Four dance tracks, four different artists, released by four different labels—all on the same day.
This is the eyebrow-raising phenomenon that was spotted during this week’s Friday deluge of new music. Campbell’s “Beat Goes On (To The Brain),” Spencer Ramsay’s “Beat Goes On (DNB Flip), Chapter & Verse’s “The Beat Goes On” and Cody Wong’s “Beat Goes On (La Di Dadi Di Mix),” comprised the medley of songs all found to be using the same catchy vocal sample.
The sample goes back to a 1997 release by The All Seeing I, “Beat Goes On,” a cover of Sonny & Cher’s 1967 song of the same name. In a TikTok video posted by British DJ and radio host MistaJam, the track’s original vocal hook, “Drums keep pounding a rhythm to the brain,” is prominently heard in all four of these releases.
Given the seemingly impossible odds that all four artists happened upon the decades-old track and then decided to release their own versions on the same day, there’s a strong interest in determining what exactly happened here. So far there’s a couple theories, which aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive.
The first is that artists are turning to TikTok as a modern-day source for crate-digging. According to a recent MRC Data study cited by TikTok, 75% of users in the U.S. reported using the platform as a means for discovering new artists and 63% of respondents said they’ve heard music on TikTok they hadn’t heard anywhere else. Naturally, those statistics are going to impact the sample choices of the artist community, one that is consistently looking to keep up with popular trends and sounds before they become established.
Ironically, if all four artists did discover the same sound organically on TikTok, it might suggest that TikTok isn’t exactly expanding creative consciousness more broadly. And it may even be doing more to pigeonhole it by causing artists to feel tethered to the select few popular—and ever so fleeting—sounds of this present, “viral” moment.
The second theory is that the concerted effort to digitize legacy sample libraries is leading creators to the same trough of samples. Universal Music Group is the parent company of London Recordings, which released the original version of “Beat Goes On.”
UMG’s Usample also launched just last year and has begun making samples available from the company’s extensive back catalog. USample’s Instagram page describes the service as “Universal’s secret sample website exclusively for major affiliated talent,” elaborating that pre-approved creators can access up to 6,000 samples on the platform.
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The strategy of developing a creator-facing service to leverage archival content is a particularly lucrative one for major labels. The practice not only expands the sphere of influence for their assets, but also incentivizes a greater volume of samples to be used, which means an augmented means of monetization.
However, if multiple artists end up leveraging the same major label pool of samples, the novelty of those samples is in danger of wearing off quickly.
Lingering questions certainly remain regarding how the particular circumstances of this situation came to be, but it’s more likely than not to become a more frequent occurrence given the incentives of music’s power centers and where the trends in technology are headed.
You can listen to each track below.