Acclaimed Beatmakers Lobby for Work; Celebrity Beatwork Solicitation Means Your Favorite Beatmaker is Now Competing with You
|By Amir Said (Sa’id)|
Once, there was a time when most critically acclaimed beatmakers were in demand. It was a time when $15,000, $25,000, and $40,000 beat prices were regularly attainable for proven beatmakers. It was a time when the most recognizable names in beatmaking were flooded with work. That time is no more.
The ruling party of beatmakers have been, through no fault of their own, unceremoniously stripped of their power; and thus, the playing field for new contracted beatwork has been dramatically leveled. With the emergence of new technology—specifically, new music production tools; with the explosive growth of a new class of beatmakers; with the advent of the “new music industry;” and with the presence of social media tools and services like Twitter, the terrain for paid beatwork has become rather tumultuous, making it seemingly possible for ALL beatmakers to have access to the very same beat users/buyers.
In a conversation I had with DJ Premier, I can recall him telling me about his beat prices in the 1990s. Although he did indeed have what you would call a “sliding scale,” the fact is, he didn’t have to, it was his choice; he was in demand, and the artists who wanted to work with him—needed his beats and co-sign—paid the freight. Well, that sort of “want and need” structure no longer exists. Certainly, quality beats and celebrity co-signs still remain valuable; however, quality beats are no longer the products of just a small elite group of beatmakers. Indeed, anyone with the right know-how and access to the right music production tools can put the practice and time in, and come up with quality beats. Combine that reality with the front door access to rappers—the chief buyers and users of beats—that social media offers, and what you have is a vast beat market exchange, where truly anyone can compete.
So while some beatmakers once had the comfort zone to operate with a sliding scale for beat prices, today, no such luxury exists. Now, every acclaimed and lesser-known beatmaker must have a sliding scale, because inflexibly in beat prices—in the current climate—is akin to professional suicide.
Finally, here’s an interesting side note. Bumpy Knuckles (one of my favorite M.C.s), Raekwon, and Fabolous, are all actively on Twitter. And each regularly receive shout-outs from both acclaimed and lesser-known beatmakers. But dig this: Once they offer up an email address for beat submissions, it’s the beats that will do a lot of the talking.Articles, BeatTips, BeatTips Editorial, Music Business