Beat Jacking. It’s a phenomena that if you have produced long enough it will inevitably happen to you. Major/mainstream producers (some of them, not all) will steal ideas from you if you have beats posted online. It’s a fact of life today. Some producers even go online or on soundclick specifically with the purpose of finding beats they can get ideas from or completely steal them. There a few scenarios that will result in you beats being jacked. The main temptation is that it’s easy! A lot of these industry guys aren’t as skilled as you think and run up on deadlines and are struggling, so it’s easy to get ideas from people who have talent on the internet. Sometimes they change stuff up just enough to avoid a lawsuit, sometimes they entirely steal a beat… like, literally.
How do beat-jackers find your beats? Sometimes it’s management or the artists fault. Artists who forgot where they downloaded beats or have tracks they made that they don’t want to pay full-price for will find some one else to “re-make” a track (I have been asked to re-make tracks HUNDREDS of times to no avail). This is an insidious practice that is all to common in the music industry. If the “re-maker” is signed to a slave publishing deal with whoever is getting the remake done.. BOOM! Instead of paying you, someone they don’t know, they pay the label’s lackey producer or beat jackers some beer money who will never see a dime of the publishing. This looser is just happy to work with whomever the artist is and will think nothing of “re-making” someone else’s beat. Simple huh? Now that you have an understanding, (I hope I’m making it clear) that people WILL steal your shit, here are a few pointers to avoid it.
EMAIL SUBMISSIONS W/ FAMOUS PRODUCERS: Don’t submit any instrumentals to any industry producer ever. EVER. Why would someone who produced hits be eager to get unsigned producers to send him beats via email? Common sense folks, common sense.
VOCAL TAGS, GOOD ONES: You need to tag any beats you have online heavily. I mean distinctive identification when I say vocal tag. Some way to contact you needs to be enunciated in the beat vocally several times… got it?
METADATA: Tag your MP3′s with metadata, most will still steal but it at least is worth the effort, maybe beat jacker will have second thoughts.
COPYRIGHT: Copyright your effing beats man! It only costs like $40, put them all on one disc and send it to get copyrighted at the very least!
RECORDS: Keep in-depth records of leases, especially exclusive rights or any tracked-out beat sales! Sometimes a previous customer can be the main culprit behind a beat jacker or a major producer or artist unbeknownst to you! Example: Buyer “A” Buys a beat from you, then somehow some famous rapper, lets call him “MC tartarsauce” ends up hearing it while they are hanging out, smokin blunts etc… he makes a song with no idea where the beat came from because he doesn’t REALLY hang out with buyer “A”, but the song has hit potential, he has the beat remade by his well known famous producer homie to avoid any liability issues and to avoid you coming out the woodwork later for publishing $. You just got beat-jacked on the low. This scenario happens very often.
Another pointer is, when people contact you about using beats or buying exclusive rights, be sure to find out if they used the beat already before giving a price, if so ask them to send you a copy or email it to you, possibly with a descriptive email subject like “EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS” (to make it easier to search these emails in your inbox later). That way if they end up getting your beat “re-made” instead of paying your price later and you find out you can go back and look over your records to see the date they sent you the original song with YOUR beat… Then? LAWYER-UP!!!
More coming soon!
About Joey Cutless
Joey Cutless is a Music Producer, Composer & Engineer that has been a pioneer in online beat sales, TV licensing, and marketing of all things production related for over 15 years.