Attorney Angela Green Explains Music Sampling and How to Get Proper Clearance

Often when I attend music conferences, I collect music from artists. I have a whole stack of CDs at home and the office. One day, out of curiosity, I asked my assistant to put one of the CDs in the computer to listen to while we worked. After a few tracks, we came upon one that really got our attention. It had a real nice groove to it. After a few minutes my assistant said, "That song sounds familiar." I didn't catch what she was referring to, so we played the song again. On the second go round, I realized why the song created such a positive note. The producer of that song had sampled music from another popular song.

Sampling is taking a portion of an existing sound recording and combining it with a new original sound recording. This practice is very common in hip hop music recordings. However, you if choose to sample, you must get permission (i.e. Sample Clearance). There are two licenses that you need in order to obtain sample clearance.

The first one is the Master Use License from the sound recording copyright owner (usually the record label), and the second one is the Mechanical License from the musical composition copyright owner (usually the publisher). In the case of independent artists, those copyright owners may be the same person. 

It does not matter how much of the song that you use, you still need to obtain permission. There are several agencies out there to help you obtain permission to use sampled music. Before you release that hit song with your carefully chosen sample, get you're your paperwork in order.

The articles provided by Angela Green, Esq. are for informational purposes only, concerning general legal principles. You should consult your legal counsel for answers to specific legal questions.

Angela Green is an entertainment attorney in Memphis, Tennessee and owner of Positioned for Millions. 
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About Airplay 360

AIRPLAY 360 is a monthly published digital magazine designed to inform, empower and motivate independent inspirational musical artists by offering a soundboard of information provided by artists, producers, label executives and other industry professionals.
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