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Can I distribute releases with sampling and covers?
Can I distribute releases with sampling and covers?

Using samples and covering another artist's songs

Joel avatar
Written by Joel
Updated over a week ago

Samples and Covers can be a great way to get noticed on social media!

But are you looking to distribute a cover, or a track containing samples? Well, listen up, because it’s a lot more complicated than releasing your own original music, and there can be legal ramifications if your release contains covers or samples you do not have permission to use.

Read on to find out what it takes to get your covers and samples distributed.

Getting cover songs on Spotify/Apple Music

Does your release contain a cover song? If so, you will need to obtain a mechanical license in order to distribute it, and you should credit the songwriter and recording owner, who will be due a cut of your royalties from the cover. Otherwise you could run into some legal issues. 

"But lawyers don't scare me, Joel!", I hear you say.

Nevertheless, it's really not worth risking legal action when you can pick up a license for as little as $12.

"Yes, you're probably right, Joel. I'll get a mechanical license."

Good, glad that's sorted.

There are a number of companies from whom you can get a Mechanical License, including the Harry Fox Agency (HFA) and Easy Song Licensing. 

We recommend applying for mechanical licenses a week in advance of submitting your release to ensure you’re covered (get it?). 

Distributing music with samples of another artist's work

Sampling is so complex and difficult to get approved that you may be better off sticking to Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and SoundCloud! Getting permission to use someone else's recording in your own release is incredibly unlikely unless you:

a) Personally know the artist whose music you’re sampling
b) Have a LOT of money and influence in the music business

If neither of these are the case, it’s very unlikely you will receive a reply.

To distribute a sample, you will need the permission of recording owner (normally a record company) and the songwriter. It's incredibly hard to get in touch with both these parties if you don't have a) or b), and even if you manage to, it's going to take a lot of convincing that it's worth their time.

Can't I just get my tracks on Spotify, Apple etc. but not get paid for them?
No. We cannot distribute your tracks without monetizing them. 

Non-musical samples

Thinking of using samples from a TV show, film or famous speech? The same principles still apply: You need the permission of the person or entity who wrote it (e.g. the screenwriter), and the person or entity who owns the original recording.

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