For any artist or producer looking to take their music to the next level, finding the right beats and instrumental tracks is crucial. In today’s digital era, you have endless options for purchasing affordable beats and royalty-free music through online marketplaces. But with so many producers and licenses to choose from, where do you start?

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll break down everything you need to know about buying beats online, from picking the perfect marketplace and license to evaluating quality and matching instrumentals to your style. Whether you want to rap over hot hip hop beats or add lush soundscapes to your songs, let’s uncover the secrets to finding the right music for your creative needs.

Beat Buying Basics

What should I look for in a beat marketplace?

When searching for the best beat marketplace, look for large libraries, reasonable licensing, quality producers, good search/filtering, and styles relevant to you. Top options include BeatStars, Airbit, BeatBrokerz, SoundClick and Soundstripe.

What is the difference between buying and leasing beats?

Buying beats involves purchasing the full rights via an Unlimited or Exclusive license so you can use the beat forever. Leasing provides temporary usage rights for releasing a song during a limited term like 1-3 years before needing to renew the license.

Should I buy MP3, WAV or Trackout licenses?

WAV or Trackout licenses provide the most flexibility for distribution and mixing. MP3 licenses are more affordable but limit usage to the MP3 file. Think about your needs in terms of quality, editing capability and release plans when deciding.

Choosing the Right Beat Marketplace

With so many beat selling platforms out there, how do you decide where to spend your money? Here are the top options along with key details to consider:

BeatStars

One of the most well-known communities for selling beats, BeatStars gives you access to a huge network of skilled producers in genres like hip hop, rap, R&B, pop and more. The site is very user-friendly with playlists for discovery and detailed beat pages.

Highlights: Massive selection, reasonable prices, easy browsing, active community

Considerations: More competition from established sellers, less intimate customer service

Airbit

Airbit focuses on connecting you directly with beatmakers who can provide custom productions if desired. Their licenses are very flexible allowing you to release on streaming platforms. The site is clean and intuitive.

Highlights: Direct relationships with sellers, customizable options, distribution-friendly licenses

Considerations: Smaller producer pool, beat styles can be hit or miss

BeatBrokerz

Catering to hip hop heads, BeatBrokerz has a targeted focus on rap and urban beats. The selection is curated to align with current sounds. Expect to find hard-hitting trap and chill vibes.

Highlights: Specialized hip hop focus, quality beats, easy purchase process

Considerations: Mostly geared to rap, smaller selection size

SoundClick

SoundClick is one of the OG beat selling platforms dating back decades. The marketplace has expanded to include all genres. You can opt to lease beats or purchase complete buyouts.

Highlights: Old school provider, large catalog & variety, active user forums

Considerations: Dated interface, less structure for beat listings

Soundstripe

While mostly geared toward film/video creators, Soundstripe has a solid collection of high-quality royalty-free music. It’s a good option if you need soundtracks or scoring elements.

Highlights: Professionally composed music, great production value, affordable pricing

Considerations: More limited hip hop/pop options, caters heavily to media creators

Understanding Licensing Models

When you purchase beats online, you’re not buying outright ownership. Instead, you’re acquiring a license that grants certain usage rights. Licensing gives producers security while allowing you flexibility. Let’s break down the common models:

MP3 License

An MP3 license gives you limited rights to use the MP3 audio file. This is the most affordable option, but restricts you to the MP3 only rather than source files. Works well for non-monetized usage like performances or social media.

WAV License

WAV licenses provide the unrestricted high-quality WAV file for your use. This allows flexibility for distribution while still limiting you to the defined audio stem. WAVs give you better quality than MP3s.

Trackout License

With Trackouts, you get the individual beat stems (vocals, drums, melody, bass etc.) for complete mixing control. This is the most flexible option for serious recording/distribution. However, Trackouts are also the most expensive license type.

Unlimited License

An Unlimited license essentially functions as a buyout, allowing you to use the beat freely forever in your releases. This complete usage freedom comes at a premium cost, but may be worth it for total peace of mind.

