Hard Truths: Music Has a Samples Problem

Sampling revolutionized music production. It’s a powerful technique that helped create modern music’s most vital genres.

But today, samples are everywhere. They’re one of the most popular ways to create music. Along the way, sampling workflows have changed a lot.

What used to be a simple production technique is now a huge industry bogged down by legal debates, paperwork and overwhelming selection.

Here’s my hard truth for today: music has a samples problem.

That’s not meant to be discouraging. With the right tools, working with samples is as inspiring as it’s ever been.

In this article I’ll lay out the challenges facing sample-based artists in 2020 and the best ways to make them easier.

Let’s get started.

There’s just too much out there

In the past, sampling was limited to the audio you could record from the real world.

You could capture the sounds around you, record your synths and drum machines, or grab snippets from tapes or vinyl records.

It’s easy to see how those practices produced the iconic loops, hits and breakbeats of early dance and hip-hop.


But now that sampling takes place entirely inside your DAW and plugins, any digital audio is potential sample material.

Today’s crate-diggers have an enormous pool of sound to sample. Any audio on the internet can make it into your sampler plugin if you’re crafty enough.

Nothing saps your creative energy more than a long session of mindlessly auditioning samples.

The rise of bloated libraries and bland daily pack releases only accelerates the issue.

There’s simply so much out there. Whether you’re looking for the specific sound in your head or just something to kickstart inspiration, the options can be downright paralyzing.

Nothing saps your creative energy more than a long session of mindlessly auditioning samples…

Digital music rights

And even if you stick to the old school method of crate-digging dollar bin vinyl, you’d still face one of the most challenging issues for artists that use samples—music copyright.

Sampling controversies rocked the music world all through the 90s and 00s. The most notorious cases resulted in massive hits going completely uncredited—and unmonetized for their creators.

The dust has settled on whether music that contains samples can be considered creative in its own right.


But the legal precedents for uncleared samples are set in stone. If you use something that isn’t yours, the song you create with it doesn’t belong to you.

The copyright issues from uncleared samples follow your music anywhere it goes.

The copyright issues from uncleared samples follow your music anywhere it goes.

Automated tools that vet new tracks for monetization on streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music can detect even a short sample that’s heavily processed with audio effects.

If you try to use a digital distribution service to start getting paid for music that contains uncleared samples, your release will get stopped in its tracks.

Both of these issues are difficult, but they’re not hopeless. You can beat the downsides of modern sampling with the right set of tools.

Here’s what I mean.

Work smart, not hard

When it comes to endless folders of samples, there’s one easy solution to beat the boredom of sifting through.

Make AI do the work. After all, audio files are just data. Advanced AI can search through thousands of samples to find ones with the right qualities for your mix.

Advanced AI can search through thousands of samples to find ones with the right qualities for your mix.

That’s exactly what happens under the hood of Selector, LANDR’s AI sample recommendation tool.


Selector lets you choose a sample and instantly compare against the entire catalogue for similar and complementary sounds.

It automatically analyzes the key musical features of the sound you’ve chosen and searches out others that will work well with it in a mix.

It’s the best way to make an enormous library of sounds as musically spontaneous as your inspiration.

You stay in control of your sound, but AI helps you connect the dots faster.

The power of community

Selector’s not the only way to find your perfect sound on LANDR Samples.

If you prefer human-powered curation to algorithmic, there are plenty of ways to follow the conversation.

Collections put the essential sounds of today’s most important genres, trends and moods at your fingertips.

Our team of samples curators are constantly building new packs to capture the moment in music.

But you don’t have to take their word for it. Samples Charts show you music trends in real-time.

Charts give you instant access to the most popular samples on the platform. They’re constantly updating to reflect what producers are downloading right now.

That’s the insight you need to stay current with trends in music production.

Samples: for artists, by artists

Many producers come to sampling through their favourite producers—learning their techniques and seeking out the sources of their sounds.

But until recently, most artists took pains to protect their music against sampling with threats of legal action.

Today, samples are an important source of revenue for many producers and musicians.

Even some of the top names in music are creating their own sample packs for any producer to use.
LANDR is one of the best places to find artist sample packs from influential artists.

These unique packs come directly from music creators’ own production workflows.


If you’re looking for inspiration from the artists making a difference in modern music, these packs are incredible resources.

From Cassius Jay to Dirty Projectors there are plenty of different genres and styles represented.

You’ll get to see the building blocks that respected producers would use in their own sessions—that’s a great starting point for your own tracks.

Royalty-free music

LANDR Samples gives you the tools to make a deep collection easy to use.

But the best thing about every single audio file up on Samples? They’re 100% royalty free and ready to use.

These samples are pre-cleared and require no complicated legal permission of any kind.

Use them wherever you want without fear of copyright or delays with distribution.

That’s the freedom you need to follow your inspiration wherever it leads.

Sample and hold

Music has a samples problem, but there are plenty of ways to beat it if you know where to look.

We built LANDR Samples to make sampling better for creators.

Our tools tackle the top problems in producers’ samples workflow and bring the fun and inspiration back to crate-digging.

Because we understand the most important thing for staying creative with samples—the right sound at the right time.

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