Is it possible to avoid having to get a sample cleared by dropping it in an additive synth with re-synthesis functionality and messing with the sine waves a bit to change things up slightly while maintaining the original "vibe" of the sample? Or would you still need the sample cleared before you are able to use it legally? For those that are not familiar with additive synthesis, additive synthesis is a technique where you build sounds using individual sine waves and by altering the phase and amplitude of those sine waves to create a unique sound. This method allows the user to "reconstruct" an audio sample using sine waves by analyzing its frequency content. You can also do quite a lot of manipulation of the re-sampled content.
It's always wisest to get clearance first than to try to apologise for it afterwards. It's cheaper too, in the long run.
Of course, if it's not from one of the 'big boys' who pay people to hunt down every unlicensed use, then you might just get away with it anyway, but if someone does decide to come after you, then you may be required to prove your creation method. If that starts with "Well, I took this sample &…" then you've already lost.
The following track was first licensed for sample uasage from Adamski/Seal, then was entirely remade from scratch - so it has full permission anyway, even though it wasn't used. That just saves lawyers coming after you. Better safe than sorry.
Control (You're the Power)
This next track was first issued as a white label, using actual Michael Jackson samples, just to test the market. That version was then pulled entirely & the music lawyers called in so a totally new arrangement could be made with the same 'look & feel' but no possible copyright claim. You don't want to get caught using Michael Jackson samples on a finished release, you really don't.
I'm surprised this bootleg version is still on YouTube… but it is as at Jan 2020 [this was not posted by the creators of the track, it is completely unofficial]
MJ bits start from about 1 minute.
This was the 'legalised' final release version, no trace of MJ anywhere.
Info source for the above: I made the Adamski replacements myself & that is my remix. As far as I'm aware it was never actually released. The Inaya Day, both versions were made by a friend of mine.
I can't get the Soundcloud link to inline - if anybody can figure it out, please edit