Monday, December 27, 2010

Producers: How To Clear Sampled Beats

If you’re a record producer and you ever want to make any real money on those tracks you created from your Dad’s old vinyl collection (that you can keep in anyway), then at some point you’re going to have to get clearances for the samples used in your works.
Here’s some very helpful information I pulled from a few noted resources.

Record the song. The copyright owners will want to hear how you’re using the work, and how much of it you’re using.
Find the Copyright Owners. This means you’ll need to get in touch with the copyright owners of the works you sampled. You’ll need to find the owner of the song itself, as well as the owner of the masters. This usually is a music publisher and record company respectively.

Help is available. You can solicit the assistance of sampling consultants who can take you through the process and help you track down the necessary parties. They’re familiar with the procedures, and may also be able to advise on ballpark price estimates.

Expect to spend money. The owners and publishers can basically charge you whatever they want. Expect to pay an advance plus royalties on sales. Most indie and unknown acts may have to pay up front in order to convince them to provide clearances.

Be prepared to share. The publisher may require partial copyright ownership plus royalties for the original songwriters.
Sample, submit request, repeat. If you sampled multiple songs in your one work, you’re going to have to repeat this process for each song you’ve sampled, paying out for each sample.

Plan, plot, and strategize. Samples aren’t subject to compulsory licenses, so use of the sample can be denied by either the publisher or the owner of the master. Sample clearing can also take too much time, or cost too much money for you to work out an agreement. Have a backup plan, like recreating the sample by playing it yourself or hiring musicians. You’ll only need permission from the publisher if you go that route.

Friday, December 17, 2010

I decided to join the infamous!

Figured if I'm gonna take this producing and working with other people in the music industry, might as well see what other producers think! I got some hot beats over here lets test em out! Wish me luck guys!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Sneak Peek on beats for ThRob UGLY collabo album

These are just two tracks I'm currently working on for my collabo album as ThRob UGLY making my debut here in Los Angeles as a Rapper/Singer. 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Lime Wire File sharing service shut down in US

An injunction issued by the US district court in New York has effectively shut down LimeWire, one of the internet's biggest file-sharing sites.

It ends four years of wrangling between the privately-owned Lime Group and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

The injunction compels Lime Group to disable its searching, downloading, uploading and file trading features.

The firm plans to launch new services that adhere to copyright laws soon.
Visitors to the LimeWire website are confronted with a legal notice that reads: "This is an offical notice that LimeWire is under a court ordered injunction to stop distributing and supporting its file-sharing software."

It adds that "downloading or sharing copyrighted content without authorisation is illegal".
The RIAA told the AP news agency that it was pleased by the judge's decision.

"It will start to unwind the massive piracy machine that LimeWire... used to enrich themselves immensely," said RIAA spokesman Jonathan Lamy.

LimeGroup appeared to acknowledge defeat.

"We are out of the file-sharing business, but you can make it known that other aspects of our business remain ongoing," Lime Group spokeswoman Tiffany Guarnaccia told AP.

The firm is working on developing new software that will adhere to copyright laws.

Sony ends sales of cassette tape Walkman players in Japan


Sony Corp has ended domestic sales of its Walkman music players for cassette tapes due to flagging demand amid the spread of portable digital devices that play music downloaded online or from CDs via computer, company officials said Friday. Sony had already finished shipments of cassette Walkmans this spring, meaning the iconic product will disappear from the Japanese market after stock runs out.

Sony’s cassette Walkman player became a global hit on its launch in 1979, selling about 220 million units by the end of March this year. But its sales slumped in recent years in parallel with the company’s intense competition with Apple Inc of the United States over digital music players.
To counter Apple’s popular iPod series, Sony launched digital Walkman players that became the mainstay product in its Walkman lineup.

The company officials said Sony will continue the production of cassette Walkmans, undertaken by a Chinese manufacturer on consignment, for overseas markets.

There are no plans at present to halt the production of Walkmans for CDs or MDs although their demand is also on a downturn, according to the officials.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Rappers: How To Make It In An Oversaturated Industry

If you are choosing to become a rapper, you should realize that it is a very serious undertaking. A rap career is not for everyone. Famous rappers like Eminem, Wiz Khalifa, Kid Cudi, and Nicki Minaj have spent years perfecting their craft to get where they are today. In the music industry there are no guarantees that you will be successful, however if you are looking to become apart of the elite group of hip hop artists, here are a few easy tips to follow.

