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

  • Contextual significance
Properly uploaded music samples should only be added to articles in which the song or a particular aspect of it is discussed and referenced. This is necessary to meet the "Contextual significance" requirement for use of non-free content: 1) the item [song or portion of] is itself the subject of sourced commentary in the article, or 2) where only by including such non-free content, can the reader identify an object, style, or behavior, that is a subject of discussion in the article [emphasis in original]. (see Meeting the contextual significance criterion.)
  • Use and location of templates
Music samples are added to articles by using the Template:Listen within the main body of the article or Template:Audio sample to add it to an infobox. When using {{Listen}}, the template should be placed in the paragraph where the song is discussed if possible.
Listen example
A sample of "Home at Last" is located in the Aja album article in the Critical reception section, where sourced commentary about its style is included. The code is as follows (see the template documentation for more options):


| type = music
| filename = Home at Last.ogg
| title = "Home at Last"
| description = 30-second sample
| pos = }}

Audio sample (for Infobox) example
A sample of "Bad" is added to the {{Infobox song}} in |misc= using {{Audio sample}}. Since the title and artist are already included in the infobox, an additional header or description is not needed. The code is (see the template documentation for more options):

| misc =

{{Audio sample
| type = single
| file = Michael Jackson - Bad.ogg}}

  • Number of samples
The Non-free content guideline advises against "An excessive number of short audio clips in a single article". It adds "A small number may be appropriate if each is accompanied by commentary in the accompanying text ... The use of non-free media (whether images, audio or video clips) in galleries, discographies, and navigational and user-interface elements generally fails the test for significance (criterion #8 [Contextual significance])." Examples of multiple samples within featured articles include Jimi Hendrix (artist article with three song samples) and Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (album article with three samples).

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