The (Expensive) Process Behind Sample Clearance

J. Anomaly's growth as a producer challenges Elm to Ivy Records to expand its label services!


J. Anomaly

What is sample and media clearance? When a musical artist wants to incorporate another's music/voice/likeness into their own work, they usually must obtain permission from the original work's owner. Hip-hop producers often sample old school soul instrumentals and vocal performances and flip them into iconic rap beats. For sampling at it's best, think the soulful soundscape backing Ye's The College Dropout-Graduation series. For a slightly more modern example, think the Lauryn Hill sample on Drake's hit song "Nice for What."

The messy thing about the sample clearance process is this: There's no guarantee that the original artist will let you use their art in your work. There's been many instances where an artist made a track using a sample and set it up to be a key song on their album... only to have the sample denied at the last minute. This has led to many ICONIC songs being shoved into the vault, never to be heard by the masses.

Elm to Ivy Records now has access to sampling clearing resources, with the price currently averaging around $1.4k per song. While this is most definitely a pretty penny, it's within budget and is an avenue we plan to utilize for label-head J. Anomaly's next release (as he already has self-produced tracks for his next album that, in our opinion, already surpass everything he's released so far!). To cut costs going forward, clearances are something we are looking to handle in-house without needing to involve a third-party.

Industry insiders usually offer the following advice when it comes to clearing samples: Start early, take only what you need, and replay as much as you can in order to set yourself up for success in the clearance negotiation.

Want to hear a scrapped interlude (think Frank Ocean's Facebook Story) from A Moment Lost To Find Blue that used an audio sample ? Though Elm to Ivy Records was able to contact the owner of the original content and negotiate a reasonable price to use the work for A Moment Lost to Find Blue, we decided to go another route and leave this one off the project. Swipe to hear "Words of Obadiah (Interlude)"!

Source J. Anomaly

June 8, 2023 11:52am ET by J. Anomaly  

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