Debate: Are Samples Good or Bad?

Here’s just a legitimate question for everyone in the community because I’ve been trying to figure this out myself. Is it good to sample someone else’s song, with or without their permission, or stick with pure originality?


Depends on what works best for each track – and what impact you hope using the sample will have.

Some use of samples can be lazy shortcuts to piggy-backing off of the nostalgic appreciation of the sampled track – while other uses can breathe new life into both the new and old track, making an irresistible fusion.

(Other than a direct cover) The closest I’ve come to using a recognisable ‘sample’ is in my recent Sketch 30 piece, where I open with the melody from ‘La Vie en Rose’. Wasn’t intended that way, but just found myself instinctively humming the tune along as I played back the track during development. I just happened to have used a matching chord progression.

It seemed to work well, would make an interesting addition to the piece, so added it.

I could have swapped in the Louie Armstrong rendition as a sample instead, and maybe I will in future development. (Would add a nice touch of ‘vintage’ to the vibe.)

Either way, I think adding the tune definitely added something worthwhile to the track.


Yes it’s good lol as long as you change it up enough to make it original

No. Definitely not.

All I have to say though is that without sampling (with or without permission) entire genres and sub genres would never have happened, or would have happened wayyy differently. Hip hop primarily comes to mind.

So for better or worse, it’s definitely been vital.


there was a quote i heard. can’t remember exactly how it went but it said that if you can take someone else’s art and make it into your own, then that is a true gift.


Well, the jury is kinda out on that one, these days.
(…though, legally, the goalposts haven’t moved.)

It’s worth checking what this guy has to say…

He talks extensively about samples, clearance, whose job it is to get clearance as well as different approaches you can take to whether you (as the writer) clear your samples or not.

He even talks about how creating a buzzy track with uncleared samples, getting the track taken down and losing all revenue from that one track, can still be a route to establishing a presence and profile in the market/industry.

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Depends. I loved lo-fi hip hop but then I realized most songs were just other people’s songs and I lost some respect for the genre. I still produce it without using other people’s songs, and I tend to think originality is always better. It depends how much of the song you are sampling.

Might be interesting to know how much Vaporwave stuff is cleared. The entire genre seems to be largely based on ‘wonkifying’ entire tracks.

Can be enjoyable to listen to, but there’s relatively little transformation going on, it seems.


I’m not sure lo-fi hip-hop is doing anything that more mainstream hip-hop and rap hasn’t already been doing for decades.

There are numerous major hip-hop/rap artists who effectively launched and built their careers through tracks that centred on sampled hooks, grooves and beats.

It’s one of the reasons I got bored with it as a genre many, many years ago - having been a major fan growing up.

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