Songwriting credit

Discussion in 'The Sound Hound Lounge' started by hp29, Jan 27, 2012.

  1. hp29

    hp29 Member

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    We recorded a video last week of a song I wrote (both music and lyrics) some time ago. I then overhear the guy filming asking our drummer who he should put on credits for the song, to which the drummer replies "Put the band name, it's the bands song".
    I have registred all the songs I've written, so legally it doesn't mean ****, but I do get a bit baffled with the attitudes of some people.

    I did interrupt the conversation saying that band name and name of the song was sufficient but on my way home I realized it's only the ones in the band that doesn't write that insists on credits being to the band as a whole, not the individuals writing the stuff.

    What's your stories/experiences?
     
  2. beanbass

    beanbass Member

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    Without the songwriter, there is no song. Songwriter gets credit for writing it, band gets credit for performing it. Why shouldn't you get due credit? Some people just don't want to see others do better than them.
     
  3. c_mac

    c_mac Member

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    Did you write it at home and bring it to the band or did you write it at a rehearsal working with the band members (even if you did write the music and lyrics by yourself)? They way my band works is that if songs come out of us playing together we credit everyone even if I happen to be the one who writes the riffs, lyrics, and melodies. If I bring a finished song to band then I take all the writing credit on it. Also, I give or take credit to anyone who writes any melodic hooks to the songs. So if another guy brings in a song with music and lyrics but I write a killer riff for it then I feel I should get credit.
     
  4. BlackNight

    BlackNight Member

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    My originals band credits everybody, this was decided from the start. We tell it to new members too.
     
  5. guitarmook

    guitarmook Member

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    One of the key concepts that tears bands apart as they're moving up.

    A couple managers/attorneys I've talked to through the years all agree. The bands that are big enough to start working with them HAVE to have this sorted out first. In writing.

    When the band puts a song on a record, who gets the songwriting credit? The writer or writers, or the whole band?

    And if you have a problem with it, you should be able to talk about it right then, as the issue comes up. But if not, you need to deal with it quickly.
     
  6. s2y

    s2y Member

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    Or not moving at all. Naturally this is not directed at anyone here, but every band thinks they have the next big hit and most don't. You don't need to have violent encounters for songs that may just get a few radio plays and make a few bucks locally.
     
  7. Dancing Frog

    Dancing Frog Member

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    Definitely, get everything in writing and register your own stuff. I was promised co-writing credits on 4 songs and had one practically finished original on the last album. I let the band leader take care of registering the songs, and when the album came out, not only did I not have co-writing credits on the four songs as promised, but the band leader gave himself co-writing credits on mine. He was a friend at the time, and he screwed me. Since the agreement was never in writing, I have no legal recourse whatsoever. However, I am 90% sure that nothing on that album will become big because he shot his music career in the head three years ago, but you never know. Had the band continued and the album sold, that would have become a seriously sore spot down the road when the royalty checks came rolling in.

    On a side note, I have 750 units of his personal failure in a storage locker that I can't get rid of and am still co-VP of his record company. The point is that everything ends, and you really need agreements to cover yourself when it comes apart.
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2012
  8. chervokas

    chervokas Member

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    If you write the song you should take the songwriter's credit. You should also set up a way of doing business as a publisher so you have a publishing credit which would entitle you to both a writer's and a publisher's royalty if the song generates any money; and you should register with a performing rights society if there is to be any income from the song. Here's some info: http://www.indieguide.com/wiki/page/Forming_Your_Own_Publishing_Company

    It's also not a bad idea to register the song with the copyright office, although that's not required in terms of conferring copyright. You have the copyright by virtue of creating it, but if you let something like a video be published with everyone's name as composer without having previously registered the copyright in your name you definitely could be deemed to have granted copyright to everyone else as well.

