Knowledge Bombs

Music Licensing Basics

Things you should know when purchasing a beat.

What is it?

It is a contract in which both parties ; the buyer (usually rapper or singer) and the seller (usually a beatmaker or producer), agree on the terms of usage of the beat that is sold.

Licenses in music can seem tricky but it is really just a way to protect all parties in the long run. They will usually be already set up with terms by the beat makers and producers before you even start looking through their beat store or catalogue. As a customer the terms should always be clear and laid out for you before your purchase. Licenses are made to handle all types of rights and can be managed by third party organizations. (see our performing rights organizations Knowledge bomb)

In the industry you will find two types of licenses : Exclusive and non-exclusive. It’s important to know that neither can be transferred after purchase.

”Non exclusive”

Non Exclusive beats are great, especially if you are starting out. They are usually more affordable and easier to access since the contracts are quite easy to handle for the producers. Non-Exclusives will come with set guidelines, meaning that you will have streaming threshold for each platforms. When the limit is reached, you’ll have to renew your license. Depending on the initial agreement, you will be able to pay to have your streaming limit readjusted.

The beat purchased non-exclusively can be used by multiple artists at a time. You can still make money off a song recorded on a non-exclusive.


Exclusive Beats are not cheap, but they come with their perks. Exclusives do not have limitations once payment is done and there is no expiration date. It’s possible to buy exclusive rights to a beat that was previously non-exclusive. This will implicate that the artists who bought the rights non-exclusively before will still have rights. However, no new artists will be able to buy the track after you.

Producers often sell under the term of ”Exclusive Rights” meaning that they will remain the credited author and have access to a percentage of revenues. In some cases they will sell under ”Exclusive Ownership” also known as ”work-for-hire” renouncing all credits and giving them to the buyer.


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