· By Jan Branicki

Top Ways Sampling Music Can Engage Your Audience

Sampling is an essential part of modern music and its sound. The technique is a powerful tool that allows creators to tap into a world of exciting sounds and creativity. Whether you are using samples taken from old records or loops created specifically for use, the possibilities are endless. 

With sample packs and services such as Tracklib and Splice, artists can legally sample and use pre-cleared sounds in their music. This is opening up new avenues for creativity and innovation.

Many successful producers are composing music with samples. Kanye West has used samples throughout his career, from his early albums' to the more experimental sounds of his recent work. Similarly, J Dilla is known for extensively using samples in his pioneering hip-hop production. 

Another example is DJ Premier, renowned for his use of samples from jazz and soul in his production for artists such as Nas. These producers have shown how sampling can be used creatively and effectively to make great music.

What is sampling in music?

Sampling in music refers to using pre-existing sound recordings or musical compositions as the basis for new creations. It is a popular technique that has been used in various genres of music for years. However, using samples without obtaining the necessary clearance from copyright owners can result in legal issues and financial penalties.

The legal implications

To legally sample music, creatives can use services such as The Sample Lab or Tracklib, which offer pre-cleared samples. These sample packs have been cleared for use by their respective copyright holders. This allows users to incorporate them into their musical creations without fear of legal consequences.

Sampling in the Music Industry

Despite the availability of these services, some artists still choose to use uncleared samples in their music productions. This approach can be risky, as it may result in legal issues and prevent their music from being distributed. However, some argue that songs that use sampling have more authenticity and that the risk is worth taking.

However, using uncleared samples has landed many artists and producers in legal trouble.

For example:

  • Vanilla Ice's hit "Ice Ice Baby" used a bass line from Queen and David Bowie's "Under Pressure" without permission.
  • Biz Markie's "Alone Again" used a sample from Gilbert O'Sullivan's "Alone Again (Naturally)" without clearance.
  • De La Soul's "Three Feet High and Rising" included numerous uncleared samples, resulting in lawsuits and delays in releasing new music.

These cases illustrate the importance of obtaining proper clearance before using samples in music production.

How is sampling viewed in the wider audience?

The audience's attitude towards sampling in the music industry varies. While some listeners appreciate the creativity and innovation sampling brings to music, others may view it as plagiarism.

Ultimately, the success of a song that incorporates sampling depends on the quality of the music. The ability of the artist or producer to effectively incorporate and manipulate the samples to create something exciting is also important.

Where did it start? 

Sampling started with producers digging through crates of old records looking for sounds. From here, they started using samples in music production. They would spend hours scouring record stores and thrift shops, looking for obscure records with exciting samples. 

What is Sampling in Music


This practice was popularised in the early days of hip-hop. Producers would loop short sections of these records to create the beats for their tracks. As sampling became more widespread, dedicated record dealers began to emerge. They specialised in selling records to producers specifically for sampling purposes. 

With the advent of digital sampling, producers can access a vast array of samples from sample packs and online services. The practice of crate digging remains a cherished tradition for many.

How can sampling benefit my music and my audience?

Music sampling can benefit your audience in several ways. Creating a new song from a sample can give your audience a fresh sound they may not have heard before. Sampling offers an opportunity to bring old music back to life and into the ears of younger listeners.

By incorporating a sample from a classic song into a new track, producers can create a sense of nostalgia and introduce a new audience to the older sound. This can lead to a revival of interest in the original music and inspire listeners to explore the history of the sampled music. 

Bridging the gap

Sampling can help bridge the gap between generations and create a shared musical experience between them. This can broaden your audience and create a deeper connection with them. Sampling can make a song feel fresh and familiar, drawing in new listeners while appealing to older ones. With sampling, you can pay homage to the past while creating something new and relevant for the present.

Samples from distant lands

Moreover, sampling can help preserve cultural traditions and promote the global recognition of different musical styles. For example, in Jay-Zs 1999 hit "Big Pimpin". The beat was created by producer Timbaland, who sampled the melody from the song "Khosara" by Egyptian composer Baligh Hamdy. 

Songs that Use Sampling

The original song was written for a 1957 Egyptian film, "Fata Ahlami," and features a prominent string section and Arabic-style percussion. Timbaland's use of the sample helped bring the music of the Middle East to a wider audience in the USA and introduced a new audience to Baligh Hamdy. The song became a huge commercial success, peaking at number 18 on the Billboard Hot 100 and receiving widespread critical acclaim. 

Where can I find samples?

Music samples can be obtained from various sources, including online marketplaces like The Sample Lab and Tracklib. Additionally, some producers and artists create and distribute their sample packs. Another option is to take it back to the essence and sample from vinyl records. Some producers also sample directly from Youtube. Another popular sampling style uses field recordings and other non-musical sounds to create unique samples.

In conclusion, using samples in music has become integral to music production, offering various creative possibilities. With the availability of pre-cleared samples through services like Tracklib and Splice, artists can legally incorporate samples into their music. 

While some argue that using uncleared samples adds to the authenticity of their music, the importance of obtaining proper clearance cannot be overstated. Sampling can benefit the artist and the audience by offering fresh sounds. It can also bridge the gap between generations and preserve cultural traditions. 

Whether you choose to sample from vinyl records or use digital sample packs, the key is effectively manipulating the samples into something new. With the right approach, sampling can take your music to the next level.