Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Monte

Question on co-writing credits?

Recommended Posts

Ok, here's my question. Let's say I write some lyrics. And let's say I show them to someone to critique. And let's say they provide me with some minor revisions (i.e. change word X to word Y in the first verse).

 

How does that work vis-a-vis co-writing? I've shown some of my lyrics to people I trust, for feedback. I'm just wondering how it works, and if I should/need to list them as co-writers in case I ever decide to publish the lyrics. For instance, I showed some lyrics to a friend today who suggested I change a word in a couple of verses. Does that count as "co-writing"?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think we do that here all the time at the muse in lyric feedback and elsewhere do we not?  Accepting suggestions from other members, then taking them and making minor changes in the way of a couple of words or lines doesn't sound like much of collaboration that's at least 50/50.

So, I don't see it as an issue that would necessarily count as 'co-writing".  Sounds like you have a finished write, that a friend has gone over, like editing or just picking apart and then offered some suggestions that he or she thinks can improve upon what it is you wrote. You chose to accept their suggestions. You didn't have to.   What's the issue?  Doesn't sound like one to me.  I am certainly no legal expert or aficionado on the subject, however.   See what others have to say.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Honestly, just want to make sure I'm doing the right thing. I agree that it doesn't sound like co-writing, I'm just checking to get a general consensus.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would imagine it is similar to how screenwriters and novelists say they never read submissions and ideas sent in by fans. If they don't read them then there is no danger that would accidentally rip them off and end up being sued.

 

I personally wouldnt use a suggests lyric that was given to me by anyone, not that other suggestions aren't good, many times they might improve a song, but it is not worth it, I don't want to share credit unless it was supposed to be a co-write.

 

Imagine if Ed Sheeran had a massive hit with a song that you had contributed a line for the chorus. Wouldn't there be a part of you that would go for a credit and share of royalties? I would imagine if you could prove it you would get it fairly easily. I would hate to be a position where someone here had contributed a line to a song that I had success with, I would feel obliged to credit them, even for a minor lyrical addition.

 

I actually think it is unfair to suggest lyrics and lines to someone when critiquing their song. Let someone know a line doesn't work of course, but don't make any suggestions for an alternative. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've thought about this in the past, especially when I first joined. How members help each other and come up with alternative suggestions. This is what I think make forums like this remarkable and extraordinary. People's will to help and share their knowledge. People take and give advice here and co-writing/credits is never an issue nor topic. I can assure you it's never been a problem on this site and probably never will be. Don't get me wrong, people co-write here too, they just don't mix up giving advice with co-writing. There's no need for that.

 

Unfortunately it's not that easy in the professional world.  I'm afraid the stark reality is that if hundreds and sometimes even millions of dollars are involved things doesn't run as smoothly. It usually won't. Not trying my utmost to sound bitter here, just being realistic. (Also from experience) :)

 

Back in my pro days, we did exactly what you talk about Murphster, we would ask for feedback, but we asked for no suggestions, unless the person we asked for feedback or suggestive lines/chords/melody was a co-writer. There was simply no other way around it. You get careful, not because you get greedy, but because you want to avoid the trouble that comes with it. I've heard of too many stories when there's just tons of legal trouble regarding who did what on what song, just because somebody popped their head in the studio and gave suggestions. That I can assure takes all the fun out of the process.

 

It might not sound like a fun reality but when it's money involved it really isn't that easy. 

 

I wouldn't go as far as saying it's unfair when people are only trying to help. Especially if you asked for help, but I get what you're saying. But remember, we have to adopt to the customs wherever we go, and here, it is customary to offer help in form of critique, additional lines, melody, chords and song form etc etc. And it works. Because as of now, there's no dollars involved.

 

And I for one can only say, here's to that! :)

 

My 0.2

 

Cheers,

 

Peter

 

 

 

 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Like the song says.... money changes everything.

           

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/1/2018 at 15:26, Monte said:

Does that count as "co-writing"?

No.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would say yes it does count as co-writing. Especially if money is involved.