1. Study Rap Music
If you’re new to hip hop or rap music, you should start listening to classic hip hop songs. This will allow you to become familiar with the history of rap music as well some of the old school rappers who were hiphop pioneers.

Carefully study the lyrics, beats, instrumentals, rhyme schemes, and delivery of these classic rap songs. You may even want to buy some old hip hop albums.

Suggested Old School Rappers
Biggie Smalls (Notorious B.I.G.)
Wu-Tang Clan
Snoop Dogg
Big Pun
Tech N9ne
Too short
Bone Thugs N Harmony
Eightball (8ball) & Mjg
Master P

Female Rappers
Lil Kim
Lauryn hill
Missy Elliot

After in-depth study of old school hiphop, you will want to put together a list of current top rappers that you might enjoy listening to. These new rappers will be your second point of reference in your study of rap music. Study these MCs as well. They do not have to necessarily be popular rappers.

Suggested New Rappers List 
West Coast Rappers
Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All (OFWGKTA)
Lil B
Kendrick Lamar

Dirty South Rappers
Waka Flocka Flame
Big K.R.I.T.

East Coast Rappers
J. Cole
Wiz Khalifa
Fred the Godson

Midwest Rappers
Big Sean

Femcees (Female rappers)Boog Brown
Audra The Rapper
Jean Grae
Amanda Diva
Liv L’Raynge
Nicki Minaj
Snow Tha Product
(Note: This list is can and constantly does change)

2. Learn How To Rap
For many beginning hip hop MCs the next step is to hone your rap skills and learn how to rap.

Write A Rap

Start by practicing writing your raps on paper. A music artist’s greatest tools are a pen and a note pad. Your previous studies will have given you some preparation on how to begin songwriting, but now it is time to apply your knowledge.

Some of the biggest inspirations for great rap songs come from life experiences. Write about an experience you had in life using simple rhyming words. Ideally you would want to find a hip hop instrumental or rap beat to practice to. Find a beat that has a tempo you are comfortable with to begin writing your rap song.

 In general you will want to structure your rap song in the following format:
Introduction (Lyrics included at rappers discretion)
Verse (typically 12-16 bars)
Hook or Chorus (generally) 8 bars
Hook or Chorus again
Verse or Bridge (usually half of the first or second verse but not in all cases)
Final Hook/ Chorus
Outro (Lyrics included at rappers discretion)

Simple Rap Example Using Rhyming Words:
On the way to the corner store
A man’s knees hit the floor
Wasn’t cuz of Jesus though
That bullet hit him in his skull.

As you advance in your rap career you will begin to explore literary elements of rap beyond simple rhyming words.

Some of these elements include:

After you write your rap you will want to begin practicing saying what you’ve written out loud. You will want to do this many times until you perfect it.

Factors that will play into your raps as you say them out loud are:
Vocal Presence
Charisma / Character also known as Swagger

3. Choose A Rapper Name

When pick your rap name it should be a name that you are comfortable having for a while. As you progress and become a better hip hop MC your fans will remember your name. You want to avoid frequently changing your rap name to eliminate confusion among your fans and other recording artists.

Be creative when choosing your rap name. Give it character. Your rap name will act as a branding and marketing tool. Make it memorable; keep it simple and future-proof.

Brainstorm a list of 25-50 descriptive words about yourself or rap character. From these words come up with 10 potential rap names. From these 10 names choose the best 3 names.

Next you will want to check to see if these 3 names are:
A. Search Engine Friendly
Will your name pop up near the top of search engine queries?

B. Trademarked
Is the rap name trademarked by someone already?

If your rapper name does not meet the aforementioned guidelines repeat your brainstorming process and complete the steps again. If your name does pass these tests, choose 1 and stick with it.

