Unlimited Lease Vs. Exclusive Rights: Similarities And Differences

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The online beat licensing space can be a confusing landscape for up and coming music artists with limited experience.  A lot of this uncertainty stems from the plethora of beat leasing and purchasing options that many music producers offer.  When it comes to buying beats online, one of the most common questions that arises is: what is the difference between an unlimited lease and exclusive rights?  This article will highlight the similarities and differences between the unlimited lease and exclusive rights to help you get it right.

What Are the Differences Between an Unlimited Lease and Exclusive Rights?

The key difference between an unlimited lease and exclusive rights is tied to the ownership of the beat.  In the case of an unlimited lease, ownership of the beat remains with the music producer who made the beat.  The producer can continue to sell additional leases of that same beat to other artists from their beat store.  Leasing a beat is simply buying permission to use the beat, but no ownership rights of it are transferred to the artist.

In contrast, purchasing the exclusive rights to a beat grants the artist actual ownership over the beat in question.  The beat is removed from the producer’s beat store, never to be leased or bought by another artist again.  Exclusive rights are usually bought by professional artists with a greater vision and funding for their music projects.

The other main difference lies in the price.  Unlimited leases are usually cheaper than exclusive rights since the customer who purchases the exclusive rights also purchases full ownership.  Prices vary from producer to producer, but an artist can generally expect to pay somewhere between $100-$200 for an unlimited lease.  Exclusive rights pricing varies more broadly.  Mine start at $400, but some may run you thousands of dollars.

The Similarities Between Unlimited Lease and Exclusive Rights

The key similarity between unlimited leases and exclusive rights revolves around the usage rights granted to the purchaser. 

In the case of both an unlimited lease and an exclusive rights purchase, the artist buying the beat is allowed to post the song they make to DSPs like Spotify and Apple Music with no streaming limits.  They can sell unlimited copies of the song digitally and physically.  They can perform the song and shoot music videos with no restrictions.  In essence, the usage rights for an unlimited lease and the exclusive rights are identical.

Most online producers offer cheaper leasing options that come with streaming and sales caps.  If an artist exceeds the caps stated in their lease agreement, they must upgrade to the next lease tier in order to continue being able to use the beat.  Spending a bit more on an unlimited lease lets the artist avoid ever worrying about the limits.  These “limited” leases are ideal for beginner artists who may just be experimenting or practicing and aren’t taking their music seriously as a career just yet.  

Unlimited Lease vs. Exclusive rights - which should you buy?

Since the usage rights are identical, artists deciding between purchasing an unlimited beat lease and the exclusive rights really only need to consider one question: do you mind the prospect of other artists rapping on the same beat?  If you feel that your song will be superior, and you don’t care if someone else ends up leasing the same beat later on, then the unlimited lease is a great, cheaper alternative to buying the exclusive rights.  In reality, most songs made with beat leases get little to no traction.  So even if the same beat is used by multiple artists, your fans will probably never encounter those other versions and they’ll stay sitting on SoundCloud with four plays forever. 

However, if you fall in love with a particular beat and can’t stand the idea of someone else ever using it, go with the exclusive rights option to ensure that the beat is out of circulation going forward.  If you’re releasing an official album and attempting to take your career to the next level, the exclusivity that comes with purchasing the exclusive rights to a beat is an important factor and worth the extra money at the end of the day.

Why Choose luke4pres?

I do my best to help artists better understand the difference between an unlimited lease and exclusive rights.  I know it’s challenging, so contact me if you have any additional questions.  I’m happy to help!