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Learning how to find samples is an essential skill for modern producers. And even though the Internet has made it extremely easier to find samples online, it’s also become much harder to stand out from the crowd.
In this guide, we’re going to learn where to find samples online and some of the best strategies for how to find them.
But first, before we get into the specific places to look for samples, it’s very important that you learn how to identify a good sample.
How to Identify a Good Sample
Learning how to find samples is only half the battle. The key is learning how to find the right samples!
This is important because you want to avoid wasting time on bad samples. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen producers waste time massaging a sample that turns out to be completely unusable…
What makes a sample unusable? Several things.
For example, sometimes you’ll find music where the time signature doesn’t match your genre, or that has too many elements in the source material, or that doesn’t fit the key of your project.
In these cases, if you didn’t take the time to learn what to look for, you won’t realize that the sample doesn’t work until you’ve already wasted time building out your new project.
Instead, the best way to start is to develop your listening skills. You should be able to listen to a piece of music and immediately recognize good opportunities for sampling.
One way to develop this skill is by studying the samples used by other producers. Once you listen to enough music that’s already been used for sampling, you’ll start to notice some patterns and characteristics of good samples.
What Makes a Good Sample?
Good samples share a few characteristics, and you’ll start to notice them when you listen to music that has already been sampled.
WhoSampled is a good place to start. It’s a site where you can find samples used in popular music. So anytime you hear a song with a great sample, you can search for it and listen to the original song. This is helpful because it will show you what to look for in your own searches.
For specific examples, here are a few things you’ll want to pay attention to when listening to music for sampling opportunities:
- Tempo, to identify what pace of music you can make with particular samples
- Key, to determine the mood of your music
- Composition, so you know how you might incorporate other elements into the beat
- Instruments, so you have an idea how you might mix the other elements to fit the overall composition
Once you listen to enough music and pay attention to the right characteristics, you’ll start noticing quality samples everywhere. On the radio, in movies and at restaurants.
Where to Find Samples
Now that you know what to look for in a sample, and are able to find examples of great samples, it’s time to find some samples of your own.
Here are some of the top places to find samples online.
Option 1: Sample Packs
The easiest place to find samples is from sample packs and libraries. These are music and sounds made specifically for sampling. This is useful because it’s very convenient, allowing you to skip the hunting and get straight to the sampling.
Another benefit is that you shouldn’t have to worry as much about sample clearance. Most sample libraries and packs offer clear licensing terms. Sometimes you can even get the samples royalty free, which means you can sample the music without paying additional licensing fees.
Here are a few sample libraries to get started:
- Philharmonic Orchestra Library – a sample library of one-shot sounds recorded by the Philharmonic Orchestra
- Converse Library – a sample library from established musicians and producers
Option 2: Communities
Some producers prefer good old fashioned crate digging. And lucky for you, many of them share their collections online.
These records tend to be older R&B, Soul or Ambient albums, and would require sample clearance for legal usage.
If you’re looking for a list of specific community recommendations, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best online crate diggers. Click below to download the list.
You can also find some crate digging communities on YouTube and Reddit.
This should come as no surprise, but YouTube is the richest source of free samples online. Besides the vast number of YouTube channels serving sample material, you can also follow their recommended videos and find music you never would’ve dreamed of searching for. Their algorithm has also gotten very clever, so it knows to recommend music that would be suitable for sampling instead of just listening.
For a list of specific channel recommendations, check out our Where to Find Samples in A Hurry guide below.
If you prefer a more community based approach to sample hunting, look no further than Reddit. You can join subreddits for sample recommendations, sample lookups and even sample swaps.
Of course, the samples you find in these communities are likely to be reused by other producers. So if you need the most original content, you might want to look elsewhere.
Option 3: Get Lucky
Another way to find samples online is by chance. You can use online services that help you find obscure samples with random suggestions.
For example, Forgotify is a service that randomly generates songs on Spotify with very few plays. However, you’ll need a Spotify account to listen to the entire songs.
Another service you can try is Random Music Sample Generator, a site that randomly generates content from YouTube.
Be warned, however, that finding good samples on these services requires a lot of patience. Most of the content randomly generated isn’t vetted by seasoned crate diggers, so don’t expect to find the best material in your first few tries.
In the end, learning where to find samples is a big part of sampling. Every producer is searching for good samples, which makes it tough to find something unique.
But you shouldn’t feel limited by the list above. In fact, I encourage you to search for samples in places most people aren’t even looking. You’re also at an advantage if you hunt for samples offline.
Also, remember that learning how to find samples is all about knowing what to look for:
Finally, take your time when looking for samples, because it will determine how well your beats turn out when you’re finished.
Hopefully this article helped you discover how to find samples… and now we want to hear from you!
Do you have any special places you go online to find samples?
Did we miss any other obvious sample sources?
Let us know below!