(Photo by Desmond Rodgers)
(Written by Miguel Anderson)
In a busy roadhouse restaurant in Walnut Creek, California, I sat down with Matt Firenzé over a plate of Chicken & Waffles. He’s the mastermind producer behind Matt Firenzé beats on YouTube. His producer specialty lies in creating type beats. We discussed the effect of type beats in his own career, his process of producing type beats, and professional advice. Firenzé’s world lies nestled within the beat making community, particularly the type beat community, on YouTube. It’s a small, underground community compared to the likes of other YouTubers. Firenzé states that “the biggest type beat producers are still dwarfed in comparison to other YouTubers. So the biggest type Beats producer might have a million subscribers. Whereas you look at Ninja who plays video games, he has 30 million or more.”
That’s probably why you’ve never heard of type beats before. And if you haven’t, type beats are the over-labeled instrumental tracks found on YouTube. They’re tagged by feeling, genre, and most notably, an artist’s style that the type beat’s sound is most similar to. For example, the rap trio Migos’ sound is defined by a long trap bass. In that case, Matt Firenzé would create a type beat that has a long trap bass and label it “Migos Type Beat,” and upload it to YouTube. The same goes for other artists such as Drake who is identifiable by their R&B/Pop-rap sound, and DJ Mustard who utilizes a slow-tempo and repetitive handclaps. To be clear, type beats are not copies of the artists beat, that would be in violation of copyright laws. Type beats are original compositions, labeled to the artist who would sound best on that particular track. Between an artist’s composition and a type beat instrumental, there are similarities, but never outright copying.
Type beats are feeding a community of amatuer & newcomer artists. Since making music has become more accessible, as all you need is your phone microphone to rap or sing, many new artists look to type beats to use for their own songs. It’s easy to see why as type beats have appeal. Their cheap, accessible, have pre-made song structure, and most importantly, they have the big-name-producer sound. If an artist needs a Pharrel beat all they have to do is type “Pharrell type beat” into YouTube’s search bar, and immediately buy it. This has removed a process that originally was expensive and exclusively professional. No longer do artists need money for a top producer or the skills to create the track for their song. Instead, all they need is $30 bucks for a .WAV file.
The nature of appeal for type beats have led to a surge in popularity, making type beats expand past their homes on YouTube and on the charts & in the tracklisting of the most successful and professional artists. In an interview, San Francisco Bay Area rapper P-Lo confessed that his song, “Type Beat,” off his then-brand-new EP “Something Light” was inspired by the type beats that replicated his sound on YouTube. He searched up “P-Lo type beat” and found a bunch. Fetty Wap’s 2014 hit, “Trap Queen,” was created off of the back of a type beat. In 2016, Desiigner, racked a #1 from Billboard’s Hot 100 for his song “Panda,” whose instrumental track was purchased on YouTube. As more artists use them, type beats prove that they are a force within the music industry.
For Matt Firenzé, creating type beats began unexpectedly. Before type beats, Matt Firenzé was simply a beat maker. He had been making beats for years in college, and he continues to make beats on the weekends and after work; whenever he can. After seeing his friend make beats, he decided to start a YouTube channel for himself. “I got into it from a buddy of mine who used to live in Livermore. He made beats and he was doing really well that he moved to L.A..” He tells me. YouTube is a platform for his beats. While seeing how profitable beat making was, he started to market his beats as type beats as a way to gain coverage. “So I had already been making beats before. Then, I just realized that the beats I already had could be uploaded and marketed as type beats.” Firenzé’s case is commonly the case for many other type beat producers. Producers need a way to market their material, and type beats give them the opportunity to do so. When a producer uses a big artist name on their material, YouTube’s algorithm picks it up and sends it into a “rotation,” as Firenzé calls it. Once it’s in the algorithm, it shows up as a recommendation, encouraging the user to click it. It’s a smart move. Imagine watching a music video from Ariana Grande, then being forwarded to an Ariana Grande type beat.
For Matt, he begins making a beat by listening to music. The inspiration from music is how he got his start, and it continues to aid in his craft today. “I listen to music all the time. So whenever I’m going in between classes, I listen to music. If I’m grocery shopping, I have music. If I’m doing homework, I’m listening to music. That’s why when I go into making beats, it’s automatic.” That automatic process is what Firenzé calls the joy of making music. “The joy of making music is when I’m at work, and I hear a melody in my head. So I have to go to the bathroom to voice record that melody before I forget it. And when I get home, I make that beat. And usually when a beat comes to me in that way, then I usually have the entire beat in my head created before I even put it down.” And thats when the beat moves into it’s drafting phase. All Firenzé does is tweak the beat. “I’ll play with some synths and find a sound by listening to music.” Then he envions which artist works best for the beat. He asks “Who do I see on this beat? Who’s this beat in the style of?” and then he titles the video by tagging the artist’s name. He finishes it by uploading the video, putting together a cool picture, and then watch the video quickly pick up views. Currently, Firenzé is getting inspiration from Skepta right now since he dropped his album. His last two beats were Skepta type beats. “Just listen to way more music because you’ll eventually know what your ear wants to hear and you’re subconsciously training your ears just by listening to music.”
