Have you ever been listening to music, and then realised a part of the song playing sounds exactly like another one?

This may be due to sampling, which is when artists use a pre-existing element of someone else’s song in their own, giving the original artist credit and royalties.

This is a great technique that can bring older songs alive, and has created some of the biggest songs that we all know and love. For example ABBA’s song Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! samples an Indonesian song, published in 1978, which is one year before ABBA’s song. Artists usually sample when they hear potential in a certain beat or melody and think they can add to it, however sometimes samples are taken from very unusual songs, or even TV shows. A great example of an unusual sampling is TV Girl who are a band known for their use of sampling in almost every single song of theirs, typically from the 1960s. TV Girl’s “Not Allowed” uses a sample of the Yeastie Girlz’s ‘Ovary Actions’, which is a 1988 song.

Samples can add a unique effect to songs as they may feel slightly familiar to the listener, which can be enough to get them to keep listening and intrigued. However if sampling is done without permission then it can lead to serious fines and copyright infringement.

There have also been cases where songs sound very similar to other songs, resulting in copyright allegations, meaning the artist has to pay royalties.

Overall if you are careful not to sample without permission, it can be an amazing tool that can create more and more unique songs.