collaboration credit

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by mamm7215, May 3, 2005.

  1. mamm7215

    mamm7215 Active Member

    Jan 31, 2005
    Hi, working on finishing song 3 for my CD. Had my neighbor play keys to fill in some holes and do a piano solo. My question: What % of songwriting credit does this account for.
    I've written the lyrics, music, bass, guitars, drums and was basically done but thought that some keys would be good and he's a great player and I want to be fair. Another question..say for example, the song in questions was a hit, would his credit be a percentage of songwriting (10-20?) or a flat fee as a session player. Please forgive my ignorance. Thanks.
  2. maintiger

    maintiger Well-Known Member

    Dec 3, 2003
    Whittier, California, USA
    the copyright for a song is for lyrics and music- that means the melody- everything else is arrangement, which is a different subject- now though, if you want to give your neighbors some credit spell out how much % and work it out among you. the default collaboration credit is 50%
  3. Unless your neighbor helped write the lyrics and the melody, I would only consider him a session player.
  4. mamm7215

    mamm7215 Active Member

    Jan 31, 2005

    It was pretty much done except, like I said, just a few holes to fill but the lyrics and lyrical and musical melody, drums, bass, guitars were all done by me. We did about 9 takes of him playing different things through the song and I recorded it midi and sent it through a piano soft-synth. I've spent the last 3 nights editing/quantizing/pasting everything together to make it fit, smooth out some rough spots, etc.
  5. DJ FADE

    DJ FADE Guest

    i agree with what everone else is saying. the copyright is on the lyrics and melody. dont give away potentially large amounts of money (between mechanical and performance royalties) for part of a piano arrangement on a song. pay him a flat rate if you want to be fair. anything else would be like giving away equity in your company.
  6. majorlabel

    majorlabel Guest

    rights percentage

    If the keys player was in the room and contributed at all while the song was being composed, he (she) is entitled to an equal share unless you can get them sign a "work for hire " (session player ) release.

    Make sure you pay them at least a trifle amount to make it a legal contract.
  7. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Tacoma, WA
    Agreed -

    Session player.

    I pay my session musicians $40 an hour (except some I have on higher payroll depending upon their credentials) and they all get the contract treatment - even though they're all my friends.

  8. AstoriaJams

    AstoriaJams Guest


    Generally speaking, do we split the writers credit evenly (50/50) in this situation:

    Artist - comes into my studio, writes lyrics and melody

    Producer (me) - records singers vocal, then writes and arranges music and instrumentation around the vocal track.
  9. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Dec 10, 2001
    Pacific NW
    Since this is being bandied about in a couple of other threads lets try and shed some light on it.

    A "SONG" is legally comprised of lyric and melody. This can be copyrighted as simply as providing a single written melody line with lyrics .Or as most do these days, a recording of the song being sung accapella.

    An arranger can ALSO copyright his or hers arrangement of the song thereby protecting themselves in case of performance or duplication of that particular arrangement. The amount of the arrangement that has to be duplicated in order to be infringed upon is usually determined by the courts....(see: My Sweet Lord/ Hes So Fine)

    An arrangement needs to be made between the songwriter and the arranger at the time of reproduction in order to clarify each persons' part in the creation of the song.This is between the two (or more) persons and there is no legal stipulation as to the wherefores and whys of this arrangement. Lennon/McCartney rarely wrote anything in each others songs but were considered to be as one on those songs. This was due to an existing agreement from the beginning. The staff writers in country and the older rock and roll did the same.

    In Mamms' case, this keys player was strictly session fodder and should be compensated accordingly. Beer works and sometimes single-malt scotch fills the bill. Money also works or perhaps a trade of services. Either way that is session work only.

    In Astorias' case, this could be considered both a collaboration and an arrangers work. The songwriting collaboration only comes into effect with an understanding from the beginning however and it is always best to iron these things out before a note is ever played. In truth, he would only legally be a collaborator if he affected a significant change in the melodic structure of the song or perhaps the lyrical content.

    Songwriting division of creative labor has been the death of many many bands throughout the history of this biz. And the division of this creative part of it has to be done with care and honest evaluation with no ego present. Very few songs are instigated by more than one person at a time. The true division of the credits for the completed product hinges on exactly how much each person is willing to concede their roles in its creation. Sticking a G-flat demented chord in the chorus doesnt get you a songwriting credit....theres a thousand different things that could have gone there. If this is the version that goes on record, then, for sure, an arrangers credit could be doable...but not necessarily.

    So its all about cooperation and concession. The originator of the idea for a song is unlikely to want to give up credit without a major redo of the structure and even then 'SONGWRITING' credit could be debateable at best.

    The true test of songwriting credit comes down to the unaccompanied singing of the lyrics with a specific set of notes in the melody. Legally, thats all thats needed.

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