How to Clear A Sample

Being Smart About Sampling

Some hip hop producers will fatefully utilize sampling at one point or another when establishing a track list of songs. There are lots of samples available nowadays through the accumulation of records and audio samples online. Sometimes it can be unclear in terms of what samples have authorization for fair use or not. Business conscious producers wait until their project is complete before they start dealing with the legal aspects of clearing samples.

Normally, you will be under the radar to sample freely if you sell less than 10000 copies of that song or album as the court system goes after the big wigs raking in money. However, if your song becomes a hit, chances are that the use of that particular sample will get noticed and exposed to the owners. Consequently, it’s important to get samples cleared sooner rather than later to avoid potential litigious problems in the future.

How Can You Start Clearing Samples?

The first thing you want to do is to obtain permissions from two sources. Not only do you need approval from the publisher/owner, but you also need consent from the sole proprietors of the master recording. But how can you find these two?

Good news: The copyright owner is generally easy to find. If you have the song title, you will just have to search sites like BMI, ASCAP or similar royalty websites to find the proprietor. Here you can retrieve the contact information for that artist, and you can get in touch with them as well! You may also find the Harry Fox Agency useful here as they broker these services to get expedite the process.

Finding the master recording holder is often a matter of soft research. He/she will be associated with the record label most of the time. In case the record label isn’t the master recording owner, the publisher and copyright owner should take their place as a next step of inquiry.

What About Costs?

As you can imagine, costs will vary depending on the artist popularity, song’s prestige and other factors. But you should negotiate to get the best deal because not every song is created equal. Sometimes using samples can be very expensive and that’s why many producers risk the potential consequences of getting caught by not clearing samples beforehand. Nevertheless, it is advised to clear these samples, otherwise you can end up with lawsuits that can cost you a lot more in the long run.

Ideally, you want to work with a clearance consultant or an entertainment attorney to get the paper work notarized. They should be able to offer you the professional guidance needed to go over each and every aspect of the agreement.

Keep in mind that using a captivating sample can make help an artist’s career grow. However, it can also come with massive irrevocable costs to both finances and personal reputation if done incorrectly. In summation, pursuing a sample comes down to the returns one can reap vs. the value expected from the sample itself. Clear the legalities before sampling – it will grant you peace of mind and possible legal trouble in the long run.