CB Question of the Week: Beat stealing
This past week, our question was about beat stealing (not sampling, but straight up taking someone’s beat without permission), and we asked producers to share their thoughts on the subject matter that is frequently seen in the music business. We see it a lot in the hip hop/rap world. Rappers will do it, producers will do it, and labels will do it. For example, we will often see that happening when someone wants to ride a song’s viral wave, so they’ll jump on the same beat and spit their own bars over it; or when someone wants to jump on a beat by a big name producer (ie: J Dilla or DJ Premier), in efforts to get noticed or gain interest; or there’s the moment when someone will take a beat, say their vocal tracks were “produced by [producer of the beat they took without permission]” as if they worked on the song together, and go from there; or there’s the false claims where people will steal beats and say that they produced it, or go about without crediting the producer. Sometimes people sell the music and sometimes they won’t. What’s acceptable and what’s not? Is there a scenario where it’s OK?
Some producers are OK with it, as long as they are credited. Some see it as a badge of honor, which probably falls in line with one of our other questions regarding imitation. Some producers are OK with it, as long as they get credited and the person isn’t profiting off of it (and if they are, the producer wants a reasonable cut). Some producers are OK with it, as long as you pay them to use it. Some producers are against the whole thing, and would prefer to work with you on a track together, where money is exchanged for real, honest work. We wanted to hear from you, so we got some insight from 3 different hip hop producers. Read what they had to say below.
How do you feel about people stealing your beats to rap/sing over them?
Is there a time when it’s acceptable?
“We officially release instrumental versions of most of our singles, in an attempt to mimic the way 12” singles were formatted – Main / Clean / Instrumental / Accapella. Just like we lifted instrumentals off vinyl singles to rap over back in the day, if you take the beat for that purpose, & rap over it, cool. Just PLEASE categorize it as a “mixtape freestyle” or something. But please do not include it on your studio album, & do not credit it as Produced By @jakepalumbo. THAT gets into f**kery territory. I’d rather you use my beat, call it a “mixtape” track & leave me uncredited than to put out a false impression we linked up in the studio.”
— Jake Palumbo, a New York-based emcee, producer, and recording engineer at SpaceLAB Recordings.
“It has become an impossible thing to stop so I don’t worry about too much.”
— D.Focis, an Illinois-based rapper and producer
“It don’t bother me. I make my music for everybody and if they wanna rap on it, I don’t care. It helps get my name out and I just need them to give me credit on my beat.”
— Depakote, a California-based producer
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