A successful career in music is more than possible with so many avenues to express and profit from your creativity. One of these ways is through licensing beats online. Breana Marin is a singer-songwriter and the founder of Love Pulse Music, a collective of songwriters and producers specializing in curating music for TV and film. She’s also one of the top-selling hook/songwriters on the beat-making platform, Beatstars. In this episode, Breana chats with Bree Noble to share how she found her way to licensing beats and how it’s helped her earn a living while finding artistic fulfillment. She breaks down the process to explain just how licensing works. Tune in as Breana also shares how it paved the way for music and became a grassroots campaign for her career as an artist.
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Finding Artistic Fulfillment While Monetizing Your Passion: Licensing Beats Online With Breana Marin
I’m excited to be on the show with Breana Marin. We are going to be talking about her story, her music, and how she has managed to get a lot of licensing deals. This is going to be interesting to you guys, especially those who have been interested in getting into licensing and into different ways that you can go about it. Before we get into that, I would love to know more about your background, how you’ve got into music, and a little bit about your story up until now.
I’m a songwriter at heart. That’s what I have done since the beginning of time. I originally moved to LA. I didn’t know songwriting was a thing that you could get paid for. I went to Musicians Institute and ended up linking up with a professional songwriter at that time who was at the height of his career. His name is Andre Merritt. He had written Disturbia and Forever for Chris Brown. He was having a great year about the time I was out there. I interned for him, learned as much as I could from him, blossomed out into my own thing, and started writing for other artists.
I have written for Fifth Harmony, Keyshia Cole, Star & Empire on Fox, among other television shows. I had somehow got entangled with the online world of music. I started on a website called SoundBetter. It’s a place where engineers, producers, songwriters, and vocalists can be hired by clients looking for someone if they need help finish their songs or whatever project that they are working on. That was a life-changer. I was able to buy myself out of the publishing situation that I was in and moved on from there.
I met the Owner and Founder of BeatStars, who was telling me what all these producers were doing on BeatStars, which they licensed beats. They make one beat and license it thousands of times to different customers with different terms and conditions, depending on the price of the license. At that time, there weren’t very many songwriters doing it. It was mostly producers. I started partnering with producers on the platform and licensing hooks to songwriters. There’s a huge audience of songwriters and rappers who love having the pre-made hooks on the track. That’s my story quickly as possible summed up.
I’m interested to talk about this because I have heard of SoundBetter and BeatStars from my friend, Kris Bradley, who teaches people how to produce from home. The biggest question that I get around this is they think that beats are just about hip-hop. Can you explain a little bit more of what a beat is?
Everybody needs a beat. Let’s start there. If you want to write a song, we are going to need a beat, track, chord or whatever it is that inspires you to start writing your song. On BeatStars, there is a massive hip-hop community. Hip-hop producers are the ones that are probably getting the most shine. Soulja Boy bought some tracks off of BeatStars and Lil Nas X. I can’t remember the name of the song that he had that was so huge but it was a country-sounding song.
Old Town Road?
Yes. He bought it in BeatStars. In the hip-hop world, it’s a massive thing but there is a whole world of pop producers on there. Other people specialize in different things like sound kits and some people sell chords. There are a plethora of things you can get on BeatStars. A beat for me in my songwriting process is the starting place. It would have the full thing going on, drums, chords, special little elements, and then probably divided up into sections like verse, hook, bridge or whatever you need.
It’s like anything from a loop to an arrangement. It’s the way I’m thinking of it because I know that some people in my world like to do orchestral stuff and they are like, “Is what I’m doing beats?”
In my dictionary, if you were to ask me, I feel like a beat is anything that is a completely arranged composition that maybe doesn’t have vocals on it. Traditionally, I would say not orchestral. I would refer to that as a track or an instrumental piece. Beats are EDM, pop, hip-hop, and all of those commercial genres. Beats all day.Everybody needs a beat. If you want to write a song, you’re going to need a beat that inspires you to start writing your song. Click To Tweet
That’s super helpful because I want our audience to know what we are talking about here when we are talking about this. When you license a beat on there, I’m assuming you have had this happen where you have one beat and it’s being licensed out to multiple people. When you hear the finished product, are you like, “These sound similar or I can’t believe how different these are starting from the same beat?”
