Who gets songwriting credit?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Hategear, Jun 18, 2002.

  1. Music by Bass Player. Lyrics by Guitarist.

    7 vote(s)
  2. Music by Bass Player and Guitarist. Lyrics by Guitarist.

    3 vote(s)
  3. Music by Bass Player, leads by Guitarist. Lyrics by Guitarist.

    0 vote(s)
  4. Who cares who gets credit for what?

    6 vote(s)
  5. Other (hey, there could be an other).

    4 vote(s)
  1. Hategear

    Hategear Workin' hard at hardly workin'.

    Apr 6, 2001
    Appleton, Swissconsin
    Let's say you wrote the music to a song (bass, drums, rhythm guitars, etc.) and someone else penned the lyrics and lead guitar parts. How would you go about divvying out the credit for said song: "Music by Bass Player. Lyrics by Guitarist," "Music by Bass Player and Guitarist. Lyrics by Guitarist," or "Music by Bass Player, leads by Guitarist. Lyrics by Guitarist"?
  2. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member Administrator

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    think of a song as a number line. before it is written, it's blank from beginning to end. for us, to be an author, one has to be the first to fill in a section of the numberline. period. this is how we do things. this is the only fair method of song authorship - this rewards even the drummer if he comes up with a section. the "leads" are irrelevant if the rest of the music wasn't there beforehand - they certainly don't make a song when there's nothing else there.

    by developing his own leads, the guitarist is only doing what is expected of him - he's the guitarist he should come up with his own part. same as the other guys in the band. he's already getting credit for the "leads" - his name is listed as one of the performers.
  3. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    If one of you came up with the music and the other one came up with the lyrics, the split is 50-50.

    A lead guitar part is just a part that fits over the music. The lead guitar part is not part of the music; it's part of the arrangement. It could be replaced by a saxophone or a synth.

    Over the years, many songs have become hits because a musician played a "hook". If these people were properly credited, they'd make more money than the artists.
  4. What Big Wheel said is true. If you, or anyone else is seriously writing music that may "go somewhere," I would strongly advise that you talk to an attorney NOW and not after the song becomes a hit and then all litigious hell will break loose.

    Mike J.
  5. misterk73


    Apr 11, 2002
    Flagstaff, AZ
    I voted for "Who cares who gets credit for what?" based on my own songwriting experiences, which have been within the context of three tight-knit and open-minded bands with shared members. We all write our own parts, but we all collaborate on each other's parts. In the end, there's never been any doubt that the band as a whole created the music and the singer wrote the lyrics. End of story. Unless you're worried about publishing percentages, does it really matter who wrote what?
  6. CS


    Dec 11, 1999
    another 50/50 vote

    Whatever you decide to do you need to agree on the copyright and sort the proof out ASAP.
  7. Brad Barker

    Brad Barker Supporting Member

    Apr 13, 2001
    berkeley, ca
    i'm so glad this thread came about...i was about to post something similar.

    i have a number of questions about publishing, regarding who gets the credit (or how much credit).

    i'll try this song by song, since they all were written in different manners

    song 1: music by guitar player (Bret)/lyrics by singer (Dave) [okay, no question there...]

    song 2: same

    song 3: music/lyrics by Bret:

    however, my part during the chorus is based on the chords provided by the ex guitarist (Jared). also, the ex guitar player wants to use his part in the introduction in an original song, but my guitar player tells him that since his part uses part of his original melody line and was only written in reaction to it that it can't be used. big mess.

    song 4: original riff was brought to the table by me. Bret wrote his part in reaction to it. i also came up with two other parts to it, which are "mine" for sure. lyrics will probably be written by Dave. arrangement by drummer (Matt), Bre., and me.

    song 5: see "song 1": no problems here

    song 6: i wrote the music on guitar. i brought it in to the band to work on the arrangement. Bret changed some of the chords and rhythm, and developed the bridge. i also came up with a bass part. arrangement was by Matt, Brett, and me. lyrics will probably be written by D. and me.


    also, if we were to publish it (get a publishing deal?), would we have to come up with a different publishing "name" for every single different combination.

    eg-name A for lyrics/music by Bret, name B for lyrics by Dave, music by Brett, name C for music by me, etc.

    even though we probably wouldn't have to, this would be the most accurate way of splitting credit.

    in case you skipped reading all of the situations for each song

    does the person who brings in the riff (or collection of riffs) originally get all of the music credits? what if one person came up with riffs, and a second person developed a different riff in reaction to it? then the original riff gets the credit?

    man, i fell sorry for my drummer...
  8. misterk73


    Apr 11, 2002
    Flagstaff, AZ
    It's really up to y'all as a band to decide one the most equitable way to split things up. There's really no right answer as to who should and shouldn't be credited. I can speak to the publishing "name" issue, though, having put in a little professional time doing music management.

    IMO, the publishing "name" issue is really all about accounting (and ego, I guess). You can have as many or as few names as you want, you can assign different names to one song, you can have several people fall under the umbrella of one name and assign percentages of revenue for that name to individual people, you can assign percentages of a song to individual people or names, and so on and so forth.

    Again, it's up to y'all to decide how to work this out. Whether you're truly at a point where publishing revenue is an issue, you might want to think about making your band into a legally binding partnership. If it's dealt with properly, your partnership agreement (whatever form it takes) will go a long way towards smoothing out any intellectual property and finance issues you may run into down the line.
  9. In a band, individualism is irrelevant..

    the band wrote the song, the lyrics and the lead stuff..not some seperate musicians ( the word " ego " ring a bell ? ;) )
  10. if you want to give out credit, IMO, it goes to anyone who put in a significant part to the music.

