Samples and Authorizations 

Learn all about samples and authorizations

Authorizing Samples & Copyright Infringement

Thinking about sampling someone in your next hit record? Make sure you’re licensed to do so. Samples are protected by copyright, that is, rules established by federal law to protect the relationship between the creator and the use of their creations, whether artistic, literary or scientific. Intellectual property law can include all sorts of things, and music is regulated alongside articles, books, paintings, compositions, illustrations, photographs, inventions, and ideas themselves. 

Because of this deep level of respect for intellectual property in the law, sampling is regulated and controlled. Every artist who wants to use samples must have the creator’s authorization for any type of use of copyrighted content. If the artist has written and nominal authorization from the creator, they can use the sample without any problems. 

There are two important rights to consider when sampling a song:

  • The mechanical rights, or the right to use the underlying composition in your new sound recording
  • The master use rights, or the right to use the original sound recording in your new song

Traditionally, obtaining these licenses on a DIY level has been difficult for artists. If you are looking to grab an old sound and flip into something new, look for a service like Tracklib, which provides artists with a library of pre-cleared sound recordings anyone can pay a fee to use in their next banger.

Sampling has certainly grabbed the imagination of everyone from major artists to hobbyists with the rise of Drill music on social media platforms like TikTok. Producers especially have found exciting new ways to reinvent popular hooks and melodies. Finding a new musical context for a popular composition can be exhilarating, but you need to be careful about infringing on someone’s copyright.

If you as an artist haven’t obtained authorization, don’t waste our time and yours by using samples or any other copyrighted content because the album / EP / single won’t be approved. It is the exclusive right of the author to dispose of their work as they wish, that is, they may use their creation as they wish, as well as allowing third parties to use it, in whole or in part. If you have the authorization and are distributing it through ONErpm, keep it handy, so our team can request it when necessary.


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