4. Keep Rapping
You should practice rapping and applying the previously mentioned rap tips as much as possible. If you’re serious about becoming one of the top rappers in hip hop, you should practice rapping as if it were your religion. If you can hone your rap skills for at least one hour a day for a year, you will be on your way to becoming a better hip hop MC.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

My homie LBS. made a Twitter Follow him @LBS_Flows

My homie LBS.(whom you heard collaborate with me many times!) made a Twitter! Be sure to follow him at: @LBS_Flows and keep up to see when he's gonna drop his next track!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The going ons.

Started the best job I've had in a long time, working with the interwebz (SEO). I hope to be able to catch up my child support and at least get a more recent picture of Emma.  I do have alot of rough days, thinking of how things could have been. But, to be honest I needed to make this move. I can't wonder what if all my life rotting away on that farm. I have established alot of musical connections all across the U.S. Mailbomb Records is almost got its feet off the ground with a few artists on the roster, looking for more very soon. And as far as love I couldn't ask for a better girlfriend, I love Heleen so much! Well I've said my piece, good night.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Difference Of The Industry Now & Then

Why the downfall of the major labels is the biggest fortune ever for independent artists!  Just another day where the sales of the music industry decrease - and once again is the general assumption that the golden era of wealth for musicians is over - but this is just wrong.  I can totally understand that nowadays rappers prefer to be independent. I would even recommend everybody to do his own thing instead of signing to a major label.

The major labels were used to make millions of revenue from artist's cd sales in the last years until the big bad MP3 format changed the game drastically. That was the beginning of the downfall for all CEO's that founded a record label - but is this really true?

People should of course consider that the beats that they hear on the latest favorite artists release were purchased for a certain amount of money. The studio time did cost money too and so did the mixing and mastering of the final tracks. Add the costs for the professional photo shootings, the promotion work of a manager and the distribution - summed up let's say expenses about $40,000 until a album is finally in the stores shipped and released.

Makes sense to you? Maybe before the digital revolution of the music - but not today!

Below are the most important changes that make clear why all the traditional schemes are not relevant anymore:


We are living in much more faster times than ten years before. We are not depending on old marketing schemes. In fact the traditional marketing concept is over. Today independent artists can promote themselves via channels like Youtube, Twitter or Facebook. The power and virality of social media makes these channels much more powerful then the traditional word of mouth in the radio and tv stations back in the days - and the best part of it: they are totally free.


Everybody can purchase a microphone in the music store and start to record his own song on his laptop. Big studio equipment is not necessary anymore, no more expensive studio sessions, and even the mastering can be done by software today that cost's not more than $400.

The new opportunity of digital music releases via Itunes allowed artists to distribute their music worldwide with just a few clicks and made the pressing of Cds senseless. Not to mention you have less expenses as if you would create a Cd including booklet full of photography and artwork. Then there's of course the shipping cost when distributing your Cd's to your customers...

Now who has really a problem? The artists that suddenly have themselves the marketing and distribution opportunities that were before only given to the major labels. Or is it the major label's whose business model is suddenly not working anymore?

Think about it and feel free to share this post in Facebook or Twitter that more people become aware of it!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

How To Write a Solid 16-Bar Verse

This article is about developing bars as a technique in writing raps. I have received the question, "What are bars?" on many occasions and have briefly touched on the subject in a previous MC Improvement Article/visitor e-mail. In this article I will expand on the topic as well as describe an effective way of writing a solid 16 bar verse.

First of all…what are bars, exactly?

Well bars are simply a form of dividing a verse into segments. Each segment, or "bar", consists of one line. The following is an example of two bars by Jay-Z:

"And all you other cats takin' shots at Jigga/
You only get half a bar, 'F*ck ya'll ni***s'"

As you can see both "lines" or "bars" rhyme at the end. This is usually the case, but as verses are created more and more organically by artists (read: freestyled) they many times won't end so picture perfect…but don't worry about that for now. In case you're a little confused, you'll get a clearer picture through future articles.

So Why 16 bars?

If you're a hip hop fan, you have undoubtedly heard the term, "16 bars" at some point. Maybe something along the lines of, "Nas dropped a sick 16 bars on that mixtape."

