Sample Hunting 101: Here’s How to Find Songs to Sample For Your Beats

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Finding the right songs to sample isn’t easy. There are millions to choose from, and not enough time to listen to them all. So, you’ll need to narrow your search to find the best songs for sampling.

Here are five steps you can follow to start finding music that you can sample in your projects.

But before we begin, be sure to check this free training on sample selection. It reveals a simple test that identifies the perfect samples in 30 seconds or less (ignoring this lesson could ruin your beats).

Now, let’s get started.

Step 1: Define Your Project Goals

Before digging for music samples, it’s essential to have a clear understanding of your project’s goals. Take some time to think about the genres of music you want to produce. Are you aiming for laid-back hip-hop tracks or energetic dance anthems? The type of music you’re working on will determine the sound and mood you want to capture from the song you sample.

Different genres may require different types of samples. For instance, EDM (Electronic Dance Music) consists of dynamic beats and melodic hooks. For these projects, an intense drum loop or a shiny synth melody would be suitable sample choices. In genres like hip-hop, finding songs with groove-heavy bass lines or soulful vocals is a good place to start.

Step 2: Search for Music

A quick way to start searching for songs to sample is with streaming platforms. Services like Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube Music have become the go-to sources for discovering new music. These platforms offer a wide variety of genres, moods, and styles to explore. When searching for samples, take advantage of the genre categorization and mood labels. This will help you narrow your search and find songs that align with the vibe you’re going for.

While digital sources are convenient for exploring samples, don’t forget about more traditional offline sources like vinyl records and CD collections. Visiting local record stores or thrift shops can be an adventure on its own, providing an opportunity to stumble upon hidden gems.

One benefit of using analog sources like vinyl records is the warm sound they produce. Analog recordings often have unique tonal qualities that can contribute to the character of your sample-based music. Additionally, digging through crates of physical records gives you the chance to find more obscure songs that may not be available on streaming platforms.

If visiting record stores isn’t feasible, or you want to supplement your crate digging efforts with online crate digging, there are alternative options available that bring the best of both worlds. One example is Crate Stash, a tool specifically designed for sample-based music producers. It combines the convenience of online streaming services with the thrill of crate digging by providing a searchable database of online sample hunting spots.

Step 3: Collect music that fits your criteria

Now it’s time to narrow your search and find songs that meet your project’s goals. When picking songs to sample, it’s crucial to make sure they match the style and atmosphere you’re aiming for in your own music.

An age-old debate among sample-based producers is whether it’s better to sample well-known hits or explore more obscure music. The answer depends on what you hope to achieve with your music. Sampling well-known songs can bring familiarity and recognition to your production. Listeners might instantly connect with a familiar melody or lyric, which can help engage them in your music.

On the other hand, sampling more obscure songs allows you to create a unique sound and differentiate yourself from other producers. Obscure samples can provide a sense of discovery for listeners, making your music feel fresh and exciting. Remember that regardless of the source you choose, adding your unique touch and transformative elements will help make the sampled material truly your own.

Once you have identified potential songs to sample, ensure you have access to the audio. In today’s digital age, many songs are available for download on various online platforms. Alternatively, you might prefer sampling from vinyl records or CDs, and building your record collection. Visiting record stores or browsing online marketplaces can help you find physical copies of songs that may not be readily available in digital formats.

Step 4: Listen with a keen ear

Man playing music on record player

One of the most crucial skills for a producer is active listening. Listening actively means paying close attention to the details of a song. As a producer, active listening allows you to pick out specific moments or sounds in a song that have the potential for being sampled and repurposed in your own production.

When searching for samples in other songs, there are several types you should keep an ear out for.

Drum breaks are one of the most commonly sampled elements in electronic music. Listen closely for captivating drum patterns, unique fills, or even isolated drum hits that can add grooves or textures to your tracks.

Also, pay attention to memorable melodies or catchy riffs that can serve as foundations for new compositions.

Another important element is vocal snippets. Look for interesting lyrics, phrases, or even background chants that can be sampled to create new textures or rhythmical elements.

As you practice active listening, take note of the different types of samples you encounter in various songs. Keep a record or make mental notes of interesting moments that inspire you. This will give you a library of ideas to draw from when it’s time to start working on your own music.

Step 5: Repeat the process

By now, you have learned the basics of finding songs to sample. You have explored various platforms and techniques to discover music, listened to different genres, and identified potential sample-worthy tracks. But your journey doesn’t end here. To become a skilled sample-based music producer, you need to develop a habit of consistently searching for new songs to sample.

Listening to music should become an enjoyable part of your daily routine. Whether you are on your commute or unwinding at home, make it a habit to actively listen for samples in the music you encounter.

Keep your ears open for interesting melodies, drum patterns, vocal snippets, or any other element that catches your attention. When you practice active listening regularly, it becomes easier to spot samples that could be transformed into something unique and fresh in your productions. Train yourself to focus on details like the way instruments are played or blended together in a song – all these nuances can serve as inspiration for future projects.

Keep in mind that building an extensive music library is crucial for your success. The more diverse and expansive your collection is, the wider variety of samples you will have at your disposal. Think of it as a toolbox filled with different tools – each track serves its own purpose and brings its own flavor. As you continue to expand your library, you will accumulate a vast array of sounds to draw from at the right moment.

Over time, with experience and practice, you will sharpen your skills in identifying samples within songs. You will easily recognize the patterns and techniques used by different producers and artists. Not only will you be able to find songs to sample, but you’ll also develop a keen sense of knowing how to manipulate them in your own unique way.

Avoid This Common Mistake…

The last thing to remember is this:

You can learn all the skills, tactics, and tools in the world…

But nothing will save your beats if you choose the wrong samples.

Too many producers struggle because they try to make beats with limited inspiration. This causes them to force sounds that don’t belong.

That’s why it’s crucial to dig for the right samples.

This training shows you a simple test you can use to uncover the perfect samples in 30 seconds or less.

It’s perfect for sample-based producers of all experience levels.

Click here to find out how you can explode your creativity with better sampling material.

Don’t miss your chance to overcome this common mistake.