What is a type beat? The answer to this question may duck and weave a bit, but in simple terms, it’s a hip hop instrumental track that matches the key, bpm, feel and sonic texture of a popular artist. There are numerous websites that have created a rich marketplace for type beats (listed at the bottom). Notable songs that were born from type beats have and continue to reach key charts and metrics. Manchester-based producer Menace famously sold Desiigner the beat for Hot 100 #1 Panda (which was a “Meek Mill Type Beat”) for $200 on SoundClick. However, there is a philosophical divide between the first two generations of hip hop and the modern third generation of rappers and producers who are utilizing the type beat approach.
Abe Bashton founded BeatStars in 2008, which spawned the beat for Old Country Road. He says:
“Type beats weren’t a thing when I started. If you want to talk about the origins, it came from the concept of subgenres and moods. When search engines became smarter and algorithms to find relevant content got better, producers took search engine optimization into their own hands and started broadening the amount of tags they were putting onto their beats: Now they weren’t just tagging genre, mood, they were tagging artist likeness. It became a marketing scheme to get discovered based on search results.”
Type Beat Producer Curtiss King elaborates:
“The marketing utilization of type beats was no different than a blogger or YouTuber’s marketing tools. What did they all have in common? The use of high-ranking search terms through a process called Search Engine Optimization.”
The cultural divide concerning type beats rages, and is often categorized as generational. Young, modern producers see it as a form of income, brand building and exposure. Older producers who have “climbed the ladder” view type beats as unoriginal skeletons, said to be incomplete even in their final form and not “real records”.
An article on Genius asks:
Is making beats that explicitly mimic another artist’s style a viable career path for a producer or just another scheme to get noticed?
Producer Syk Sense, who’s worked on cuts like Khalid’s “Location” and Kendrick Lamar’s “The Heart Part IV.”, says:
“Normally you couldn’t get a good beat without having to pay a lot of money or know somebody. Now you can lease or buy an instrumental of your choice for an affordable amount.”
An article on Fandom says:
“Type beats is the easier way for a rapper or musician to connect to a producer. All the rapper has to say is “do you have any Drake type beats?” and all the producer would have to reply is simply yes or no. I honestly think it’s a good time saving approach when looking for beats or instrumentals. It cuts out all the unnecessary inquiries some artists or rappers seem to request or search for when they’re looking for a specific type of beat.”
In an article for Medium, columnist Shkyd says:
“Selling $30 for an .mp3 of the beat, $50 for a .wav and $300 to $1,500 for a lease, for a production time not exceeding over 2 hours… sounds like a pretty solid deal. Selling beats on the Internet can be money straight to your pocket, as opposed to a slow and outdated industry of music all about splitting, waiting months to get a paycheck, or sending beats to artists without any confidence they’ll ever use it. With a good Type Beat business, no more beats on hold : the catalog is in display, beatmakers no longer depend on rappers or labels, nor appear to be in need of a publishing deal — often synonymous of death sentence or deep pain in the ass.
“It’s become oversaturated now—so many beats online, so many producers out of the blue thinking they can make it. It’s hard for people to make it, even compared to when I was doing it. There’s too much to pick from, and it’s harder to stand out.”
“Since the beginning of my career, I’ve lived by that law of originality as if it was a hip hop commandment. I always pushed myself as a producer to pick the sounds other producers were afraid to use, use the tempos other producers couldn’t maneuver through, and instinctually arrange my instruments as uniquely as possible. Originality has always been at the forefront of my musical campaign, sometimes to a fault.
Fast forward to today’s current landscape and we find a younger generation that is conflicted with hip hop’s law of originality. The struggle seems to fall between their insatiable thirst for remaining relevant to the current wave of their peers while also being disgusted by the idea of those same peers clout-chasing the waves they create. It must be confusing terrain to maneuver, especially when it’s in an environment where 20-something-year-old rappers and producers, who are still growing and finding their own way, get to define the rules of the day. Some legends allow this evolution to inspire them, while others allow it to make them bitter. I simply chose to play ball. I chose to aggressively go against the grain because I knew that I wanted something different out of my production career.”
Jazze Pha is a veteran record producer from Atlanta, GA. He says:
“If you’re a beatmaker, that’s cool. But Mercedes Benz can’t just drop a frame on the ground and say ok, ‘you finish it.’ People like myself find it very offensive to call me and you a producer if you just make beats. A beat doesn’t take full form until the other 50% is added to it. It’s like giving a person a stick of gum and then calling yourself a philanthropist.”
Batshon calls those who dismiss type beats “dinosaurs.” “Not everyone can understand owning a successful digital business; not everyone has the same drive to become self-sustaining entrepreneurs. You’re not educated on the topic. I don’t blame anyone; all I ask from some of the industry people is to do a little bit of research before you start blurting out your opinion.”
Batshon adds: “How hard is it to crack into the industry? One out of a million producers really crack into the industry. We have a much higher percentage of users that are actually making a living setting up their own online business. It may not be 70 grand a beat, but how many Timbaland’s are out there? Online beat sales is a volume game—DJ Pain 1 uploads at least two beats every week—and if you have regular customers, that money can add up over time.”
Menace has yet another fear about the type beat explosion. “The problem with ‘Panda’ coming so early in my life is I didn’t have any catalog,” he explains. “People are saying ‘Panda;’ they’re not saying Menace or Desiigner. If you had a catalog you’re building up beforehand, people will at least know you. Otherwise the hit can be bigger than the artist or the producer.”
Genius finished up by saying “This is also not a problem that’s limited to type beats—viral hits are commonplace now. To be a producer who’s more than just a viral sensation, you need to do what Jazze Pha calls ‘making hits a habit.’ In between hits, though, it might not hurt to sell some beats online.”
These are additional websites and communities not previously mentioned that offer type beat opportunities:
TRAKTRAIN (Invitation Only)
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