Sample-clearing service Tracklib has released its 2021 State of Sampling report and it includes some interesting data on a number of Billboard Hot 100 hits, trends in sampling, and important clearance cases. Some interesting data in the report includes: 48% of the songs on the Grammy-nominated releases for Best Rap Album include samples; 54% of the albums that charted on Billboard during 2021 contains samples from other previously released songs; and Drake’s album “Certified Lover Boy” is the most sample-based album of all Billboard charting albums, with 15 samples.

Perhaps it points to a renaissance in sampling – a form of music making that seemed to have been priced out of existence a number of years ago, although few of the tracks mentioned here are build purely from samples in the style of De La Soul’s notoriously difficult-to-clear “3 Feet High and Rising”.

However, the report notes that there’s “a new generation of producers who sample sounds from the 90s and early noughties—particularly classic hip-hop and R&B hits,” which makes us feel very old indeed. It also makes us wonder about potentially tortuous sample clearance procedures that come from with sampling a mid-90s R&B song… that may well have sampled a late-80s hip-hop track… that in turn sampled a 70’s soul song, and so on.

There’s clearly a feeling that technology could perhaps expedite the process: Tracklib has built a catalogue of more than 100k recordings from more than 400 labels and publishers, and its latest funding round in September was $12.2m, including further backing by the Sony Innovation Fund.

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