How to Get a Sample Cleared

How to Get a Sample Cleared

What’s up MM. Back again and as promised I’m here to expand on an earlier blog I posted “An Introduction to Sampling Rights”. This blog is aimed at any producer who is looking or would like to know the process of clearing samples.

As we progress in the music industry, at some point we will have to clear a sample, especially if we explode onto the scene. This is a process we must understand or we could be in big trouble. Even high profile producers such as Kanye West have had lawsuits over failing to clear a sample. Hopefully this post will aid anyone in the MM family on how to clear a sample.

So you got your sample you want to use. Depending on how exclusive the sample is, will depend on how much you will have to pay to obtain rights. Higher profile artists / bands will demand more money or a higher percentage of any profits.

If you feel a bit adventurous and brave, you can choose not to clear the sample, this may or may not have consequences. I suppose it really depends on how lucky you are. If you are going to go down this route, here are a few things you may want to consider:

Make the sample unrecognizable
• Don’t use a loop or hook
• Bury the sample deep into the mix
• Keep all details of the sampled song to yourself

I’m not justifying the above method; it is simply a way of reducing the risks when you have not cleared a sample. Also if the above method is used, it really does limit your track, which could make it a flop and not a banger. The decision is yours.

As expressed in my earlier post if we were to completely copy the track, we would need permission from both the publisher and the master owner. Most producers will sample a section of the track, which only requires the permission of the publisher. This is not written in stone across the world, so I would advise you to understand your local laws on copyrights.

Right, now to convince the publisher to grant you permission. This is easier said than done. The publisher will most likely want a copy of your track to compare to theirs. This isn’t ideal as you could waste your time on a track that won’t be released. Basically we need to convince the publisher to let us use the track.

This may involve a fixed upfront free, rolling fee (more records that sell, the more money they make), percentage of the profit or a mix. This is something that needs to be agreed and will most likely be a long a tiring process. I hope your negotiation skills are up for the challenge.

Really, the process is simple, but achieving it, is not. The chances of getting through to the right personnel first time is very slim, let alone getting a sample cleared. You will also need them to sign a contract, which may need to be witnessed.

If you are signed, there will be lots of people around you to help. Smaller labels will struggle more than larger labels, due to the contacts within the business. Unfortunately this is sometimes how things work out. It’s difficult to label the exact process, as this will differ with each situation in a different location. You should now have a very good understanding of how and why we clear samples.

Drop a comment or ask any questions below. Until next time MM, you can catch me at @UKAntSmith.


6 thoughts on “How to Get a Sample Cleared

  1. Sojourn says:

    This is very helpful as I intend to release a beat tape through an indie label next year and always like to be in the know as far as my potential risks for making music the way I’ve been accustomed to. Thank you!!

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