? about providing proper credit

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CaliaMoko

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« on: September 25, 2018, 10:30:08 PM »
Can anyone help me figure out how to provide proper credit on songs developed by more than one person? Specifically, if the song is developed in this manner and order:
  • Someone lays an original musical track with guitars and synthesized various other instruments, like percussion, piano, etc
  • I come up with a melody and words
  • First person produces and mixes a final version
Can I just mix it all together and just say the whole song is written by [person 1] and [me]? Or should I be splitting it up somehow? I know when one person writes the melody and another the lyrics, those credits are written separately, but this scenario isn't that clean and simple, so I don't know....

Boydie

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« Reply #1 on: September 26, 2018, 07:07:10 AM »
Copyright for "the song" is limited to melody and lyrics (although there are some copyright infringement cases that stretch this a little)

So - for credits I would suggest something along the lines of:

Performed by: you

Written by: you

Produced by: person 1

There is a little bit of a grey area because in your description it implies that "person 1" came up with the original chord sequence (which is not covered by copyright) but also the general "vibe" of the song and also some other parts like piano, which may contain the melody, although depending on the situation it could be argued BUT imho if you have both contributed to the actual creative process of writing the actual "song" (as opposed to writing a song and asking someone to "produce it", like I have done for you) then I personally feel that everyone should receive an equal credit on the songwriting as if it were a Collab - unless you both agree (and have it in writing) that one gets more credit (as a %) then the other

As with all things in life everything is friendly and informal until money gets involved so it is always best to get these kinds of things agreed up front and in writing

Someone that casually doesn't want credit on a Collab may change their mind later down the road if the song is making loads of money!!!
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tone

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« Reply #2 on: September 26, 2018, 07:34:28 AM »
I think it's all down to good etiquette. Although the law says that technically you wrote the song and the other person produced it, the fact remains that the song wouldn't exist without the backing track, so I'd just opt for a 50/50 split. Words by Vicki, music by Vicki & person 1. You could even go for: Words & Music by Vicki & Person 1. I'm pretty sure this is how the band Radiohead operates. Even though Thom Yorke might write the song, or the bones of it, by the time it's been given the treatment by the rest of the band, it's registered as an even split across all the members, so they all get an equal share of the royalty. I think it's Radiohead, but if not it's definitely one of the big rock bands that does this.
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CaliaMoko

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« Reply #3 on: September 26, 2018, 03:08:48 PM »
@tone @Boydie : Thanks, guys. That helps a lot. If the other guy starts the song, even if I actually write the melody and words to an established track, I'll plan to do the 50/50 thing. If I write the song first and it's produced totally afterwards, then I'll use the "Produced by" approach.

I'm trying to keep track of anyone who helps in the development of all my songs (or "our songs", as the case may be). You know, just in case....

Rightly

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« Reply #4 on: October 09, 2018, 08:44:53 AM »
I can't add much after these guys. They know their stuff.

I tend to stay generous and friendly.
 I will mention anything I've contributed, if it's a good one, lol.

When money or even a vague, unlikely possibility comes into the picture, I can imagine things get quite tricky :(, not for me personally.
I've met some ambitious types and sadly they can be full of surprises.
Remember, however well you know them, they can become someone else in a different scenario.
It's either this or that, then again it might be the other. 

And there you have it. 

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CaliaMoko

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« Reply #5 on: October 09, 2018, 02:24:29 PM »
Thanks @Rightly ! Yeah, I doubt it'll ever become an issue for the money, but I do like to give credit where credit is due. If I get rich and someone wants to wrestle me for it, I guess I'll deal with it when (if) necessary. I won't hold my breath!  ;D

Boydie

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« Reply #6 on: October 10, 2018, 07:12:00 AM »
The biggest thing to take away is to ALWAYS get agreement up front in writing - a friendly email may suffice but if there is a chance money will be involved then a formal contract should be considered
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CaliaMoko

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« Reply #7 on: October 10, 2018, 01:58:06 PM »
Thanks @Boydie : This reminds me--I may be embarking on the development and production of a revue of original music and it hadn't occurred to me that I should have contracts with the people involved. But, of course, I should. A different area but important! So I'll start thinking about that while I still have a little time.

