An Introduction to Sampling Rights

An Introduction to Sampling Rights

What up MM, back again and this time I want to give you and introduction on sampling rights. Like most of you, I am still developing my production skills and one thing I need to be aware of is sampling rights and the consequences. Ignoring to clear a sample has caused a lot of producer’s headaches in the past and this is something we want to avoid at all costs.

So your searching for your next sample and you come across a dope loop that you know you can turn into a banger. You put all the effort into making the beat and then you release the track. The track becomes very popular and you’re starting to make ground in the music business, until some lawyer slaps a huge bill on you, because you haven’t cleared that sample. This probably happens more often than not and is always kept on the low.

As Hip-Hop producers, most, if not all of our work is carried out using samples. The samples we use are pre-recorded music records or musical composition. Most likely these samples have not been cleared and you don’t actually have permission to use them. The owner of the sample in question has the right to approve or refuse any derivatives of their work.

So where do you start? Let’s face it; it really depends on your audience and how big the track is going to be. If your audience is small, then most likely the owner of the sample isn’t going to hear your track. If you have a huge fan base all around the world, then yes, the owner is likely to hear your track.

By this time you should be signed to a label that have lawyers in place to help deal with copyrights. I’m not saying you shouldn’t worry about clearing a sample, as you definitely need to be aware of the process and consequences, as your most likely going to be the person responsible for clearing them. I’m just saying if you find a dope part of a song and you want to use it, it’s up to you. You have to weigh up the pros and cons. Just be realistic with yourself.

The process to clear full songs for re-recording (covering) purposes, you have to get permission from BOTH the label and publisher(s). This is because there are typically 2 types of copyrights, 1 for the sound recording and 1 for the song itself.

As producers, we are only likely to use a segment of the song. Therefore, we would only need to obtain permission from the publisher. This is due to the fact that we are not using the original sound recording.

This is a very brief introduction to sampling rights, which I will expand upon, at a later date. Sampling is a dying breed and I believe it’s down to the fact of issues with clearing samples and people in the industry getting scared of a potential lawsuit and huge bills.

Just be aware of your audience and weigh up the situation. If you think you might need to clear the sample then do so. I don’t think any producer should stop sampling because of a fear of a lawsuit. At the end of the day you are only really going to be sued over money. If you’re not making massive bucks, then it would be very unlikely to get sued and if you’re really worried, buy sample packs. The samples have already been cleared and you won’t have to worry.

I hope this helped some of you guys / girls out, please feel free to leave a comment below, especially if you have had past experiences with clearing a sample.

Look forward to seeing your feedback. Until next time you can catch me at @UKAntSmith.

3 thoughts on “An Introduction to Sampling Rights

  1. aimz919 says:

    So just to be completely sure, all of the songs in the sample packs in MM are already cleared, and we don’t have to worry about clearing the samples correct?

    • Static says:

      This is the exact question I want answered for the Sample Pack Saturdays songs, I think the answer is no, because they use the education clause in the youtube videos over the packs, and the argument is fair use for educational purposes.

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