The Business Of Making And Selling Beats

Just Blaze

Just Blaze is one of Hip-Hop’s most prominent producers, having produced beats for the likes of Jay-Z and Eminem. He’s also the host of a popular DJ show called ‘Masters Of The Mix’.

In this interview with WSJ’s Lee Hawkins, Just Blaze explains just how profitable making and selling beats can be. Here’s a transcript of the section of the interview where he talks about the business side of beats. The full 20 minute video is at the bottom if you prefer to watch that instead.

Find Out How One Music Producer Makes Over $4K Per Month By Selling Beats Online

The Business Of Beats

Interviewer:What a lot of people don’t realize here is that you’ve created a business where you can make 6 figures, and make publishing royalties and all these things for the rest of your life as a result of a beat that you did.

Just Blaze:Well you know, for me, DJing and production goes hand-in-hand. I started out as a DJ, literally from the time I could walk. I can’t lie, it has been very lucrative, things have been going very well as we’re sitting in my studio right now, you can see that it’s well decked out.

Things have been very good but I didn’t get into it for those reasons. In my era when I was growing up, DJ’s didn’t make a lot of money. It was something you did for passion and because you loved music, and now what’s happened is now it has become a multi-million dollar business.

Just Blaze started off as a DJ

Just Blaze started off as a DJ.

Interviewer:And DJ’s and producers have become brands, so that’s got to be a bittersweet feeling for someone like you that’s a purist who feels that they got into it for the right reasons, but at the same time, this has really elevated your platform.

Just Blaze:I don’t regret any of it, and I’m actually grateful that evolution has happened because one thing you have to realize is, as young people of color growing up in impoverished neighborhoods or less than standard living society, or just looked down upon, for us to take something that we created in our own ghettos and make it into one of the biggest streams of revenue in the world is an amazing thing.

So I’m just happy to be a part of that. It’s funny like, most producers in this game, actually in the music industry in general, even outside of Hip-Hop, dance music and urban music, you may get a 2 or 3 year shelf life. This is my 15th year doing this, and I’ve actually had one of my biggest records to date in my 15th year.

So for me, it’s kind of mind boggling because sometimes I wake up and I’m like “you weren’t supposed to be here”. But we are, and we’re successful and we’re feeding our families and providing for our communities through this art form.

You can find out how to make money by selling beats online here.

Conversation With Accountant

Interviewer:Not only feeding your families but when you have your name on this intellectual property, it’s something that you can pass down to your kids.

Just Blaze:Exactly. I was literally just talking to my accountant about this yesterday. We were going over a bunch of financial things, the bank statements and the accounting, and looking at how much money is in this account and that account, how much money is invested here, what bonds there are, what IRA’s there are and whatnot.

One thing he said to me is that I have to take into consideration with your net worth is the amount of copyright you own, and I never actually thought about that. The premise of the conversation wasn’t determining my net worth but it came about as being part of it for my beneficiaries.

…You’re not only leaving them money, you’re leaving them copyrights, and those live on forever, as long as the current business model and legal copyright law stands.

That’s a wonderful thing because I can leave you money, some property but above and beyond all that, I can leave you something that will continue to generate money as long as music is being sold and played.

Working & Quitting A Day Job

Interviewer:Yeah, and I interview a lot of music people and also athletes, and people who come into this experience at a young age, were you prepared for it and are there things that you learned about the business of music?

Just Blaze:I wasn’t exactly prepared for it because when it happened I was having a very heavy internal debate about whether or not I should continue to pursue it. Literally, the week after I sold my first record, I had nowhere to live, and I was about to go back to school.

Interviewer:Studying what?

Just Blaze:Computer programming…and even for the first year, actually first two years, I still had a day job. I was making something like 5,6,7 thousand dollars at the time, per record, but I still had that steady paycheck of $600 a week, and I knew that no matter what, if this stops tomorrow, my rent is $1200, so that means 2 weeks’ worth of pay is going to cover that rent.

You always hear stories about how people come and go, and I was like, I might be one of those people so I wasn’t going to give up my day job. It wasn’t until my boss came to me and said “why are you still here?

JB with his Macbook Pro

JB initially studied computer programming.

I started thinking about it and after I told him why, he said “yeah but you realize that you working here, is going to hold you back from your full potential.” So I left, and it was one of the scariest times in my life.

I learned plenty, but I was very fortunate to have good people in my corner. One of my long-time friends who is still my business partner to this day, knew each other since we was 15. I wanted to make music for a living, she wanted to be an audio engineer. When she realized that audio engineers didn’t really make that much money, she switched to the music business as well.

So when we first came into the business, we came into contact with a couple of shady characters but we were prepared. In addition to that, it just so happened that my neighbor at the time, when I got my first apartment in New York City, was a young junior accountant executive at Morgan Stanley who was just starting out.

Technically at the time, to have that kind of accounts manager, you couldn’t have any less than half a million dollars. We had $35,000, but we knew we were on the right path at that point. Being 18 years old and making that $35,000 in a number of months and making like $150,000 in my first year at that age, he recognized that, and found some loop holes and got us into Morgan Stanley.

Read about how you can become a music producer here.

From that point on, he was like “right you got to take these stocks and these bonds”, So I was very fortunate to have that at a very young age…We don’t even use lawyers anymore because we’ve been reading contracts and financial statements for so long at this point, that we don’t really need to.

How Just Blaze Got Into Music Production

Interviewer:What’s great about it too is that DJing and production has become to technological, whether you’re talking about Final Cut Pro or Avid, and your background was in computer programming, did that help you?

Tandy 1000

JB’s first computer was a Tandy 1000.

Just Blaze:Definitely. I wrote my first computer program at 9 years old. My parents got us a Tandy 1000, and my father had all these Pascal books and all these basic books because he was a computer programmer. He never forced it on us or anything like that, but I wanted to learn how to create my own video game.

So I sat with all these books and wrote a program that said “what’s your name” and I would say “Justin” and it would say “Hello Justin”, and I would be like “yes!”. From then on, through high school and college, it was computer programming but my passion was always music.

It’s interesting because one day I was watching a local video show called ‘Local Video Box’ that has been around for 25, 30 years, shout out to Ralph McDaniel…and I saw a soul video and it was ‘Back To Life’. There was one scene where they were outside, and [one guy] was playing a keyboard, but it was attached to a Macintosh and I’m like “wow, you can make music on computers.

So I was at the mall one day, and my mother gave me $50 after I begged and begged, and went into the software chain and told them “I need the program where you can make music on your computer.” I must have been 10. And they’re like “well there’s this thing called MIDI workshop over there, and it’s $59.99.

I told them I only had $50, and the dude just gave it to me…I installed it on my computer and that was pretty much my introduction to making music on computers. From there one I moved onto drum machines, keyboards and things that people were using in the late 90’s.

But even at that time, the software was available but the computers weren’t powerful enough to take advantage of everything the software can do. Now we’re in a whole different age.

If you want to start making beats or become successful at it, then you're going to need some great music production equipment to enhance your skills. Take a look at the following:

  • Top 10 Best Studio Headphones
  • Top 10 Best MIDI Keyboards
  • Top 10 Best Studio Speakers
  • Steps to Take to Effectively Sell Music Online Course