Exclusive License

Exclusive rights mean you are the sole owner of the beat. No one else can use or license it after purchase. Exclusives are rare and expensive but give you 100% ownership and prevent the beat from getting overused.

Non-Exclusive License

With a Non-exclusive license, you can use the beat commercially while others can license it as well. Most beats are non-exclusive since it allows sellers to make the most money. Just know it may get used by other artists.

Leasing Beats

Leasing involves paying for usage rights for a defined time period, often 1-3 years. The license must be renewed once your term is up if you want to continue distributing the song. Leasing costs less upfront but you have to keep paying.

Evaluating Beat Quality

Browsing for beats is exciting, but how do you know which stand out above the rest? Listen for these key markers of quality:

What makes a beat’s mixing and mastering sound professional?

Clean, balanced EQing, tight drums with punchy kick & crisp hi-hats, rich depth from effects, space for vocals in the mix, and loudness maximized without distortion.

What melodic elements make a beat engaging?

Catchy rhythms, compelling chord progressions, emotive tones, hypnotic patterns, and well-developed musical motifs that get stuck in your head.

What arrangement factors make a beat dynamic?

Seamless transitions, stripped-down and built-up sections, unexpected drops, layers entering and exiting, tempo changes, ear candy effects, impactful drum fills.

Bottom line: let your ears guide you. An undeniable beat intrigues you upon first listen. If it doesn’t, keep moving down the playlist until you find “the one.”

Matching Beats to Your Style

Not all beats fit all artists. Aligning your rap or song with the right production is crucial. When beat browsing, keep these tips in mind:

Pick Your Subgenre

Beats span a vast spectrum of styles and sounds. First, narrow it down by selecting your corner of the musical universe: Gangsta rap, lo-fi chillhop, electronic dance, cinematic R&B, etc. This focuses the search.

Study the Greats

Think about legends who inspire you, then find beats evoking that vibe. For example, 90s boom-bap sound for old school NYC, or hazy synth textures if you admire The Weeknd.

Consider the Lyrics

Let your lyrics guide the mood you seek. Somber lyrics may pair better with melancholy minor key beats. Bold party raps need hype club-ready beats.

Communicate Your Vision

Tell the beatmaker exactly what you’re picturing. Many sellers are happy to create customized options aligning with your vision when asked.

Take Time Deciding

Don’t rush your choice. Sit with potential beats for a while before purchasing. Make sure they retain that magic after repeat listens.

Keep an Open Mind

Be open to unexpected sources of inspiration. Some of the best songs are born by pioneering new musical fusions.

Trust Your Instincts

Overthinking can hinder the creative process. If a beat just “clicks,” go with your gut feeling.

Royalty-Free Music and Samples

In addition to full beats, you can expand your production palette with royalty-free music samples. Let’s explore this option:

What are royalty-free samples?

Royalty-free samples are self-contained loops, melodies, drum hits, and instrumental parts you can use within original songs without paying ongoing royalties. The upfront licensing fee grants usage rights.

What types of samples are out there?

Common royalty-free samples include drum loops, basslines, guitar licks, piano riffs, vocal phrases, brass stabs, EDM synths and more from every genre imaginable.

Where do I get royalty-free samples?

Sites like Splice, Loopmasters, and Sample Magic offer subscriptions for massive sample libraries. Individual packs are sold on places like Producer Loops and Beatbrokerz.

How can I use samples creatively?

Chop, pitch, distort, rearrange and layer samples to build original beats. Or sprinkle small touches of sauce throughout your songs. Get creative!

Let the Beat Hunt Commence

We’ve armed you with endless insights to find the perfect beat or music for your next project. Now it’s time to browse beat marketplaces, ponder licensing choices, evaluate quality, match instrumentation to your style, and unlock new creative directions. Trust your artistic intuition. That special beat is out there waiting to be discovered.