    NO: John walks up, says, "Hey, try a Gb."

    YES: Joe says, "what about this for a bridge?" *plays riff*.

    Otherwise, just give the entire band credit.
  11. Brad Barker

    Brad Barker Supporting Member

    Apr 13, 2001
    berkeley, ca
    trust me, allo, i've considered that sort of communal method of publishing.

    i think that it is a good idea and all, but it doesn't really seem to acknowledge who exactly was the "catalyst" or "driving force" for a song.

    "sample problem" (sorry, SAT prep class is getting to me...):

    if i felt inspired to write a song and had a great, unique idea, i would take it into the band to make it a completed song. i doubt that that exact piece of music would be created without my input. likewise, if the guitar player came up with a unique and individual approach to my song, that would've never happened without his input. then i suppose it can be calculated how much...

    ah hell, i think the only reason i could put up different publishing names would be for lyrics...

    ...well, if any of this is important in the near future, i am sure i will discuss this with my band mates. as of now, it's a non-issue. just all for future reference (hopefully).

    here's an example of why knowing who exactly "owns" what is important:

    my ex-band had a number of songs whose music was co-written by both guitar players. when one of the guitar players left the band, confusion was aroused. the ex-bandmate wanted to use his parts in those songs co-written with my guitar player in new original songs. my guitar player, however, argues that he can't use them (at least a few riffs) because they were written to go along with the riffs he brought in.

    it's a huge mess because they both didn't originally acknowledge who wrote what. (what my resolution of this conflict is is to just "lose" those songs; it just wouldn't be right any other way).

    but the following can be a serious problem in the future:

    also, my guitar player re-did his part and plays chords based on my new part.

  12. Mathias_TfG


    Apr 28, 2002
    New York
    In my band, whoever writes the lyrics gets credit for that, and whoever writes the majority of the music gets credit for that. A guitarist shouldnt get credit for writing a song if all he/she contributed was a solo, a bassist shouldn't get credit for writing a song, just for writing their part, to go along with a song that someone else wrote. etc.
  13. Hategear

    Hategear Workin' hard at hardly workin'.

    Apr 6, 2001
    Appleton, Swissconsin
    I guess this is one of the biggest reasons I am always afraid to share my song ideas with a band, because I don't want my stuff stolen. It's not necessarily about ego either. I don't know if I can make ya'll understand, but I'll try.

    I recently shared some of my song demos (which included the basslines, drums and a rough "blueprint" of what I'd like the rhythm guitars to be playing) with my guitar-playing neighbor, who loved my stuff and asked me what I wanted from him. I told him that if he could put some leads together, I'd love to hear them. He also told me that while listening to the songs, he came up with some lyric ideas. I told him to share them with me, if he wanted to. He did. He is now busy working out his leads and committing them to tape. When he talks about this one particular song, he refers to it as our song (believe me, he's always sure to put an emphasis on "our" -- maybe that's what bothers me so much). Now we are talking about entering this song in a song writing contest this coming September, which was the basis for this thread.

    I guess I shouldn't have a problem with him calling it "our" song, because as soon as I agreed to let him help with it, it became just that. I also know that if I have a falling out with the guy, I am free to take my song and split (I just couldn't use his lyrics or leads without his knowledge and permission). I have noticed that some bands credit the whole band for writing each song ("all songs written by GWAR") and some bands "spell out" who wrote what (like Metallica does). Is that ego? I guess I'd kind of like to have my own name on something so that I can (if I need to) say, "Hey, I wrote this and here's the proof," instead of, "I wrote this, but you have to take my word for it." Also, I know that some contracts are set up so that you get more money based on what you wrote (how much you wrote). That's why drummers usually get less than the lead singer/songwriter or guitarist.

    Whew! My fingers are out of breath.
  14. Nick man

    Nick man

    Apr 7, 2002
    Tampa Bay
    Song by: BAND

  15. Nino Valenti

    Nino Valenti Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 2, 2001
    Staten Island NYC
    Builder: Valenti Basses
    In my case, music & lyrics written & arranged by Theorem.

    Usually the guitarist or myself come in with a song/riff/etc, we present it to the band, drummer does his job (whatever THAT is. LOL:)) singer gets it on tape & comes back with lyrics. We all arrange the song, try to figure out how long a particular part should be, etc. We all contribute equally to the songwriting process so we get credited for it.
  16. Brad Barker

    Brad Barker Supporting Member

    Apr 13, 2001
    berkeley, ca
    wow, that's ALMOST exactly how my band does things...

    we all have almost equal input in each other's parts (well, we haven't actually completed the lyrics for most of the songs yet).

    but then again, my argument that "the song wouldn't have come about if it weren't for so-and-so" is just as strong, ime.

    like i said, my band will probably decide after thoroughlly thinking it through if it ever becomes an issue (we're all fairly ambitious).

    it's all about the music anyway
  17. In my old bands we gave music writing credit to everyone who played an instrument. Lyrical credit went to whoever wrote the lyrics to the song. Most of the time, the vocalist wrote the lyrics. Other times, other members wrote lyrics, and they got credit for writing it. If it was a collaboration between members, each member who put input into the lyrics got credit.