 However, like someone mentioned above it happens all the time on the lyric/song critique forums. I have changed lyrics many times because of certain critiques. I never thought of giving those individuals writer credit. I have suggested lyric changes and sometimes those changes were used. I never expected any writer credit. I’m sure that would all be different if I was in the professional field. 

 I have used lyrics from writers on these forums to create songs. I usually end up changing some words and lines to fit my songs and style. I then give myself writers credit on the lyrics. Always putting my name 2nd. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It is clear from the response so far that what really does make a difference is what exactly are we hoping to achieve with our songs we write and post here.

 

I guess the cold hard truth is that the vast majority of the songs posted here will not make any money. I think like most writers here I do this because I have to, I can't really stop writing songs and therefore the act of writing becomes the reason for doing it. So therefore the thoughts of credit for help doesnt really come into it.

 

But am I really alone in having any kind of hope that I could write a Grammy winning, or number one song if I keep working at it and catch some luck on.the way? Surely that is the ultimate goal for many on here, no matter how unlikely that might be?

 

Look at this list of credited writers for the Justin Beiber track "Cold Water"...

 

Ed Sheeran 

Benjamin Levin 

Karen Marie Ørsted 

Thomas Pentz 

JustinBieber 

Jamie Scott 

Philip Meckseper 

Henry Allen

 

Amazing really. I don't know the story behind this song at all only that I heard Ed Sheeran once say that he doesn't remember it. He got a phone call out of the blue asking if they could record this song, apparently he had played the piano riff at a party one night and someone had remembered it. 

 

It is not inconceivable at all to think at least one of these names is there because they contributed a line to the song.

 

Taylor Swift recently co-credited 'Right Said Fred' on a track because her chorus sounded a little bit like "I'm too Sexy". (I mention this only cos I found it weird, they didn't ask for credit, Swift's team decided to just give credit first before it was asked for. Personally I don't think they deserve it, it doesn't really sound enough like it) 

 

My feeling is that with streaming and new ways of making income that credit has become even more important than it has ever done so in the past. There are so many people involved in making records now that whereas previously they would be happy getting paid for producing or being a part of a recording everyone now, even the producer, wants a co-write credit. I imagine many of these credits are for nothing more that little suggestions here and there. And even more weirdly as they do become more important they are getting shared around freely.

 

Like I said if one of the songs currently posted in the song review thread ended up on Beyonce's new album and won a Grammy and made a million bucks and you knew that you came up with the words in the middle 8 would you really just let it slide?

 

I do agree with Peter though, it is what makes this forum special I guess. People really helping each other, and long may that continue. I guess we all have our reasons for doing this and what is right for someone may not be for someone else. 

 

It is definitely worth thinking about though, and it is a good question. Undoubtedly the answer is yes, getting help on a lyric is a co-write regardless of the intention. 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello everybody and happy New Year. I have not been here in quite a while. Changed out computers and actually forgot about this place, passwords, etc. Until I got some notices on my email about discussions going on. So glad to see all of you. 

 

My name is MARC-ALAN BARNETTE and I teach the craft of songwriting and performance, networking and the business of music based in Nashville, Tn.
This is one of those questions that come up a lot in songwriting discussions and a lot of things have to be looked at.

First of all, sharing songwriting credit is a pretty standard thing in our world and the "real world" of commercial songwriting. If you look at most charting songs, you will find three, four or five names on them. Look in rock and pop, you will find up to thirteen or fourteen names. The reason is that now, everyone involved along the way seem to want credit, because in many cases, they are all responsible in a little way for a song's pathway. 

You find people now that write "beats", so they are included. Production people that just add sounds, they are included. Managers. attorney's, etc. are all included, and of course, the artists themselves. And often, not many of those actually participated in them.

 

The irony, of course, is that there is NOT more money involved. The cold hard reality is that in STREAMING and other avenues of music, songs with HUNDREDS Of MILLIONS of streams are making in the thousands of dollars, not they hundreds of thousands. But people are being involved in an artist's "branding", so that is becoming part of a team. Just like you see those endless movie credits that go on at the end of a movie that last almost as long as the movie itself, there are a LOT of people involved in everything, and less overall money involved. It comes down to more "street cred" than anything.
Your reputation on a major product, might lead to other products, padding a resume, and further jobs down the road.

