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Sampling

How to use samples of other artists' work in your own music

On this page you will find information about:

  • Tips for sampling
  • Permissions and licences
  • Uncleared samples
  • Avoiding clearance problems

Tips for successful sampling

  • Obtain permission from the owner(s) of the copyright in the recording you are sampling.
  • Make sure that you obtain permission from the owner(s) of the work’s publishing copyright.
  • If you are unable to track the owners of the rights, contact the sample clearance team at PRS for Music (prsformusic.com).
  • If you are recording your own version of a track, obtain an MCPS mechanical licence from PRS for Music.
  • You may have to negotiate an upfront fee or a cut of any royalties to sample a work.
  • If you think you have been sampled unlawfully, contact your MU Regional Office for advice on how to proceed.

Uncleared samples

If you do not seek rights clearances for a sample, the results can have a drastic effect upon your career from both creative and monetary points of view.

In a situation such as this, the rights owners of the sample — usually the publisher and label of the artist whose work is being used — could negotiate a clearance agreement very much in their favour, claim 100% of all royalties from the track, or force it to be pulled.

How to avoid clearance problems

A way to avoid rights clearance problems altogether is to use CDs of specially recorded, royalty-free samples, which are available from dedicated websites and advertised in specialist DJ publications.

Another way of cutting costs is to re-record a track yourself. This means that you won’t have to pay for the right to sample the master recording, only the right to use the composition via the writer or their publisher. If you do a cover version, you are the sound recording owner and only need to get an MCPS licence to cover the rights in the song.

However, if your cover version rearranges or adapts the original music, you will need to get permission from the publisher/writer.