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.

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