Time To Get In The Loop

For many music producers, the quickest and easiest way to create great-sounding tunes is to use pre-recorded loops and samples. There are a number of places to get your hands on such material, but it’s important to ensure that what you’re using is fully licensed. If a track you create from samples suddenly becomes a huge hit, you don’t want someone to come knocking at your door looking for their cut of the royalties…

First off, you should never simply record a clip of a commercial record and use that in your work. Although you might get away with it, it’s just not worth the risk. This are still many grey area in the law here, but the basic premise is that if your entire song is based on the sample, then you are probably liable to pay royalties. If the song wouldn’t be fundamentally different if you took the sample out, then you may not be – depending on how litigious the copyright owner is.

A safer bet is to buy a disc full of tasty clips that are cleared for use already. There are a lot of these available, but you still need to check the small print. Most sample libraries or loop collections will let you use the audio for any purpose, such as creating your own album, making film soundtracks, TV commercial jingles or whatever it is you do. They usually don’t let you resell the clips themselves though – either individually or as part of another sample library – so watch out for that.

What’s A Free Loop?

There may be a difference between ‘free loops’ and ‘royalty-free’ loops – free loops may be only demo loops from a larger collection, and may not be cleared for commercial use. It’s vital to check the licensing agreement on any loop collection – this is why royalty-free loop discs tend to be quite expensive. However, it means that you never need to pay any royalties on songs that use those loops.

If you’re looking for sample loop discs, here are a few of the major sites:


If you want to buy some loops online, have a look at these Sample CDs at Dolphin Music.

Free Making Music eBook

Michael Dean and Chris Caulder have released an eBook on home music production, which covers the basics of setting up a home studio as well as good tips on songwriting, looping with ACID and using
Sound Forge to forge sounds. You can get your own copy of this useful reference at DIYnow.


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