If you include a sample of someone else's music in your own work, then you need to get permission to use it. There are two bits of copyright that you need to clear and, in many cases, neither of these will be owned by the artist who performed the track.
The first is the copyright in the actual recording, which will usually be owned by the record company who originally released the track. The second is the copyright in the song. This will be owned by the writer of the original tune or, more likely, their publisher. In order to use a sample legally, you need to have clearance from the owners of both copyrights. It might sound like a headache, but if you approach the owner of the copyright and they think they might be able to make some money out of it, they'll probably be on board.
When you find a sample you want to use, the first thing to decide is whether you're going to clear it yourself or get someone else to do it for you. If you're signed to a record label or publishing company they may take care of it. If you don't have that luxury, you could use a specialist sample clearance company.
If you're planning on clearing a sample yourself, then you'll need to get in touch with the record label and publisher involved. You should be able to find a contact from somewhere like The CMU Directory or get in touch with MCPS (Mechanical-Copyright Protection Society) - they look after copyright for virtually every record label and publisher you can think of. If a record has been released in the UK, MCPS will have up-to-date information about who owns what and how to get in contact with them.
The cost of a sample will vary massively, depending on the scale of the release, how popular the original track is and how well established an artist you are. Some record companies will want a flat-fee, known as a 'buy-out'. Others will negotiate a percentage of the profits, though they may also insist on an advance. The longer the sample, the more you may have to shell out.Next
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