DOJ 100% Licensing Rule: An UnFair Tax on Hip Hop and Works With Samples?

I often use Hip-Hop and Pop songs in my classes and workshops when discussing rights, income participation, publishing splits, and royalties because these two genres tend to have the most writers per song on average. With the recent DOJ ruling to enforce 100% licensing, songwriters have been trying to understand its impact on their careers. In his blog,, David Lowery presents a compelling argument that the 100% licensing ruling is a “tax” on Hip-Hop music creators and rights-holders. He uses a DJ Khaled song as an example to demonstrate how the 100% licensing rule could impose unfair cost, administrative, and time prohibitive requirements on writers and publishers.

The Trichordist

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Let’s look at the implications of the  DOJ 100% rule for the writers of the 5th most popular Hip Hop Song in the US this week.

These are the four samples in For Free, by DJ Khaled featuring Drake.    Each of those sampled songs also has multiple writers.  Consequently the list of writers for the composite work is quite long.  In this case there are 13 Songwriters, 4 BMI publishers and at least 3 non BMI publishers.    6 writers use ASCAP to license performing rights.  6 writers use BMI and one writer is Canadian so they use SOCAN.   As is always the case with works composed of samples,  these writers have a co-writer agreement to spell out ownership percentages and then an agreement that specifies each party will license and collect it’s own fractional share.    “You do your business and collect your money, I do…

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About Dae Bogan

Dae Bogan is a music rights executive, serial entrepreneur, and educator with over fifteen years of experience in the music industry. Currently, he is the Head of Third-Party Partnerships at the Mechanical Licensing Collective and Lecturer at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music.

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