 

And in a converse, sort of strange way, now you WANT someone to be involved in a song because that could add to the ability of the song to make it's way up the ladder. Having an artist make a simple suggestion on the song's direction, contribute a word or a line, might increase that artist's desire to be involved and record the song. And you can understand this if you look at it logically. 
All artists are now writers. And some are pretty good writers. When you look at Taylor Swift, Kacee Musgraves, Christ Stapelton, all top earners in the country field, they all had cuts and success as writers BEFORE they were signed as artists. And looking for ARTIST/WRITERS, as opposed to WRITER/ARTISTS, has been the norm for about 20 years now.
So having an artist be actively INVOLVED in the writing process or the life of the song is actually the incentive you use to get and keep their interest.

 

It used to be PUBLISHING that would be shared. That is until PUBLISHING no longer meant much. Getting half of a song earning almost nothing due to being downloaded or streamed out of existence, is not really a whole lot of incentive. So like everything in the music business, that has shifted.

Now in the subject of getting a critique, or someone making a suggestion and being added as a co-writer, that is going to be a case by case situation and would be talked out among participants long before anything happened on a song. Again, you have to remember the "time frame" from where a song is begun, developed, recorded, produced, advertised, released, etc. can be months or sometimes years. The music industry is like a big, lumbering battleship and nothing happens in any quick manner. So that would be discussed long before.

From the point of view of someone who does critiques as part of his living, it would be VERY seldom that they would ask for any credit. In 25 years of doing this, I don't think I've ever heard ONE song I would want to be involved with. Not that they were bad songs (although most are simply mediocre), but that is not the reason for doing critiques. It is simply a different process, more of one of a mentor or teacher. Most songs from the outside world are very very average. They are very very similar to other songs. Writers write what is around them, so they come up with the same subject matter, done the same way, same rhymes, titles, chord structures, etc. Or they just don't really do much to motivate any.
The reason is that people who don't do this all the time, or are not in a music center, simply don't hear enough music to realize how average most ideas and songs are. Just not enough input.

 

This is one of the interesting aspects of coming to a town like Nashville with thousands upon thousands of writers and hundreds of thousands or millions of songs. Or going to YOU TUBE or FACEBOOK and seeing the thousands of camera phone videos uploaded a day, of new writers, artists, kids,older people, that are trying to show off their latest creations. When people come here and they hear those songs that they thought they had written and NEVER PLAYED for anyone suddenly being done by ten, fifteen or twenty people in the course of a night, it is quite the eye opener. hearing the same lines, the same attitude and perspective, is a pretty amazing thing. Gives a reality check very quickly. 
Anyone can write a song. Writing a song that has commercial value, says the ":same thing, yet in a different way" finding the different angle on it, is very different. And as anyone who has listened to the radio lately knows, MOST ALL OF IT SOUNDS THE SAME. So if you are a newbie, trying to get yourself out there, you better be BETTER than what is already out there. Harder to do than most people realize.

 

Usually, as a critiquer, if you find that SPECIAL person, you are going to contact them, ask to hear other songs, get to know them. And this is the key. This is a PEOPLE business, and songs are a by product of that. Like dating and marraige, you are not going to just jump into business with anyone. Dealing with egos, out of control bad habits, complete idiots, or just plain difficult to get along with people, is something nobody has time for. So there is going to be an involved process of getting to know someone before you start getting involved with their music.

 

The co-writing credit issue is something that should be discussed with the participants. Most credible people in the industry will not ask for anything they didn't earn. If they are, then they generally are not credible, or they might think it is so important they want to be involved in it. And having a well known entity put their "stamp of approval" on something might make the difference in a song rising through the pile of contenders to the top of the heap. Not always, but sometimes. Again, has to be taken on a case by case basis. 

