Music Sample Clearance

The Music Bridge is a well-known provider of music sample clearance for indie record labels, music producers and hip hop artists. 

Music Sampling of course is the act of taking a sample of a portion of an existing sound recording ( i.e., beat, vocal line, rhythm section, hook, etc.) and adding it to another original sound recording. This can be achieved technically with a digital sampler, tape loops or vinyl records. 

Where the legal process of music sample clearance for well-known acts is usually handled by their respective record labels, the task of sample clearance can be daunting for independent bands, artists and labels attempting to do this on their own. Subsequently these music makers seek us out to provide clearances services to obtain the best, most advantageous licenses at a cost usually less than that of an entertainment attorney.

While sample clearance has been so prevalent in popular hip-hop music recordings for some time, its important to understand what rights you need to acquire. The bottom line is that without proper music clearance, the copyright owners of the original work you sampled can sue for large sums of money or prevent distribution of your CD.

A music sample contains two separate copyrighted works. One is the original sound recording (typically controlled by the record label of that artist), and the other is the underlying musical composition, defined as words and melody (typically controlled by a publisher, or collective of publishers).

Without getting into the history of litigation around music sampling, a safe rule of thumb we suggest is to assume that you need permissions from both entities. The labels usually will require up-front advances based upon a recoupable royalty rate. The publishers will sometimes insist on creation of a “new derivative work”, enjoining their song with yours, affectively splitting the publishing ownership of this new work with you, along with the mechanical royalty rate. Most times, the rights granted include the synchronization license to create a music video of the new song.

The rights granted typically give you the ability to sell your new audio recording with embodied sample in all media.   However, most labels do not usually grant you the right to license this new recording to third parties (such as film, television, video games etc,.) without those third parties first acquiring the label’s permission directly.

Please give us a call to discuss more in depth your project and samples to be cleared, and we will walk you through the process more in-depth. We love being a “bridge” between original musical artistic creativity and the legal process of obtaining sample clearance rights to the music you want.