering copyright
- Apply for a copyright through the Library of Congress
- Apply for a copyright through the United States Copyright Office
- Apply for copyright through your state's Secretary of State
- Deposit a copy with the United States Copyright Office
- Deposit copies with each state's Secretary of State.
When can I register my music?
You can begin registering the rights to any music you have to become a copyright owner.
That being said, you already have copyright protections to any composition (rhythmic pattern) and any recording that you have.
Most of these methods are not necessary though so long as you have documentation of you producing the music then you are granted natural copyright protection of your music.
What does copyright law not protect?
Copyright law doesn't protect sounds that are commonly used in popular culture.
Some forms of intellectual property are considered public goods and can be used for anything, without worrying about YouTube content ID claims or getting sued!
Public domain music is generally used as background music for Youtubers and when remixing can make an awesome hip-hop instrumental track!
That being said, if beat makers create a new beach using public music then they are allowed to claim globally exclusive copyright protections for that recording.
Is it illegal to remake the same beat you find online?
Remaking a beat is taking someone else's song and doing something new with it.
It can mean changing the words, adding or subtracting certain sounds and/or instruments, or even changing the tempo of a song.
Always be careful when trying to remake a beat so that you don't end up sounding too similar to what everyone else is doing. Don't copy others too closely because people will notice—and force a takedown!
This is a bit of a gray area however so long as it's not blatant then you'll be fine.
Create your own sound (using free beats)
The first rule of remaking a beat is being able to create something new with your own style while incorporating the original idea.
If you want to win, you have to be different and unique in your sound.
This doesn’t mean copying someone else's work exactly, but it does mean leaving your mark on it.
It takes practice and patience, but like anything, with enough work, you'll build up skills that will make your work more powerful than someone who just got into it recently.
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