Throughout the music industry’s digital revolution, nothing has been as consistent and predictable as change. Today, some of the biggest songs and artists have been discovered on YouTube without any traditional help from labels, managers, or agents. And as a new way of e-commerce has arrived, there's one producer who has led that charge for the next generation of bedroom producers.
Taz Taylor, born and raised in Jacksonville, Fla., has built himself a mini-empire by switching up the beat-selling game online. The traditional way of selling beats through only exclusive licenses has become increasingly more difficult with the over-saturation of music on the internet and is too expensive for independent artists without the help of a major label. Taz has made his means by selling smaller lease options to multiple rappers at the same time while still retaining all the copyrights. However, this new school approach of selling what producers call “type beat” beats (a beat that references a specific artist in mind) hasn’t come without its share of controversies from veteran producers. (You can go look that up yourself later).
For now, Taz Taylor and his Internet Money team are just hitting their stride and looking to expand their reach even further. Taz spoke to REVOLT TV about how he made it to where he is today.
How did you get started making music?
My dad used to play drums in a band when I was a kid and while they would have smoke breaks I would get in there and play around. So I’ve been around music my whole life. I started playing guitar at 3 or 4 [years old] and it picked up from there. My mom always thought I would be like Dimebag Darrell or something. You know what I mean? Just really good on guitar or something. By the time I was like the age of 12, it just wasn’t something that I wanted to do so I quit. I ended up dropping out of school in 7th grade and really didn’t do shit for the next couple years. When I was around 18, my mom got cancer and I just started messing around with music to help pay bills.
What made you change your process of selling beats?
People get too attached to their product. There’s a lot of people who are just way too artistic about the beats they make and they don’t realize that at the end of the day you may be the one making it, but it’s not about you. People gotta relate to it. People gotta like it. Rappers gotta rap on it. So I was never really attached to my beats. I knew my beats weren’t great when I started, but I felt like it was kind of like swimming, you know? You’re never gonna learn if you keep skimming your toe across it. You gotta just jump on in it.
What was the process like when figuring out how to sell beats online? A lot of trial and error?
As my beats gradually got better, I started getting noticed by more people and it led to my first placement which was with Trey Songz. It was supposed to be on his Trigga album, but they didn’t want it for that so it got switched out. It was my first insight into the industry and I really didn’t f--k with it like that. So that’s why I kind of just focused more on the internet. Recently, Desiigner got one of my beats off YouTube and it just kind of opened up that door for me and that’s when I got a manager and everything and it just took off from there because there’s a market. There’s a specific price for specific types of leases and stuff: MP3 leases, .wav leases, trackouts. All that. There’s people that feel like we’re undervalued and we charge too little, but at the end of the day you can’t overcharge. You gotta know your value and keep it within the same price range as everybody else.
What was your first time selling beats online like?
My first time selling beats was straight through email. Back when I started, I was just trying to pay my mom’s cancer bills and I sold $10,000 just through emails by sending links and PayPal info within the first few months. Like, people don’t get that making beats is one talent, but selling them at the end of the day is a whole different ball game. You can have the best beats in the world, but if they’re just sitting on your computer or you don’t know the value for them, it doesn’t do much good. I was one of the first people to really use Twitter to sell beats because everybody else was focused on SoundClick or they were just trying to get in the “industry.” What I was doing was hitting up rappers on Twitter like, “Hey man, what’s your email? Do you need beats?” And they would just send me their email. I had a list of links that I would send to them and they would just go through and pick the beats and then I would just request PayPal. Doing that on my own it definitely made the transition of going to a site easier because I learned how to do it myself first. Now I just wake up to PayPal notifications for hundreds of dollars from the night before. It’s a blessing.
How do you see beat-selling evolving in the future?
I don’t think the game will ever get back to what it was like in 2004 where producers could just sell beats for hundreds of thousands of dollars. If you look at producers who had pretty big runs like Mike WiLL Made-It or Lex Luger, like, in my opinion, why they aren’t as prominent anymore is that technology is so advanced. Like, back in the day if you wanted The Neptunes’ sound you had to go get their soundboards and same equipment. Now all you can [do is] download a drum kit. So I feel like the game is definitely changing better for producers because we’re actually becoming more aware and more united. Plus, now rappers are kind of looking more towards the internet. I think J. Cole’s “False Prophets” beat was off YouTube. Joey Bada$$ said he went on YouTube for some of his beats. Young M.A.’s “Ooouuu” record was off the internet. “Trap Queen” was off the internet. A lot of these records people don’t understand where they actually come from. A lot of these were actually “type beats” on SoundClick or somewhere. People’s prices go up once they get in that industry door. So what are you gonna do? You ain’t gonna pay $30,000 for a beat anymore. You’re just gonna go on the internet when you got free time and find a beat.
What do you feel separates you from other producers?
What makes me unique is I understand that it is a business at the end of the day. I don’t get too attached to my stuff. Like, I know that what I do musically can be easily duplicated and I understand the music industry itself is, like, 90% business. So it’s, like, branding; names; how big is your reach? Stuff like that, as opposed to how good your beats are. That’s what I kind of focus on. I understand that if I don’t like the beat somebody else might like it and if I like a beat somebody else might hate it. I’m too busy trying to push the envelope forward branding-wise, marketing-wise. [I'm] doing stuff like that because back in the day they had a management that handled all of that. They had a team that would do their graphics, website, MySpace page or whatever. I handle all of that for myself and my team. The most important thing at the end of the day is we are our own label essentially. We’re in charge of everything we do and I think that’s what’s going to put us ahead of a lot of people because they’re still focused on making beats. Beats are gonna come. We’re producers. How are you gonna market yourself to stay relevant? That’s what’s really important.
What is Internet Money?
It’s hard to explain really. I kind of put it on my back because there is like a war going on between industry producers and internet producers right now and how they think we’re f--king the game up or we’re saturating it and all this shit. Not really. We’re just doing what we gotta do. We like doing music and this is how we survive. This is how we make money and I’m not gonna let anybody slander the name of any internet producer. So it’s kind of like a producer union. The people that are signed to Internet Money work for me, but anybody can be represented. It’s for everybody to feel like they are a part of something. I hate using the word 'movement,' but that’s pretty much what it is. It’s amazing to just wake up in the morning, my son wakes me up, and I already have hundreds of dollars in my PayPal. What people might not understand is they think I am a music producer, and it’s nothing like a producer who works with Future because they’re making millions. No, man. Especially people under the Internet Money team; we’re really making more than 90-95% of these industry producers. So that alone is just a blessing that I’m in charge of that. And I can do whatever I want. At the end of the day I dictate what I do and I can stand up for everybody else who wants to do that as well. We ain’t gotta get f--ked over on deals. We ain’t gotta give splits out to management. We don’t have to do anything. It’s kind of just standing up for the everyday producer. I’m looking for artists and producers to develop right now and kind of pushing it that way.