The BeatStars team has spent the last 13 years betting on the underdog. “We were founded to break through the doors of the traditional industry,” explains Greg Mateo, president of label and publishing for BeatStars. “We wanted to change the terms of how producers were treated.”
First founded as the go-to online marketplace for buying and selling beats and instrumentals, BeatStars was formed by a small team in Austin who believed that there was more talent out there that was left undiscovered and un-monetized. By connecting young, unsigned producers with aspiring singers and rappers who were willing to license or buy music for a cheap rate, the online hub became the meeting place for some hitmakers that no major label A&R saw coming.
Take Lil Nas X as an example. After buying a “Future type beat” from an unknown producer named Young Kio, whom Nas hadn’t met, for a grand total of $30 on BeatStars, the young artist penned the topline for the ubiquitously-known “Old Town Road.” The unlikely hit, which broke Billboard’s record as the longest-leading single in Hot 100 history, pushed the Atlanta-based artist to superstar status overnight. It also, however, led to a legal battle with Nine Inch Nails, the band whom Young Kio had secretly sampled in the beat.
These kinds of growing pains are common for young producers. Often based in far flung places with little access to industry know-how, the BeatStars team believes providing educational resources is an important resource for youngsters navigating the industry for the first time. It’s this passion for education and development that led BeatStars to found their publishing arm, in partnership with Sony Music Publishing, last year.
“It’s another team within the BeatStars family that is able to react quickly to support something from the producer that connects with audiences,” says Mateo.
Initially open to a select few producers and writers, BeatStars Publishing spent the last year honing their offerings. “We really wanted to make sure everything was working properly, that our community was being heard, and that everything they wanted was being implemented first,” explains Mateo.
Now that the team has discovered what their clients need out of the publishing company, BeatStars and Sony Music Publishing want to open up the joint platform for anyone who wants to sign up, even those who have never used the marketplace. For the general public, BeatStars Publishing offers administrative services for an under one-year term in return for a 20% cut of mechanical royalties, and a 40% cut of performance royalties. Administrative services include copyright registration, income data and tracking analysis, and global royalty collection and distribution.
“These are deals that aren’t traditionally done,” Mateo says.
What’s the catch? For the basic administrative deal, which is available to all on BeatStars’ online portal, producers and writers will not receive an advance, but Mateo says BeatStars is “always open to working on specific deals that may require one.” BeatStars also does not offer an in-house team for sync licensing, although they can potentially offer that service through the Sony Music Publishing partnership. Mateo adds, “we have companies that reach out to us directly… looking for instrumentals for a scene, but that’s on a one-off basis.”
The open-for-all administrative deal is designed for maximum flexibility and educational resources for emerging talent, but it lacks some of the bells and whistles of a traditional publishing or co-publishing deal. However, BeatStars Publishing will also offer co-publishing deals to select producers as well.
Director of A&R/label services Dylan Bourne says, “we’re there to facilitate whatever they’re really looking for, versus trying to push them in one direction or another, which I think is a big difference between us and then some other companies that are in this space.” With their co-publishing deals, BeatStars can feature more hands-on A&R services, advances and more.
“We are doing the full spectrum of publishing deals,” says Mateo. “if there needs to be a different conversation [about the deal], at some point during the term, then we can have that conversation. We are operating a full fledged publishing company with the backbone of Sony there too.”
As more fledgling talent builds organic careers on the internet, BeatStars Publishing’s new administrative offerings want to act as a first helping hand, handling the basics of royalty collection and administration while teaching young talent about the industry at large. “For the last 13 years, we’ve offered unbiased opinions and help to our talent. We just felt publishing was another piece of that puzzle.”