Talking Beats and Business with Daniel Hartnett of The Corporatethief Beats

Hey guys, YC here. Today was a good day.  I got up, fed my cat, had some coffee and sloppy joe’s for breakfast, and then conducted an interview with beat-maker and online marketer Daniel Hartnett, the man behind The Corporatethief Beats. 

I came across Daniel while doing research on how to better use Twitter to promote my music, as he has some stuff about that over on his Youtube channel.  In this interview, I grill Daniel about his background in music, why he enjoys producing sick beats for a living, and how he ties it all together with online marketing.  It was educational to say the least.  Enjoy our chat!

YC: Hey Daniel, where’d you come up with the name of your business, The Corporatethief Beats? Sounds a bit anti-establishment…

DH: I wouldn’t say it’s the best name or most brandable name if I am honest. At the time it was just some weird name I called my Youtube channel hahaha.

I don’t it’s a good idea to put the word “thief” in your title when your business is in music online sales. But I had built up my channel up with the alias I just continued on.  The one good thing about it is that it’s unique. I see tons of beatmakers with the same name. This can be a nightmare for branding and the consumer experience. I have views and opinions about the political world, but I won’t go down that rabbit hole right now. I did adapt to the theme of the Corporate American culture with my branding for The Corporatethief Beats. You can see it in my logo and the titles of my tracks. In 2015 I did title an instrumental mixtape after the Wall Street movie where Gordon Gekko says “Greed I$ Good”. So I do like to play with themes and social media gimmicks.

YC: What’s your job title, would you say?

DH:
 I am qualified in music production and sound engineering from The Academy of Sound Dublin. Since 2008 music production has pulled me into online marketing too. I have had to become a jack of all trades to make this online machine work right. During my music production studies, I also studied Digital Marketing at Dublin Business SchoolI dabble in a lot of things online not just music. I podcast, vlog and have some other niche sites that are unrelated to music too. But for my music production side of my business, I use titles like Beat Maker, Sound Engineer, Digital Marketer.

YC: When did you start making beats?

DH:
 I have been playing music in bands since I was 13 years old. Also, my parents really pushed me with playing instruments. Which I am super grateful for now. I played the guitar and wrote a lot of simple acoustic songs in college. I wasn’t really into hip-hop then. I listened to a lot of grunge music like Alice In Chains, Soundgarden and Nirvana etc. One of my friends noticed that I was trying my best to record my songs with Audacity. He gave me a loan of his laptop which had FL Studio on it. Then he gave me the gist of how to make hip hop beats using this software.

I was hooked and I really started to get into hip-hop music. He told me to take an introductory music production course, so I signed up to Galway Technical Institute. This was my first taste of music production and working in a studio. It was here where I obtained skills for using Apple’s Logic Digital Audio Workstation. Not that there was anything wrong with Fl Studio, I just prefer LogicIn 2010 / 2011 I set up my own website www.thecorporatethiefbeats.com. It was around this time I moved to Dublin and attended the Academy of Sound which I studied there for 4 years. Academy of Sound gave me the necessary skills in ProToolsAlong with the process of how to work with bands in the studio.  During that time in Dublin, I worked as a runner and as a sound tech for the theatre company called Tobar Na Run.

YC: What gear did you have when you started your career and why did you have said gear, ie. birthday present when you were 12?

DH: I don’t have a complicated set up. I like everything simple. Too much stuff just confuses me and hinders my workflow.

    • Audio Interface : Apogee Duet {Simple High Quality Sound and Portable}
      iMac: Bought it in 2008 never had any problems.
    • KRK RP8 G3 active studio monitors: Good quality monitors never had any problems.
    • M-Audio Keystation Midi Keyboard. I don’t need an expensive midi synth as most my sounds are controlled by VSTI’s.
    • Native Instruments Machine. Amazing tool, you can literally create beats without an interface. The sound libraries with this tool are worth the money alone. There is a bit of a learning curve with this piece of kit. I haven’t used this tool to it’s full potential yet.
    • Logic Pro X: This is my main production tool. I use a lot of the stock synths and just tweek them to what I want.
    • Sylenth1 VSTI  I have the sylenth1 synth which is my main go too synth. I am just used to it. Along with the fact that I built up a library of sounds and templates over the years.
    • Native Instruments Komplete 9. This is all I need I use. There a lot of the synths with this tool. I rely heavily on patches and bend them to my sound or layer them with other sounds.  
    • Microphones Shure Beta 57a / Shure Beta 58a : Must haves for any musician or sound engineer.

