• Carl Does Music

How to use your own music...

Another copyright infringement lawsuit. So many melodies in the world, so many lyrics, and some artists/producers/labels can’t help but to to borrow others’ work. Tracy Chapman is suing Nicki Minaj for the song "Sorry" which includes lyrics from Tracy’s song "Baby Can I Hold You". Ironically, the song was not chosen for Nicki’s project, but for whatever reason it was still played on Hot 97 (according to Complex). It was very recently that Robin Thicke got

caught up in one of the largest music suits for his song “Blurred Lines” (which was inspired heavily by Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give it Up”).


How does music further deter infringers, or, does music even want to deter them? Listen to the radio for an hour and you’ll hear something that features a sample or homage to an older tune (popular or unknown). As a composer myself (with strong music theory knowledge), I’m able to hear a song and tweak it to where it is “original” and “mine”. This process includes (but is not limited to):

  • Altering notes in a melody

  • Changing a chord progression

  • Transposing/modulating the original song’s scale

  • Translating the song’s lyrics

  • Rearranging the lyrics’s syntax/structure

  • Removing elements of the original song

  • Adjusting the song’s tempo

  • Masking the original song’s unique aspects with additional/distracting sounds


The above list is a working guide to being a music opportunist (whether motivated by fraud/greed or respect/tribute), leading to an underlying theme regarding sampling/covering songs, what is the motivation? Many artists may truly want to honor their favorite artist by pulling from their catalog. Many others know that Youtube naturally displays cover songs of whatever popular song people are searching for (and this is free marketing for an aspiring artist). That can also be looked at as selfish as it capitalizes on a big artist’s marketing (let alone work/dues/budget/network to actually get to that level of visibility). Understandable, all around.


Luisi Fonsi’s “Despacito” has the most views on Youtube ever, so naturally it makes sense to piggyback off of that wave (with a cover or even a quick sample of the song) by tagging your own upload with said artist and song. There’s also a big trend of producers/beat makers creating “type” beats (e.g. “Drake type beat”, “Post Malone type beat”), which simply model a style of a particular artist or song. I do it. It’s legal. I don’t sample or take “physical” parts (sounds, instruments, voices) of anyone’s work though. I create everything myself and I also credit something that inspired my work. To me, that’s easy and logical. Why be a con artist and not acknowledge someone that paved the way for you or will potentially spark your goals? Why do we need every percentage of royalties, credit, and fame? It would be great if anyone that covers, samples or makes “type” beats is doing so as a vehicle for exposing their own creativity rather than just being creatively lazy/basic.


#nickiminaj #tracychapman #sorry #lawsuit #copyrightinfringement #musiccourtcase


© 2020 by Carl Does Music. All rights reserved.

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