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The Darkside of Leasing beats: How Afro Beat Music Producers are getting rich off youtube Content ID

Artists all over the world want to be the next big thing using Afrobeat music. The rise of Afrobeat has caused many to jump on this trend, and new artists are choosing to lease beats to get started. However, producers don’t want to sell beats that are performing well and selling well. This leaves artists frustrated when they want to own their masters and producers aren’t budging. The question is, what gain is the producer really making over the artist?

All I can say is, I understand why they won’t sell and I understand the amount of upside potential they are making.

5 Goals of a Beat Leaser

  1. Send your beats through all content ID systems before distribution.

  2. Register the master & composition for copyright.

  3. Create audio videos with your beats for social media.

  4. Never sell the exclusive rights.

  5. Release the tracks as compilation or instrumental albums seasonally.

Your Lost Revenue (The Platforms)

Though the Afrobeat is consumed all over the world and listeners stream across many platforms, there are three platforms that hold the keys to many new artists’ cash flow: YouTube, Audiomack, and Boomplay. With YouTube being the number one listening outlet across borders, it really puts a damper on revenue for new artists to get exposure in developing streaming markets like West Africa, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. You can also add other developing nations to this list as well.

YouTube’s Content ID

YouTube delivers its money to whoever owns the content ID registration. Because you, as the purchaser of the lease, do not have any rights to the content ID, you cannot claim that revenue. This causes even more issues when YouTube recognizes that beat as the producer's and hundreds of buyers try to register the same beat as their song at their PROs. YouTube’s content management system will more than likely select the producer's PRO account for the original registration to get the royalties from your song because you don't own the original content ID.

What Does This Leave You With?

First, you’re left with a longer window to make money from your initial projects. Second, you are left to make money on non-discovery platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music. You may say, "Oh, that's cool," but you must remember that for developing countries or lower-income countries where the genre’s origin is held, those services are not an option. Even in America, if you are being discovered, YouTube is still the place to go if listeners want to test out your music.

How Are They Getting Rich?

One, the number one discovery and consumption platform is YouTube. Two, multiply the beat time by the number sold, which you will never see, by the way. Three, you can't even count the number of beats made and up for lease in this genre.

Should I Still Lease Beats?

If your goal is to create exposure and not make money in the short run, yes. If losing money from YouTube is going to hurt your bottom line, DON'T DO IT!

You Mention Audiomack and Boomplay. What Do They Have to Do With This?

Audiomack is a smaller discovery platform much like SoundCloud. Its revenue is limited to ad-supported streaming revenue for the masters, performance, and mechanical royalties. Lastly, Boomplay is a more affordable streaming option for Western Africa. Though its pay structure is similar to the majors, the subscriber base is not nearly as big as YouTube, so your discovery options are limited if you are not from that region.

Here Is What I Suggest…

Work with producers that you find online or locally to craft beats for you in this genre. This will require a bit more networking on your end upfront, but it will save you when promoting your records later. Ownership is everything. Besides, you’re going to need that ownership when the record takes off, so hopefully, your foundation is secure before you start.

Check This Out!

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Going for Ownership

  • Increased revenue from your music projects

  • Ownership and control over your masters and content

  • Greater exposure and discovery opportunities

  • Ability to expand your fanbase and reach new listeners

  • Enhanced networking and collaboration opportunities with producers

  • Increased confidence and satisfaction in your music career

Going for the Easy Option

  • Limited revenue potential from music projects

  • Lack of ownership and control over your masters and content

  • Limited exposure and discovery opportunities


By owning and working directly with producers, artists can transform their music careers. They unlock increased revenue, full ownership and control over their masters and content, greater exposure, and collaboration opportunities. This leads to enhanced confidence and satisfaction in their music career.

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