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Can I Use A Sampled Beat For Profit?

Sampling has become an integral part of the music industry.

Years ago, hip-hop was the genre that was most known to use samples,

when famous rappers like the Notorious B.I.G, 2 Pac and many others brought it into the spotlight,

But with the rise of multi genre music producers, almost every genre has now become part of the sampling culture.

A sampled beat has to be cleared by the owners of the sample for you to use the record for profit and other use.

one of the most common sampling techniques that have become popularized is the use of loops and samples,

sample makers design these samples and make them available to producers to use in their beats.

most of the time sample makers will stipulate the terms of use of the sample,

in most cases it is simply an issue of crediting them for their work and listing them as a writer, co-writer or co-producer of the track that uses their “loop or sample”,

and thereby having a royalty-split agreement with them,

that ensures that they get some publishing off their sample.

It is no doubt that New producers have become well pronounced in making samples and loops..

A lot of misconceptions often surround the topic of sampled beats,

That is why i’m writing this article to give you insight into how you can go about sampled beats.


what is a sampled beat?

Generally a sampled beat is an instrumental composition that contains a certain portion of a song or sound recording.

A sample may be parts of speech, rhythms, sounds or entire pieces of music.

Usually a sample maybe used in a number of creative ways such as pitching certain parts of the sound or recording,

looping, slowing it down or any other form of audio manipulation.

let’s get into the purpose of this article:

Can you make money off sampled beats?

The best answer to this question is, It depends.

Are you an artist looking to make a song using a sampled beat and then sell the song?

Or are you a producer looking to make a beat using a sample and then proceed to sell it?

As you can obviously imagine the artists and producers perspectives in this case will differ.

from a musical artist standpoint,

it depends on the agreement that you arrive at with the producer of the sampled beat from the get go.

such information pertaining to this would include,

figuring out whether the producer cleared the sample that they used in the beat or not.

if the producer cleared the sample

they will have gotten into an agreement with the owner of the original record,

because legally any musical works by artists is their intellectual property.

what you then have to consider are the terms and conditions of the agreement that the producer and the owner of sample agreed upon.

in some cases,

the owner of the sample would request for 50% or more of any revenue that is generated.

or they would want more than 50%.

in other cases the owner of the sample would ask for a one time payment for the use of their work,

which is usually a good deal and less of a hassle for both the producer and the artist.

in a situation like this,

the producer would have to pay that one time fee and use the sample without having to adhere to remitting any further payments to the owner of sample.

with this said, let’s further discuss the other side of the coin.

When the producer has not cleared the sample

when the producer hasn’t cleared the sample, they would let you know from the get go as the artist,

and it would have to be up to the artist to clear the sample before they can make any sort of income from the song.

sometimes the owner of the sample will ask for a percentage of the sales from the record,

in which case you would split the revenue you generate from the song with the owner of the sample.

in other cases the owner of the sample may deny any sort of profit motive for the song,

which means they don’t allow you to sell the song, or have it put on an album which you intend to sell.

an example of this, is a sample battle that can be re-called in the case of the Hiphop Rapper, Big Sean.

he released a song called Control featuring Kendrick Lamar and Jay Electronica which sampled “El Pueblo Unido Jamás Será Vencido” by Quilapayún and Sergio Ortega.

the song was scheduled to be on the rappers “Hall of Fame” album,

but due to sample clearance issues with the owners of the sample,

it was left off the album and used as a promotional single.

this happened because the owner of the song, prohibited the selling of any musical compositions that contained their original work.

or if they allowed the sell of the song, they probably asked for a huge fee and a huge percentage of the sales revenue that made the record label rethink their intention to use the sample.

that’s why it is always key that you follow the right channels and do the right thing when dealing with samples.

the duty to clear a sample will fall on either the producer or the artist,

record labels will often insist that a sample be cleared,

before they can have any of their signed artists on the record.

other record labels may agree to clear the sample by entering into an agreement with the producer about the royalty splits and revenue share.

what you should do in the case that you find yourself with a sample in your record…

the very first step is contacting the publishers of the original work,

you’ll need to find out if the original writers of the song, (this also includes all the producers that were involved in making the record)

and then find out if any represent their interest or share of the copyright of the song.

once you’ve figured out the publishers and the writers,

you can then proceed with providing them with a copy of the original sampled song, and an isolated copy of the sample/portion used.

providing these extra details will in some cases speed up the clearance process and some times it may not.

once the publisher receives these details,

they are better equipped to make price considerations and can contact the composers of the original work,

to initiate permissions concerning moral rights,

and further start negotiations over copyright ownership and split-share agreements of royalties.

what is happening in layman’s terms is that the record label of the artist seeking to use the sample, asks for permission to use a sample of the original recording.

you should be aware that the owners can refuse to grant you the rights to use their sample and they need not offer you an explanation.

sometimes their conditions could get in the way thereby putting you in a bad position and you may choose to turn down the sample.

you then have the choice of licensing the publishing rights,

this license would then allow you to recreate the sample of the recording.

A lot of sample recreation companies exist that would help you put together your master piece.


in conclusion,

use of sampled beats for profit depends on whether or not permission is granted by the owners of the original composition.

use of a sample without permission from the owners can result in copyright infringement.

it is breach of the owners copyright that is used in original record,

a breach of copyright with regards to the underlying copyright of the music and lyrics,

and lastly it is an unauthorized use of the owners original recording which would result in their moral rights being infringed.

therefore it is key that you consider all these factors,

it doesnt matter if you used a 2 second loop or whether the producer of the sampled beat flipped the sample in a way that makes it totally different from the original.

permission has to granted by the owner.

therefore if you were thinking about concealing a sample in a myriad of other elements in your beats, it is a bad idea and may lead to a lawsuit,

therefore get permission.

in any case that you want to recreate a sample it is essential that you get the required licensing.

famous producer/rapper Dr. Dre found himself in a lawsuit once ,

for the re-creation of a sample owned by Madonna.

the publishing company on behalf of madonna demanded that the rapper refund millions of dollars for the illegal recreation of their artists original work.

this is another classic example of why you need to take sample clearance seriously.

Related Articles You May Find Interesting

Can You Copyright A Song If You Don’t Own The Beat?

What Does “Sold” Mean In Beats?

Is It Illegal To Sample Songs?

Can I Use A Sampled Beat For Profit?

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