And of course, their are sharks out there, but most of those really just want to get the most money for the least effort. So actually being involved with something to them, might be a liability. Being a part owner of a really mediocre song does no one any good.

 

I hope this helps shine some light on the situation.

Good luck to all of you and I'm around if you need.

 

MAB

 

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I find it funny to read here that someone getting a suggestion (even one word!) on a change would never use it.   Really, then, what's the point of posting it at all?  To get a critique for next time, I guess? But a critique today on one lyric really has no bearing on a different lyric tomorrow.  

I always found it funny when someone would post a fully-completed song in the song feedback section and say right up front they were done with it.  

 

For me, the time for critiques and suggestions are when the song is still in the development stage.  And should anyone get 'credit' as a co-writer?  Never, unless it was discussed prior to the 'suggestions' being given, and certainly not for a few minor changes.

 

Mabbo ^^ is right -the income from streaming is pitifully small to start out with, so income from the co-writing credit is negligible until one gets to the Taylor Swift level, although PRO (performance) royalties can certainly be more lucrative.

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/5/2018 at 08:30, Mike B said:

I find it funny to read here that someone getting a suggestion (even one word!) on a change would never use it.   Really, then, what's the point of posting it at all?  To get a critique for next time, I guess? But a critique today on one lyric really has no bearing on a different lyric tomorrow.  

I always found it funny when someone would post a fully-completed song in the song feedback section and say right up front they were done with it.  

 

For me, the time for critiques and suggestions are when the song is still in the development stage.  And should anyone get 'credit' as a co-writer?  Never, unless it was discussed prior to the 'suggestions' being given, and certainly not for a few minor changes.

 

Mabbo ^^ is right -the income from streaming is pitifully small to start out with, so income from the co-writing credit is negligible until one gets to the Taylor Swift level, although PRO (performance) royalties can certainly be more lucrative.

 

Sometimes people are only wanting "sounding boards." And sometimes the suggestion just might not work. Songwriters are pretty individualistic people. Also people on the "outside looking in" might not be on the same wave length emotionally, and it just doesn't hit the right. But if you ask for advice, you should at least listen. Some people want to get critiques as a "pat on the back." They think that the person doing the critique is going to say "OH MY GOD!!! YOU ARE THE ONE WE HAVE BEEN LOOKING FOR!!!!" and take them on to success. Rarely happens, although I have found a couple of people who turned out to be good friends and co-writers through doing critiques for them.

 

People who put things on social networks are genuinely trying to get feedback, but most of the time, don't really find things that help them in their minds. A lot of reasons for it.

 

MAB

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/5/2018 at 08:30, Mike B said:

Mabbo ^^ is right -the income from streaming is pitifully small to start out with, so income from the co-writing credit is negligible until one gets to the Taylor Swift level, although PRO (performance) royalties can certainly be more lucrative.

 

The general rule of thumb is that "unless you have a song that breaks the top 20 on a SIGNIFICANT CHART (usually BILLBOARD, the rest are fairly shaky in their effectiveness, having a number five on an internet chart with 7 listeners is not really that big of a feat) you will not make enough money to pay for the original demo. 

Visability is VIABILITY. If you have a song that is heard EVERYWHERE, on radio, every hour, on television, social media, movies, if it is in the "public conciousness" you are going to do well. If not, you are not. That is why you should never base your career or success on financial pay offs. They often don't pay off. 

The people who do well at this are people who generally are artists, that are performing the songs everywhere, are getting television appearances, are on award shows, have the "offshoot products" related to the song. Having an "all about the BASS" song that ends up in a talking fish is a pretty good indicator that they are doing okay with that one. Or licensing the song to a major commercial or production is a HUGE deal. One of my co-writers and friends is Jim Peterik. I almost can't turn on the Television, or see a commercial, without the very familiar sounds of "EYE OF THE TIGER" in some commercial or scene in a TV show. At one time last year, I counted FIVE COMMERCIALS and three television shows it was featured in on at the same time. 

So if you can get one of those, you are going to do well. But remember this, the song needs to be a hit FIRST, before companies want to start licensing. 
MAB

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×