This interview with sample clearance expert Pat Shannahan is worth a couple of minutes of your time. Pat is hired by musicians and record labels to clear samples used to make their music. Pat tracks down the original owners of the works being sampled and convinces them to OK the usage in a new original work.
While Pat has worked for a whole slew of notable artists (her first client was Prince Paul) it seems she is most proud of the work she has done clearing samples for both of The Avalanches albums (and rightfully so seeing as how their recent release had a sample that was directly approved by Paul McCartney and Yoko Ono).
The Avalanches have stuck very hard to the true art of sampling, which as I always understood it in the hip-hop community, the true art of sampling was to find these very obscure records and to sample them. They would all go to where the old records are and go to garage sales. They literally dig very deep into the recordings.
I always understood that that was the true way of sampling, not, you know, sampling the current hits that are out there. I guess I get the reputation for being “The Detective” because these records, it was so hard to find who owned them. Like I said, they were all put in the resale bin for $0.99 or whatever.