If you write a great guitar line for the chorus, should you get songwriting credit?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by rabid_granny, Feb 20, 2003.

  1. My singer wrote all of the original songs we are performing. I'm encouraging him to register his copyrights.

    If he writes the song but the other guitarist writes a great guitar line (however simple it may be) that makes the song come "alive", should the other guitarist get songwriting credit?

    A real example would be Richard Lloyd's work on Matthew Sweet's "100% Fun". Richard did some really cool guitar parts that made the songs stand out but he doesn't get any songwriting credit.

    Is this a judgement call or is it standard not to give credit in this situation?
  2. Woodchuck


    Apr 21, 2000
    Atlanta / Macon (sigh)
    Gallien Krueger for the last 12 years!
    If his guitar line changes the chord structure of the song, and is not just an embellishment, then yes he should.
  3. Woodchuck is bassically correct.

    What usually gets copyrighted are the chords, the melody and the lyrics. Guitar lines in of themselves are not usually part of that package.

    Having said that, it is up to the person who wrote the song to determine for themselves if he or she thinks that a guitar part is special enough to share the copyright.

    If every part of a song were added to the copyright, then there would not be a Lennon and McCartney songwriting team. All the copyrights would have said, Lennon, McCartney, Starr, Harrison and Martin.

    Oh...and think about Jamerson here too......Holland,Dozier and Holland would have been a foursome.
  4. SMASH

    SMASH Guest

    Jan 18, 2000
    Credit and payment are different. In your example, the credit on the CD jacket might be one thing, but the actual copyright or more importantly the actual split of royalties might be quite different.

    In your case you're talking about SOCAN, and you can credit things on the CD any way you please and split the royalties differently.

    You have to hash it out among yourselves.

    In STOKE's example I only wrote the music for one song on our debut and am credited accordingly, but share 50% of royalties (the *real* credits) for all the songs as per copyright registration.

    Nirvana (do a search as this has been covered before) once split everything 1/3 each but the other two wrote nothing. It was necessary to keep them fed, warm, and on the road. When the money got big the split changed significantly - retroactively in fact. It was deemed to be not literally what they'd agreed to, but within the spirit of what the original three-way split represented and the other guys agreed.

    Sabbath credits are usually listed as all 4 of them, even though Geezer wrote most of the words & music. Who actually got paid? Everyone but the band.

    In other words, there are no real rules - it's up to y'all to decide what's fair. At this level, it hardly matters.
  5. Hey Smash, SOCAN only deals with the collection of performance roylaties and not the registration of copyrights, right? I'm working with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office on this one.

    Oh ya, how do you copyright your stuff? I doubt that you individually copyright your songs but do the book/CD of songs, correct?
  6. CS


    Dec 11, 1999
    As soon as you or anyone else has written something then you (or they) own the copyright. All you have to do is write a c with a circle around it and the writers names and year and it warns people who owns the copyright.

    BUT the real trick is proving it in court. The cheaper ways are to mail yourself the music/lyrics and audio copy by registered mail. You can hire a safety deposit box at a bank.

    In England you can register with Mechanical Copyright people.

    EDIT-to answer the question if someone plays an instrument on a song then they didn't write it. With the material I write (words/chords/basslines etc) I give the musicians who played on a recorded track and arrangement credit.
  7. I just deleted my other post in the Band Performance Forum since this one is getting more hits.

    Anyways, from what I understand, the "mail yourself a copy" trick doesn't work. The best way is still registration.
  8. Petebass


    Dec 22, 2002
    QLD Australia
    I'm on a songwriting strike at the moment. The guys in my band are generally wonderful blokes and we never argue - except when it comes to songwriting splits. I got sick of writing lyrics for entire versus, reviving dead songs out of the bin with a distinct bass line, and even writing the entire music to a singers lyrics, only to find no-one was willing to share the credit for my input. I got some credit in the end, but nowhere near what I consider fair, but if I didn't back down the band would hav split up. So now, I just turn up and play bass. Why waste my time writing music I get no credit for?
  9. Petebass, I feel your pain on that one too, it doesn't seem fair but the way we work it is the lead songwriter gets the writing credit even though the vast majority of the basslines are written by me, and I have inputs in other areas too. It bugs me but not much I can do about it, not like I'm going to stop writing basslines.

    Rabid Granny, there is basically just a form you fill out with the intellectual property office and send in along with a $65 fee stating title of work, authorship, ownership, date of publication and all that stuff. As has been stated, all music becomes copyright by law as soon as it is created and the forms are just to register it in case of legal problems. If I remember correctly you can d/l the form from their website.
  10. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    Two bands that I've been in that have written original music always credited the songwriting to everyone in the band because everyone contributed to the song sounding like it did. I was against the "everybody gets writing credit" policy in both situations, but was outvoted both times.

    Personally I think that sucks.

    In the first band the writing was definitely a team effort, but rarely was everyone involved. I'm a great collaborator, but I have a very hard time writing a whole song from scratch. For example, on some of our songs the guitar player came up with a great chorus progression, which inspired me to write a verse and bridge. Sometimes I wrote the lyrics and melody, sometimes the drummer wrote them, sometimes the singer wrote them. One particular song I wrote the chorus including the chord progression, lyrics, and melody, and nothing else. Every song was a collaboration, no single song came in complete form from one person. It was very rewarding musically, because we all worked well together and respected each others' abilities. (One time we had a verse and chorus that the guitar player and singer had come up with, and all four of us just simultaneously broke into an improvised bridge that worked perfectly - it was amazing.)

    I can remember a particular song where the drummer wrote all the lyrics, and the melody and chords with the guitarrist. The song was lacking that "something", and I wrote a bassline that ended up completely filling in and driving the song. I personally don't think that I deserved writing credit for that, but I got it. I think I deserved credit for being a good bass player, but not a writer. There were other songs that were written completely around a groove that me and the drummer came up with. I did deserve credit for those.

    In the other band there was almost no collaboration at all. One member would basically teach his song to the rest of the band, even telling them what he had in mind for their parts. Maybe minor things like backing vocal arrangements would be hashed out, but for all intents and purposes the songs were written by a single member. This was also very rewarding because the main songwriters were brilliant and I felt it was an honor just to play their fantastic songs. It was a little frustrating because my writing is pretty much limited to collaboration mode of the other band, therefore I didn't really contribute to the writing. But I got credit. ***?

    As a fan, I want to know who wrote what songs when I read the credits on an album. As a musician I only want to receive credit for stuff that I actually did.

    In the trio I'm in right now, my guitarrist brother (who is an amazing, brilliant, visionary songwriter) writes all the songs, and he gets sole credit though myself and the drummer definitely add to the feel and arrangement. That's the way it should be.
  11. One thing is bugging me about registering the copyright on a book/CD of songs. And the dude at the Intellectual Property Office is no help - he's just regurgitating the guidebook.

    If I registered more than one song under a single copyright, what's to stop me from adding songs to that copyright on a later date? The IP Office doesn't keep a record of the actual work and the Canadian National Library doesn't accept demos.

    So even if I have the copyright certificate, how can I prove that a particular song was included in the copyright? What's the point of registering more than one copyright when I can add the song to the copyright 20 years down the road? There's no independent third party to verify my creation.

    Anyone can help me out?