How to Copyright an Album

So you completed this project–a plethora of late nights, sweat, and bottled tears–your children, basically. So in order to prevent vultures from claiming creative right to your work, you head to (the only sure way to own copyright).

Unfortunately, clicking through the steps is not necessarily set up for your DIY musician. So many options! Having to navigate this essential task myself, I documented my process to hopefully shed some light on it.

1. Sign up

If you’re not signed up for, that’s a good place to start. Be prepared to give your SSN.

2. Decide on a copyright type

You’re probably going for either or PA (Performing Arts) or SR (Sound Recording) copyright of an album. PA protected the basic rights of music and lyrics. This is important especially if you made your own beats or bought exclusive.

SR is to protect the particular style of recording that you made. For example. Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey each recorded I Will Always Love You. For this song, there is a PA copyright floating around from which someone is getting boocoo royalties from the original music and lyrics.

However, there also had to be a separate SR obtained for the particular recording of each artist.

Therefore, if you are so inclined, go ahead and purchase an SR for the album, but you will likely be alright with a PA.

3. List the Track Titles

For me, this is where it got really confusing. So many options for listing a title! Most of them sound viable, so which one do I choose?

This brought me to this webpage, a great resource that will tell you exactly how to list your titles:

Title Help

It seems that if you are registering an entire album, your best bet is to register the album title as the “Title of Work Being Registered” and to register each song title as a “Contents Title.”

Make sure that you are entering the titles of your album in order, because you will not be able to rearrange them later.

4. List an ISRC

This is where two roads will diverge: You have one slot to list an ISRC. Now, this is not very helpful for an entire album, considering that ISRCs are given to each song individually. For some valuable information about this and ISRCs in general, reference the following:

ISRC Dummy-Proof Info

ISRC Assignment

From my research, you do have the option to copyright the entire album without listing each individual ISRC, and that this is what the majority of artists do. However, if your OCD gets the best of you, feel free to copyright each track.

My advisor said the best way to do it is just to register the whole thing as a creative work, so that’s personally what I’m going with.

5. Limitation of Claim


This is the place, if you are a start up artist like me, that you will make an exclusion for any leased beats.

After that, it’s a simple few clicks away from sending your request off to the Library of Congress. $55 is standard for a PA album copyright.

For further information:

Can I copyright my whole album at once?


How to Release an Album as an Independent

My first album is coming soon.

As with most other firsts in music, I learned of many, MANY responsibilities of which the general public is completely unaware. Because this information is not widely available on the internet, and since one of my goals is to help you guys learn from my mistakes so that your experience may go a little smoother, I have compiled a checklist of items to have in order before submitting to your distributor.

Notice that I did not say before your album releases, but before submission… more on this later.


As an independent artist, you are the CEO of your own company, and you have a lot of power as to when things get done. At the same time, as an independent, you will still be dealing with a team that you may have to wait on.

In addition, getting everything together may take you some time. And do not allow yourself to be defeated by your own ambition. In the words of Steven Pressfield,

“The professional arms himself with patience, not only to give the stars time to align in his career, but to keep himself from flaming out in each individual work. He knows that any job, whether it’s a novel or a kitchen remodel, takes twice as long as he thinks and costs twice as much. He accepts that. He recognizes it as reality.”


Don’t get too antsy to release your album once it’s done. You’re going to need some cash, even as an independent, to push your work out there. Here are some costs to consider:

  • Online distribution fees: $200+
  • Physical distribution: $200-500
  • Promotion: $100-500
  • Video production: $500-800
  • Copyright filing fee: $55

Don’t get overwhelmed, but do be grounded in reality. Whether you need to save up for a couple of months, sell some items, or wait until your tax refund comes in, make sure that you have everything in line before putting your work out there. You worked so hard on this project that you want to make sure that you do it justice!

3. Copyright each song.

Contrary to popular myth, your songs are not copyrighted by dropping them onto Spotify. Yes, it does have a nice little copyright symbol at the bottom of your artist page, but that is essentially there to let people know that you own a copyright. Ahem:


That’s it. Fortunately for you, it used to take 14 months to receive your copyright certificate, not too long ago actually, when paper forms were required. Now, you are able to file online and receive your certificate in the mail in a matter of just a few months.

When doing this, you will have a few options of how to list your work. If all of your music and lyrics are original, you will probably not prefer to list as a sound recording. This category is specifically for songs that are a performance or derivative of another work. If your main goal is to protect your music and lyrics, choose the creative work category. You will be able to list all of your songs for one fee, as well.

