Using Samples In Your Music

Why should you care about sampling?

If you don’t understand this, you can say bye bye to that dream car and that dream house because not knowing shit about sampling can cause you to lose thousands, maybe even millions of dollars, from lawsuits.

First of all, before I get into it, I just want to make sure I make it clear that I am NOT a lawyer, and you should consult with a lawyer/attorney for advice regarding sample usage. This is just my take from my own experiences and studying the industry.

So let’s get into it…What’s the big deal about sampled compositions anyway?

  • Some of the most epic songs in rap history have been sampled.
  • Samples create a vibe that most producer’s can’t create from scratch.

The problem is that, sampling might SOUND real good, but apparently not everyone is ok with you using their songs, so they get the lawyers involved. Can’t really blame them though, would you want someone using your vocals without permission or compensation?

So how do you know if there’s samples in your music?

This can be pretty simple, if you hear voices in the background, there’s a good chance yo ish is sampled. But the best way is to just contact the creator of the work and ask them, they usually have no problem telling you.

Just in case you already got some sampled tracks in your possession, I went ahead and created a quick guide so you know when you should and shouldn’t use sampled works for your album or mixtape.

NOTE: This should not be considered legal advice. I am not a lawyer, for professional advice find an entertainment lawyer or attorney.

When to use sampled compositions:

If the sample is so sick that it will give you a return on your investment and it will pay for the sample clearance fees/or the royalty cuts in your share of the song revenue.

In simple terms, if the sample makes the song so incredibly stupid sick that there’s no way on god’s green earth that you can take that sample out, AND it’s gonna bring in more money than you spent on it…then go for it!

If realistically, you plan on selling 10,000 copies or less of your song and not really getting much exposure of the song, then you don’t really have to worry because there’s not much money to be made there and the lawyers won’t be harassing you anytime soon.

When to not use sampled compositions:

If it’s not a vocal sample, then you should find a way to get the composer to replay the sample with their own instruments.

If you have major push and If it’s just gonna increase sales of the single itself but it’s not sick enough to make people want to check out the rest of the album.

When the song is average and most likely not better than anything that’s out at the time.

When you have the systems in place to sell hundreds of thousands of copies of your songs, albums, and you want to keep all your royalties.

The Big Fat Myth:

Now there’s a myth going around that if you have a non-profit mixtape that you can use samples as much as you want because your not making money off of it. But this is not true, as long as the artist you sampled can tie your mixtape to directly putting money in your pocket, they are entitled to some moola.

Now if it were up to me and people didn’t get so butthurt about sampling, I would make every composition or every other one I make have samples in it. But there is a solution…

The Solution

Some producers (including myself) have found a way around this little sampling headache and created the in between zone for getting that sound and not using unauthorized samples.

Here’s What To Do Next:

  1. Leave a comment with what you learned in this post, and what you would want me to cover in the next post.
  2. Listen to some of my sampled and non-sampled work here.

To Dope Music,

Over the last 12 years BoiGenius has invested his life, time and thousands of dollars into creating and building successful campaigns with dope music. BoiGenius is a highly sought after soulful hip hop composer with clients worldwide. He is also known as an author for his digital "CLAAMP" series and insightful ebook "Music Money Machine". Learn more about BoiGenius here
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