Bob Lefsetz just sent this out in his email newsletter (archives here:http://lefsetz.com/wordpress/):
I’ll make it very clear, you can’t sample without paying, which is why hip-hop is completely different these days, twenty-odd years ago seemingly every rap hit stole a lick.
But it turns out now you can’t do that. And I for one will argue we’re worse off for it. Because the beats we have today, which resulted from this enforcement of copyright law, are so much less interesting. Used to be there was some melody, a hook! Come on, wasn’t Tone Loc’s “Wild Thing,” with Eddie Van Halen’s guitar, much more interesting than most of the music today?
There was a “melody, a hook!”, because someone else wrote that. Those songs were only a hit, because they sampled songs that were already hits, or at least very well known. If today’s “artists” can’t write good songs without sampling someone else, maybe they shouldn’t be making music… but on the other hand, they’re making consumables, not music. It’s like when Nike used “Revolution” by The Beatles to sell shoes. It’s the same when Kid Rock samples “Werewolves of London” to make his shitty song sound familiar enough to trick idiots into liking it. We’re not worse off for it, they are. On a side note, if you don’t find something interesting because it didn’t sample something you already know, then maybe you should broaden your horizons. Not everything has to be familiar to be good.