Who's song is it?

Lullaby

Oh what you do to me! no one knows
Silver Supporting Member
Messages
417
So, I worked on a larger handful of songs with some dude, almost 10 years ago. He'd come up up with some guitar lick, I'd come up with a bass line and then I'd write lyrics to go with it. Always the same pattern of creation, sometimes I would have the hook already "created" for him, not vis-a-vis. I thought I had some good work in there. What is the protocal for me revamping those songs and making them "mine"?
 

Sweetfinger

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
13,978
If there's some piece of what he worked on in there, it's botha yours. If you have some kind of songwriting understanding or arrangement with him, honor it, if not, you make your own determination. If you record and release them, give him a co-write credit, figure out how to divide the royalties, and wait for that glorious day when you have to split eight dollars and seventy three cents sixty/forty.
.
 

Lullaby

Oh what you do to me! no one knows
Silver Supporting Member
Messages
417
You should probably ask him.

Were the songs ever copyrighted??
No, not even close. It's like, I consider my lyrics and a good bass hook/riff(me) to be less replacable than his generic rock tweedling on the 6 string. Like, I just 2 weeks ago recorded one where he had 4 notes and was "idk, seemed like a good start". 8 years ago? I turned it into a tune with an intro, his notes were replaced with a different pattern, intentionally. :) Just curious what other people do with their scrap pile of good licks and half ideas. Some other dude handed me a CD and said "I'll never do anything with this, if you do, great". In his case I would totally share credits, since he had some actual songs written. Verse, chorus, notes,that kind thing. Another dude and I were gonna collab. during covid lockdown and for fun off a sentence in an email, I spun him some funny lyrics for a song for his girl. I picked the melody and wrote the words - I think that one is all mine. Not that I care - it was silly as hell.

This is good.
 

Lullaby

Oh what you do to me! no one knows
Silver Supporting Member
Messages
417
You should probably ask him.

Were the songs ever copyrighted??
Full disclosure: our final moments together weren't pleasant. I recall something about saying I should just beat his hide right there in my front yard. I think I was called an a-hole or such. idk. A mutual friend didn't invite either of us to his wedding because of this. Yes, that good an ending. :)
 

magdream

Member
Messages
1,840
As I know it, licks, fills, lines, patterns, etc... are not considered song writing, but are part of song arrangements. Lyrics and melody are only recognized and protected as song writing. I, personally disagree with this practice, but what do I know?
 

MrTAteMyBalls

Member
Messages
4,740
No, not even close. It's like, I consider my lyrics and a good bass hook/riff(me) to be less replacable than his generic rock tweedling on the 6 string. Like, I just 2 weeks ago recorded one where he had 4 notes and was "idk, seemed like a good start". 8 years ago? I turned it into a tune with an intro, his notes were replaced with a different pattern, intentionally. :) Just curious what other people do with their scrap pile of good licks and half ideas. Some other dude handed me a CD and said "I'll never do anything with this, if you do, great". In his case I would totally share credits, since he had some actual songs written. Verse, chorus, notes,that kind thing. Another dude and I were gonna collab. during covid lockdown and for fun off a sentence in an email, I spun him some funny lyrics for a song for his girl. I picked the melody and wrote the words - I think that one is all mine. Not that I care - it was silly as hell.

This is good.


Rock tweedling on guitar doesn't contribute to the songwriting. If he didn't actually contribute lyrics, melody, chord progressions, riffs that are foundational to the song then I don't think it matters. You wrote those.

A VERY long time ago I was in a band and I wrote all the songs(which were not all that great haha). I brought in chords charts for everyone....told the other guitarist and bassist more or less exactly what to play...etc. we played a lot of gigs but never recorded most of the songs.

Some years later I did a solo record and brought back one of those songs that I really liked. The bassist wasn't really happy since that was "our" song. He contributed nothing to the song so I was surprised that he had an opinion at all. The drummer had written the lyrics(but I wrote the melody and edited the lyrics to fit my melody). I asked the drummers permission and gave him full credit for that when the song was released.

In your case I might draw up a small contract giving him 25 percent ownership in the songs.
 

MrTAteMyBalls

Member
Messages
4,740
Full disclosure: our final moments together weren't pleasant. I recall something about saying I should just beat his hide right there in my front yard. I think I was called an a-hole or such. idk. A mutual friend didn't invite either of us to his wedding because of this. Yes, that good an ending. :)


Wow. This guy is not gonna be happy about this situation...lol.

Is there any money actually coming from this or will it be the typical local band release that you basically give away to friends and family?
 