None of them sound the same and it’s very interesting. Some of them are incredible and blow me away. Some of them, I’m like, “I would love to hear you try again and do it differently.” For the most part, people are pretty talented. Some people write me and they will say they don’t intend on releasing it commercially but hearing the actual hook inspired them to tell some story. They wanted to have the little therapy session to write whatever they were feeling because that prompted them to feel some way. There are a lot of different reasons people like the beats with hooks.
When they license the beat, they are paying you right then for that. Whatever they do with it at that point, you are getting paid but what if they do release it? Do they have to ask your permission?
It’s pretty intuitive how it’s set up when you go to our beat store, is what it’s called. Your profile is technically your beat store. Your whole catalog is available there for people to go through and see what they like. When they purchase something, you can have options. It’s your world. You can set it up however you want.
I typically have four options. You can get a basic license, premium license and unlimited license. Sometimes there’s an exclusive license, which means I will not sell this to anybody but you. I don’t do that often. The basic license is like the MP3. You are paying $20. You are going to get the MP3, and then you have a limited amount of rights with the song. It might be like, “You can’t release the song commercially and make money.” It varies what the license says.
The unlimited one is the one that I typically recommend to everyone, which means if you buy it for $200 to $500, you track out with all the individual stems. You will be able to customize the track the way you want to customize it because it will have the individual piano export, drum export, vocal export and all of the things in the track so you can have the freedom to do whatever you want to do. There are no limitations on how you utilize the track commercially. As soon as they buy it, they will get the license delivered and they can see what they’re allowed to do based on that.
That’s cool and customizable. I like that. I run a course on releasing music and this question came up in our conversation in our live call. I know many of you reading might already know the answer to this but I’m going to ask it here just to make sure that everyone reading is all on the same page. Can you explain what stems are?
I’m trying to think of a simple way to explain stems.
That’s what I was trying to figure out on the call. I was like, “How can I explain this?”
We all have the understanding now of what a beat is. It’s typically what the producer creates that we are going to write to. The beat, the producer makes it. Let’s say he used five different instruments. That would mean he has five different tracks in his actual session that he created the beat in. Stems are the exports of those individual instruments that are on the song. If there’s a piano, bass, drum, cymbal, hi-hat or whatever, all of those individual instruments are going to be exported as WAV files and those are the track stems. It allows you or your engineer to go back into the session and customize it the way you would want to customize it for your project.
That was a great way of explaining it. To clarify, these are the fully processed files. They are not the raw files.
It varies. Some producers will have a folder that says dry stems and then wet stems. They give you the option to customize but not all of them do that. Some of them only do the wet process stem.
If you are using it for licensing, for example, TV and film, they might want to change the levels of certain things, and they don’t want to have to go and reprocess the files. This is great. I appreciate you educating our audience. Especially in my audience, there are a lot of people that don’t know about this stuff. It can inspire them that they are other ways that they can use music that they already have.
When I talked to Kris, I had her on the show and we talked about some of this. She was like, “Many people don’t know about this way to license music.” I know you were also releasing your own music as well. You mentioned that you were a featured artist on a ton of tracks on Spotify because of the fact that you sell these beats. Do you find that that’s helping your Spotify numbers?
Absolutely. It’s like having a grassroots campaign for myself because it starts with that one listener going to my beat store and releasing something. Now, I’m automatically exposed to their listeners. Some of them might only have a few, and then some of them might have thousands that I would never have been able to be exposed to.
Even the ones that have a few, they might only have a few but that one person they exposed me to was a die-hard listener now who always wants to go and get everything that I have. It has helped me tremendously. The only downside would be when I release music. Sometimes, I’m competing against everybody else releasing music with my name on it as well. It gets buried on my little profile but overall, it has helped more than it has hurt.
Are they required to name you as a featured artist on the track?
It’s listed in the license to credit me and the producer of the track appropriately by saying Featured and then also putting us in the PRO information like ASCAP, BMI. However you are doing it, we need to be credited appropriately.
The cool thing on Spotify is if you do that correctly, you can click on the name and it goes straight to your profile. I have found stuff that way. This is interesting because I did have someone on here a while back. We were talking about collabs and how much collabs had helped her get new audiences. I’m assuming it works the same way with this for you.
Collaboration has been the key to everything for me. If we were on my Spotify profile now, the funny thing is the top-played song on there is a SoundBetter project. Collaboration has been wonderful for me.
It’s interesting because we were talking before about, whether they are releasing something and maybe you don’t like the product. What happens if somehow that gets to be the top thing on the Spotify list of your top five songs? There’s not anything you can do about that.
