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Songwriting Credit- your opinion

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by EclecticElectrk, Sep 14, 2008.

  1. EclecticElectrk


    Aug 26, 2008
    This is a question i have about what you guys think on songwriting credits.

    I am in a heavy metal band and we've been writing some songs (duh).
    My band has this song, for example, where the guitarist wrote most of the riffs for it, i wrote some of the transitional parts between the riffs, and i wrote/am revising lyrics for it. We all sat down with the dissassembled riffs, and put them together into a song.

    My question for you guys, is who do you consider the song writer? My guitarist, since he provided most of the riffs, me because i provided the lyrics, or all of the band?

    yes, the guitarist wrote the riffs, but i wrote the bass parts, and the drummer wrote the drum part. my guitarist seems to think us writing our own parts doesnt count, and he wrote the song because he wrote the guitar part.:meh: i'll concede that the guitar is the most prevalent instrument in this song, but still we wrote our own parts for our intstruments, and im not just playing the root notes below the guitar riffs.

    it would make sense to me that we all wrote the song, especially because we all sat down together and in a session created a song, out of the riffs provided by the guitarist.
    Now we all agree that every band member will be given credit in the rights for the song, but my guitarist still thinks he wrote it. and of course there is the lyrics, which the other band members don't contribute to (at least for now) and i wrote them alone.

    what is your opinion, who is the writer of this song? or is it all of us?:help:

    i realize it would probably help if you could hear the song, and we are supposed to record it tommorow, so maybe i can put it up here as soon as i get it.
  2. Fetusyolk


    Aug 7, 2008
    It's all of you. It's common to hear a nice riff and want to build off of that, much like starting a song off of a solid drum beat. It doesn't mean the person who came up with a single part composed the whole song.

    Good job, he wrote the guitar part, do you commonly do this for him?:eyebrow:

    Sounds to me like everyone did their job and he wants the credit/glory for all of it. I've never even heard of a guitarist with an ego:rolleyes:
  3. EclecticElectrk


    Aug 26, 2008
    yea, thats what i was thinking as well...glad to see im not crazy.were all getting credit on it, but i cant make him think or make him agree we all wrote it....its sort of annoying. the problem is, he REALLY thinks he wrote the song, he really believes that by writing the guitar he is the songwriter. i dont think that falls exactly in the same category of ego.
  4. David Tyler

    David Tyler

    Apr 10, 2007

    Here's the way it is... the individuals who wrote the basic music and the lyrics are the authors. Everyone else can be credited with arranging the peice.

    So, if you wrote the lyrics and the bridge and your guitarist came in with the basic guitar part .... it's the two of you.

    My apologies to your drummer but unless he did more than just create a drum arrangement for the song, he's not an author of it.
  5. EclecticElectrk


    Aug 26, 2008
    so your saying that if i just wrote the bass part, and nothing else, im not an author? what if the bass is more "interesting" or more forward at some parts then the guitar is? would you say that has any impact?
  6. Doc Labyrinth

    Doc Labyrinth

    Nov 21, 2007
    New Jersey
    Mr. Wiggles the Worm
    In my band we keep music and lyrics separate. I write all the lyrics so I get credit for that. BUT, we are a band, and in my opinion a band is meant to be a solid union, and in the ideal band each part is equally important. Now, though I write the majority of the music, they wouldn't be the songs that they are if it weren't for my drummer and guitar player, so as far as music is concerned, we get equal writing credit, and that's fine by me.
  7. Oraflora


    Apr 18, 2005
    Minneapolis, MN
    Credit for writing songs is really important for royalties from having said song played on radio or other commercial use (movies, etc.)
    Those who receive royalty $ are the lyricist and melody writers, respectively.

    Doesn't matter if your bass line "makes" the song, did you write the melody that everyone knows? You should get credit for the lyrics, so yes, you wrote the song, at least for royalty credit.

    (None of this matters if royalties are not involved.....you and the band need to figure out the details, if it's an issue for you all.)
    In this case, it sounds like the guitarist wrote the melody, assuming he brought that idea, and the rest of you arranged your parts around that?
  8. baalroo


    Mar 24, 2008
    Wichita, KS
    The person who comes up with the original concepts for the song is the one who technically wrote the song. Everyone else just helped arrange it. The general chord structure and timing IS the song, the individual instruments are simply the arrangement (as said above by another poster).

    IOW, I completely agree with your guitarist... he wrote the song and you helped him arrange it (lyrics aside). The basic concept was his, you just helped him embellish it.
  9. Guest043

    Guest043 Guest

    Apr 8, 2008

    the first part of this post is exactly what i was going to say. the one who decided what key it was in, wrote the song- by this i mean, you come up with your riff, and no matter what suggestions you get..change this rhythm, play this like that, doesent matter - its still your song.
  10. derrico1

    derrico1 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    Charlottesville, VA
    There is no always-right answer here.

    The default is that credit for the music goes to the player who comes in w/ the melody and the chord changes.

    However, bands can (and not infrequently do) agree to share songwriting credit for the music that is developed together from a basic riff.

