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Inside the Underground Beat Market Shaping Soundcloud Rap

As beat leasing becomes a common practice, artists gain independence, but what is lost?

Andrea Domanick

Photo by Peter Garritano.

This story appears in VICE magazine and Noisey's 2017 Music Issue. Click HERE to subscribe to VICE magazine.

Taz Taylor doesn't remember the name of the first beat he leased seven years ago, but he does remember how much money it made him—$250. The track, cobbled together on a borrowed copy of Reason, the music-production software, in a bedroom of his mother's Jacksonville home, earned him the equivalent of a month of work as a fledgling graphic designer. That was all the then 17-year-old needed to know.

Soon after, Taylor pawned his belongings and outfitted his room with monitors, mixers, and all the trappings of a basic studio, devouring instructional videos and discussions in online production forums to hone his craft, and churning out tracks until sunrise.

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