The reason that "16" became the standard is because the music industry strategically determines the most effective duration of a typical song. Usually the shorter the song is, the better for the record's success. The shorter the song is, the more times that it can be played on the radio, the more times that it can be played on the radio, the more popular the song will become, the more popular the song becomes…you get the picture.

Also taken into account was the average amount of time a run-of-the-mill listener would wait between hooks before becoming tired. You have to keep in mind that not all listeners are looking out for the real substance of the song (the verses) but instead merely tune in to listen to the beat and the chorus. A verse that's too short will leave something to be desired (substance) and/or may grow old fast (since the hook/chorus will be played more frequently). A verse that's too long will lose many mainstream listener's attention.

So in time, the typical "16 bar" format was created. About the same time, the typical 8 bar chorus came into popularity in hip hop. This was long ago…dates mean little. Don't get this confused, though…not every song sticks to the 16's and 8's formula. Ghostface Killah came out with the single, "All That I Got Is You" which was one long verse…with one long hook at the end. Therefore, a lot of songs vary from the classic 3 verse and 3 hook layout, and they even vary from the classic 3-minute-a-song set-up. Some songs are 7 minutes long. But if you pay attention, most of these "odd" songs are usually not released as singles and if they are, they are usually released by more well-known artists with a well established fan base. The fact is that most pop or "popular" songs still follow the typical format most preferred by the radio and recording industry…and that is the "16-bar verse" and the "3 verse" format. (Note: Actually, with the increased popularity of catchy "breaks" "bridges" and "hooks", artists are increasingly neglecting the 3rd verse of their songs.)

In case you're wondering, the radio industry prefers shorter songs so that they can vary their playlist in order to reach more listeners. Reaching more listeners and keeping more listeners is important to radio stations so that the advertising spots they offer are attractive to advertisers.

There are even radio stations that have been known to speed up the pace of their songs so as to shorten their length of play…of course these songs tend to sound nothing like they were intended to, but that's the cost they are willing to take.

Writing 16 Bars: Part 1

So how should you go about writing the actual 16 bars? Well, there's two broad methods; to a beat, or without a beat. I recommend you write any verse to a beat. Firstly, because a lot of beats follow very similarly timed or even exactly similar drum patterns, therefore, one of your verses may be able to adapt very smoothly to various beats. Second, and more importantly, when you write to a beat that you're listening to, you can more easily play with your bars. By that I mean you can stretch your words or adjust your flow and say something like:

"Shopping sprees, coppin' three, deuce Beamer IS's/
Fully loaded…ahhhhh yes! (haha)" - Jay-Z

That was from "Can't Knock The Hustle" and when Jay-Z was at the top of his game lyrically (in my humble opinion). But, you can see how his pause during that second bar built up the punch line to that lyric. This is facilitated by listening to a beat while putting together your verse.

You can also choose to just write. Forget the beat, just write. A lot of times we don't have the luxury of having a beat playing when creativity strikes. That's ok…you can make it work anyway. If you are intending to put together a whole verse, however, it is best to at least have a beat in your head if not in your ears. And I don't mean a popular rap beat, necessarily…just a simple drumbeat will do. The idea is to have something in mind that you can bounce to…literally…if you find yourself bopping your head while you're formulating a rhyme…that's good!

Writing 16 Bars: Part 2

When you write lyrics, there is a very important principle which will benefit many of you to understand. It has already been made clear that bars tend to rhyme at the end (mostly). But what about the center? Though rhymes don't necessarily need to rhyme in the middle (meaning the middle of the first bar rhymes with the middle of the second), there does many times seem to be a pattern to the emphasis throughout bars. By this I mean that there are usually two emphasis (or accents) in each bar.

Usually, somewhere during the middle of a bar there is a break, a pause, or an emphasis in a syllable, and then there is another similar emphasis towards the end of the bar. A good example would be 50 Cent's second verse from "In Da Club":

(Note: The "bolded" letters indicate the emphasis I spoke about)

"And you should love it, way more then you hate it
Nigga you mad? I thought that you'd be happy I made it
I'm that cat by the bar toastin' to the good life
You that f*ggot-*ss nigga tryin' to pull me back right?
When my joint get to pumpin' in the club it's on
I wink my eye at ya b*tch, if she smiles she gone
If the roof on fire, let the motherf*cker burn
If you talkin' about money homie, I ain't concerned
I'ma tell you what Banks told me "Cous' go 'head switch the style up
If the n****s hate then let 'em hate then watch the money pile up
Or we go upside your head with a bottle of bub'
They know where we f*ckin' be..."

