first off thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and wisdom in this forum. this is incredible! thank you!!
not sure if this an appropriate question but ill shoot anyway.
sample based music is still very alive and well today. however for reasons both good and bad for artists there are many more legal hooks in place for this type of music production. good because there is more protection to artists work so they are more likely to be compensated for their IP that gets sampled. bad because you have less options to create new music due to sample clearance fees and legal issues.
obviously sample clearance is a must with major label release. (well technically its always a must, however risk is lower when your album does not generate as much $$$) and artists still get burned for not clearing everything. how much sample clearance are you seeing with the independent artists? do you see a threshold where the independent starts selling enough records that they need to start clamping down more on producers to clear "everything"? obviously you should clear any sample because you are never "in the clear" just because you are a small label. i hear uncleared samples all the time on plenty of "big selling" independent artists. are any of these big selling independent artists getting hit by lawsuits? how about smaller independent artists? how are you seeing independent labels trying to deal with this issue?
Peter Wells, SVP Operations, Customer Advocate - Tunecore
The problem with sampling is that, for the moment at least, there is no compulsory legislation in place. For mechanical royalties, you can use someone's copyright-protected material and pay them--so long as you pay them (and you must, that's why it's compulsory), you're doing nothing illegal. However, a compulsory license doesn't exist for masters, and the right to sample a master MUST legally be secured ahead of time, usually at terrific expense. I've seen a 5-second sample cost TENS of THOUSANDS of dollars. As you say, that's good and bad.
TuneCore has a standing policy against theft. That is, we tell our customers and prospective customers that they can not use samples unless they have been cleared. We let our customers know that if they use a sample, they had better have proof in writing that they had the right to use it.
The expense and the hassle means we don't see it much. TuneCore is taking in tens of thousands of albums, more and more every day, and we couldn't possibly check them all for samples, and even if we did, who are we to say if they're stolen or not? We believe our customers when they click the "I Agree" to the required terms and condisions and warrant and represent they control or have cleared the rights.
I'm happy to say that so far, there have been very, very few of these. I like to think it's because we're so up-front and try so hard to provide education and display our policy. People really are honest, if you give them the chance!
Some of our clients are the ones who have been recording since the 60's are actually making a good living off of their music being sampled!
So - we always do everything we can to make it easy for artists do the right thing, pay for their samples, pay for their cover songs, etc. It's good for the whole music economy. If you loved that sample enough to use it, it's your duty to try to pay your fellow musician who created it.
There are some good friendly affordable-enough law firms that are optimized for these services, that we introduce clients to if needed. (Not posting their info publicly, because then they get hundreds of calls a week from people just with "a few questions", trying to ask them off-the-clock. Unsustainable.)
Feel free to email me privately if you want recommendations.