Though YouTube's low royalty payments have been labeled a threat to the overall health of the music business - which should be remedied with its new streaming service YouTube Music - it still remains the most-used streaming platform in the world. The combination of its free-for-users model and global reach has granted a new generation of music entrepreneurs boundless opportunities to thrive.
Such is the case for producer CashMoneyAp. The 23-year-old earns a living by selling beats online, using YouTube as his main marketing platform. In just three years, his work has attracted nearly 500,000 subscribers, garnered over 100 million views and paved the way for placements with Lil Skies, Migos, Young Thug and Chief Keef.
But his list of accomplishments are more than just happenstance. The Guadeloupe-born producer took advantage of the "type beat" marketing strategy, titling each video with names of rappers he hopes to hear or foresees recording over his production. Some of his most popular videos fall under Young Thug Type Beats, 21 Savage Type Beats and Travis Scott Type Beats.
The ploy isn't a new concept, but has seen a steady uptick in popularity amongst rappers. Joey Badass admitted to using YouTube as an virtual A&R to fulfill production needs for his debut mixtape 1999. For most rappers, sifting through production online is a more efficient way of making music. Gone are the days-to-weeks long processes of waiting on an A&R to book studio sessions with a producer. Instead, a rapper can hop on YouTube, find the style of beat they're looking for, purchase it, record vocals and release it onto streaming sites in less than 24 hours.
The online production search cost effective for rappers, too. CashMoneyAp employs a beat-leasing strategy, allowing customers to purchase a single beat for as low as $50. Though the cost is budget-friendly, the beat can be re-leased to others for the same price. He claims to lease his production to "more than a thousand people. I sell leases like everyday." Full ownership rights are available, but come with premium price.
To sell his beats, CashMoneyAp utilizes BeatStars, the growing e-commerce marketplace for producers. For a monthly fee, the platform offers a centralized destination for beat makers to sell their work, as well as contract templates, social media advertising services and Soundcloud monetization.
"CashMoneyAp is literally one of the most perfect examples of what a young music entrepreneur can do in this world," said BeatStars founder, Abe Batshon.
CashMoneyAp's beat-making counterparts believe the reselling game dilutes value. He begs to differ. The small music scene in his hometown of Guadeloupe - a French island located in the Caribbean - did not offer many advantages to promote and monetize his artistry. Therefore, utilizing YouTube and other online mediums was his best marketing tactic. It was a wise decision that extracted him from his bedroom and into major label offices, specifically with Def Jam's executive vice president and head of A&R Steven Victor, who now serves as his manager.
"Artists now go and find CashMoneyAp's beats to record on, and put online and hope to garner a fan base and hopes to the attention of an A&R or a record label," Victor said. "That $250 [an artist] spends on creating a record could help get him a million-dollar deal or get him on the road and get him touring."
With Victor's major label expertise, CashMoneyAp has already begun the process of expanding his brand to include a solo album and a record label with its own roster of producers.
Victor adds: "This is the beginning of an empire for him."