This article examines a common problem arising in amongst aspiring music producers today - unlicensed samples.
While most producers don’t even think twice about unlicensed sampling (unless they are major label), it is something to certainly worry about. Some artists seem to think it is unbearably difficult to get licenses for samples. However, it is actually not that difficult, and you don’t even really need a lawyer.
All you really need to do is contact the owners of each part of the song you wish to sample: the lyrics, the underlying musical composition, and the actual sound recording. It is that simple! (mostly)
Some artists seem to think they do not need to clear samples because they will not get caught. Seriously, what the hell are these artists thinking? I thought the goal was to have as many people possible hear your art, and you are already knee-capping yourself before the song is released by using an unlicensed sample. In this scenario, there are two major possible outcomes:
- Nobody hears your song - Congrats! You just got away with using an unlicensed sample
- Your song blows up - Hooray! Now everybody knows your song and that unlicensed sample is about to quickly bring everybody out of the woodwork to get a piece of whatever money you may or may not have made. Plus, (and this is the best part) companies that may want to license your song won’t because of the threat of possible litigation.
In either scenario you don’t get to make money. Even in the best case where you do make some money. Other people are going to want to take it away from you.
This could have easily been avoided by a simple email or phone call. If you really wanted to, you could hire a lawyer to handle that for you. On the flip side, you could hire a lawyer when your ass is being dragged into court for copyright infringement. I suggest just getting your license cleared in the first place