I understand how they work like the ESX or the ES2 from years of making beats. Most of the time I just saved my own templates.

YC: I assume you’re into hip hop, from all indications.  Who are your all time fav hip hop artists?  

DH: It’s hard to answer this question. Even though I love the raps and lyrics from the classic rappers like Biggie 2Pac and Jay Z. Their raps just don’t resonate with me enough to build a thorough connection to. With rap artists like Nas, Kanye West, Drake, Kid CuDi, Lupe Fiasco, Travis Scott, J Cole, Chance The Rapper, Logic, Kendrick Lamar, Bryson Tiller, I can feel a better connection to the material because of they are more or less the same age as my generation. I have different artists for different days. Some hip-hop artists I like, but don’t understand the lyrical content I just like the way that they rap like T.I. Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj, Jeezy, Jadakiss, Lil Wayne, 2 Chainz Cameron, Wiz Khalifa, Chamillionaire.

YC: Any new favs you’d recommend, like say some underground lesser known shit?

DH: Not really sure if these are considered underground. Artists like Hopsin, Kid Ink, Action Bronson, Atmosphere, Charles Hamilton.  

YC: What’s your favourite kind of beat?

DH: This is just too hard to answer hahah 🙂 I like complexity hidden in simplicity. Hahaha. I am a big fan of the music producer Danjahandz. He is Timbaland’s right-hand man. Listening to his beats, parts of them sound so simple. But it’s the way Danja places all these parts together. Along with his knack for using vocals as an effect within the song, to act as countermelody against the singers vocal is just sheer GENIUS!…A good example of Danja’s best work is seen on Gimme More by Britney Spears.

Also…Hello Good Morning by Diddy

And Sexy Back by Justin Timberlake.

For hip-hop music producers like Kanye West, Just Blaze,  Boi 1da, Travis Scott, Noah Shabbib, T-Minus, Kane Beats, Franks Duke, Dr Dre, anything they touch turns to pure gold.  I like dark seedy beats with some light of melody. I’m not really a boom bap kind an of a beat maker. Some modern beats that I like include The Language by Drake (produced by Boi 1da).

Also…Bad Ass by Kid Ink (produced by Devin Cruise)…

Ni**as In Paris by Jay-Z and Kanye West (produced by Hit-Boy, Kanye West, Mike Dean)

Rich as F*ck by Lil Wayne / 2 Chainz (Produced by T-Minus)

Lord Knows by Drake / Rick Ross (Produced by Just Blaze)

YC: Do you like to recreate beats much?

DH: I don’t really do remixes or samples beats anymore, as they are really hard to promote online. Most online sites will just remove them once you upload them. I made a remix of a Lady Gaga’s song “Love Game” a while back and nearly lost my Youtube Channel in the process. Along with a sample hip-hop beat I created using Supertramp’s “Logical Song” caused the same issue which made it even worse. I do some request work from time to time and I will use samples for the artist. But I don’t actively promote sample-based beats anymore. I do take inspiration from the controversial ”Type Beat” method that you might see on Youtube. This is only a gimmick to get in front of the right buyers on Youtube. Most of the time my beats are an amalgamation of various type beats that I gained inspiration from at that given moment.  

YC: How long does it take to make one of your beats?

DH: That’s hard to say if I have a good workflow maybe a couple of hours and come back a day later and do the mix. I don’t usually mix and create on the same day.

YC: How much does it cost for a beat?

DH: Lease rights varies between $20 – $97 depending on the type of lease license. Exclusive Rights varies based on the popularity of the lease. Exclusive rights range from $350 – $2000

YC: 
Who buys your rap beats, typically?

DH:
 Great question. It’s surprisingly a lot of the time its companies using the music for background jingles on videos, radio shows, podcast and Youtubers. I have also got a couple of loyal beat buyers that purchase on a regular basis with custom work.

YC: Any cool songs online featuring one off your beats we can check out?

DH: Here’s some…

Kid Berg – White Boy Dope

Ty Brasel – Hope Dealer

YC: Do you ever sample live drums?

DH: Only at college we experimented a lot creating weird sounds.

YC:
 Are you a hi fi or low fi kinda guy?  ie. do you like smooth slick sounding shit or dirty grimy glitchy sounding shit?