Hopefully you have a better idea of what I mean by now. If you simply think about each individual bar as having two parts then you can attempt to pause at the beat-break (the drum beat or bass tends to pound twice per bar) present around the middle of each bar and allow your flow to synchronize with the beat. This is CRITICAL. Treat your voice/words like an instrument that like any other instrument must be in tune with the beat.

Don't be afraid to adjust your flow by using emphasis, stretching out your words, shortening words, chopping words in mid sentence and continuing them in the next bar, accenting syllables, (by that I mean accenting certain syllables even when they normally shouldn't be) etc…just to make them fit appropriately to the end of the beat. You might even consider using synonyms to make the bar fit the beat.

Your Lyric Content

There are many ways to start a verse. You can tell a real story, describe an event, narrate a fictional scene, etc. Your approach will vary depending on your style. Let's say you're writing literally about what you're doing at the moment...actually writing a rhyme… (or at least that's how you choose to begin)…you can say something like:

"It cost me more to be free than a life in the Penn/
Makin' money off of cus words, writin' again/
Learn how to think ahead so I fight with my pen/
Late night down Sunset, likin' the sin" - 2pac

Or perhaps you can say it like this…

"F*ck a pad and a pen, I write rhymes on the IBM/
Ebonics is dead and binary language is in" - Canibus

Obviously, both of these approaches are distinct. The hardest part about writing a verse, though, is starting it. Once you begin, and you know your style, it's just a matter of keeping it going.

Now, as far as ending or wrapping up a verse…you can do many things with that as well. You can follow the example from 50 Cent (above) and end your verse half-way (and allow the beginning part of your chorus or "hook" to end the last part of your final bar for you). You can also just complete the bar but on the same vibe as that of your chorus, for example:

"What's the worst they can do to a ****a, got me lost in Hell/
To live and die in L.A., on bail…(and my angels sing)" - 2pac "2 Live and Die in LA"

The idea is to let your verse end on a vibe that easily flows into the mood that your hook provides.

Final Note

Playing around with your voice or tone (intonation) is also a great way to add a bit of flare. Adding something unique to your flow seems more and more necessary in this highly competitive market we call the rap industry. It is not necessary to create a gimmick (there is a fine line between a gimmick and a unique style…but interestingly, most mass consumers of media don't notice or care what that difference is) but it is important to have something distinctive about your flow to help you stand out and be remembered.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

How To Pick A Subject Or Topic To Rap Or Write About

Write a Rap About

Rapping is an art form that a lot people can learn but only a few have mastered. Those that have mastered it have made a good living off of it and have learned how to pick a subject to rap about with relative ease. To pick a subject or top to rap or write about can be easy or it can be difficult depending on how hard you make it. There are an infinite number of things around you for you to write a rap about. You can write a rap about people, a rap about money, a rap about cars, or a rap about anything else. If you are stumped and don't know what to write about then think about the things that interest you. What are your favorite things to do? What is your favorite sport? Whats your favorite car? Your favorite song? There's things that I do to get ideas for a rap song and to brainstorm for songs to write about. One thing that I do that is fun is I will listen to
my favorite rap song and sing along to the lyrics. But what makes it fun and helpful in picking something to write about is I will substitute some of my own funny words in place of the real lyrics to the song. For instance if the song says "I love to get money everyday and every night", I would change the lyrics to "I love to be funny and wear my pants tight." This adds a funny and fun twist to the song and it allows me to brainstorm and get ideas at the same time. Now I know how to write a rap song. Or now I have gotten some ideas of what to rap about.