4. Register your songs with your PRO

A PRO is a Performing Rights Organization. They make sure that all of the royalties for your music are funneled to you regardless of where your music is performed (in industry terms, a performance is any public broadcast of your music), whether at a restaurant, on the radio, or at shows.

Since America is still pretty capitalistic, we do have a couple of options for PROs while other countries have a monopoly. This is good for you. Unless you have been invited to SESAC, you have a couple of options: BMI or ASCAP.

I’m not going to go into how to choose one: That’s another article for another day (and several Google searches). Someone tried to lasso me into BMI because there is no entry fee, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. I really paid attention to which artists chose each PRO before I decided.

5. Promotion

One of the biggest mistakes an artist can make is to spend all of his budget on production and leave nothing for promotion. These allocations should be evenly distributed. What’s the point in having a glorious video if no one sees it??

You can do your own promotion, but I strongly recommend getting one or two good representatives to promote your music as well. The best spotify promoter I know is Streamlord. He does playlist pitching and song placement. Check out how to get your songs placed here:

Streamlord Playlist Pitching


6. Artwork

If you want to get paid as an artist, pay people. You reap what you sow. Pay beatmakers, pay promoters, and pay artists. Your art can make or break how well your project goes.

Decide on whether you would rather go with photos or with graphic design, then find the right people in your network to make it happen within your budget.

If you are going with photos, schedule the photo shoot far enough ahead so that the photographer can also finish his creative process in time for distribution.

Also consider shooting a video for promotion. This step is optional but could add immense value in the current digital landscape.

7. Social Media Marketing

I cannot emphasize the value of social media coverage enough. Major labels are currently signing people with zero musical talent based off of the sole attribute of a high following.

Building up followers, as peripheral as it may seem, is one of your main jobs as an artist (I understand you already have 50; what’s one more?).

Consistent engagement is key in social media. It is even possible to run some ads. Depending on how serious you are, you can add an Instagram promotion for $5 or pay a digital marketing company to handle all your social for you for $200 monthly.


In no way is this meant to be a cure-all for the album release process, but it should be a helpful guide. Check out the RAW album on Spotify and iTunes, and feel free to write any questions that you may have in the comments. I am certain that your project is going to win!



13 jobs in the music industry you should be doing right now:

“Thank God for the day!” Metro Boomin tweets to the universe, reminding the music community that there is gratitude to be had, there is a God, and Young Metro still lives..

Sure, we all are familiar with local and mainstream rappers and singers, but most of society can be completely aloof to the multi-layer support system that runs the machine. ‘A-list’ celebs like Justin Bieber or Beyoncé have a team of some 2,000 people, from stylist to roadies. Even a roadie at this level makes a good living, if you’re interested in the tour lifestyle.


In this article, we will discuss 13 music industry jobs–some common, some less heard of–to guide you to either pick a major or maybe just in time for your quarter life crisis. For the purposes of this article, we will skip the artist occupation because of it’s nature, but feel free to check out My life as an artist.

1. Producer

What is a producer? A more hotly debated topic lately, the parameters defining the producer’s role have been blurred, especially in certain genres. Traditionally, the producer was known as the person helping to develop the record and shape the artist’s sound.

In recent times, many amateur “producers” have emerged all over the internet. But what really is in place to separate the seasoned Full Sail grad from the 15 year old who just traded in his PS4 for FL Studio out of curiosity? (Sometimes it can actually wind up being the 15-yr-old who makes it, but that’s another story for another day).

This dilemma brings me back to something Gary Vee said recently: “If your Instagram bio says entrepreneur, and you’re not doing anything, you’re not an entrepreneur. You’re a wantrepreneur.”

Unfortunately, no rules exist to prevent amateurs from giving themselves producer titles. In the meantime, a few other terms are in place to specify further what one means when calling herself “producer.”

2. Engineer

An engineer is someone who records the session. He is usually in the control room tracking the record and giving input to the artist based on what he hears during the session.

Your engineer can be your most valuable asset–he will make or break the sound of the song. You’re going to want to extend even more hospitality than you do to your Uber driver, that is, if a golden record is more important to you than a 5 star rating.


Engineering a session with a local rap artist

Honestly, an engineer these days is much like a dope dealer. Once you find a good one, you keep him, he offers services that few people do, and in a moment of desperation, a loyal client will run his door down at all hours of the night.

