• Chris Colip

Networking as a Producer

There are a lot of beliefs circulating on the internet that are commonly held by the hip hop producer community. While many of these attitudes contain nuggets of truth, they often mislead novice producers to focus on the wrong things as they are just starting out. In this article, we’ll examine a few of those points and provide some useful advice to help beginner producers get started taking the first steps in their beat-making careers.

1. Don’t be Afraid to Give Away Free Beats

In the producer community, you’ll see a lot of memes making fun of rappers asking for free beats and a lot of producers advising you against giving away free beats, as if this degrades you in some way. While you do want to be careful not to be taken advantage of, this doesn’t mean you should never give away beats for free, especially early in your career. Make sure you’ll be credited properly, and throw in a tasteful tag, stay involved in the song making process, don’t just throw beats at artists and expect to be treated fairly. On the contrary, giving away free beats can be a great way to gain experience and exposure early on. Hearing what it’s like to actually have someone rap over your beats gives you a better understanding of how to craft instrumentals that allow space for the vocals. If you give away a free beat and the rapper makes a great song with it, that can put you in a position to sell beats to that rapper in the future, and it can also build notoriety of your sound. The key is to be wise about when to give out free beats and when not to do so. Think of it as trading value for value. If someone promotes you for a “free” beat, you’ve gained value from that transaction. If someone signs up for your email list for a “free” beat, you’ve gained value from that transaction. However, if you desperately spam out folders of free beats across Soundcloud and social media, you’re unlikely to get value - you’ve put yourself in a position where a person has your beats but no relationship with you. If you give away a free beat and someone makes a hit with it, then you give them a second, third and fourth, and never see any credit or cash from their millions of streams … you didn’t get any value from that transaction, so giving the beat away wasn’t a good idea in this case. When considering whether or not to give a beat for free, think about how the move will affect your beat making a career in the long run.

2. Don’t Be Afraid to Talk to Other Producers

Early on in your beat-making career, it’s easy to get so caught up in trying to get your first placement or beat sale, that the only “networking” you do is make sales pitches to rappers. But don’t forget to build relationships with other producers. This might seem like a waste of time at first - you might think, “well they’re not going to buy any beats from me, so why should I talk to them?”This is the wrong attitude. With other producers, you can swap experience and advice and maybe even make further connections that help you place a beat down the road. You’ll see a lot of people advising you to get a “mentor” but this doesn’t mean you have to slide into Metro Boomin’s DMs for advice. It would be a much better use of your time to develop “mini-mentorship” relationships with producers a couple years ahead of you. These people will be easier to connect with and can give you useful advice for starting or intermediate producers.

3. Focus on the Free Software at First

As a fresh producer, you’ll probably watch a lot of tutorial videos on YouTube. This can be a good learning tool. But it’s easy to get intimidated by the insane amount of software that these producers seem to be using. It might seem like the only way to have success as a producer is to go out and spend thousands of dollars on VSTs like Omnisphere, Nexus, Komplete 12, and more. While this software is all great, it’s not necessary to break the bank buying it all up in your first week of producing. You will, of course, need a DAW like FLStudio or Ableton Live, but from there it would be more productive to learn to use the built-in synths and effects than to go buy more. Once you have mastered these, you’ll be able to make a more informed choice about what other software you actually need, and use that software to its full potential, instead of just dropping MIDI packs on the hottest presets. You can save some money in the meantime. VSTs won’t make you a better producer, but once you become a better producer, you can use VSTs to make better music.

4. Build Your Audience in a Way that Works for You

Another thing you’ll often see as an early-stage producer is everyone telling you to collect email addresses and start an email newsletter. While this is great advice, it can be intimidating for producers who are just trying to get started. With all this distracting advice about how you should be marketing yourself and your music, you might be confused about when you are supposed to find time to actually work on making beats. This leads many producers to become frustrated and quit, which is a shame. The most important thing early on is to choose a marketing and engagement strategy that works for you. Something that you’ll commit to consistently without it feeling like such a big effort that you want to give up. This might be an email list, or it could be Twitter, IG, or even word of mouth/face to face relationships that end in you exchanging phone numbers. Whatever works for you personally. Maybe collecting emails on your website and writing weekly newsletter updates is your thing, but for a lot of people, this is a stressful and intimidating process. Maybe you prefer Tweeting out your thoughts randomly throughout the day. Or maybe you use Instagram because you communicate best by posting pictures and videos of what you’re working on.

Whatever you use, by keeping your engagement genuine, you are able to organically build up an audience who is interested in you based on your authentic representation of yourself. Most importantly, communicating as naturally as possible will keep the social engagement from feeling like a burden. When it’s fun and effortless, you’re more likely to keep doing it. So it may be a great idea to build a mailing list and send newsletters daily, post 50 tweets a day and videos of you at concerts on your IG story every night. But you shouldn’t get so caught up in trying to do all these things that you don’t have time for the music itself. The social engagement shouldn’t be so stressful that you want to quit. Focus on what works for you. Don’t undervalue face to face relationships, it’s easy to be antisocial and think you can do everything over the internet. But as a producer, don’t underestimate the value of making face to face relationships. Go to open mics, work at studios, attend local rap shows, and meet new people. While this takes more time than copy-pasting the same DM to a thousand rappers, it can often lead to better results in terms of actually engaging with these rappers. From their point of view, it’s easier to follow-up with five or ten people from an open mic event than to read and respond to thousands of DMs. If someone can put a face to your name, they’ll be more likely to actually listen to your music, have a real conversation with you, and work with you in the future.

Collab is an upcoming app that connects you with other hip-hop, rap, and R&B artists and producers to facilitate collaborations. You can search for the specific type of artist needed for your collaboration. Or get matched by our intelligent algorithms to meet someone entirely new. Review the tracks on other artists’ profiles and, once you find someone you want to work with, chat with them using our built-in messenger. Once the Collab has been initiated, exchange files directly in the messenger until you’ve put together a finished track!  Want to be one of the first ones to use the app? Sign up for our official newsletter to get the release announcement as soon as it drops:

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