Samples Clearance

Samples Clearance

Sampling is one of the staples of hip hop music. Unfortunately, many producers don't understand (or sadly... don't care) when it's legal and when it's not. The truth is, a good sample can make your music sound great, and kill your chances of any real placements at the same time.

Copyright Ownership

Whenever you create an original work, either music composition, lyrical content, or sound recording, you own an inherit copyright on that work. That means that if anybody wants to use what you've created in their own work (such as sampling), then they are obligated to get your permission (via a license) and typically pay you royalties on the backend. This is what is called "clearance".

It works the same way when you sample somebody else's work. When you take an audio sample of another recording, re-use a melody, or record another performance of existing lyrics, then you are obligated to get permission to do that and work out an agreement for paying royalties to the copyright owners of the work you borrowed.

Label Repellent

It's illegal for an artist (or record label) to release music which contains samples that have not been cleared. For that reason, no serious music buyer will consider purchasing music which contains samples for the simple fact that they cannot release it! And if they do, they could be sued for damages by those who own the copyrights to the samples.

Even if a clearance has been obtained for samples on your beat which can be legally transferred to your buyers, serious music buyers are still on the hook for paying royalties to each sample owner (including you) after their music has been released. Each author with a copyright interest in the beat represents another hit to the artists bottom line. So unless you've got a cleared sample for a major artist (not typical), no record label (independent or major) is ever going to touch your beat.