An artist in his own right, an engineer has his own creative input on a song but is usually a more behind the scenes type. Recording sessions on your own, you can expect about $30-50 per hour.

3. Beat Maker

This is where it can get confusing. Many beat makers don’t want this label; they jump straight to calling themselves producers, at which seasoned engineers and experienced producers get their feelings hurt.

In my opinion, you can make beats, but you’re not a producer until you’re making a good income or have some type of reputable standing in the culture. Until then, you’re a beat maker…that’s just me personally.



Once you do start getting some traction, you are #1 on the list to be making some dough. The instrument track gets 50% publishing royalties off the top of any song. Let’s say you’re working with an artist who creates an entire hook and 3 verse to your beat: lyrics and melody. The song takes off, but only because the artist has first paid you, her manager, a few promoters, and some contest entry fees. That artist will then still be splitting publishing royalties with you 50/50. Crazy, right?

4. Music Entertainment Lawyer

Which brings me to my next point. Once you start making some cash, you’re going to need a music entertainment lawyer. Not a real estate lawyer, not a divorce attorney, but a music lawyer. Only someone familiar with the industry will be able to read your contracts correctly.

For this reason, these attorneys commonly charge some $250/hr for their services, unless your client is Brittany Spears and you just work on a per diem basis.

5. Accountant

This title probably may you think of someone like Lil Pump’s accountant, who is probably getting a nice percentage of his $8 mil contract. However, not all accountants in the industry operate this way.

It is perfectly normal for any human making money in the industry to hire an accountant; it’s just like owning your own business. You want someone to help you out with you schedule Cs so you don’t get screwed at tax season.

6. Personal Manager

This is the person an artist should be able to trust with his life. If you are an artist’s best friend, you could be in the running for this position. A personal manager handles everything directly related the person of the artist–schedules, gigs, other team members, and maybe even the coffee he drinks in the morning.

Go for this position if A) You really believe in your artist but would rather do promo/behind the scenes work. B) You are a great people person: You’re going to be doing PR with the fan base, venues, and pretty much everyone/everything in relation to the artist. C) You have great organizational skills. Your artist has so many DMs to answer, photo spreads to plan, and trauma to process through his album that he needs to be able to leave it up to you to handle details and get him from point A to point B in one piece.

7. Business Manager

This is the other person an artist should be able to trust with his life.

8. Streaming Promoter

In the digital age, streaming platforms have all but replaced the traditional pay-per-track idea. This is has great advantages and disadvantages for the artist. It is up to the streaming promoter to find all of the advantages and use them to the artist’s advantage. My friend, Cyph, is great at this. You can check out his website at The StreamLord.

A1A50BB3-7A8F-4915-BD62-6C34AA467A4CSomeone in this role may work primarily for one artist, but it would be beneficial to contract with multiple artists. Playlist pitching is a major role for a streaming promoter, as playlists are the new radio. And since promo/marketing is essentially the number 1 weapon for artists, a streaming promoter is invaluable. In this role, you could start out making between $10-150 per promo item, depending on the type of digital pitching or promotion.

9. Digital Promoter

Everyone who wants to sell anything needs a digital promoter. This form of marketing can be the catalyst that pushes your career over the edge. My personal digital promoter owns Imperial Digital Marketing (which I highly recommend): The people are super nice and helpful, and their company is always developing fun digital tools for promo.

Going into this industry, the sky is the limit for profit because of the virtual zero overhead that would go into this type of business. If you are social media savvy and always ahead on Silicon Valley trends, check into this profession.

10. Regional Promoter

Are you a people person? If not, stop reading now.

If you are, fully consider being a regional promoter for local artists and labels. You will be responsible for putting together events and for knowing the market. What’s fun for you is that you will be in contact with so many cool artists, managers, and venues. The other thing that’s cool for you is that green stuff (money, for those of you from Colorado).

Once you get yourself established as a reputable promoter, you will be getting paid for that attention that artists are always vying for.

11. Radio Host

Being a radio host is not as difficult as it used to be. Thanks to the advance of technology, you can be on the radio through an app, while going Instagram live at your radio station a.k.a. barber shop.

Though doing this is separate from mainstream radio, you will have your own tiny little music kingdom for which you are the gatekeeper. You will decide what music/content is played and what gets promoted. With enough local (or internet) support, you may even begin to generate income from some ads.

12. Publisher

In the words of Stone Stafford, owning your own publishing house is like owning your own bank. All the money in music is in publishing…once you find some good songwriters, you will be golden.

