How to Sample Songs in Original Music

Live music has a vibe that can’t always be captured in the recording studio, which is why it’s so important that you kill it at every gig you get. For newer artists, it can be hard to maintain your audience’s attention when playing a show. Maybe they didn’t come for you, but it’s your goal to make sure they come back for you. But they have to start listening to you first. One way to get them to start listening is to sample more popular songs in your original music, during live shows. Here are three tips on how to effectively sample music during your shows:

Keep the Sample Small

The point of sampling someone else’s song is to capture your listeners’ attention by letting them hear something they recognize. A sample is not a cover; so don’t feel the need to play the entire song. Only play the portion you like and think fits with your original piece. Whether it’s a lyric or a beat or a riff, when your audience hears a familiar sound, they’ll be more likely to notice the shift and start listening to you.

Keep the Sample in the Middle

People tend to remember well the first and last thing they hear. Music teachers all over the world tell their students this, and wow is it true. This is the reason you want to make sure you take a break somewhere in the middle of your song to play the sample. The sample will draw people into your song and maybe even enhance it. But beginning and ending with your original music will make sure that they remember you — not just that song they loved in the 80’s.

Keep the Sample in Your Sound

A song with a sample in it is still your song. Don’t feel pressured to keep the sample exactly the same as it sounds in the original. Slow it down or speed it up, if you need. Change the tempo. Ad lib your own lyrics if it works better. You still want the focus to be on your music, so bend the other song you’ve chosen to match you and make it a benefit to your sound.

Remember that these tips are for playing at live shows. Recording a song with a sample involves certain copyrights that aren’t covered here. But using these tips to sample a song in your music is a great way to catch listeners’ attention to your music.

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Kathleen Herald is a writer, literature enthusiast, and classically trained pianist. She prefers hanging out at music festivals; but, for now, writing about music in between classes will do.

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