Study Based on Girl Talk’s Music Suggests Sampling Helps Sell Original Music

There is a new study disputing the claim that sampling may have harmful consequences on the authors of the original works used.

While Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania DJ and producer Girl Talk’s mashups may sound completely normal for people who were born listening to Michael Jackson and MC Hammer, their use of samples still raises much controversy in the legal community. Now, there is a study suggesting that the music used in the samples from his 2010 album All Day actually had an increase in sales in the months following the release the album. A notion which could dispute the claim that intellectual property protects works of art from financial damage by restricting their use by crate-diggers and remix artists.

 Texas Judicial Law Clerk W. Michael Schuster spearheaded the research in “Fair Use, Girl Talk, and Digital Sampling: An Empirical Study of Music Sampling’s Effect on the Market for Copyrighted Works”, digging into the data for over 300 samples used. About half of the songs had peaked at some point at the Billboard 100 charts, which is an indication that some of this music is pretty popular.girltalk-dj

After analyzing trends for each sample, album sales increased for many records, and remained unchanged for others. It all depended on the popularity of the songs:

Before any increase in post-sampling sales can occur, it is a necessity that the listener (and potential post-sampling purchaser) recognizes the sampled song. […] The length of the sample represents the temporal quantum of the opportunity that the listener has to recognize the sampled song (i.e., the longer the sample, the more likely the listener is to recognize the sampled song). Prior commercial success represents the likelihood that a listener already knows the song, such that recognition is a possibility. 

The study concludes that two main factors contribute to a song’s rebounding in the charts after it was sampled: prior commercial success and length of the sample. Whenever a certain degree of commercial success has been achieved by a song, its use in sampling will probably help increase the song’s sales in the months to come. However, if the track is relatively unknown, having it feature in a remix or a whole different beat will not change that.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania native Girl Talk’s album All Day is available for free download. The study has already gained some pretty large media attention, from Consequence of Sound, Forbes and other media outlets. You can read the 74-page report right here.  


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