Look around you for rap subjects

Another way to find a subject to rap about is to look around you. Are you at home, at someone's house, or at work. Any of these places can give you ideas of what to write about. If you are at home then look around the room that you are in. What was the last thing you used in that room? You can rap about that thing you last used. What about the person's house that you are at? Is there someone else there of the opposite x that you find attractive? That can be a good idea for a love rap. You can rap about how that person makes you feel every time you see them. Think about LL Cool J. song "I Need Love." Love raps are a huge part of the rap industry songs today. So you cant go wrong with one of those type of songs. What about work? Are you at work on a break thinking up raps? Think about the a person at work that you may not care much for. Maybe it's a supervisor or boss that is too pushy and assertive. You could write a rap about how you feel about that person. And let's not forget the person at work that is always in your business and not in their own and seems like they would love to get you fired. You could probably think up about 10 raps in a day about that type of person. There are infinite subjects and situations to write about.

Monday, March 15, 2010

ThRob UGLY's first album Skelator (Re-Released)!!!

So I found the original mp3s of my self-produced and self-engineered solo album "Skelator" and restored the original intended skits for the release. Please remember I was a 23 year old  battle rapper! Who recorded with nothing but Cool Edit Pro 2.0 a computer mic and alot of heart. So yes, I produced my own album-- it's not the greatest either, I lived at home with my parents during recording! So its a little sloppy. But it's part of my history! So I re-released it for the die-hard fans who lost the burnt copies I made for them! I also re-did the artwork for the album! Its being released by Mailbomb Records. Since I don't consider myself a career rapper, more just a producer that likes to vent every once awhile I never bothered getting it all on Itunes. Not until I actually record a real third album! Let alone I'd like to retrieve more of my "lost" tracks!

01 Going Somewhere (4:05)
02 Sum Mufuckin' Raw Shit Ft LBS. (4:17)
03 Im The M.C. (Skit) (0:09)
04 Rent A Rob Ft AbandonLandon (5:59)
05 Boiler Room Rants (4:06)
06 You're Not You're Fuckin' Khakis Ft AbandonLandon (2:55)
07 Ruthless (3:38)
08 Doja Ft MR. UGLY (3:32)
09 Home (4:17)
10 No Love Ft AbandonLandon (3:03)
11 Former Self (5:49)
12 Genuine Freestyles Ft AbandonLandon (3:33)
13 Nicknames (1:15)
14 Thoughts... (Interlude) (0:21)
15 Envy (5:16)
16 The UGLY Life Ft MR. UGLY (4:18)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

My old bandmate AbandonLandon made a Twitter?

This guy is gonna plague Twitter with his madness? Seriously? You all know he just went crazy after we officially ended Love Rage Comedy. And has made a consistent amount of comedic albums which border on insane and hilarious. Definitely have to have a sense of humor to endure this madman's rants see them at: @AbandonLandon 

Friday, February 5, 2010


Im sitting on a mess of instrumentals, a few are flying out the door-- so grab up what you can!!!  I'm interested in hearing what other people come up with. I know I've promised ThRob UGLY "Making The Rest Of The World Beautiful"-- (LP). But I've also pushed back the "P.R.O.J.E.C.T.S. MIXTAPE." Simply because of the lack of guest appearances. Of course I moved nearly 2000 miles away from Steubenville, OH.! So anyone who wants to collab message me, call me, text me. Throw me an idea of what sound you're looking for and we can go from there. Peace.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Created a Twitter for @MailbombRecords

I figured with the MAILBOMB website-- being created might as well make a Twitter account for it! That and to run links for the other artists that are part of the Mailbomb Team... Hmm That kinda sounds dumb, how about Da Bomb Squad! That's alot for a Hashtag though... #BOMBSD Yeah, that's good...

Monday, January 4, 2010

Brand Yourself

Branding is a great form of selling yourself to a market you are trying to break into im going to leave some information for you to review to help you in your journey.


Get personal branding video advice and tips from William atPersonal Branding TV

Personal Branding - What Color is Your Brand

Personal Branding Lessons | Blog

Personal Brand Examples From Oprah, Woods & Richard Branson | Blog

BRANDING | The Branding Agency : Los Angeles, California : Denver, Colorado : Chicago, Illinois

Music Marketing Check-List 101 – Green Buzz Agency Blog Post | ImaginePR

Ultimate List of Top 29 Tools for Competitive Intelligence | Lakeshore Branding

You the Brand

Branding Yourself Effectively

Branding yourself

Start to use these tools and watch the outcome it will amaze you!!!