Boydie

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« Reply #8 on: October 10, 2018, 03:09:04 PM »
There should be plenty of templates online

If you need specific advice the cheapest way is to join the Guild Of International Songwriters & Composers (GISC) who give legal advice to members:

https://www.songwriters-guild.co.uk/
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CaliaMoko

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« Reply #9 on: October 11, 2018, 02:03:21 PM »
There should be plenty of templates online
Indeed! There are enough to drown a person. Finding the right ones is a challenge.  :o
Quote
If you need specific advice the cheapest way is to join the Guild Of International Songwriters & Composers (GISC) who give legal advice to members....
Thanks for the reminder. I am already a member and have consulted them before. I'll check out their website; I don't recall if they have sample contracts, but I will look. And I will certainly have them take a look at my proposed contracts before using them.

Ramshackles

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« Reply #10 on: October 13, 2018, 05:21:13 PM »
I think it's all down to good etiquette. Although the law says that technically you wrote the song and the other person produced it, the fact remains that the song wouldn't exist without the backing track, so I'd just opt for a 50/50 split. Words by Vicki, music by Vicki & person 1. You could even go for: Words & Music by Vicki & Person 1. I'm pretty sure this is how the band Radiohead operates. Even though Thom Yorke might write the song, or the bones of it, by the time it's been given the treatment by the rest of the band, it's registered as an even split across all the members, so they all get an equal share of the royalty. I think it's Radiohead, but if not it's definitely one of the big rock bands that does this.

Is it just @CaliaMoko that wrote it? If she added lyrics and a melody to a backing track someone else created, surely that person also has a share of the songwriting credit?



Boydie

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« Reply #11 on: October 14, 2018, 11:43:19 AM »
Quote
If she added lyrics and a melody to a backing track someone else created, surely that person also has a share of the songwriting credit?

Technically not - the only copyrightable bits are lyrics and melodies, chord sequences and "grooves" can't be copyrighted

The classic example is Andy Summers who did not get any songwriter credits for some of his most iconic guitar parts - so I do think there is a fine line between riff and melody

The lines are getting even more blurred (excuse the pun) with the Blurred Lines (Pharrell and Robin Thicke) v the Marvin Gaye estate as they copied the groove/vibe, which stirs things up a bit and certainly challenges the "lyrics and melody" concept

I still think the answer is to formally agree everything up front before starting a Collab to be clear who is getting credit for what
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hardtwistmusic

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« Reply #12 on: Yesterday at 10:43:05 PM »
There are two things that might be involved when you talk about "credits."   Authorship, and Ownership.  Authorship is easy.  Everyone who participates is entitled to be listed as an "author," no matter how big or small the contribution is. 

Someone can elect to "opt out" of authorship, and people do so for a variety of reasons.  But someone who does not contribute to actually writing cannot "opt into" or be "invited into" authorship.  It is an ethical and legal problem for someone to claim contributions he/she did not make. 

Authorship is related to, but distinct from Ownership and it (ownership) is almost entirely dependent upon what AGREEMENT was in place when the song was written.  Deciding who is most responsible for the song BEFORE IT IS WRITTEN is vital if you want to avoid arguments. 

In the absence of an agreement, all authors are (equal) co-owners under the law.  That isn't strictly and rigidly true, but it is the starting point for ascertaining ownership.  Point being, it makes no sense to NOT have an agreement in place about whose contribution is primary, secondary, and/or minor.  And, it makes no sense to NOT have an agreement in place about who (based upon contributions) will own what percent of the completed song. 

When I collaborate, I have a standard formula I use that is agreed to, and in place before the collaboration begins. 

11% of a song belongs to the "initiator" of the song.  In the case you cite, the person who wrote the music that your lyric is based upon is the "initiator." 

27% of the song belongs to the person who writes the vocal melody.  (the "tune" that the words are sung to.) 
28% of the song belongs to the person who writes the instrumental music. 
28% of the song belongs to the person who writes the lyrics. 
6% of the song belongs to the person who will be responsible for marketing the song. 

This formula works with ONE co-writer.  Multiple co-writers need to tweak this. 

Note that I avoid "round numbers."   That is so one person controls at least 51% of the ownership of the song.  This guarantees that one person can market the song without interference from the other(s).   An agreement by all concerned to NOT interfere with marketing alleviates that need. 

This is my understanding of the law in the U.S.  It might be wrong.  It might be different elsewhere.  Hope this helped.
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CaliaMoko

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« Reply #13 on: Yesterday at 11:36:32 PM »
Thanks again for all the [continued] responses. It all helps. I have most of the songs ready for an album and will be using this information to assign proper credit to the people (besides me) involved.