    If you want to share any or all of those rights with your band mates, that's up to you and that's a conversation you need to have with the band. Personally I don't do that. As a guy who has made a living as a journalist (mostly as on staffs where everything's a work-for-hire) I feel strongly that a writer should preserve the rights and rewards of his or her work, especially creative artistic work, and decide if and when (and for what kind of recompense) they assign away any of those rights; don't back into just giving that away to your band mates, make an affirmative decision about if you want to or not. At the very least when you distribute any lead sheets or demos with songs you've written, even among the band, you can put copyright notices on them: Copyright 2021 Joe Schmoe, All Rights Reserved.

    It may seem like overkill for a band that's not making money from selling recorded music at the moment (which I presume is the case here), but it's better from the start to know and understand your rights, to be clear with everyone else in the band, and to make conscious decisions about whether or not you want to want to reserve all those rights or grant some of them to others not just to allow yourself to back into unclear situations.
     
  9. el nino

    el nino Member

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    well you can look at that from a couple of sides...
    when i played in a band where most of the music and arrangments was made by me (lyrics by the singer and drummer) and we all shared the same musical vision i wanted to give the band music and arrangement credit cause i always thought bands must be like "one for all and all for one" cause in my mind it should be like that.

    but now i'm in a band (except the drummer cause we played in the band mentiond above) who wants the credit for themselves (and on first album when i was 20 years old i did what they told me cause i respected their opinions,they being older etc),even do the guy (singer/rytham guitar) brings a riff and the drummer and i make all the arrangments now,bridges,verses,lyrics etc. he still thinks he should get the writing credit... :)

    in the end it's just the people you work with...cause if they have an huge ego they gonna be a handfull with writing credits and the same goes for other things business related (in bands of course),but if band members have respect for each other and suport one another with the same musical vision,then my friend you don't have a problem like i have now :)

    but you now they say musicians are worst people,and there is truth in that ;)
     
  10. mcknigs

    mcknigs Supporting Member

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    Some people who play in bands are under the false impression that arranging, even if limited to figuring out what they, personally, are going to play, constitutes composing. They need to be disabused of that notion. I would have a talk with the band. Say "I'm not trying to be jerk about this but when one of us brings a song in, it's his song. If you want songwriting credits, bring in a song you wrote. That will be *your* song. Or bring in a part of a song. If band members want to help finish it with you, then you'll be a cowriter. Then if the band wants to do the song, we'll do it. But there's no obligation just because you wrote it." That's a hard lesson for some to learn, but necessary.
     
  11. RSRD

    RSRD Supporting Member

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    that's pretty much my take. If you wrote the song then they put your name under writing credit.

    Nip it now or it will just fester....
     
  12. el nino

    el nino Member

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    mcknigs i do understand what you are saying and i don't know if its about my post,but if somebody (let's say guitar player) plays a riff from A and you (the band) jams on it,and the next day the (bass player) comes with the verses and bridges and lyrics that go with that riff from A it can't JUST be the guitar players song who started that riff from A,and thats what i'm talking about...the guitar player who still thinks that song is just his :)
     
  13. hp29

    hp29 Member

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    I wrote it all at home, demoed it on a Boss MicroBR with both guitars and bass on a click. Lyrics were also written by me and the vocal line was suggested to the vocalist who kept it like that.

    Yeah you're right. I know it will piss off the half of the band that doesn't contribute but then again - it might motivate them...
     
  14. chervokas

    chervokas Member

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    Well, respectfully, maybe he does deserve a co-credit. Sometimes a riff is a crucial component of a song. It's not true of, say Star Dust or My Funny Valentine, but think about a song like You Really Got Me...if say Dave Davies had written the riff and Ray the lyrics (instead of Ray writing both as happened), I would say Dave certainly would have deserved co-credit for the song.

    But I think a point others are making is a good one. Arranging and composing are two different things. Often bands arrange or rearrange songs. I'm working with a band now and we're playing a lot of my songs that I previously played with another band in vary different arrangements. We're developing the new arrangements together and its a very cooperative and creative process. But we're not recomposing the songs.
     
