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Connect to your customers building on a known copyright

At Clear Music, we help clients with the ins-and-outs of the music industry on a daily basis. As a music clearance company, we regularly work with complex copyright clearance, whether it is for clearing tracks that include recorded samples, or copyrights, music rights always rears its head. 

For us to clear music for trailers, campaigns and commercials, it is important to know the intricate details behind the music that we all love, so it can be spread around and make a lasting impact. One of those complex copyright processes is the use of sample interpolations. Let’s take a closer look at sample interpolations and see how it can benefit your brand.

Where do we see sample interpolations?

At the 2023 Grammy Awards, Kendrick Lamar’s ‘The Heart Part V’ won the award for best hip-hop performance. It was interesting to note that the song was not an original composition but rather an iteration of a classic Marvin Gaye song called ‘I want you’ released in March 1976. The original song was characterized by its funky conga percussions, lively horns, and melodic guitar licks and falls under the soul/funk genre. Kendrick, who has been heavily influenced by funk music throughout his career, used the exact melody and percussion and even sang the hook line from the original song “cause I want you to want me too.” However, he did not use the original song as a sample.

Today, almost all bigger artists have used samples in their music. According to a report by sample library platform Tracklib, 17% of all hits in 2022 sampled previously released songs. Hip-hop, being one of the more prominent genres at the moment, plays a large role in this. The words sampling and interpellations are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. While a sample uses a piece of an artist’s track for a new song, an interpellation is a recreation, note-for-note, of an old record either sung or played with instruments.

Why and when to use sample interpolations

An artist might choose to use an interpolation over a sample for various reasons, but the main reason would be the clearance procedure. Clearing a sample can be expensive and time-consuming, as it requires permission from the master owner. With an interpolation, only the songwriters of the interpolation are needed to clear the record, making the process much easier. Additionally, the chance of being permitted to use the old copyright is higher with an interpolation.

However, the clearance process for interpolations should not be overlooked. In the case of Juice WRLD’s hit song ‘Lucid Dreams,’ the melody was taken note-for-note from Sting’s 1993 classic ‘Shape of my Heart’ without clearance, resulting in Juice WRLD having to give up 85% of the song’s publishing rights to Sting.

Another reason why an artist might work with an interpolation is that it gives them more creative freedom to adjust the arrangement and feel of the old song to their liking. As the instruments in the recreated track are recorded separately, an artist has the possibility to treat the stems separately and give them their own spin.

Doja Cat speaking on her sample use in "Kiss Me More"

Source: Apple Music

Well known sample interpolations 

Famous examples of sample interpolations include Doja Cat and SZA’s hit song ‘Kiss me more,’ which derived its lead melody from the 80s disco hit ‘Physical’ by Olivia Newton-John, and Childish Gambino’s 2016 Funkadelic hit ‘Redbone,’ which is almost an exact copy of funk legend Bootsy Collins’s ‘Rather be with you’ released in 1996. Within our own Clear Music catalogue, the song “One more chance” by the band ‘Friday’ is an interpolation of Ph.d’s record ‘I won’t let you down’ released in 1982. Even though none of these artists have taken from the master record of their predecessors, the melodies and sometimes entire songs are instantly recognizable, allowing a newer generation to resonate with the melodics of a previous generation.

FRIDAY - One last chance (I won't let you down)

How to use interpolations as a brand?

For movies, series and campaigns, finding a song that encapsulates your brand values or symbolizes the plot of the movie is a wonderful thing, as it adds to viewers’ experience as well as helps the artist reach a new audience. Think of Jordan Peele’s ‘Get Out’ using Childish Gambino’s Redbone at the beginning of the movie. Using a wide range of new as well as old catalogue can be of  tremendous value for brands as it can trigger nostalgic and positive emotions. To learn more about this, read our article: Old vs New songs.

If you need advice on music clearance for your next film project, YouTube video, campaign or advertisement, do not hesitate to reach out to Jarl or one of our other members. You can book a consultation down below.

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