13. Royalty Bounty Hunter (recoupment)

This is the newest career in music that I’ve learned about, and I had to save it for last because–I mean, let’s just be honest–bounty hunter + music = *insert multiple flame emojis*


Someone in this position is responsible for getting back royalties that you hadn’t been collecting but that you should have. Streaming platforms, or whichever services, that owes you these royalties would be in the same position as someone who owes back taxes. Yikes for them!

Someone doing royalty recoupment knows who to go after and how to collect what you should have been getting paid — for a small fee, of course.


There you have it. A few of the ways you can make it in the music industry without dancing next to strippers or yodeling in Wal-Mart. Just to be clear, I do not discriminate. I don’t think I would be brave enough to rap one of my verses in the junior department, but the sentiment is nice.

What occupation do you currently have in music or are you interested in? What do you think qualifies someone as a producer? Leave a comment below, and cheers to your role in the music industry.

Until next time, Yours,

-El Z

What it’s like to be a recording artist

A music artist–someone who performs, maybe writes music, whether a rapper, soul singer, jazz musician, or an independent hippie with a guitar. In my experience, this is by far the most expensive occupation in music, especially at first.

On the flip side.

Being an artist is much like owning your own business: You are in charge. You call the shots (to some extent); however, you also are responsible for paying everyone on your team. I’ve spent the past year recording my first album, and it’s the most expensive thing I’ve ever done. And just like with an office supply or home appliance repair business,  being an artist is likely going to cost you in the first year–or two. Or five.

Let’s say that you do make some progress after a few years. Realistically, it takes 10. Cardi B stories are quite unusual, unless you are a firecracker personality with an established Twitter fan base and reality TV following to begin with. These days, it’s really all about marketing. This unfortunate twist of the social media era has enabled video and meme famous celebs like Danielle Bregoli and Mason Ramsey to get record deals for stunts like disrespecting your mother or yodeling in the Wal-Mart jewelry department.

I digress.

Once you do gain some traction in your local market, it is quite possible to make your music lucrative before you are world famous. A local rapper that lives about an hour away from me is currently charging $6K for each feature just because his Instagram fan base hovers around 500K.

Once you’re making this type of money, you’ll be paying your team as well. After you get $6,000 for the feature, that’s going back into your budget for everyone working with you. Being an artist did give me insight into several jobs in the music industry that will pay on day 1. If you are an instant gratification person or maybe a type A, check out this post for more details:

13 jobs you should be doing in the music industry right now


How to Get Good Album Art

In the age of streaming and digital distribution, half the battle in promoting a good song is finding appropriate artwork. For platforms like SoundCloud and iTunes, not only must certain specifications be met, but an artist must be happy enough with the piece for it to represent him or her on the internet forever.

No pressure.

Part of the anticipation for publishing any good song can often be deciding who is going to create the art, where it is going to come from, and what type of budget you should use in making this thing happen. After all, not all of us have the budget for a designer that can gracefully paint your hair yellow….Here, I have compiled a few guidelines to hopefully steer you in the right direction in your art choice.

1. Consider your platform.

Where will you be uploading your music? Different streaming platforms each have their own specifications regarding album art.

SoundCloud: 800 x 800 pixels minimum

iTunes recommended: 3200 x 3200 pixels

Amazon music: 1600 x 1600 pixels maximum

If you’re uploading through a streaming aggregator, I recommend 1600 x 1600 pixels because it’s their minimum but the max for Amazon music (which is growing as an important platform, btw, because of Alexa). However, if you’re more of a SoundCloud connoisseur, or just dropping a few songs there for free, go for anything over 800 square, and you should be fine.

*see more specs like these on my References page.

2. Consider your budget.

I know, right. You’re barely affording Fruity Loops as it is while holding down 2 jobs and making time to record. Why pay an artist? Well, do you want to get paid as an artist? You do reap what you sow.

There are cases when paying for art may not be necessary, but think about it this way: There are hundreds, maybe thousands of independent artists just like you trying to do the exact same thing you are. What’s going to make you different?

Take every chance that you can to make yourself stand out a little more than the rest. Between videography, graphic design, and engineering, each is a specific field that others have taken the time to master just as you have writing songs and performing them. Narrowing down your field has proven conducive to greatness.

So if hiring those who specialize in those fields will bring you higher than the hundred around you, consider it an investment.

3. Where do I find it?

My first suggestion is going to be checking with artists that you know. There are dope artists just as hungry to draw or paint as you are to publish songs. The first artist I hired graduated from college with my brother, and she created a painting specifically for the single I was promoting, Letter to my Ex.