Rob Clark Jr.


Friday, January 1, 2010

Are you on Point? The law regarding music sampling

Sampling is the use of portions of prior recordings which are incorporated into a new composition. Sampling has become an integral part of many genres of music today. When you sample someone's song without permission, it is an instant copyright violation. It is the unauthorized use of copyrighted material owned by another. Sampling without permission violates two copyrights-the sound recording copyright (usually owned by the record company) and the copyright in the song itself (usually owned by the songwriter or the publishing company).

If you want to use a sample legally, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. The copyright owner is usually a publishing company or record label. Remember that you must obtain permission from both the owner of the sound recording and the copyright owner of the underlying musical work. The fee for a license to use a sample can vary tremendously. The fee will depend on how much of the sample you intend to use (a quarter second is a minor use; five seconds, a major use), the music you intend to sample (a Madonna chorus will cost more than an obscure drum beat), and the intended use of the sample in your song (it is more costly to build your entire song around the sample than to give it only minor attention).

There are two different ways to pay for a license. First, you can pay a flat fee for the usage. A buy-out fee can range from $250 to $10,000 on a major label. Most fees fall between $1,000 and $2,000. The other way to pay for the license is a percentage of the mechanical royalty rate. The mechanical royalty rate is the amount a person pays to the copyright owner to make a mechanical reproduction (copy) of the song. A license which is a percentage of the mechanical royalty rate is generally between ½ ¢ and 3¢ per record pressed. Everything is negotiable and it is not unusual to get a license for free, if you ask.

If all of this sounds confusing, there's hope. There are businesses devoted entirely to securing and negotiating clearances for samples. These firms charge less than an entertainment attorney would charge and are generally more knowledgeable about the going rates for uses.

If you use samples without obtaining the proper clearance licenses, you have to be aware of the penalties. A copyright infringer is liable for "statutory damages" that generally run from $500 to $20,000 for a single act of copyright infringement. If the court determines there has been willful infringement, damages can run as high as $100,000. The copyright owner can also get a court to issue an injunction forcing you to cease violating the copyright owner's rights. The court can also force you to recall all your albums and destroy them.

There is also a rumor going around that you can use four notes of any song under the "fair use" doctrine. There is no "four note" rule in the copyright law. One note from a sound recording is a copyright violation. Saturday Night Live was sued for using the jingle, "I Love New York" which is only four notes. The test for infringement is whether the sample is "substantially similar" to the original.

Remember, a judge or jury is the one who determines this and these people may be much less receptive to your music than your fans. My point is you cannot rely on fair use as a defense.

Sampling can also have tremendous consequences if you have a record contract. Most record contracts have provisions called "Warranties", "Indemnifications" and "Representations". These provisions constitute a promise that you created all the music on your album and an agreement to reimburse the label if it is sued. These same provisions are included in all contracts throughout the entertainment distribution chain. The record company has them with the artist, the distributors with the record company, the record stores with the distributors, and so on. Well, all these warranties point back at the artist who is responsible to everyone else! Therefore, if you violate someone else's copyright, you will be paying all the bills of your record company, distributor and any stores which incur expenses as a result of your infringement. This can run into serious money as you can imagine. You will also be in breach of your record contract. Read your record contract carefully before using any samples.

Michael McCready represents clients in all areas of the music industry including music, radio, television, stage, and book publishing. His music law practice includes representing bands, record labels, production companies, recording studios, promoters, and music publishers. His work includes copyrights, analyzing and drafting contracts, trademarks, publishing, and litigation. <--- VERY INFORMATIONAL

Contrary to popular belief and practice, sampling of an original copyrighted song without permission of the copyright’s owner is illegal copyright infringement.

Unauthorized sampling actually violates two potential legal rights. First, the instant you sample a portion of someone’s song (no matter how small), it constitutes a violation of the copyright in song itself - the © symbol - which is owned by the song writer or the music publisher. Second, sampling violates the sound recording copyright - the symbol - which is usually owned by the record company or recording artist. Thus, sampling without prior permission subjects the illegal copier to a copyright infringement in federal court by the original author (or publisher) and by the record company.