Many talented singers and music producers have come across a track, a sample, or some professionally recorded piece of music that they just know they need to use on their next song. Sometimes, a big part of the battle is figuring out where the sample originated from definitively, as many songs have been remixed, remastered, re-released, and even covered by multiple artists. If you have already mixed your next hit then full service song licensing has to be obtained before anything can be released to the public. Here are a few reminders as to why gaining the full rights to any music you have sampled or borrowed from to create a new song is absolutely necessary.
Remembering the Verve
Back in the late 1990s, an alternative rock band by the name of The Verve wrote a song that had international appeal and quickly found fame. Their song, ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony’ was a smash hit. While their record label and management team had taken efforts to get permission from both The Rolling Stones and the Andrew Oldham Orchestra, there was some kind of mix-up that left the band embroiled in a lengthy legal dispute. In the end, The Verve had to share songwriting credits with The Rolling Stones and the Andrew Oldham Orchestra, even though neither of the latter parties authored a single lyric. Very few revenues, if any, from ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony’, ever ended up in the original band member’s pockets, and many believe this marred their chances of later success.
Even Justin Bieber Needs Song Licensing Clearance
Justin Bieber has the backing of major music studios, as well as highly acclaimed producers. Even so, it wasn’t that surprising when he was accused of using an unauthorized sample on his 2015 hit ‘Sorry.’ Although the artist accusing Bieber of sampling her song doesn’t have a team of lawyers to back her up, all it takes is one judge to render a multi-million dollar ruling in her favor. The long story short is that Bieber and his people should’ve gotten permission to sample any and all music that accompanied his tracks.
Robin Thicke Takes an Offensive Approach
In the mid-2000s, Robin Thicke was thought to be playing a hand in the recreation of modern R&B. Unfortunately for him, one of his most famous songs actually stole a riff from the late Marvin Gaye. Instead of doing what was right and asking for permission to sample the track from the estate of Marvin Gaye, Thicke decided that it would be a better move to bizarrely sue his predecessor for copyright infringement. While Thicke may have never had to pay a lot of money in copyright infringement settlement costs, his career has all but come to a screeching halt.
If you write a successful song but the music came from a title that you didn’t get permission to use, you’re probably going to be sued. You also need to protect your musical creations so that no one can borrow from you and then get away without fairly compensating you. This is probably one of the most critical lessons that all budding musical artists should take heed of in their careers.