Lullaby

Oh what you do to me! no one knows
Silver Supporting Member
Messages
417
As I know it, licks, fills, lines, patterns, etc... are not considered song writing, but are part of song arrangements. Lyrics and melody are only recognized and protected as song writing. I, personally disagree with this practice, but what do I know?
I think Robin Thicke got shafted on Blurred Lines - jury got hung up over what, cowbell? SMH. Melody of the lyrics isn't even remotely similar. oh well :horse
Wow. This guy is not gonna be happy about this situation...lol.

Is there any money actually coming from this or will it be the typical local band release that you basically give away to friends and family?
I liked both of your answers. I think for this one song I continue as I have, mentally - his meager effort is gone. This one in particular stuck with me because I thought I had came up with such a game changer idea in one of those cool moments of clarity. . . Snow was falling slowly, big flakes as I looked out the window. I set my delay to drop the repeats at about the same speed. 10 minutes later it was done and done.
 

splatt

david torn / splattercell
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
27,871
the clarity of communication between you & your “partners” is up to you & your partners.
the circumstances you describe are destined for either disaster of some sort, or for nothingness; that’s kinda the price paid for zero clear & timely communication vis à vis “ownership”.
without getting much more information from you & your “partners”, no-one here can truly determine who owns what in your world.

if you want advice, seek it from well-chosen, reasonable, knowledgeable, experienced professionals in the field..... not here.
 

A-Bone

Montonero, MOY, Multitudes
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
108,683
Were the songs ever copyrighted??

Do you mean registered? Copyright is automatic on fixation. In terms of music composition, the moment original lyrics are written down, they're covered by copyright. In terms of music, when an original composition is written down or recorded, it's covered by copyright (and the recording is covered by an additional copyright for sound recording). Registration confers benefits, but isn't the copyright itself.

With music composition copyright, people often speak of the melody and lyrics (if any) as the only things protected. Although in practice it isn't quite that simple, those are the elements submitted for registration, and aspects like chord progressions, riffs, and the like tend to be treated as arrangement, rather than integral aspects of the compositional copyright.
 

rodger

Member
Messages
340
This reinforces my thinking of not collaborating... I only write solo, copyrighting and recording them. Full disclosure - I did have one song on my last record with a co-writer who contributed some lyrics. Co-writer is my wife, so no conflict there.

My records make absolutely no money, so no one is fighting me for writing credits. If they did, I would ask them to pay half of my recording, CD printing and distribution costs.
 

MrTAteMyBalls

Member
Messages
4,740
Do you mean registered? Copyright is automatic on fixation. In terms of music composition, the moment original lyrics are written down, they're covered by copyright. In terms of music, when an original composition is written down or recorded, it's covered by copyright (and the recording is covered by an additional copyright for sound recording). Registration confers benefits, but isn't the copyright itself.

With music composition copyright, people often speak of the melody and lyrics (if any) as the only things protected. Although in practice it isn't quite that simple, those are the elements submitted for registration, and aspects like chord progressions, riffs, and the like tend to be treated as arrangement, rather than integral aspects of the compositional copyright.
Yes, I meant registered. A copyright, while automatic, is meaningless without registration. When I register my songs I usually just put everyone who worked on it as the writer. It's not like any of my songs will ever make any money so an even split is easiest and makes everyone happy ...lol.

I have been on the receiving end of 25-30 percent ownership deals after significantly affecting the song arrangement. I don't find this necessary but it's a nice gesture when it happens. But usually when I join a project I make big changes that change the nature of the songs a log even if it doesn't change the melody or lyrics.

If me or anyone I work with actually did this for a living and made any money I would not be so lax about it probably.
 

GraceToo

Member
Messages
1,103
I consider my lyrics and a good bass hook/riff(me) to be less replacable than his generic rock tweedling on the 6 string.
I found Roger Waters’ TGP account! ;) (Kidding, kidding!)

Sounds like you’re in the clear. He has zero grounds to contest your work if he did not contribute to the melody, chord progression, or lyrics.
 

Jayyj

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
12,330
For me, if someone presented me with something that I developed into a finished song, even if I didn’t feel like I’d kept any of his material in there I’d still give him a credit on the basis that he did throw me the original inspiration to work from.

Having said that, if they’re un-copyrighted and never earned any money and there’s little chance of the repurposed song earning any money, if I wasn’t on speaking terms with the guy I’d probably think sod it, it’s not worth the hassle of telling him that’s what I’m doing and get on with it without involving him.

