Tutorials / 27 December 2017

Sampling and The Law

You’ve familiarised yourself with creative ways to use samples and loops, but there are some music rights you’ll have to be mindful of. Sampling has been a contentious legal issue since it first began. Repurposing somebody else’s work and creating something out of it walks the tightrope of copyright infringement, and through the years, this has caused many threats of legal action. Unfortunately, fair use isn’t a universal concept and varies internationally. Here’s some advice from us about how to do it the right way.


Royalty Free Samples

Royalty free samples are always a good place to start. Sample packs are often built by professional artists for you to use in your music, and whilst you often have to pay for these up front, it is definitely worth it for you to have a pack in your arsenal – one you feel defines the sound you are looking for. 

Permission

You’d be surprised how many artists don’t mind you using their music for samples, as long as you credit them – especially amateur artists who need the exposure. Reach out and let them know how you intend to use it – being nice goes a long way too! Or if you don’t have time to wait for a response, check out forkable tracks on BandLab instead. This is a fantastic way to find that drum track or vocal part you’ve been searching for. It’s always good practice to credit artists if you’ve used their music.

Sample Clearance

If you’ve used a sample from a popular song and you’d like to distribute your music publicly or for commercial purpose, then you will need to get sample clearance. Clearance will be required from the copyright owner of the song AND the copyright owner of the master recordings. The lines blur when we consider how much of a track you need to use for you to not require clearance. As a rule, if it is a recognisable part of the original, like a vocal or a lead hook, you’ll need clearance. If it’s a kick or a short sample which isn’t a recognisable from the original, then this will be deemed fair use.

Regardless of how you use samples, please always be cautious and treat other artists how you’d like to be treated – would you be happy if someone stole your vocals and used it to make money without looping you in?


Need an explanation on just what your rights are as a creator and a musician? Read up here on your music rights.

Start making music today.

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