I have a number of clients who find instrumentals on YouTube and, rather than buying the exclusive license (or even the non-exclusive license), download them straight from the website (with producer tags and everything) and I cannot express how bad an idea this is!

While a high quality 320 mp3 file can be perfectly good – this is not what we’re dealing with – every time you convert and audio file to mp3A�through a certain medium it is processed by a unique algorithm which the designers have decided removes only the unimportant information from the song.

So if the producer starts with his DAW session he can make either a WAV or an mp3 stereo bounce of his track, lets hope that he bounces in WAV! But there is always a chance he goes for mp3 – if so, his DAW has decided to remove x information from the track.

At this point the are 2 possible audio files WAV or mp3(-x)

Next, he imports the file to a video maker so he can upload it to YouTube. Depending on the output/export settings of his video maker the audio will remain WAV (or mp3(-x)) or it will be converted to mp3 and y information will be removed.

Now you either have WAV, mp3(-x) or mp3(-x-y).

Then he uploads the video to YouTube and its converted to mp3 (or aac – a similar compressed file format) – now, if the video is HD then the file will remain a high quality mp3/aac but the lower the quality of the video (or still image) the lower the audio quality!!!!

Possible files: mp3(-z), mp3(-x), mp3(-x-y), mp3(-x-y-z) – all at various bit depths.

Finally you download the file using a YouTube to mp3 converter, which encodes at 128 kbps and you’ve potentially ended up with a 128 kbps mp3(-x-y-z-q) and THIS is now your foundation for you track?!?! If the foundation is that poor quality there’s no chance of the housing standing tall!

If you record on these beats you are making incredibly hard work for, not only yourself, but also you mix engineer, and your listeners!

I understand that not everyone can afford to buy every type beat they want to use but I would urge you to buy high quality instrumentals (if not stems) for EVERYTHING you release publicly.

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