Sampling and loops are practices that have been around for decades in the music industry, specifically in music production. The practice, which is completely legal and widely used, involved taking a sample of a previously recorded track and looping it to make another background track and use it in another song. Sampling and looping have evolved throughout the years and have shifted and shaped the entire music industry while doing so. Years ago, looping was used to extend the length of the sample by playing it over and over again and then cutting it. You could then speed up, slow down, change the pitch and tone of the sample, and sometimes come up with a completely different sample from the one you originally had.
Sampling is most popularly used in hip-hop, where artists find producers who are particularly good at taking good samples and molding them to what the artist wants. In the 80’s, it was very easy to sample songs and beats, but after a while, it became a complex web of what should be considered legal and what constituted as a copywrite infraction. Popular and successful artists were being sued and suddenly the practice of sampling and loops became more complex.
Nowadays, a record label will have a clear list of what can be sampled and what cant and how much it is going to cost. There is now a massive gray area on what constitutes safe and legal sampling, which is why artists have begun going to websites that offer free samples and free loops they can use in their songs. There are also websites that work on a subscription basis and other where you can buy the sample off of a producer for a certain amount of money. Royalty-free music has been on the rise ever since the rise of the internet and sites like SoundCloud, where artists post and share their original songs with the public for free. A lot of artists complain that sampling music is stealing, and others say that it is a way to show appreciation for the other artist’s work. This debate has been an ongoing one since sampling became popular.
Sometimes the samples become something drastically different from the original source and artists argue that is no longer the same track since the sound is basically unrecognizable. This is more or less the gray area of sampling, and although it can be dangerous and costly due to lawsuits, many artists take advantage of this gray area to create original tracks with the music hey sampled from other artists. Sometimes all a sample consists of is a drum line and the sample is then used in another song without any alteration. That’s when it gets a little tricky for the artist. But all in all, most of the hip-hop genre of music has been based on sampling and editing these samples and then creating new and original music out of it. While it has become increasingly difficult to use the practice, it can still be done with the previously mentioned methods, and royalty free samples are probably the best way to go if you’re a struggling artist who can’t afford to pay millions of dollars for a single sample.