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Songwriting credits and royalties


Nail Soup

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I think the Spice girls are all credited with all songs. Not sure how much they wrote individually though.

 

As a bass player I think there is a distinction.

 

When I played in an originals band we definitely had three styles of writing.

 

1. Guitarist would turn up with a song. The musicians would add bassline, drums and keys. Vocalist then took the  song away and added lyrics. 

 

2. I would sit down with Guitarist and we would come up with ideas together and structure the song together.

 

3. Free jam, playing off each other and see what popped up.

 

If I had to apportion any credits then I would probably go for 

1. Guitarist & Vocalist.

2. Guitarist, Bass payer and Vocalist. 

3. Whole band. 

 

When that is decided, is the difficult part and when people have to have the discussion. If everyone in the band is honest and open that 3 way approach would work, if you have someone who is difficult in the band and a bunch of people who don't deal with confrontation you'll end up with all songs as scenario 3. whatever input anyone has made.

 

Musicians aren't always the best people to discuss money and legal difficulties. 😆

 

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My niece has her own, signed, band. There's always issues with song royalty payments going only to her, as she writes all the songs.

 

She would have signed over a percentage of royalties, if she could have been confident that the band members would stay for the long haul.

 

But her band has been a bit of a revolving door, with members joining and leaving over the years.

Edited by gjones
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2 minutes ago, gjones said:

She would have signed over a percentage royalties, if she could have been confident that the band members would stay for the long haul.

But her band has been a bit of a revolving door, with members joining and leaving over the years.

I guess it's a bit chicken and egg really.

Sharing tends to encourage longevity , but risky if you think they'll leave anyway.

 

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2 hours ago, gjones said:

My niece has her own, signed, band. There's always issues with song royalty payments going only to her, as she writes all the songs.

 

She would have signed over a percentage of royalties, if she could have been confident that the band members would stay for the long haul.

 

But her band has been a bit of a revolving door, with members joining and leaving over the years.

 

In that case it should be a choice between paid more now or paid less plus royalties?

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The song writing in our band is done by the singer / rhythm guitarist. He insists that when/if we make money everyone gets an equal share. 

I'm not entirely comfortable with this because he puts in so much more work than I do. He writes, records, mixes, arranges, sings and plays guitar. I just turn up and play bass. I want to suggest to the other band members that instead of 25% each, we make it 20% for each and the singer gets 40%. I'd just be more comfortable with that. 

Obviously I'd be happier if there was an equal share of work but I can't sing, write or do the technical stuff.

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5 minutes ago, SteveXFR said:

The song writing in our band is done by the singer / rhythm guitarist. He insists that when/if we make money everyone gets an equal share. 

I'm not entirely comfortable with this because he puts in so much more work than I do. He writes, records, mixes, arranges, sings and plays guitar. I just turn up and play bass. I want to suggest to the other band members that instead of 25% each, we make it 20% for each and the singer gets 40%. I'd just be more comfortable with that. 

Obviously I'd be happier if there was an equal share of work but I can't sing, write or do the technical stuff.

 

Does he write the bass lines and tell you what to play?

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How do you put a price on creativity? That's not really 'work', many artists have made millions from a noodle that they've turned into a song. Doesn't matter how long you've sat at home puzzling and sweating over the fretboard, a tune could pop into your head while you're out for a walk with the dog. Hardly what anyone would call hard work.  

 

Most bass lines and drum parts are fairly generic, unless they're a significant feature of the song. The song would still work just as well with another bass player creating lines that fit. But it has been decided that the melody and the lyrics are the copywritable parts. You can argue how much of the melody the bass line is, but that should be fairly evident. 

 

 

Edited by TimR
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13 minutes ago, BigRedX said:

For a long time a "song" was simply the lyrics and the tune they were sung to.

 

It's only with the advent of those new-fangled "beat groups" that the contribution of the instruments has been considered even remotely important.

 

On the other hand if the song goes I-V-VI-IV, and is about 'my baby' it's probably the other instruments that make it vaguely different...

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On 24/11/2021 at 20:22, Lozz196 said:

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. 

 

I once ruined a great band because of something similar. So the next time the guitarist brought a song I said 'how does the the bass line go?'.

From then on all the bass lines were just guitar lines played on the bass. The songs suffered as a result.

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It's always seemed slightly odd to me that in 2009 organist Matthew Fisher was eventually able to claim a percentage of the writing royalties for Whiter Shade of Pale because of his famous organ part (ooh, Matron). It sounds exactly like Bach to me but what would I know?

 

Final judgement here. Key bit below:

 

"This case ... has shown that there is no time limit for bringing an action for copyright infringement. 

On the other hand, the case has shown that when a piece of work is created by more than one party, arrangements need to be made to apportion the copyright appropriately and, if the copyright is to be jointly held, how the copyright may be exploited.  Otherwise, copyright owners may find themselves having their ownership challenged at any time during the term of copyright (which is, in the main, the life of the author(s) plus 75 years). 

However, it obviously remains better to act when you believe your copyright has been infringed or at the time you first consider you are a joint owner of copyright, rather than to “wait and see”, because, as was the case here, the court is unlikely to offer a share of past royalties". 

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1 hour ago, Stub Mandrel said:

 

On the other hand if the song goes I-V-VI-IV, and is about 'my baby' it's probably the other instruments that make it vaguely different...

 

The idea that a song can be defined as a series of simple chord changes is a relatively new concept that only really found popularity with the rise of Rock 'n' Roll in the 50s. If you look at any of the classic songs from earlier in the century the "rhythm guitar" part would by massively complicated, with a chord change on every beat (if nor more often) rather than every bar or two.

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33 minutes ago, BigRedX said:

 

The idea that a song can be defined as a series of simple chord changes is a relatively new concept that only really found popularity with the rise of Rock 'n' Roll in the 50s. If you look at any of the classic songs from earlier in the century the "rhythm guitar" part would by massively complicated, with a chord change on every beat (if nor more often) rather than every bar or two.

 

That's my point, essentially.

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  • 5 weeks later...
On 26/11/2021 at 09:14, BigRedX said:

 

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.

It could be made up, I don't know for sure. Nevertheless, during the TAAB2 tour in June 2013, Albert Hall gig, when Anderson was regaling the audience with tales between songs he claimed this very thing himself. He said so in person, within my earshot, witnessed by both Mrs Bassfinger and my friend Oz, and everyone else sat there who was awake.

 

Whether it happened in reality is one thing. That Anderson has claimed that happened is beyond question, and I have no reason or evidence with which to doubt it.

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18 hours ago, Bassfinger said:

It could be made up, I don't know for sure. Nevertheless, during the TAAB2 tour in June 2013, Albert Hall gig, when Anderson was regaling the audience with tales between songs he claimed this very thing himself. He said so in person, within my earshot, witnessed by both Mrs Bassfinger and my friend Oz, and everyone else sat there who was awake.

 

Whether it happened in reality is one thing. That Anderson has claimed that happened is beyond question, and I have no reason or evidence with which to doubt it.


But he could sort it out in one fell swoop by simply registering “Gerald Bostock” as a pseudonym with the PRS, so I suspect that either the story is worth more than some missing royalties or the is more to it than we are aware.

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On 24/11/2021 at 17:12, 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)

 

To be fair, he does get a share of the publishing for songs on Police albums, even those that he didn't have a hand in writing. 

 

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