Want Sync Licenses? Avoid Samples (2023)

Want Sync Licenses? Avoid Samples (2023)

Samples. To know them in a sync licensing context is to have a love/hate relationship with them. They are a great way to add depth, texture and flavor to your music, but when it comes to sync licensing, using samples can be a big no-no. Here’s why:

For starters, samples require the permission from the copyright owner before you can use them – which means paying for clearance fees. It’s not always easy to get clearance for samples, and the process can be incredibly expensive and time-consuming. Many music supervisors looking to license music have a very quick turnaround time on projects. In many cases, they will refuse to consider tracks including samples from the get-go.

Beyond that, you could find yourself in legal trouble if you use a sample without permission from the copyright holder. Word to the wise... don't do this! If you get caught and sued for copyright infringement, you can always argue 'fair use', but then you're at the mercy of a judge, not to mention responsible for your newly amassed legal fees. You're better off paying to use the sample in the first place, especially if you think your song has the potential to really go somewhere. 

Another reason to avoid samples when it comes to sync licensing is because they can limit your ability to monetize your music in certain ways. For example, while some publishers may be willing to license a song with samples in it, they may insist on an exclusive deal, which could prevent you from licensing it elsewhere. Other publishers may choose to set limits on the track, only approving syncs above a certain price range. On one hand, this practice can be seen as preserving the integrity of the song, but on the other hand, the artist might miss out on important smaller opportunities as a result. Many artists have blown up overnight after being featured on a TV show with a minimal budget, so don't shoot yourself in the foot here!

Ultimately, samples can be a great way to add flavor and texture to your music. But when it comes to sync licensing, it’s usually best to stick with creating original compositions instead. That way, you won’t have to worry about clearance fees and legal issues, and your music will be more likely to reach a wider audience. So if you’re serious about getting your music synced up, skip the samples – it’ll save you a lot of headaches in the long run!


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