What Is the Difference Between a Sample and an Interpolation?

And how do I get permission to use each one?

While a sample is a snippet of an original song that’s been copied and pasted into an entirely new piece, an interpolation is when a recording is recreated note for note and reflects the underlying composition.

For example, if you performed the melody from Lil Wayne’s “Lollipop” single within your own song, it would be considered an interpolation. But if you lifted an uncut loop from the original recording, it would be considered sampling.

It is important to understand the difference between the two, as the process for clearing interpolations and samples is slightly different. When you sample something, you must get permission for a recording use license from the owner of the recording (normally a record label), and permission for a copyright license from the owner of the underlying composition (normally a publisher). This is because you are featuring both the recording and the underlying composition in a new musical work. 

However, if you are just doing an interpolation of a song, you only need to get permission from the owner of the underlying composition since you are just featuring the underlying composition — not the original recording — in your new song.

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