Letter to my Ex

This piece had every element of the song and also conveyed the feeling.

Now, if you don’t know any artists, or know anyone who knows an artist, it’s ok. There is still time for you to become cultured (that was sarcasm for the dry whit challenged). Yet, there are countless artists you can easily find on Instagram. If you are any type of established as a recording artist on social media, you will probably, in fact, have them coming to you. I’ve seen artists do great cover art ranging from decent work at $30 to crazy good covers for $50-130.

And considering that the play you get will have something to do with how it looks, choose wisely.

For those of you who are in a bind to release this track tomorrow and don’t get paid til Friday, it is possible (and I have done this) to use some extremely nice photo of yourself or some other picture as the track art. However, keep in mind the specs from #1. Even an iPhone SE does not have a wide enough pixel spectrum to meet SoundCloud’s standards. Using a photo like this could wind up grainy and reflect on your image permanently.

There also are some free clip art websites where you can find great photos to use just in exchange for artist credit (pretty nice of them). I have included a link to some of these site recommendations on my reference page.


Every artist needs visual representation for his or her work. Make sure that yours represents you in the best way possible. One last note would be to make your art (and social media) so that people know that it’s you because your art is somewhat connected or similarly themed. For example, Always Never from Canada uses primary colors and dark backgrounds. Miguel posts most of his photos with a beach sand background to reflect his most recent album. I know it’s his post before I even see his name.

Art can also be great promo to build anticipation before a song or album release. When considering your next visual concept, choose a picture that will be worth all the lyrics in your song.




Home Studio 101

For the past 4 years, I have been slowwwly, meticulously curating my own home studio. Any well-informed current artist, according to Felix Snow, needs to be able to record him or herself.

Yet how does one go about it? Where do you start? After doing everything the hard way and making countless errors that have wasted time I could have used actually devoted to the music, I would like to break down a few guidelines to hopefully save you some of the same griefs that I was forced to experience.

1. Decide on a DAW.

DAW, or digital audio workstation, is necessary for any studio. At most prominent recording studios in major cities, they’re using Pro Tools. I recommend this if you’re planning on working your way up in the industry, becoming a well-versed engineer, or just want to record your own vocals well.

As valued as Pro Tools is, it can also be expensive. Some artists/engineers who are just starting out prefer a more economical version. Also understand that it is not necessarily the tool you are using as much as the knowledge of the user that defines a good product (e.g. an inexperienced engineer using a $10,000 console is still likely to crank out a whack record).

A couple of other DAWs that are currently popular are Logic Pro X, FL Studio (formerly Fruity Loops), and Ableton. Felix Snow used Ableton when he produced Gold with Kiiara, and Metro Boomin started (and still mostly uses) FL. You will need to consider what type of sound you are going for when choosing one of these secondary DAWs: In my opinion, the stock plug-ins (or sound samples) for Logic Pro lend more to EDM while in FL lend toward trap music.

2. Pick a computer.

Depending on which DAW you have chosen, you may be limited in what type of computer you can go with. For example, if you do decide to start out with Pro Tools, you more than likely with need an Apple computer to handle the software, as Apple products are kind of build for art programs.

Understand that this is an objective claim, considering that I would hardly recommend an Apple product otherwise, but I digress. You will then need to decide whether you need a desktop or laptop for you needs, depending on whether you will be more mobile or if you need more of a stable core for your work space.

I must mention here, as well, that if you are a producer starting out with FL Studio, you will need a PC, which is what the program was made for. It is possible to use a trial third-party platform converter for Apple computers, but I recommend using the software on the system that it originally was intended for. I have found some good articles recommending the best computers for running FL and have included one here:

Of course, the whole article doesn’t necessarily have to be studied, but it does include some valuable information, if not other than for the specs. The third brand listed, a Razer, is my personal recommendation, and Metro Boomin’s, for what that is worth. Also, a Fruity license is included with the puchase if you buy one new. Even as I say that, I am currently running Fruity on the El Cheapo Dell Inspiron gaming version, and haven’t had any problems with that either.

3. Select an interface.

Ok, so you have a computer with a good DAW. Now, you need some way to move sound from a microphone or instruments to your DAW. How does this happen? If you’re planning to make beats with a USB controller or just a solitary mic, you may be able to skip this step.

However, for us mere mortals wanting the option of recording 2 keyboards, some girls singing, and maybe your friend’s guitar, you’re going to need something that you can plug that into.

