Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Music samples

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Music samples can be a valuable addition to articles about bands, musical styles, and genres. They can illustrate the particular instruments or musical elements in a song in a way that a text description cannot. However, usage of such samples needs to comply with copyright law and Wikipedia's guidelines. The limitations on length and quality described here apply only to fair use samples; free content samples are not subject to these limitations.


  • Copyrighted, unlicensed music samples must be short in comparison to the original song. As a rule of thumb, samples should not exceed 30 seconds or 10% of the length of the original song, whichever is shorter.
  • Samples must be of reduced quality from the original. A Vorbis quality setting of 0 (roughly 64kbit/s) is usually sufficient. To do this using Audacity v1.2, select Preferences under the Edit menu, and move the "Ogg quality" slider under File Formats to 0 before exporting the file in .ogg format (for Macs, select Preferences under the title menu (Audacity), and go to the File Formats tab). Using Audacity v1.3, export quality options can be chosen by clicking the Options button in the Export dialog after choosing Ogg Vorbis in the file type drop-down menu.
  • Upload to Wikipedia, not to Wikimedia Commons.
  • Specify a precise title for the media file (for example, "The Beatles - Michelle.ogg" instead of "beatles1.ogg").
  • Add proper licensing information to the Image description page. For copyrighted music samples it should be {{Non-free audio sample}}.
  • Each copyrighted music sample must be accompanied by a suitable fair use rationale, or it will be deleted.
  • Add relevant information about the sample in the description page, especially length and quality, but also copyrights, album, songwriters, producers, etc. The template {{Music sample info}} can help with this.
  • There should be only one sample per song recording, even if several users produce samples. If a new sample is uploaded, the old one must be deleted. In the case of a multi-section/movement work, such as a symphony or opera, the use of one relevant sample per section/movement is acceptable.

Inclusion in article

  • It is better to insert the samples next to a paragraph mentioning them to justify their fair use, instead of grouping them at the end of the article.
  • There is no limit to the number of samples that can be used in one article (although, critically, non-free samples are subject to requirements for minimal use), but keep in mind that music samples serve as tools for a better understanding of the article, so insert only relevant samples.
  • Inserted samples should use the template {{listen}} to properly format the sample. Using the |pos=left or |pos=right (default) parameter allows the sample to 'float' left or right next to the relevant paragraph.
  • For an example of template code, see "Purple Haze" to see the final rendering:

| type = music
| filename = The first 17 seconds of "Purple Haze" by the Jimi Hendrix Experience 1967.ogg
|title = Purple Haze
| description = 17 seconds of intro

What is the maximum length permitted?

10% of the length of the original song up to a maximum of 30 seconds, as explained above. The table below explains how this works in practice:

Original (m:ss) 0:30 1:00 1:30 2:00 2:30 3:00 3:30 4:00 4:30 5:00 and longer
Maximum length of sample (m:ss) 0:03 0:06 0:09 0:12 0:15 0:18 0:21 0:24 0:27 0:30

See also

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