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Covers versus sampling

On Behalf of | Dec 4, 2023 | Entertainment Law |

Musicians these days have many laws to consider as they’re getting their music ready to drop. For some, using samples of other artists’ music is necessary. Before they include samples in their music, they should ensure they’re legally allowed to do this. 

Understanding a few points about sampling music is critical so you don’t make any missteps.  

Covering a song isn’t sampling

Covering a song means that you’re reinterpreting the entire song. A cover version of a song enables an artist to take advantage of the popularity of a song while adding their spin to it. You don’t need permission to record a cover song; however, you may need to alert the owner of your intent to cover and pay a royalty fee. Additionally, obtaining a mechanical license is critical if you want to release the cover online in any form.

Sampling requires permission

Sampling a song means using part of another person’s song in your song. This requires special permission so you don’t infringe on a copyright. The owner of the song may ask you to change specific things about the part of the song that you will use. You may comply with this if you intend to continue using the sample. They may also require that you pay parts of the earnings from the song that includes the sample. 

Covers and sampling can be challenging aspects of the music industry. Working with someone familiar with these laws is critical to ensure that you’re doing the right thing. If you find out that you’re facing legal issues because of a cover or sample, having someone handle this is critical.