I did have a somewhat similar situation where a band I was in was contacted by our old label and asked if we wanted to contribute a previously unused song on an anniversary compilation they were putting out, and the guitarist who dealt with anything label related decided to ask all of us if we were happy releasing it - four of us were flattered to be asked, the fifth decided to make an issue of it to settle a score with the guitarist, and it ended up not happening. We weren’t getting any money out of it, it was just an old song that would have been nice to see released and no legal reason he could have blocked it, so very frustrating to have a good song left unreleased because of band politics.

Some people will drag a drama out of anything given the opportunity and when it’s just something you’re doing for pleasure it’s often not worth the aggro engaging.
 

Lullaby

Oh what you do to me! no one knows
Silver Supporting Member
Messages
417
For me, if someone presented me with something that I developed into a finished song, even if I didn’t feel like I’d kept any of his material in there I’d still give him a credit on the basis that he did throw me the original inspiration to work from.

Having said that, if they’re un-copyrighted and never earned any money and there’s little chance of the repurposed song earning any money, if I wasn’t on speaking terms with the guy I’d probably think sod it, it’s not worth the hassle of telling him that’s what I’m doing and get on with it without involving him.

I did have a somewhat similar situation where a band I was in was contacted by our old label and asked if we wanted to contribute a previously unused song on an anniversary compilation they were putting out, and the guitarist who dealt with anything label related decided to ask all of us if we were happy releasing it - four of us were flattered to be asked, the fifth decided to make an issue of it to settle a score with the guitarist, and it ended up not happening. We weren’t getting any money out of it, it was just an old song that would have been nice to see released and no legal reason he could have blocked it, so very frustrating to have a good song left unreleased because of band politics.

Some people will drag a drama out of anything given the opportunity and when it’s just something you’re doing for pleasure it’s often not worth the aggro engaging.
Realistically it is mainly for pleasure, at least at this point. I'm just kind of getting my groove going on recording again doing as many parts myself as possible so I have a few things I want to use a little bit of mainly lyrics, chord progs which I came up to fit lyrics I wrote.
I just thought of a funny situation regarding "song writing" - I was in a band with a husband & wife. I wrote a song and emailed it to the "hubby"(yeah), he was all cool with it. But we never were getting to doing it with the group. One day I play a few bars of it at rehearsal and she says "what is that!?". "Oh, something I wrote about 2 months ago, I figured he would have shown it to you but we have been busy gigging."
She EXPLODED ON HIM!!! So much swears and unloading. Painful to watch, "don't look at him men, he's about to cry." Apparently, he has issues and was troubled by his wife singing a song sme other guy wrote. awww. Band exploded in a flash :) Done. dead. zip.nada. no mo AH, music!
 

awp

Member
Messages
353
I have over 160 registered compositions with SOCAN. Probably around 90% of them I am registered as a co-composer even on ones where I either did the vast majority of the work or contributed just a small amount. My philosophy has always been to be generous, if the composition came about through collaboration then we each own an equal share.

That also means each of us have the right to reuse the song.
 

ripgtr

Member
Messages
12,377
it gets tricky, as there was no prior agreement, apparently.
This gives a decent explanation, though a little vague -
"A songwriting copyright is awarded to those who jointly contributed to the song's structure, chord progressions, and lyrics. This can be anyone, even the members of the rhythm section. (In many songs, especially in rock, pop, and dance music, a bass or drum part is so integral to the song that it becomes as important as the melody)."

Did the other person come up with the chords or contribute to that (i.e. Hotel Ca. where Felder gave them a tape of chord progressions, they wrote melody and lyrics, Felder got credit)? Is it an integral part of the song? The guitar lick on Day Tripper would be yes. Some generic lick, that you didn't actually use? That would be no in my opinion, but you never know.

@Loyale mentioned the Thicke song. I listened, I don't hear it. It is no closer to Marvin's song than Marvin's song is to a lot of other songs. But they won in court. I doubt this would ever get that far, but there is bad blood there already apparently, so it might open old wounds.

I will say, I played one of my songs for a buddy, who is a successful songwriter, he suggested I change the end of the chorus. He didn't give me a definate idea, just "you want it to be more like ..." which I did and yea, it made the payoff of the chorus better. If I had ever done anything with it, I'd give him a credit, absolutely. He contributed.
 

aiq

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
12,459
“Well now, here's a song I wrote
By myself, note for note
With a lot of help, it’ll make Number One
You can change a word or two
And I'll give half of it to you
I'll be a star tomorrow, but today
I'm a Nashville bum”
 




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