How To Clear A Sample (Everything You Need To Know)

It’s reasonable to conclude that Sting will never have to work again if he so desires. A recent report claims that he makes $730k/year — $2k/day — in royalties from just one song, “Every Breath You Take” on top of all his other earnings from touring and his extremely famous back catalog.

In 1997, Puff Daddy “borrowed” the song by for his homage to late rapper Notorious B.I.G( I’ll Be Missing You).
The Rapper/Producer used the melody for the chorus, with Faith Evans on the hook, and they also sampled Andy Summers’ serpentine guitar section.

Puff Daddy, on the other hand, never sought permission from Sting for the sample(which he would’ve have paid out just 25% of the publication earnings). Rather than that, Sting was able to claim 100 percent of them under copyright law. The song earned a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group after selling seven million copies.

NEW YORK, NY – JANUARY 28: Recording artists Sting and Sean “Diddy” Combs attend the 60th Annual GRAMMY Awards at Madison Square Garden on January 28, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for NARAS)

What is Sampling?

The term “Sampling” refers to the act of reusing a particular piece of another person’s sound recording. The quantity varies, it may be as simple as incorporating another’s distinctive drum combinations or guitar riff into a song, or it can be as extensive as using the whole chorus or a complete verse from a song. In its most basic form, this operation is just “copying” and “pasting” a part of another’s existing sound recording into your new work.

“There is no central database or method for clearing this music,” explains Mara Kuge, president and CEO of Superior Music Publishing, a music publishing and sync consultancy firm. “It’s something that must be worked out with all of the people that own the music you wish to sample. There is, in fact, a procedure for clearing it.”

Benefits of using Royalty-Free Samples

Once you buy a royalty-free sample library, individuals also receive a full licensing that enables you to use the featured samples in your work without incurring extra royalties. The sounds now are accessible for use in any personal or commercial musical endeavor! By eliminating the worry and inconvenience of repurposing copyrighted material, royalty-free samples enable producers to concentrate entirely on the creative process and create genuinely unique music.

How To Clear A Sample

Keep Notes

Prior to starting the clearing procedure, be sure you have a clear understanding of what you’re trying to collect and where you need to take the sample.

Deborah Mannis-Gardner, the owner and president of music-rights clearances firm DMG Music Clearances, states, “This job starts in the studio, with maintaining song sheets with comprehensive information on compositions.”

“There are many producers that start out with beats, but then forget where they got the sample from” she remarks. “They’re behind the eight ball when they attempt to locate the source, since they do not know where it originated. It’s essential to make excellent records so you can refer to them later.”

Different Licences

Many artists may require two different licences to clear a sample: one for the publication and one for the master. In other words, songs, music, and melodies must all be covered by the publication license, and a separate contract is required for the sampled recording.

In many cases, these licenses involve contacting the same artist. For example,Kanye West used the song “Strange Fruits” by Nina Simone  for his song “Blood On The Leaves” Not only did the rapper have to get permission to use the sample of the song, but he also needed clearance from the original song by Billie Holiday and also from the original songwriter Abel Meeropol.

Don’t do it yourself 

There are instances when artists have an excellent notion of who they need to contact in order to clear use of a song. In other cases, however, that is not the case.
For instance, music producers may sample a YouTube or SoundCloud song without knowing where it came from, and unknowingly end up using it in another artist’s song.

A record contract may be unclear, and merging labels can make finding out who owns the rights to a song seem like a difficult treasure hunt. Unless you’re using a Royalty Free Sample, clearances are further complicated when a sampled song or recording includes several composers, who are often represented by various publishers, or when the sample doesn’t have the same songwriter and performer.Ultimately, the artists shouldn’t try to clear a sample on their own.

Even if an artist has a verbal permission to use a sample, it is not sufficient in a court of law.


In terms of initial expenses, if you’re working with a big label and publisher, sampling is typically not cheap.
Publishers demand a non-negotiable fee of between $1,500 and $3,000, as well as a percentage of the new copyright, for every song they handle. In addition, the label will charge thousands of dollars extra.

In addition to all these additional fees, there are expenses for the back end, we call it royalties splits. The publisher is taking a proportion of future royalties in return for allowing the use of a sample.


When clearing a sample, the songwriter and publisher cannot provide artists free reign over how and where he can use the music.

Once the song is clear, you are can use it on a musical record or a promotional video. However, if you wish to use the same music, you’ll have to get the composer’s permission each time. Getting additional permission is necessary for using it in a film or TV program. Just about everything and everything you can think of where it might be useful should to check it again before you use it.


Royalty Free Samples is your best bet unless you have a record label backing you.

Royalty-free means that you do not have to pay anything in order to use the work. Any copyright content or Intellectual Rights may be protected with this license. While the original designer still retains ownership, others  contributs to the final product. It gives you permission to use the content without paying extra costs or royalties.

In other words, Royalty Free samples have a Royalty Free license. So, This means a royalty-free license allows you to use a sample in a commercial project. And you retain all royalties you earn from the project without any extra fees.

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