Listening to music can only get you so far. You can develop your sound as much as you want, but how do people listen to your beats? You simply can’t wait for your beat to gain traction on itself. To make it as a successful type beat producer you have to pay close attention to the trends. Catering to trends in music and outside of music can bring in attention. Matt does exactly that, he studies and notices patterns, then incorporates those trends into his beats.This is important because if you’re posting a video surrounding a trend, you’ll generate more buzz that will push YouTube to send your video into rotation. This was the thinking behind Firenzé’s beat titled, “Bath Water”: “These females on Instagram bottled their bath water, as a joke, and they sold it online and people were buying it. So, bath water was trending. So, I dropped a Drake and J. Cole type beat called “bath water” and it’s a picture of a tub with a rubber ducky. The beat starts with water drops building up into a [base] drop. That beat did really well.”
What Matt Firenzé is practicing, is a skill called strategic planning and marketing. Every type beat producer should learn this skill because your beats will be listened to. Firenzé advises newcomers to “Look at the news. Title a beat, and build it around that crazy thing.” You have to capture beats when trends are happening around it to draw crowds. Firenzé calls this, the greatest skill. “The greatest skill isn’t even being the greatest at type beats. I’ll listen to them [type beat producers] and think their beats are not that good. But they’re getting way more plays than what I am.” Leads to his a wise piece of advice, “knowing trends, knowing how to do marketing, knowing hook people in is important because I can have the greatest beat in the world, but if I’m not hooking people in to hear it was like no one’s gonna listen.” It works both ways too: “If you’re not the best, but have really good marketing, you’ll be better than someone who’s actually better than you.”
Marketing your video using the title and release date is only one way to successfully break out. With making beats, you’re playing in a competitive field. Everybody with a computer can make a beat at this point. However, when working with beats, the best way to stand out is by utilizing promotion. Firenzé notes that promotion by tagging and reposting your work is a secure way to stay ahead and support yourself. Firenzé says everyone should “casts a fishing pole.” He sets up his dynamic like this: “The pond is like the music industry and your fishing pole is whatever you’re currently doing. You just can’t hope for your video to go viral. You can’t just cast one pole and hope that that’s one. You can’t rely on a video going viral. You can’t rely on the beat maker that you tweeted out to to repost you. You can’t rely on any of that. But what you can rely on is doing everything you can to get the highest chance of success.” He invites those to cast their fishing pole by promoting your songs for at least 2 weeks. Reposting and tagging your work on other channels help bring people to your channel. It also shows others that you’re serious about your work. “That’s kind of how I treat my beats. While not all my beats are going to do well, but some of them will do well.” Promotion operates as a tunnel, bringing people to your beat.
When you’re dealing with people who make a beat from your song, promotion is probably the most important thing you can do surrounding your beat. Many will skip promotion simply because it isn’t their song; however, Firenzé emphasizes that you want to tag the person using your beat. “Yeah, so if this guy wants to buy beat from me, I want to tag them on my social media and promote the fuck out of him, because it’s only it’s only positive. If this dude looks up my channel, he’ll see that I’m always promoting everyone that’s buying my beat. So it’s free promotion for them. They want to be tagged to me so they follow me and promote me.” It creates a string of events that causes more people to come to your channel. So, the best thing you can do is promote!
With promotion and sound development under wraps, type beats can be profitable. In Matt Firenzé’s second year of beat making, he was making thousands of dollars just by selling beats. When you’re at that scale, you’re making passive income. You want to hone your skills to secure the bag. As you build your catalog even more, your older beats are getting purchased and played, sending your other beats into the rotation. It’s a cycle that keeps on giving.
While type beats seem like a tricky field to break into, it’s not. New software like Ableton, FL Studios, and even Reason, has made producing more accessible. And YouTube gives you the platform for your beats. At the end of the day, making money off of type beats depends on how ambitiously you market & promote your beats. Any aspiring beat maker can learn from Matt Firenzé. He teaches those that developing your sound is just as important as promotion. Don’t ignore one or the other. That way, you can turn those type beat dreams a reality. Making a grand doesn’t seem so hard, huh?