This Is Why I Stopped Selling Beats to Independent Rappers

Before you judge me, allow me to explain...
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My name is !llmind. I'm a music producer and I'm passionate about sharing my experiences. Things that worked, things that I f*cked up and what I learned from it all. No guidance and no mentor. I know what it's like to want to create music but not know how to start, where to go or how to turn it into a living. I don't have ALL the answers, but what I can promise is that I will always touch on topics that I have personally experienced. At the end of the day, I hope to empower you to be your best self, regardless of what industry you're trying to pursue.

For more inspiration, subscribe to my YOUTUBE channel and my PODCAST "BlapChat."

The first beat I ever sold was in 2003. I think I got paid $50 for it. At the time, it was such a proud moment in my career. I was still living in mom’s basement, figuring out what to do with my life. I was just getting my feet wet. Making tons of beats. Learning. Seeking artists to work with (or sell *ehm* beats to) and making my rounds to see if this was really something that could potentially become lucrative one day.

Of course, along the way, I've managed to build and maintain relationships, with everything functioning on a case-by-case basis. There were artists who I wasn't really inspired by, but who were willing to pay cold hard cash for beats. Likewise, there were others whose music I genuinely liked, but who were NOT willing to pay me any money for my beats. And, of course, there was a mixture of both.

As my career slowly started to build, I began to catch the attention of more and more rappers. Rappers of all kinds. It felt good to receive that validation. It felt good to know that there were rappers who were willing to shell out actual dollars to buy my beats (even though in the grand scheme of things, it really wasn't THAT much money).

For about five years straight, I was on a roll. I was selling beats every week. I was on my hustle. A couple hundred here, a couple hundred there. Every so often, an artist would buy my beats in bulk for a few thousand. It was working. I was actually making money. Real money. Unfortunately, most of the rappers who purchased my beats were treated as a business transaction. I wasn't inspired by these people. They were obviously inspired by MY music, but I couldn't say the same about theirs. Either way, something didn't feel right. Something was missing. A sort of emptiness inside. The true satisfaction of creating music was nowhere to be found.

Eventually, I realized that what I was doing was the equivalent of being a beat-whore (insert "LOL" to lighten the tone). Any taker willing to shell out money was good in my eyes. They could have been terrible, but I didn't care. I was selling beats, and it felt great!

And then...

I stopped.

Cold turkey.

Why?

Because I've reached a point in my career where I didn't have to do it anymore. More importantly, though, I realized what I was doing was wrong. I realized that it wasn't helping me grow. It wasn't challenging enough. It felt too easy. It felt too comfortable.

That day changed my life.

Prior to this epiphany, I was producing the same "type" of music. Whatever you want to call it. Boom bap. Big drums. Headnod. (Don't get me wrong, I hold that dear to my heart and it still shines in my music).

I started experimenting and challenging myself. I started listening. Ultimately, I stepped up and challenged myself, musically. I did things that were uncomfortable. I stepped out of the box.

In stepping out of the box, my taste level for music evolved. The way I created music evolved. The type of artists I was attracted to evolved. The music I was making was exciting as hell. It was liberating.

So today I ask myself this question: "Would I ever sell a beat to an independent rapper or artist that doesn't inspire me?"

For me, the answer is no. I've reached the point—thankfully and humbly—where I get to choose who I want to work with. Years and years and endless beats later, I've paid my dues. I'm still growing, still learning, still wanting to achieve more greatness. But one thing holds true: no amount of money will coerce me into working with you. All you have to do is be incredible enough to inspire me to want to grow with you, as an independent artist or established.

It might be worth it to think about where you currently stand and if/when you get to the point of no longer being interested in selling beats to people who do not inspire you. You may never reach that point. Some of you may not care enough and just want to continue to make money in any way that you can, which is totally fine! The best part about all of this is that you get to choose which method makes you the happiest.

Be inspiring, and you will inspire.

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