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Songwriting credits and royalties


Nail Soup

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Some interesting (but off-topic) discussion on the Adam Clayton thread about individual song writing credits (e.g. U2) , so maybe continue in this thread.

What do you think about crediting the whole band for example?

Anyone have any direct experience?

Any other points, opinions, stories, examples etc around songwriting credits?

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I reckon it's horses for courses with the key being to get a solid agreement in place *before* the millions start rolling in...

 

I always liked what Madness did: for each song the main songwriter got 50% and everyone got a 1/7 share of the other half. Somewhat smooths over that disconnect between a contribution (that could subjectively be large or small) and what might traditionally be seen as "songwriting".  Although that does seem generous in a seven-piece band.

 

I truly hate the situation that frequently exists in which the writer of an absolutely key part/riff/etc gets no recompense as it doesn't form part of the traditional top-line/lyrics view of a song. Then again, I'm sure what appears in brackets after a song title and how the income is actually split can be two very different things.

 

My last band fell apart largely because one person wanted to do (and be seen to do) all the writing. Current band is very much a whole-band credit - which I'm slightly uncomfortable about as the singer contributes all the words and main melody even though the backings are fairly equally contributed to.

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I think it's always a good idea to share. In my last few bands, I usually wrote the music and the singer wrote the lyrics. We credited the songs to the band as a whole, though, because I believe the band should be like a gang. It's you against the world so you should stick together and share the spoils of victory (and the many, many defeats) as one unit. You need your bandmates, they wouldn't be there if you didn't. Everybody contributes in one way or another. You're either a band or a collection of self-interested individuals. Band every time, for me.

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7 minutes ago, Dankology said:

I truly hate the situation that frequently exists in which the writer of an absolutely key part/riff/etc gets no recompense as it doesn't form part of the traditional top-line/lyrics view of a song.

In the case of Andy Summers of The Police, that part is used in lots of adverts etc and he doesn't get a royalty. (If I understandcorrectly)

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Since the mid 1980s, all the bands that I have been in have shared the songwriting credits equally between the band members at the time of writing the song.

 

The only exceptions to this were:

 

1. Towards the end of The Terrortones when we are going through numerous guitarists and drummers (and essentially the songs were being written entirely by Mr Venom and myself), we insisted that PRS membership was a requirement for receiving a songwriting credit. Not every new member took up this offer although by my estimation all would have made back their £100 PRS joining fee by now.

 

2. A band I was in during the 90s where our original singer (and lyricist) quit just before we released our debut single. The rest of the band bought out her songwriting contributions. We had a proper legal contract drawn up stating that she relinquished any claim to any of the songs we had written while she was in the band and any money that was made from those songs. We paid her a fairly substantial amount of money for this. As it happened her replacement re-wrote most of the lyrics, and ultimately the band didn't make a massive amount of money from performance royalties (although over the past 25 years we probably all earned our "investment" back), but at the time we decided it was best to play it safe.

Edited by BigRedX
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2 minutes ago, Nail Soup said:

In the case of Andy Summers of The Police, that part is used in lots of adverts etc and he doesn't get a royalty. (If I understandcorrectly)

 

This was exactly the example I had in mind. Seems bonkers to me that such an iconic part could be considered not to be an integral part of the song.

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2 hours ago, Nail Soup said:

In the case of Andy Summers of The Police, that part is used in lots of adverts etc and he doesn't get a royalty. (If I understandcorrectly)

 

According this article Summers gets 15% ... if you read to the end.

 

https://dangerousminds.net/comments/sting_puff_daddy_andy_summers_and_the_case_of_the_misplaced_bajillion_dolla

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17 minutes ago, EssentialTension said:

 

According this article Summers gets 15% ... if you read to the end.

 

https://dangerousminds.net/comments/sting_puff_daddy_andy_summers_and_the_case_of_the_misplaced_bajillion_dolla

 

17 minutes ago, EssentialTension said:

 

According this article Summers gets 15% ... if you read to the end.

 

https://dangerousminds.net/comments/sting_puff_daddy_andy_summers_and_the_case_of_the_misplaced_bajillion_dolla

 

17 minutes ago, EssentialTension said:

 

According this article Summers gets 15% ... if you read to the end.

 

https://dangerousminds.net/comments/sting_puff_daddy_andy_summers_and_the_case_of_the_misplaced_bajillion_dolla

I think when a lyricist claims the royalties for a song it should be drawn up from the very beginning in a binding contract,  most bands starting out relatively unknowns going onto major success always fall into the same trap where one member claims to be the (star) then splinter up , when all members are contributed to the bands  overall success, take the police as prime example not taking away sting is an incredible singer songwriter and you can’t   knock his bass playing skills , play bass / sing / and jumping around at same time not easy and how many artists can do that ! , but there’s always  a big but , (greed ) alway gets in the way

money has no smell , but let’s not get to sad for Andy and Stuart with £60 million and £ 90 million each in the bank what more does a man want , recognition , we know  how your are Andy Stuart nothing left to prove , just enjoy life it’s short !!! 

 

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In my last band we credited each of us equally, figuring that no matter who had the initial idea we all made it what it was once it was finished.

 

We also figured that if we made millions a third of that would be nice, as would if we made nothing a third of feckall was no more disappointing than all of it.

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In an old band I was in we wrote a song in rehearsals. I came up with the arrangement for the solo. In discussions at a later point re songwriting I asked why I wasn’t credited, and told I was just doing what I was meant to and that wasn’t creative input. My response was OK, in that case tell me exactly what notes to play and when as I’ll no longer think for myself at all when it comes to playing. I left not long afterwards. In no way did I think we would ever make anything out of the band anyway, it was the principle, you have no value as you only play bass. 

