A picture used to be worth a thousand words, but now all that matters are streams.

Over a decade in the game, producer araabMUZIK has had a prolific career making beats for The Diplomats, A$AP Mob, Cam’ron, and hip-hop’s favorite curmudgeon, Joe Budden. While hip-hop has changed a lot since Araab’s first encounter with an MPC, one thing remains the same: money talks.

So, how are producers getting their money in 2018? According to araabMUZIK, it’s all about streams and virality—the artistry now comes second.

“People chart f views now, people get looked at because their views,” Araab explains over the phone. “Instagram views, Instagram followers, whatever—everyone just looks at those numbers. They start looking into the artist based on the numbers that they have.”

In response to this emphasis on numbers, Araab is pouring even more into his craft, taking time with his releases as opposed to dropping tracks for the sake getting his play counts up. And while he admits that streaming has some benefits to the producer—namely, a wider audience—he’s also well aware that producers aren’t getting paid their fair share. 

Araab’s proposed solution: a new partnership and ambassadorship with License Lounge, the digital marketplace and music licensing agency for established artists and producers. The platform ensures that artists are getting ficial beats from industry producers, and more importantly, producers will be able to enjoy a stable revenue stream.

“The producers are making the artists be who they are, you know?” Araab rightfully points out. “We all gotta eat, we all gotta get paid for what we do. It’s all work.”

Our interview with AraabMuzik, which was lightly edited for content and clarity, follows.

DJBooth: For as much as the industry has changed since your first beat placement, the business side has remained the same. What part that side the industry have you struggled with the most?

araabMUZIK: It’s basically like the business side things, with the lawyers… Only, later on, was when I started to understand the business when it came to the publishing and royalties. In the beginning, you do everything just for the credit, just to build your name up. Down the line, you want to start getting paid. I feel like everyone works for free] to build their credibility. Everyone starts f that way, with any type business they’re in, and you grow from there.

What is the biggest challenge a producer will face in the streaming era?

Right now, streaming is the new thing. If there’s a million people streaming, that’s really good, because the new way people getting paid is f streams and views. I guess that’s the new formula getting paid, not just for] producers. Because the larger audience] it’s good, it works out better.

How has the size the consumer market changed the way art is monetized?

People do things just to get everyone to view them now. Everyone’s more worried about the views than the sales. Everyone’s making videos and putting things out to see how many views they get. Views on YouTube and SoundCloud are the two biggest platforms… People chart f views now, people get looked at because their views. Instagram views, Instagram followers, whatever, everyone just looks at those numbers. They start looking into the artist based on the numbers that they have.

What’s the biggest change you’ve personally had to make to adapt to the streaming era?

I’m working on being real particular with my craft and the things I’m putting out. I don’t wanna put anything out just because. I kind want to build the momentum first, that way everyone knows I have something, rather than dropping things out nowhere. People who can drop things out nowhere are JAY-Z, Drake, Beyoncé. I’m not one those people who can come out nowhere.

A lot producers have come forward recently with stories being screwed out money by record labels.

Nowadays, the producer is what’s making a lot these hits and music that people really listen to. The producers are making the artists be who they are, you know? Right now, a lot producers are getting their credit for the hits they’re making. They’re not here to go unnoticed. I think it’s time for producers to get the recognition that we all deserve. It’s been years. The industry is heading towards “that sound.” Like, “What producer has that sound?”

You have a partnership with a company called Licence Lounge. How are they helping to circumvent some these challenges?

It’s a platform for people to be able to have access to producers like myself because there’s a lot imitators and people creating fake music and putting someone else in the title. This is a platform for people to have access to tracks from us and not have to spend thousands dollars on a track, they can just lease a beat].

What can producers who are new to this business do to ensure they get paid?

Do the right business: have the right manager, get money upfront. Right now, there’s people giving beats] for whatever. Then they look back and start to realize all the money they could have made. Sometimes moments pass by and they’re like, ‘Damn, I kind gave something away, just 'cause I was so hyped on the moment.’ We all gotta eat, we all gotta get paid for what we do. It’s all work. This is what we do to live. If not upfront, then just get royalties what makes sense in the backend a major placement]. If it’s just something real quick, get the money upfront.

For a major label placement, what is “fair” compensation for a producer?

Give the same type deals they give to artists. I feel like we should be getting equal types deals, depending on what type deal it is.

Is there any piece advice you ignored during your come up that you wish you had taken?

Nope. I was always confident and determined. As long as you keep at it and keep going, and don’t worry about what people say or think. Stay focused, because I’ve been that way, and I’ve succeeded. Everything falls in place.

What would you tell someone who wants to get into music production because they think anyone can do it?

Nowadays, people do things because they feel like they can, not because they love it. In my case, I love what I do. I was born to do what I do; it’s in my blood. Other people can wake up and something that they don’t like but feel like the can do. If you’re gonna do this for an extra hustle, then by all means, there’s no right or wrong way… People can definitely tell if your heart’s in it], they can hear it in the music.

araabMUZIK's newly-released sound kit, with 118 unique sounds influenced by his Electronic Dream album, is now available on License Lounge.