  15. el nino

    el nino Member

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    chervokas i agree about arrangements and composing being two different things,and you may have miss the point or my english is lousy :) but i wanted to say that my singer/rytham guitar player wanted ALL of the writing credits for himself cause he made a riff.and the riff isn't something of jimmy page value either ;)

    and like i said i don't have a problem with people taking credit for something they contributed (being just a riff or a verse etc) but i have problem with people playing g cord and thinking they are a songwriter and dismissing other people in the band or when he thinks that nobodys listening from his bandmates and saying it's his songs (and i guess that happend to hp29)...

    and i think everybody here (who played in bands) was in similar situations :)

    of course maybe it sounds like i hate the guy i play with,but no,i don't i just don't like THAT quality in people,and when the song is credited on my name i still say and think it's a team effort (some guys didn't want to take credit cause they think they didn't contribute enough...) go figure :)
     
  16. lhallam

    lhallam Member

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    Vocal Songs = melody & lyrics & arguably chords

    All that other stuff are arrangements. I'm sure the drummer (like Ginger Baker) thinks he should get credit and he should, for contributing to the arrangement NOT for composing the song.

    CREDITS:

    Music & lyrics = you
    Arrangement = band

    Hmm - I see others have said the same thing. Depending upon the drummer, he probably doesn't know the difference.

    BTW - It might be a good idea to come in with some ideas and have the whole band write a song around them.
     
  17. Dancing Frog

    Dancing Frog Member

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    That's pretty much how I see it too. That's why I wasn't particularly miffed when I got cut out of the 4 songwriting credits. I pretty much had arranged the whole album, so the promised songwriting credits would have been an unearned/unanticipated bonus. While arranging that album was a lot of work, it is not the same thing as songwriting. I would say if you substantially add to the structure, then maybe you're due a co-writing credit. What constitutes "substantial" is a huge grey area.
     
  18. oldtelefart

    oldtelefart Member

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    Those credits are where the money is, IF your stuff sells/gets played on air a lot. Better get the deal clearly defined right from the start. Share credit where it's due.
    Every time I catch a local ferry to an island gig, I see the dive movie showing the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef. I listen to the music I spent 2-3 weeks composing, multi-track (guitars, keyboards, bass) performing, and wonder why the studio owner (who got the deal for the movie and the distribution) is credited as "music by..."
    I also wonder how much dough he made on the deal. I never saw a cent. At least he provided coffee and sandwiches.
    There were a couple of really nice melodies there, which I don't have a copy of. Guess I'll have to buy the CD from the ferry company.
     
  19. mcknigs

    mcknigs Supporting Member

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    El Nino - no my post was not intended as a comment on your post. Actually I started writing it before you replaied but you snuck yours in between the time I started writing and hit submit. :)

    I definitely put more weight on the person who wrote a chord progression, melody, and lyrics. Those are the heart of the song. Signature riffs are borderline, IMO - could go either way. If the band is jamming, and comes up with a signature riff, upon which the completed song is based, I think there's a good argument for giving cowriting credit to the person who came up with the riff. But like I say, it's a judgement call. Could "Sunshine of Your Love" exist without the underlying riff? Maybe. Could "Layla" exist without the signature 7-note intro riff? It already does, in the form of the Unplugged version. If the guitar player writes a cool riff and the bass player writes the rest of the song afterward, I would probably give them both credit. If the guitar player insists on complete credit I would just take the bass player's chords, melody and lyrics and put them to a different riff. Or not use a riff at all.

    Beyond that, if we're just talking about coming up with a part to go with chords, melody and lyrics, that's not composing. If a bandmate brings in a country song and I play a country bass line to it, I don't deserve songwriting credit anymore than if I play a country bass line along with "Your Cheatin' Heart."
     
  20. s2y

    s2y Member

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    I once wrote the bulk of a band's songs only for them to kick me out and record an album containing all of the songs I wrote with them and zero credit. I did send my tunes to the 'ol govt. the second they kicked me out just in case. As luck would have it, I don't think they made a dime and their douche tendencies caused them to go nowhere.
     

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