When listening to a song, do you ever find that it sounds reminiscent of something, but you aren’t sure of what? Often this is because artists will recreate an existing musical composition in their own. In the music industry, this is called interpolation. For example, have a listen to Halsey’s ‘Without Me’ and you may find it sounds vaguely familiar to Justin Timberlake’s ‘Cry Me a River’.
Olivia Rodrigo is no stranger to this having interpolated various songs on her new album ‘Sour’, including Paramore’s ‘Misery Business’ on her track ‘Good 4 u’. Rodrigo, in the first instance, did not recognise such interpolation, however retroactively provided credit to Paramore’s Hayley Williams and Joshua Farro after the album was released. This means that Williams and Farro will receive 50% of the song’s royalty earnings, currently estimated at a whopping US 1.2 million dollars!
When interpolating another song within a new one, it is important for artists to provide credit to the original composers, otherwise they run the risk of infringing copyright.
By not crediting Marvin Gaye’s ‘Got to Give It Up’ in the hit song ‘Blurred Lines’, Robin Thicke and Pharrell William’s were ordered to pay US 5.3 million dollars in damages to Gaye’s estate along with 50% of future royalties for copyright infringement.
That being said, interpolation is nothing to be scared of if you have the right legal support. When interpolation is considered and documented in a legal contract, it can be an incredibly attractive avenue for both new artists to create hit songs and publishers to receive on-going royalties for their existing songs.
At Sanicki Lawyers we have years of experience and can tailor music contracts for your creative needs. Feel free to contact me if you have any further questions or queries about interpolation or music contracts in general!