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What happens if my track shares audio with an existing track?
What happens if my track shares audio with an existing track?

What to look out for when using free and paid beats

Joel avatar
Written by Joel
Updated over a week ago

It's quite common these days for artists (especially in Rap and Hip-Hop) to buy ready-made instrumental backing tracks (or beats) from a producer, and then record their own vocals over the top.

There are also places you can find these beats for free, like producers on YouTube, SoundCloud, beat marketplaces and audio production software like Splice.

If you're looking to distribute music like this, where you haven't personally made (or synthesized) every single sound in the track, you need to be aware that you may run into some issues both during and after the distribution process.

Has some of my track's audio already been published somewhere before?

The problem is that there's this thing called Audio Fingerprinting Software. Designed to protect artists and their intellectual property, it automatically analyzes new songs and looks for identical passages of audio in existing tracks that are already published to Apple Music, Spotify, YouTube and more.

Basically what the software is trying to work out is: "Has this artist illegally copied another artist's work?"

If the answer appears to be "Yes", the entity using the software then has an obligation to reject or takedown the track, or seek clarification from the person who is trying to publish it.

Do I have exclusive rights to use these beats?

If you are acquiring exclusive beats (i.e beats that only you can use) from a producer, Audio Fingerprinting shouldn't be a problem for you, as that exact digital signature should not have been published anywhere else.

But if you found those beats available for free somewhere on the internet, it's likely that other artists have found them too, and may have already distributed tracks with this audio signature.

Distributing existing audio

As a distributor we have an obligation to protect artists from unauthorized use of their work. So if our Audio Fingerprinting Software detects that a passage of your audio is already live somewhere, we'll make a judgement call and do one of two things:

We'll freeze your release and ask you where you got the beats from


We'll outright reject your release

As long as you can show us a license or the place you got the beats from, we should be able to proceed with distribution. Just be aware that this could add an extra couple of days to your release date. Make sure to check your email in the first 4-5 days after you submit your songs as that is where we'll contact you.

Make sure the beats are licensed for use on Spotify, Apple Music etc.

When you distribute with us, by default we send your tracks to all the biggest streaming sites and digital stores. If you're using someone else's beats in your track, it is up to you to confirm that you have the permission and necessary licenses from the producer to send your music there. Pay particular attention to this if you are using free beats as they are often not permitted to be used on streaming sites.

If we learn that you do not have a valid license to monetize the beats you've used, your release will be removed and your account may be closed.

Here are all the sites we distribute to. Make sure your license covers these!

Want to see if some of your audio is already live somewhere else? Download the free Shazam app for your mobile device!

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