Industry Insider Deborah Mannis-Gardner Breaks Down The Process Of Securing Samples


(AllHipHop News) Sampling has long been part of the creative process for making rap music. However, most fans are probably unaware of what it takes to integrate a portion of an older song into a new record.

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DJBooth spoke with DMG Clearances president Deborah Mannis-Gardner about how she secures samples for her clients.

For three decades, Mannis-Gardner has helped acts such as Nas, Eminem, Diddy, The Roots, Rihanna, Ghostface Killah, Mariah Carey, Lupe Fiasco, Drake, DJ Khaled, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and many more clear samples for their projects.

According to Mannis-Gardner, artists typically set aside $100,000 to $150,000 in upfront fees to clear samples for an album. The performer must then allow the content owner to hear the completed record before sample approval is granted.

“If it’s Marshall or if it’s Drake, Khaled, they’re very protective of their stuff and it gets played over the phone,” explained Mannis-Gardner. “If it’s another artist, we can put stamps on it to protect them. But then you send it to the copyright holder so they can listen to it.”

There have been plenty of stories where a rapper’s album is held back or a particular track is scrapped because of the use of an unapproved sample. Mannis-Gardner insisted her clients rarely get denied because she forewarns them about likely complications.

Mannis-Gardner did offer instances where Kendrick Lamar was unable to use music by Prince and Stevie Wonder for his To Pimp A Butterfly LP.

“When I did Kendrick’s album, To Pimp A Butterfly, they reached out to [Prince] personally and still he very politely declined,” stated Mannis-Gardner.

She added, “[Wonder] doesn’t allow his stuff to be used anymore. It was just a decision he made that he just didn’t want to be sampled anymore. And he too declined Kendrick.”

Earlier this year, Lamar was sued for copyright infringement over a Bill Withers sample used in the TDE rapper’s song “I Do This” off 2009’s Kendrick Lamar EP. The project was originally a free release, but Mannis-Gardner warns mixtapes are not immune to lawsuits over intellectual property.

“I know of cases that I think are in process right now where copyright holders are going after this stuff because the concept of a free mixtape is to promote an artist. Therefore it’s deemed to have a value,” said Mannis-Gardner.

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