Its always a toss up when a new producer needs to decide whether he/she is going to charge for beats. The answer is never a straight forward one. There are a few things the producer needs to take into consideration.
Firstly, is beat making going to be a full time job in the future or is this just a hobby of yours. If your answer is the former, you need to get quite serious about charging for your beats from the get go. If you do this, know that its going to take a while before anyone catches on to your product and you get loyal buyers. In the meantime, keep your 9 – 5 while you build the foundations of your beat making business.
Next, know who your target market is. Are your beats catering to lesser known artists or are you trying to work exclusively with major artists? In my opinion, if you are starting out you should spread your eggs in various baskets. You may want to charge everyone for each beat but do you think AKA will pay your fee? Think about it. Having said this, producers are lucky in that there is no set fee for a beat so we can vary our prices depending on the artist. This helps especially when you’re just starting out. Know who to charge and how much.
Payment doesn’t always have to be in rands. Do you know an artist who is also a graphic designer or web designer? Make plans to swap a couple beats for some pictures or a website. Compromises can be made and it will be worth more in the long run.
if you believe you are good and beyond the point of giving out free beats, think again. In my experience I’ve found that a small, free beat tape once a year is enough to please the artists who are in need of free content. These free beat tapes allow you more time to focus on making beats that you will eventually sell. Also, don’t underestimate the marketing power of a free beat tape. Think of it as a showcase of your work that people can download.
All in all, its up to you if you want to charge for your content and there is no right answer. You just need to know how serious you are about your craft. If you create enough beats you can easily cater to your “free” and your “paying” crowd. Both crowds are very vital in building the foundation of your brand.