What most artists don’t know about buying beats with samples

Samples, when done right can take a track to a whole other world sonically. Some of the classic songs in R&B music like Aaliyah’s “Are You That Somebody” or Blackstreet’s smash “No Diggity” prominently sample “People Say’ by The Meters and “Grandma’s Hands” by Bill Withers respectively. Sampling is an art form that has shown no signs of fading however as an artist buying beats online there are some things you should be seriously aware of before purchasing sample based beats.

Are the samples cleared?

This is by far the most important point to drive home more than anything else. Most if not all producers who sample are not clearing samples before licensing beats and if you read your license agreements, which you should be because these are legally binding documents, you will see that artists are stuck holding the bag when it comes to clearing samples. What that means is when you buy a beat with uncleared samples you are then liable for the clearance of any of those samples prior to releasing your songs or you may be putting yourself in some legal trouble.

Releasing records with uncleared samples can get you into a world of trouble. The violation of a copyright can stall a career before it even starts. If you are going to purchase beats with samples please make sure the samples have been cleared prior to purchase and request proof of clearance. You can never ask too many questions and any producer who isn’t willing to answer your questions should not get your hard earned dollars. It would be a good idea to get documentation of where the producer attained the samples so you have some idea of where to start to get samples cleared.

However I would advise against buying beats with uncleared samples as in my opinion it is unethical to stick an artist with the responsibility of clearing a sample while you the producer have profited off of the uncleared sample by licensing the beat the first place.If a producer cannot provide proof of clearance and cannot verify where he/she got the samples then select a beat that does not contain samples or keep it moving and find a producer who does not rely heavily on sampling.

Now I know what some of you are you thinking. Damn bruh why are you hating on sampling. First of all I love sampling. I grew up on producers like DJ Premier, Pete Rock, Timbaland, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis and so many others. However I am strongly against stealing. No matter how you try to dress it up if you sample a record and do not get clearance to do so and or compensate the copyright owner you are stealing. Period.

Keep in mind sample clearance can be an expensive endeavor and that is assuming you even get permission in the first place which by the way the copyright owner does not have to give.  Which brings me to another point.

Some copyright holders don’t clear samples

Artists like Prince (RIP), Stevie Wonder, Anita Baker among many others notoriously do not clear samples and according to the CEO of DMG Clearance Deborah Mannis Gardner that list is growing.  So lets put this into a scenario you as the artist can relate to. So you come across this producer online and you fall in love with one of the sample based beats on their site. There are several things you want to ask the producer prior to purchasing. First are you responsible for clearing the sample? In the majority of the cases the answer to this question will be yes.

Than you think but how much will that cost? The short answer…who in the hell knows. That is a case by case basis and any producer that quotes you an amount is lying to you though most I hope wouldn’t.

 

You get in your home The bad thing about producers selling beats with uncleared samples is not only are they profiting off of the uncleared music but then should  the proverbial shit hit the fan they are leaving you the artist holding the bag to pay for sample clearances that even if you do have the money may still materialize because there is a slew of copyright holders who do NOT okay sampling of their music no matter what.

Most producers who are sampling are not knowledgeable on copyright law

In conclusion unless you want to deal with the possibility of investing money into a beat that you cannot use the way you want anyway then I suggest selecting beats without samples or moving on to a new producer all together. However if you are hell bent on using beats with samples do yourself a favor and make sure the producer has cleared the samples and can provide you proof of sample clearance. If they refuse to provide proof they have not cleared the samples and you should run for the hills.

I wouldn’t hold my breath though. Most producers who are sampling are not knowledgeable on copyright law and do not bother to clear samples and in fact believe it is the job of the artists to clear samples so please be aware of what you are getting into when purchasing these sample beats. Take care guys and remember to CREATE AND INSPIRE!

*Note I am not an attorney/legal counsel these are only findings from my own personal research. Please seek the appropriate representation for any and all legal matters.

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