There’s not at all. That could be a downside.
It’s a trade-off.
You went on the other song but it happens for sure.
I’m assuming that what we said about collabs and stuff has helped your career. Is that how you started your licensing company is that you really want to help other artists?
Yes. Something else that was happening was I was doing speaking engagements since I was with BeatStars. Other songwriters were hearing about what I was doing and they all had a lot of questions. Your DMs and emails become filled with like, “What should I do? How do I do it? How could I be a part of it? What’s the plan?”
That was in the back of my head of like, “There are all these writers and producers that are exposing themselves to me. Also, I have projects going on that sometimes I can’t humanly complete all of the things by myself.” Naturally, my peers around me, I was already collaborating heavily with a certain group of people. It became like, “Why is this not an actual entity that we have?” That’s pretty much where it stemmed from.
What’s the name of your licensing company?
Are you guys all working together in the company or do you have a team that’s representing all of you?
We are all working together. There is a small admin team that deals with all of the scientific things that artists do not like to deal with or talk about. It’s all that stuff when everybody is like, “No, it’s okay.”
Maintaining the massive catalog in Excel or wherever you are keeping it.
That’s me, and then a group of administrative people. We take care of all that other stuff. The artists are just artists. We created a platform for them to be able to communicate with each other easily and share files. They write and work together. That’s where we share all of our TV briefs. It’s a nice little community. It has been cool, especially during the pandemic, to have a whole group of people to be able to still exchange energy and create things with.
Do you guys accept other artists or is it this closed collective?
It’s a small boutique collective but we do accept outside artists. We don’t take them in the masses. We like it to be very curated and intentional. If a gym shows up, then we definitely take that person in.
You are not putting it out with a taxi or something like that, looking for people. I love all of this. It’s going to be super educational for artists. Are there any other platforms that you use to license your own beats and collab other than SoundBetter and BeatStars?
Those two, for a long time, are my main bread and butter. I also simultaneously created my own website that also became a hub for everything. Anyone that found me on those random websites would make their way over to my main hub. I also do sound kits. The other platforms I use are dedicated sound kit platforms like Sounds and Splice. I have done kits for output. That’s the other thing. I license my vocals for those things as well.
There are so many ways to go about making income these days online. It’s pretty incredible. What’s exciting going on assuming you are also pursuing your own music career as an artist?
I do a whole slew of things. It’s because I focus so much on TV and film, I have a large catalog of music. I have been going through those catalogs and grouping together the songs that I feel like, “This is an album.” I have 2 or 3 of those that are one after the other then it will be coming out. The first one is called Songs About Us and I wrote it around a time of a breakup. It’s dramatic. I have made it with a person that I was in a relationship with. It was an interesting process, at the same time because of that process, we are able to be friends and get all of our feelings out in a productive way. That was helpful.In music, collaboration is key. Click To Tweet
I’m not trying to be like Beyoncé, touring and doing all of those things. I like releasing music A) It’s available if it’s on a TV show and it’s available for the listener that may have heard it, and B) It’s merch for me. It’s another piece of the million things that I create and license. That’s pretty much where my head is. I was releasing music because I love there to be a body of work that represents what’s going on in my life if I’m on there.
If you were to give some advice to somebody that’s at the beginning of all of this and they are thinking about getting into this online licensing world, what advice would you give them?
Research before you start. Take a look at who is performing the best on those platforms. Take what you can from it and apply it to yourself. If possible, have a home setup so that you can be lightning-fast with your work. Create and then market as much as you possibly can.
How can people find you online and check out all of your cool beats in Spotify and all the places?
The quickest and easiest way to find me is to go to BreanaMarin.com. I have links to everywhere in all of the things that I have going on. My Instagram is @ItsBreanaMarin. Also, there is a link there that will lead you to all of the wonderful places and things that you can go to with me.
Thank you so much and I appreciate you. While telling your story, it’s also educating our audience on some of this. I know it’s going to be helpful for them.
Thanks for having me.
- Breana Marin
- Kris Bradley – Past episode
- Spotify – Breana Marin
- Love Pulse Music
- @ItsBreanaMarin – Instagram
About Breana Marin
Breana Marin is the founder of Love Pulse Music, a collective of songwriters and producers that specialize in curating music for tv and film. I’ve been working in the music industry for 10-plus years and have written songs for Fifth Harmony, Keyshia Cole, Letoya Luckett, Phora, and various TV shows.