Enter the interface. Depending on which DAW you have chosen, there are interfaces made to work specifically with that DAW. For example, Avid (Pro Tools manufacturer) creates interfaces that come with a Pro Tools license. Depending on your recording needs, they range anywhere from a couple of I/O slots all the way to professional studio gear.

Whichever brand you’re going with, first consider type and number of microphones/instruments you will be recording. This will give you good parameters in your search.


With these first three basic items, you’re ready to add monitors, instruments, and microphones to your studio. But first, make sure that you consider the best DAW for your budget and the best computer for the platform. With an interface to link it all together, you can become a DIY hitmaker.

Beat Making 101

I’ve been making beats for about year and a half, and about 50% of the time people hear about it, the response I get involves questions about how to get started. With current technology, beat making does not require a complicated process, a college degree, or even a huge budget. Your main objective, if you’re serious about the endeavor, is to get started. Like with anything, your most valuable commodity is going to be experience.

My interest spans a few different genres: Mainly hip-hop, but also some pop and acoustic. I have done my best to outline your startup process as follows:

1. Save $$

Like with many goals, money can be the primary deterrent from achieving what you set out to. However, life is too short to let that happen. Must be nice to have unlimited resources, you are thinking. Well, I don’t. As a single female working in hospital registration, I had to scrape for everything that I had. My MIDI keyboard is a fortunate hand-me-down, Logic is from my tax money, and Pro Tools Express and an Mbox took my entire Christmas bonus.

It’s all about prioritizing, when it comes down to it. Ask yourself:

  • What’s really important to me?
  • Where do I see myself in 5 years? 10 years?

If you’re 25 and unhappy, but do not wish to see yourself in the same habits at 35, it’s time to make a change.

Saving is really less about making a lot and more about living within your means. Even if you save $50 a paycheck, at the end of every month, you will have another $100 to spend on gear. Making sacrifices is part of success: If cutting out a few more trips to Starbucks or Wing Stop get you where you want to go, consider it worth it.

2. Pick Your Gear.

I’m not going to lie to you: Audio gear is not cheap. However, that is no excuse not to be great. Metro Boomin was producer of the year, and he started on a $99 piece of software (FL) with a laptop and a keyboard. He still uses these platforms as his base to this day.

Young Metro

Case in point: Pick out one or two essential pieces of gear just to start. You don’t need to be all fancy to make a good beat. In fact, being in front of a gigantic interface with 500 plug-ins would likely overwhelm you to begin with. Now, what you need will slightly vary depending on the type of music you wish to produce, but at the end of the day, your best friends will likely be:

  1. A laptop
  2. Recording software (a.k.a. Digital Audio Workspace or DAW)
  3. A MIDI controller

That’s it. Yep. These three items are a good start for beat making. A laptop, you likely already have. Any type of computer will work, really. You will have to research which DAW will work for your music style. Most prefer Logic Pro X for Mac or FL for PCs. FL is what a lot of hip-hop and trap beat makers use, though it can be tricky using on Mac. Formerly Fruity Loops, they have attempted to make the platform a bit more fancy, with upgrade options for recording vocals, etc. On the other hand, you may prefer Ableton Live, a made-for-home platform promoted by Kiiara’s now trending producer, Felix Snow.

A MIDI controller is any device that can send electrical impulses, read through your DAW as sound. A keyboard can be a MIDI controller, as can a beat pad. The go-to beat pad for hip-hop music is Akai products, beginning with the original Akai MPC from 1988, so classic they put it on T-shirts. If you want to dig one of these babies up, good luck going under $1K. However, Akai has several modern, evolved MIDI controllers, including the MPD218 for $89. If you choose the Ableton software, they manufacture MIDI controllers as well, so that may be an easier option regardless.

3. Start.

Just start. Stop making excuses. Everybody, at first, feels completely lost and clueless. Totally normal. When Childish Gambino (Donald Glover) discovered FL, he locked himself up in his dorm room, skipping classes at NYU for a week to learn and make beats (disclaimer: I am not recommending that you skip college courses to make beats).


There are lots of beginner YouTube tutorials and articles about how to use Logic and FL. With more practice, you will figure things out and develop your own shortcuts and templates.

There you go…you’re welcome. Now you can make your own beats, or sell beats–whatever your end game, you have all the resources. The only thing stopping you is you.

Mary Beth, CHAA; Assistant Audio Engineer, Fresco Recording Services