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The other option that many bands sign up to is to split the publishing side between them. That way, if there really is a main songwriter who does most of it, then the whole band split the publishing pot but the writer solely gets his writing share.

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In the 'Spoons, everyone has equal credit.  Sure, most songs are kicked off by someone (generally bringing the lyrics too) but we all contribute to the finished product and we don't rank the importance of the contributions.

 

Unfortunately, this gets a bit messy when people leave (only one so far), so some songs on our upcoming album will be credited to "The Inevitable Teaspoons + A. N. Other".  For when they want their quid share of whatever Spotify pays us ;)

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A band was approached with a publishing deal. The singer asked us all if we were happy to sign the deal. I asked to see the deal. This went on for months until finally he explained that it was 50% for him, 50% for the guitarist. I was a bit put out as the the bassist and I (on drums) did most of the arrangements and often suggested chord changes that were accepted. Anyway, 50% of FA is still FA so not worth getting wound up about :)

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When an equal split works (U2, Coldplay), it works well, but everyone has to pull their weight in one way or another. When it doesn't (Queen, UB40) resentments creep in about people not doing their bit, getting the same money for B-Sides (as has been mentioned) etc. It's all about trust. On the flip side, people get stiffed a lot by the 'chief' songwriters, as folks have recounted here. Mick Taylor left the Stones as says (your honour) he'd co-written many RS songs that then appeared in the brackets on the resulting record as 'Jagger/Richards'.

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On 25/11/2021 at 06:03, Dankology said:

I'm slightly uncomfortable about as the singer contributes all the words and main melody even though the backings are fairly equally contributed to

I wouldn't be the slightest bit uncomfortable with that situation. Plenty of times the hook is coming from the groove created by the band and substituted lyrics would do just as well. Not many books of poetry got sold while albums sold by the millions.

 

A talented tune writer still needs a band to come up with ideas or he's a songwriter that has no use for a band and is going to take off on them sooner or later. Since yours is happy to co create and share the spoils, simply count yourself lucky.

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When bands start out say a  4-5 piece set up , often or not they are not accomplished musically and most admit they find themselves on the way 

but as a collective with input from all members , normally weed out the weaker contributors, therefore once the tracks start getting laid down the singer or frontman in most cases takes lead and all the glory , and sometimes a stand out good looking member gets a look in , but if raw talent is to shine I think it’ should be split more in equal terms ,this for me should be the band’s manager job to control as a whole concept ,  because the lyrics maybe good but it could also be bass riff or drums that make the song stand out so there contributed input is just as crucial , so once the singer leaves you just can pick up with someone else it’s just not the same song , but also this happens I (quote) the band was so much better when he was on bass !  So for me I don’t like the song writer getting the lion share , on the basis the the music comes for within the band , hence longevity with bands that share ! 

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On 24/11/2021 at 20:10, TheGreek said:

IIRC The Doors shared the royalties equally. Different band members wrote different songs but all shared the proceeds. IMO this is how it should be.

Bands that share royalties seem to have far more longevity and remain friends with less acrimonious breakups and expensive court cases. The Cure, U2, The Strangers are a few I can think of. I think it’s important to recognise the individuals input in terms of what they contribute musically as well as off stage. Morrisey for example maybe a gifted lyricist but I can imagine him being an insufferable [email protected] in real life. In the early life of a band I can’t imagine him going out of the way to build an audience by being approachable to fans or venue staff and promoters. Before any success comes these things really matter. In the case of The Doors Jim Morrison must have been a nightmare to work with towards the end but the band always seemed to work with him and remain supportive.

Edited by tegs07
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30 minutes ago, tegs07 said:

Bands that share royalties seem to have far more longevity and remain friends with less acrimonious breakups and expensive court cases. The Cure, U2, The Strangers are a few I can think of. I think it’s important to recognise the individuals input in terms of what they contribute musically as well as off stage. Morrisey for example maybe a gifted lyricist but I can imagine him being an insufferable [email protected] in real life. In the early life of a band I can’t imagine him going out of the way to build an audience by being approachable to fans or venue staff and promoters. Before any success comes these things really matter. In the case of The Doors Jim Morrison must have been a nightmare to work with towards the end but the band always seemed to work with him and remain supportive.

Can’t agree more , it’s just the way I see it your spot on , cut the heads off tall Poppy’s , when will we see a new super group come again , once the mechanical royalties are divid equal you will see creativity and bang its there good songs not one or two to carry a whole album  but multiple Albums  of talent , but until then we will have to revert to golden oldies ! 

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9 hours ago, Bassfinger said:

Feel sorry for Ian Anderson. In some countries he struggled to get his royalties for Thick as a Brick vevause itmwas credited to the fictitious Gerald Bostock.

 

A very nice humorous story (and probably has made a good interview at some point) except:

 

1. It's not true. On the record label it's credited to both Ian Anderson and Gerald Bostock.

 

2. Unless he was very stupid/lazy Ian Anderson would have registered "Gerald Bostock" as a pseudonym with the PRS thereby getting his full share of the performance royalties. Even for a relative songwriting non-entity like myself it is simple to do. I'm registered with the PRS under my full name (which was required when I joined in the early 80s) my usual abbreviated name (which most of the songs I have written are credited to) and my Terrortones stage name (which all Dïck Venom & The Terrortones songs are credited to). Each name has its own unique CAE number, but royalties for all three names get paid to me.

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