    The two keys are these: (1) you ought to have an agreement about how to assign songwriting credit whenever you're in a band that is likely to make money from its songs. (2) More bands have broken up in fights over how to share purely theoretical royalties than have made a profit on their songs, probably by a couple orders of magnitude.
  11. EclecticElectrk


    Aug 26, 2008
    we all decided that as far as royalties, everyone who was in the band when the song was written gets a share. i dont really agree with the point of "whoever writes the melody everyone knows...." , because that makes it sound like its up to someone else to decide who is the writer.
  12. EclecticElectrk


    Aug 26, 2008
    the thing here is that im not concerned about the money end, just the basic question of who wrote this song? you guys think that its based on who wrote the melody, the key, the chord changes etc... i guess its really a case by case thing, because that doesnt apply to every song or genre out there, such as many of my own songs. i dont think i could really describe what im talking about, but i hope you get me.
    i think that unless one guy writes every instruments part, the other band members deserve credit, because they came up with their own part. now if i play some easy root notes under the guitar and nothing more, then that leads someone to say i didnt write anything. if i write a bassline that takes the melody/lead part at one point, and adds to the song, then that tempts you to say i deserve credit. like i said, i think its a case by case thing.
  13. derrico1

    derrico1 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    Charlottesville, VA
    It isn't a question of fairness or aesthetics; it's a question of law and contracts. When the band helps flesh out someone's skeletal tune, by default that activity is considered arrangement rather than songwriting. Because this seems unfair to many bands, groups sometimes agree to share songwriting credits for songs developed in those circumstances. Absent such an agreement, however, the songwriter credit for the music belongs to whoever brings in the chord structure and melody.
  14. baalroo


    Mar 24, 2008
    Wichita, KS
    There are exceptions to every rule, but it honestly sounds more like you're allowing your own involvement in the matter get in the way of seeing the facts:

    Your guitarist brought a song to you guys and you helped make it better by embellishing on the song that he wrote. Unless it turned out to be fundamentally different (ie: different chord progression, time signature, melodic content) when you were finished with the embellishments then you did not write it. It's not that guitar is more important than bass or drums, it's that your guitarist already created the basic elements and "rules" for the song of which you were then required to work within, thus HE wrote the song... and you helped make it better.
  15. dj150888


    Feb 25, 2008
    Belfast, Ireland
    My band have a REALLY odd way of writing songs, usually one of us brings a riff to the table, we write a song around that riff, but the difference comes when we start arranging properly, we usually end up excluding the riff brought to the table or warping it into something unrecogniseable. So to sum up, the riff brought to the table is more setting the mood for the song and then as a band we actually collectively write. I don't know if its the "right" way to do things, but it works for us. Because of the way we do this, we've agreed to split songwriting credits. Lyrics however, are usually written by myself and one of the guitar players. They might be tweaked in places by other members, but the skeleton is brought by one person, in this case, credit goes to the person who brought the skeleton.

    Essentially I'm just reiterating the above. If someone brings the idea for a song, even if you add your own bits, they've written the song, but if its genuinely worked through as a band from a foundling stage where its not recogniseable as a song, in my eyes, thats the only case where you should have split songwriting credits.
  16. lexxmexx


    Apr 7, 2008
    Song arrangement and song writing are not the same. I personally believe that the one or ones who wrote the melody and lyrics should be the ones to be credited as songwriters. The rest of the parts are merely song arrangements and should be credited as arrangers.
  17. EclecticElectrk


    Aug 26, 2008
    well, thats not really what i said. he brought us riffs, not a song. so he sat there and said these are some riffs i have. and then we all together took those riffs and put them together as the main parts of the song - verse, chorus, etc. and then we wrote the other parts of the song together. i cant really say if we arranged it or wrote it, because it wasnt a song beforehand, and you could argue that without us arranging it, it would still be a bunch of riffs. i realize this might sound alot like im trying to justify my opinion.
  18. EclecticElectrk


    Aug 26, 2008
    i'm surprised most of you consider songwriting one thing, and arranging another. that would make sense to me if there was only one melody in the song, and everything else was just filler. i dont think im just arguing this for my benefit. if i bring my band some material, and together we work it into a song, im not going to say im the songwriter. that wouldnt be true, because without my band's help and input, it wouldnt be a song. to me, if you alone are the songwriter, that means you wrote the entire thing by yourself. maybe if someone writes the entire song, but then i write my own bass part, that doesnt make me a songwriter. but if anyone helps to create the song, it doesnt make sense to me for them to not get credit. the main melody is fine and all, but you cant just say o i wrote the melody and the rest of the song isnt important, so im the songwriter.
  19. Qvist


    Jul 20, 2007
    If you are in a band I think you are making music together, otherwise the songwriter might aswell just go solo.
  20. derrico1

    derrico1 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    Charlottesville, VA
    If the material you bring in lacks a melody or the full chord structure and the band helps develop those pieces, then songwriting credit is shared.
    If the "material" you bring in includes the melody and the chord structure, then (in the absence of a written agreement to the contrary) legally you are the songwriter. If you bring in chord structure + melody, and the drummer writes a drum part, then you have the songwriter's credit for the music, and the drummer shares in the credit for the arrangement.

    The legal logic of songwriting credit assumes that the essence of the song is separate from individual performances/arrangements of the tune. For example, take an often covered song like the Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby." On the original released version, the cello and string parts seem essential to the song. However, George Martin doesn't get songwriter credit, because the song can be performed in different arrangements without those string parts.

    Of the 120+ cover versions listed on secondhandsongs, many evoke the original string arrangement, but others abandon it. Yet even performed without the string parts (a solo guitar piece, say, or as a punk song), "Eleanor Rigby" is still "Eleanor Rigby." Martin gets arrangers credit on the specific version on "Revolver," but the songwriter credit goes to Lennon/McCartney.

    (Arguably, this is a McCartney song, although Lennon "remembers" having contributed significantly to it. Since John and Paul had an agreement to share songwriting credit on all of their Beatles tunes, they didn't have to fight about how to assign or split those royalties.)

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