I want to preface this quick article by saying, I will never quit sampling entirely. It is absolutely crucial to my sound and the way I make beats. However, the time has come in my career and musical journey to change direction. Since I began making beats, I’ve been diggin in the crates for samples to flip. During the last 2 years, I have been digging in other places for samples, specifically digitally. I know some die hard vinyl junkies and beat makers won’t understand my reasoning and truthfully i’m not here to debate my departure from getting my fingers dusty. This is meant to be an insight into a new way of doing things and hopefully my readers can gain something from my insight.
Sync Licensing –
During the last few years, I have been fortunate enough to license my music for Television and Media (Sync Licensing) and capitialize on a new revenue stream aside from selling beats to independent artists and labels. The problem (and I hesitate to say “problem”) with sync licensing is that original and sample free music is a requirement to license. If your music contains samples, it must be pre-cleared, meaning you fork over the sample clearing fees in hopes that your song will generate a revenue stream. Considering the price of sample clearance fees, it makes more sense to avoid sampling entirely and create sample free music. It takes time to create sample free music using live instrumentation and synths. Time spent learning new instruments, time spent engineering sounds to have the essence of vinyl, and time spent breaking free of the constraints of sampling. This equates to less time for diggin in the crates.
Digital Digging –
Let’s face it… everyone is digging in the crates for samples. The inherent problem with diggin for vinyl is that everyone is sampling the same material and diggin in the same spots. In order to get unique samples, you have to dig hard (in other countries) and spend money (trade shows, rare vinyl, etc.). If you are like me, geographically displaced (I live in Alaska) finding rare samples and vinyl isn’t easy or possible. Again, less time spent making music and more time searching for samples. If you thoroughly enjoy digging for vinyl and are passionate, it makes sense to continue diggin in the crates. However, there is a whole new world of music waiting to be chopped up.
Its 2012 and the Internet has opened up a whole new way to access samples for making beats. Digital digging. Spotify, iTunes, Netflix, YouTube, and many other digital domains have become my modern day equivelent to the “milk crate”. There is tons of new music and genres to dig in and it is much easier to access digitally. Electronic, indie rock, new soul, etc. I’m big on workflow and efficiency, so it makes sense to spend less time finding samples while finding samples that less people are using.
Outsource your diggin –
Some people are going to disagree and even feel that it’s cheating, but I’ve outsourced my digging to some extent. I still want dusty samples! I want vinyl pop and crackle. I’ve been fortunate enough to run across a few diggers who send me samples to flip. It takes me 5 minutes to listen through the preview samplers and pick which tracks I want and bam… HQ Wav file is in my inbox 30 minutes later. You might call it cheating, I call it a competitive advantage. Again, less time physically digging for samples by taking advantage of a new workflow. I can knock out more beats and allocate more time to creating original music and honing in my mixing skills.
Love it or hate it, digital digging is acceptable and can change your workflow, creativity, and so much more if you are willing to embrace it.