If you have "sampled" in the true nature of sampling, by lifting your musical element from a preexisting recording, there are two copyrights you need to concern yourself with: music publishing and the sound/master recording.

If you replayed or rerecorded the song, then you only have to clear the music publishing rights.

For more information on these copyrights see our Practical Guide To Licensing & Clearances.


Availability is the hurdle before cost. In U.S. copyright law there is nothing that says a copyright holder has to allow you to use their work in your new work. They can say "no" and are not required to explain why they have denied a request. This is why you should clear the samples before you master the song/record. Having to remove a sample on an already mastered element is difficult, time consuming and expensive.

Copyright holders generally determine a sampling license fee based upon how much of the original work you've used and the extent to which the original work is featured in the new song.

Before beginning a sample clearance think about:

  • What element of the original song did you sample?
  • How was the sample incorporated into the new song?
  • The total number of samples needed to be cleared.
  • Who's the record label releasing the new work.
  • What's your release date?
  • The quickest way to transcribe the lyrics to the new song
  • When you will be mastering the song(s)
  • How many units of the new recording are being manufactured in the first manufacturing run?

For a copy of our current sample clearance rate card and Sampling Clearance In-take Forms, call us at 212.274.1006 or contact us at