The Business Of Selling Beats & Why Diddy Went Off On Drake Because of One

December 12, 2014  |  

In case you haven’t heard the latest news, Diddy punched Drake in Miami following a heated brawl. The first round of speculations as to the cause of their fight was traced back to recording artist, dancer, actress, & model Cassie. But, that rumor was laid to rest as the real reason eventually came to light: Diddy and Drake fought over a beat.

Some of you may be asking yourself why in the world two grown men would fight over something as intangible as a steady rhythm. But it’s beats that have made these two artists, as well as countless others, rich and famous within the music business. Thanks to technology and a good musical ear, producers have been crafting their own beats and either selling or leasing them to both aspiring and known rappers for years. Some music producers, such as Carnage and Lex Luger have literally gone from their bedrooms to grabbing sought-after DJ residencies and fielding requests from Kanye West and 2 Chainz, respectively. The right beat from a producer can elevate a song, sending its spotlight vocalist on a higher level of music superstardom. What would Rihanna’s “Umbrella” have been without Tricky Stewart, and Lil’ Wayne minus beat maker Darius Harrison for his radio and club hit, “Lollipop”?

Rappers and recording artists, like their producers, are well-aware of how lucrative the right beat to complement any number of their lyrics can be and will pay top dollar for the best. Many producers just starting out may gift beats to an artist with a musical aptitude they admire, without any contracts, in the hopes this would grow their career. Yet, all parties must factor in rights ownership, as the acts of buying, leasing, and just “giving” beats can get convoluted.

In the “beats for sale” side of the music business, a rapper or recording artist can either lease or purchase the rights to a beat. When leasing, a beat can only be used for a certain number of times. If the artist wishes to use the same beat past that agreed upon expiration date, they will have to purchase a new lease. Under the leasing rights, the producer can also lease the same beat to a number of other artists, if no one has bought the exclusive rights for it. This option is usually reserved for mixtape and promo artists, as it is cheaper and more logical a choice for an artist without any label representation.

An exclusive beat is reserved for those who want unlimited access to it, paying a one-time fee, which will be more expensive than leasing. Once the exclusive rights to a beat are sold, no other artist can purchase it. The artist can manipulate the beat in any way they would like and are the only owners of it, and will receive it in its highest quality, unlike the option of leasing, where artists will get the lesser sound quality version.

Diddy and Drake are at a point in their careers where they can (and should!) pay for the latter. Reports detail that in-demand producer Boi-1da sent Diddy and Drake the same “0 to 100” beat some months ago. Diddy let the beat sit but Drake decided to use it with his vocals. The song was released, is nominated for a 2015 Grammy, and in turn it’s possible that Diddy got mad, claiming ownership of the beat himself, and decided to… ahem… speak to Drake about it.There is even a video filmed in Juneof Diddy declaring possession of the infamous beat over Drake.

So, if their Miami scuffle turns out to have its roots in the rights of “0 to 100,” this was a dispute bubbling for some time. Still, if Boi-1da did indeed give “0 to 100” to two artists, this means that there were no exclusive rights to the beat.

On another note, why two well-known artists such as Diddy and Drake were given this beat may sound questionable, but well-connected and celebrated rappers can still benefit from issuing mixtapes or promotional albums. It will be interesting to get Boi-1da’s take on this feud, as it boils down to his reasons for lending “0 to 100” to both rap artists, music rights ownership, Drake and Boi-1da’s past history and whether any verbal or written agreements that may have been produced can be taken into account.

In the end, let Diddy and Drake’s current conflict be a lesson to you or any aspiring rap artist/producer looking to avoid drama. If you want to stay away from the beat beef, know your rights… literally.

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