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Sample Clearing

If you’re a hip hop artist or producer, odds are, you either have or will be faced with the issue of using a sample in your music. The biggest problem with this is that most people wait until their music project is completed before they start dealing with the legal aspects associated with clearing those samples.
Typically, most independent releases selling no more than 10,000 records, remain under the radar and never draw broad enough attention to face the legal ramifications of not clearing samples. Having low sales expectations of your project and not clearing samples is still a dangerous place to be. You could have an unexpected huge hit from that release and find yourself in a very defenseless position. The owner of one uncleared sample could have that record pulled from your project or as for an unreasonable amount of payment because they are aware that you’re in a vulnerable spot.
So I’ll begin to walk you through the proper steps for getting samples cleared.
You must get permission from two sources: The copyright owner/publisher and the owner of the master recording.

How do you find the copyright owner?
The easiest way to do this, if you have the title of the song, is to search the performing rights organizations’ websites. The two major ones are ASCAP and BMI.
The Harry Fox Agency website may also be helpful. Once you get the information contact them about your interests in using their music.

How do you find the owners of the master recording?
This is usually the record label and if you cant find this information, the copyright owner and publisher should have this information.
Costs: This could vary. It really comes down to negotiations and/or how popular the artists is. It could become very expensive. Some artists won’t let you use their music regardless of the situation.
You could seek the counsel of an entertainment attorney or a clearance consultant. Some may charge by the hour to handle this for you, some have a flat rate for handling this process for you. Neither can guarantee success but it can save you time.
Now that you have the info, the choice is yours. Using a hot sample could make your career, so it has it’s potential benefits. It could also cost you a lot of up front money to clear. Money that will possibly never come back to you.

source: http://www.indiehiphop.net/sample-clearing/