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Songwriting, credits, points, whatever

Discussion in 'Ask Justin Meldal-Johnsen' started by stanleyfunk, Sep 29, 2009.


  1. Hey Justin, big fan. Tell a brotha what to do!

    I recently joined a band that has existed for a few years. They already have a cd recorded and printed(only like a 1000). With the change from the previous BP that was root note only, i mean ONLY, to my 16 years experience, there is talk of needing to re-record.
    I am so into my creativity. It is mine. A lesser, equal, or greater player than me would not play, creatively, what i play, y'know? I'm sure you do, actually.
    I want writing credit.
    Let's pretend I've made the songs better, have nice tasty note choices, cause the drummer to happily play different, and the others love it, without stepping on any musical feet. Also, no one ever told me or even suggested what to play. What should i be asking for credit wise? I've heard only lyrics and melody are copyrightable.
    What do we complementary bass players get out of this? I actually expect my new 'mates to be cool about it, the hang is great, but i wanna be prepared. I am still the new guy ha

    Thanks for your time,
    Be good,
    Dan
     
  2. mattq

    mattq

    May 23, 2006
    Santa Cruz, CA
    i'm not justin, but i've looked into this myself. you're right about it being just lyrics and melody that are copyright-able. it's because of your creative bass playing that actually excludes you from getting a writing credit, because depending on who is playing what instrument at any given moment the instrumental arrangement can technically be different every time. so unless an instrument part is "specially unique" like the drum part in "i want candy" or the guitar part in "play that funky music white boy," your part counts for nothing. more reason to go out of your way to make your part essential to the song itself
     
  3. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I know you asked Justin, but I know a little something about this, having been there before on both sides of the equation. For existing songs where all you do is replace someone else's bass line, it's highly doubtful you'll get writing credit unless they're very very nice guys. For new songs, it's whatever you can negotiate. Some people write alone and consider the parts people play to not be part of the writing process. I remember Justin saying Beck writes that way. Some people consider everyone else's contributions to the song and assign percentage points to the rest of the band...Nirvana worked that way...Kurt Cobain took all the lyric writing credit and split the music writing 3 ways. Honestly, he could have made a case for him getting all of it since the other guys didn't really write for Nirvana, but he let the other guys share in it because he felt their contributions were worth it.

    Writing a bass line isn't the same as writing a song, even though it may mean as much to you as anything else in the song. And in the end, it's really up to the person who brought the song in. If you obviously co-wrote a song or think you made a significant contribution to writing a song, you can negotiate for points. But don't automatically expect co-writing credit because you came up with a good bass line for someone's song.
     
  4. Good stuff guys. Thanks for the insight. Guess at the time they made the copyright laws they didn't know the bass would be the most important part of the band ;)
     

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