Hiphop Ex-Sample?

Just when you think nothing else can possibly go wrong, the Universe decides to throw yet another curve ball, and this comeback lark is starting to feel like trying to do a triathlon in a straitjacket.

What am I talking about ? Sampling that's what and the latest dilemma to halt the process. You can't think of Hiphop without sampling, it's the lifeblood that flows through its veins and yet the future of Hiphop is in jeopardy and  set to get far worse thanks to the digital age, meaning that even Fred Bloggs with 3 followers isn't immune from being sued if he samples a track without clearance from all parties involved before posting  it online, digital technology means that it's far easier to pick up any suspected copyright infringements these days . 

When I talk about ALL parties, this means you could get permission off the songwriter, but then the songwriter may not actually own the song, it could be the publisher or record company, so getting permission from one party still leaves you open to being sued from the other parties .....Phew! are you still with me?  Maybe back in the day this wouldn't have bothered me, in fact it didn't, I've always been happy to take my chances.....until now.

As I've already stated it's becoming far more common for anyone whether your famous or not to be sued these days, if you're using a sample without permission, and we're talking big bucks and court cases that can go on for years, and even if your sneaky use of a sample isn't picked up straight away you can still be nabbed years later. Some of the most famous cases are De La Soul and their album "3 Feet High and Rising" they used an array of samples including a 12 second snippet from The Turtles track "You Showed me" from 1969. When De La Soul released their album in 89, former Turtle members sued the band which was eventually settled out of court for an undisclosed figure but rumoured to be  $1.7million.

Another famous case is the Beastie Boys 1989 album "Paul's Boutique" said to contain up to 300 samples, and while the album was a flop at the time it's gone on to become an iconic hiphop album  Their recording engineer Mario Calato Jr has said they paid £195.000 in clearance fees but because the list of samples used is so long they are still getting sued today.  Other cases have seen Jay-Z & Timberland , 50 cent, kendrick Lamar, Biz Markie, Chance the rapper, Nicki Minaj, Ludacris, Kanye West, Emnem, to name but a few, and every year more and more artists are being sued for sampling, it's becoming so common, that  as soon as one case finishes another begins

 Due to the possibility of being sued, most radio stations won't play a track these days without having evidence that you've got  clearance from the appropriate parties to use the sample. The bottom line is, being an unsigned artist/band without management isn't a get out of jail card anymore and  wont stop you being sued in  todays digital age, but trying to get that permission is likely to be a nightmare too, regarding having to research who to approach and then get contact details, and then the likelihood of hearing back will be minimal especially if you;re not an established artist/band, if you do get a response there's   likely to be a License fee to fork out for that many unsigned wouldn't be able to afford, although comparing that to the alternative of getting sued for a million plus may still be worth pursuing? Here's a website to give you the breakdown of what you need to know and  do to stop yourself being sued: Getting Clearance    

The two tracks I've already written  using samples will have to be shelved for now until I've  tried to locate  the relevant parties to see if firstly they give permission and secondly if I can afford the clearance fee. There's no guarantee permission will be given, in the case of Nicki Minaj who used a sample of "Sorry" by Tracy Chapman, the artist refused for it to be used.  While not officially released, copies of the track  appeared online anyway and subsequently Minaj was sued.  It just feels such a worrying time for hiphop and its future, that the very fundamentals are being ripped out of it ?  It's no longer worth taking the risk because the possibility of being sued is far  greater  and more likely now and while  a court case is going on a block or restrictions can be put on you for releasing ANY music at all.

Are you an  artist/band?  writer?  producer?  how do you deal with sampling and will it change the way you do things going forward? Lemme know? 

                                            Til Next Time, Stay Blessed x



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