artist denies my right to the music?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by backup, Sep 26, 2013.

  1. following situation:

    a few months ago i've been invited to play in a club. the owner of that club is also the artist. he made me the band leader and invited me to write songs with him. he had some texts written that had no musical structure and he just recited it like a poem. the challenge for me was to create songs out of that. more or less i just made it up from scratch, trying to make it fit with what he had in mind stylistically and the way his former songs were written (he had made a few albums already). i came up with my own bass lines, harmonies and rhythm for different songs and their subdivisions.
    i taught the songs to the band and we've been playing it a lot. they know the songs are mine.
    now he says (i'm not sure this is true but i might be) he has a contract deal with universal music and wants me to bring the band to the studio and record said songs.
    i told him beforehand in the most polite manner i could, the songs are a collaboration and we should check what with the rights. i mentioned that the music was mostly mine.

    he reacted in his typical hysterical way that all music i wrote was already written in his lyrics and anybody who looks at his texts would come up with the exact same music. this came right after he made our drummer understand that riding a bike is bad for a drummers health. and that now his music is 60 kilometers faster.

    short, he denies my musical contribution. also he wants to make singles out of those songs i wrote. to comfort me he said he will write two extra songs for me to write music to. the rights of which i will have. but that is the same way it happened with the other songs. so he is stealing my rights.

    two problems: 1. i have no way to prove how the songs were written and 2. money: he is willing to pay me money for the studio work and credit me as original bass player. i do need money, as i'm just starting up and have no income sources. now he pays us wages of 5€ a night where we play 30 minutes. so i will definitely try to get him to pay a lot more than that for studio. but the problem is, i'm not the only bass player in town. there are already live recordings of the songs i wrote so any bass player could just play those songs by ear.

    what would you do?

    my plan is to talk to the band to support me more actively in demanding high cuts. thsoe songs are not master works , i could write a lot of them. so i figure the job is more worth than the rights of those two songs. besides, he would record them anyway and then i'd get nothing.

    crazy story i know, probably difficult to understand. ask if something is unclear
  2. bolophonic


    Dec 10, 2009
    Durham, NC
    I would stop messing around with that dude and get serious.
  3. You must have some scratch recordings of the songs in progress, no?

    Something on your computer or better yet on soundcloud or something of the like? You need something that is yours alone and you can prove that it predates his involvement with the music part of the song.
  4. that would be unwise as i'm really short on money and this is my only regular income right now. also he did sign a contract and he had a few guests of major record companies already. so he is sort of serious, but cocaine is a hell of a drug

    i wrote the song spontanously at his place. he first recited the text, then i figured out a beat and a bass line. we did that with every part and then the band refined it. he recorded the process himself, so the first recordings of these songs are his.

    note: he assimiliated the melody to the rhythm and harmony.
  5. Invited? :rollno:

    +1. ^^^ This.
  6. Cocaine? Get a another job!!!
  7. valus


    Sep 12, 2013
    Memphis, TN
    That MIGHT be good evidence in court, but I doubt the OP can afford to hire a lawyer.

    OP, since you're just getting started in the business, consider this your first important lesson: Get. It. In. Writing. If you want a songwriting credit on a project, put it in the contract BEFORE you get started.
  8. Inocebo


    May 31, 2013
    It sounds like you're the songwriter and he's the lyricist. If you're getting credit for this it really should be as the songwriter (joint effort or not).

    "...anybody who looks at his texts would come up with the exact same music"
    I think the best bet would be to carefully explain that this isn't the case; it's like saying that everyone writes completely identical poetry about one particular subject.
  9. Clark Dark

    Clark Dark

    Mar 3, 2005
    He speaks in sharps and flats with rhythm???? Thanks for the laugh this morning :D
  10. derg

    derg Supporting Member

    May 26, 2005
    Cleveland, OH
    who wrote the melody?
  11. Milk


    Sep 16, 2013
    Montreal, Canada
    This reminds me a long time ago i was in this band for a few months and written all basslines. When i left the band, which had gigged twice and that basically didnt even count as proper gigs, the frontman bought the rights of my basslines plus a song i wrote from me for like 100$. I said yes right away. I thought it was pretty amusing that he would take these songs so seriously. That decision never came back to haunt me. I knew it was a **** band that would never get anywhere. Ten years later they're still around and playing shows. And have like zero following (and the songs i wrote the basslines to pretty much have never been played because they changed their sound right after anyway)

    My opinion is that while morally these songs should be credited to you, this guy probably will never get to make any real money from them. I'd try to have him buy the rights from me for a minimal sum of money. Threathen legal action (without actually wanting to go through with it). Contract with universal? You make this guy sound like a bit of a joke so...I very much doubt it.....
  12. sowilson


    Jul 5, 2013
    copyright your music now - the music is yours, the lyrics are his. Make him pay to use your music regardless of who plays on any recording. Take him to court if he gives you crap. The RC's will run to the hills at the hint of legal trouble so your coke addict will come around.
  13. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    We have a winner.
  14. MattZilla


    Jun 26, 2013
  15. 3star2nr


    Jun 2, 2013
    He's getting gready. you dont have to worry he wont be going far with this attitude.

    If the band supports your side you can threaten legal action and have the band to support you. Tell him he can avoid all of that by giving you AND the band their due.
  16. avvie


    Oct 12, 2010
    Maui, HI
    Friggin insanity.
    Anyway it should be entertaining to put him in front of a judge and have him explain how everyone would write the same music when presented with his magical lyrics which were inspired by his pastel rainbow unicorn that he keeps in the back yard.
  17. If he wrote the lyrics AND the melody - you are done.
  18. Febs

    Febs Supporting Member

    May 7, 2007
    Philadelphia, PA
    Here is a post from TB member Music Attorney that you might find helpful.

    Note that in this post, Music Attorney was addressing U.S. law, not the law of "Saturn." ;)

    In all seriousness, though, your rights are going to vary depending on the copyright law of whatever country you are located in, so your question really cannot be answered (or at least not accurately) if you don't provide that information.
  19. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member

    And how much money did he make on them? How much of the songwriting did he do himself? If he's depending on you for these tunes, I very much doubt he did the work on the others either.

    Here's what I see: this guy exploits musicians to write songs for him and then takes all the credit and probably nearly all of the money. I suspect you are not his first victim.

    I would refuse, and quit working for him. If the band is willing to go to the studio without you, when they know he's shafting you, that tells you something about the band.

    As I see it, the guy is paying you a whopping 150€ a month. You don't need money that badly. You could make that in two nights waiting tables.

    Given the way the music business works, I would be SHOCKED if he made any real money off a couple of recordings, let alone pass much on to you. You don't really stand much to gain here.

    But if you have it in you to keep writing, and to write better, than what you've already done with him, then do so. Cut the cord with this loser and write your own music. Don't let him be a leech on your creativity. Nothing is going to get better with him.
  20. FretNoMore

    FretNoMore * Cooking with GAS *

    Jan 25, 2002
    The frozen north
    Hysterical guy, cocaine and a "wage" of 5 Euros a night ?!? Don't you see yourself how wrong that is?

    Run, don't walk away from that situation. Seriously.