DH:
 A bit of both. Really.

YC:
 At what point does beat making and internet marketing intersect for you?

DH: I set out a marketing plan for creating content for the release of the music and try to use my content to promote the music. Rather than using the music itself as a marketing tool. Examples include beat snippets on Instagram or beat making videos are good tools to promote the music without having to give it away for free.

YC: When did you start becoming an internet marketer?

DH: Around 2010 / 2011 is when I started my site. I knew that I had skills that could be used for other parts of the internet. I learned from music marketing expert not rely just on music sales. That I should use my skills to provide other services too. This is great advice that I still apply my goals too.

YC: Who inspired you to do that?

DH: My brother and I are obsessed with internet marketing. It’s given us freedom. But I think I just continued to try new things. Some of the old stuff tends to stop working so you need to adapt. Pat Flynn’s website Smart Passive Income was the first site that I stuck with when it comes to learning about online marketing.

YC: How much do you hate normal 9-5 shit?

DH:
 I will be the first to put my hand up and say that I am tied to my computer. But I make time for friends and family. I am not a crazy clubbing person, I am happiest when I have something positive to create. My other sites also take up some my time but I like having a diverse amount of things to do. Even though I like making beats I would go crazy if it was the only thing I did.

YC: What other instruments do you know how to play?

DH: Guitar, Piano {Not so great}

YC:
 What’s your sickest track, according to yourself?

DH:
 Good question. I really like my pop / rnb tracks kind of show my music production range.

YC: Did you study music, and if so, where?

DH:
 Galway Technical Institute is where I started with my music production. I went to the Academy of Sound after that and spent 4 years. It was here where I qualified with a higher Diploma in music production and sound engineering. Guitar and Piano are just by ear. I did receive some formal training when I was younger during primary school.

YC:
 What were the best skills you got out of Academy of Sound Dublin?

DH: I got to test very expensive gear. Tools like destressors, compressors, manley massive passive, DBX compressor, neve compressors. I also worked with the SSL Nucleus. I also love the sound of working with tape. I really heard the difference with reel to reel. I can hear how rounder and thicker my beats sound after going from the SSL to the tape machine back in the box.

YC: Did you have any other dream jobs?  ie. claims adjuster, preacher, airline pilot.

DH:
 Musician in a band. Hahah

YC:
 What sites of yours should people be checking out?

DH:

Getchorus.com – How To Write Hip Hop Lyrics and Learn How To Rap Website.

The Corporatethief Beats – Buy Hip Hop Beats.

My Blog Here – Learn Music Marketing

Free Email Marketing For Musicians Course

YC: So you seem to have a handle on the Twitter platform, as you offer a course on this, right?

DH:
 Yes. I just find Twitter is an easy starting platform for young musicians. Facebook does have an amazing advertising platform. But I feel that with Twitter it’s much easier to strike a conversation with strangers compared to Facebook which seems a little too personal for some people. With the Twitter course, I found that Twitter does come with a lot of grunt work which can become tedious over time. Over a couple of years, I found a couple of hacks that can really help the average musician. This will help them automate some simple process that doesn’t need to be repeated daily. They can get the course here.

How To Promote Your Music On Twitter

YC: What are you trying to basically get through to people with your course?

DH: Just to be clear. This is not a get rich quick digital marketing course. This not a how to make money on Twitter course either.Twitter comes with a whole lot of grunt work, which can become tedious over time. I found tools like Hootsuite and Buffer. But even these tools became a chore of their own. I needed to find a way of promoting my evergreen content and adding new content more efficiently without having to be on Twitter or Hootsuite 24/7.

YC: Do you think that the majority of musicians are realistic business people?

DH:
 I firmly believe that musicians have many skills to offer people. But they don’t see the value they have right in front of them. They focus on immaterial things like views, likes, and follower counts. If they could just see how valuable some of the skills they have most musicians would be much better off.

YC:
 Do you think that Twitter is the best platform for promoting music and why?

DH: It’s not perfect. Facebook is just a pay to play game. It’s as simple as that. I can strike up conversations with strangers all day on Twitter and nobody thinks it’s weird or creepy. If I do the same thing on Facebook it comes across as kind of sad for some reason. I think people have a personal touch with their Facebook pages. With Twitter, this can be an easy starting point with little resources other than time.   

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