Who's song...who's cash?

Discussion in 'Lounge' started by Kemble, Sep 24, 2003.

  1. Kemble

    Kemble Member

    Please help me grasp the concept of who a 'songwriter' is.

    Sally Starlett writes some lyrics and sings a melody (with those words) into a tape recorder. She gives the tape to Peter Piano and Gary Guitar who disect the melody and put it on paper. They then build a chordal arrangement around the melody, write piano, guitar, and bass for this song, and then arrange it all nicely. The final product is changed a bit from the original melody, but its still a similar deal.

    Is Sally the songwriter? Does she own the whole song? And all of its rights?

    We are writing what I call songs around what she calls 'songs'- lyrics and a loose melody. Isn't this automatically a joint effort?

  2. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    77 Sunset Lane.
    If the melody remains unchanged, then Sally is the songwriter. If there are changes made by Gary and Peter to what she gives by the time that they finish it, then it's a joint effort. But if all Gary and Peter are doing is figuring out the chords and creating an arraingment, then that's all it is.. arrainging the tune.. Kurt (hi Jeff! )
  3. realdynamix

    realdynamix Well-Known Member

    :) Don't mess with Sally, she holds all the cards. What are up to Jeff? :D

  4. Rod Gervais

    Rod Gervais Distinguished Member

    Central Village, CT
    Home Page:
    Kurt and Rick are right that Sally is right that when she writes she owns the rights..... :D :D :D (try saying that one 3 times fast)

    I write - my bass player writes - one of my lead guitarists writes.....

    My bass player and i generally develope the arrangements - which we also do occassionally for songwriters not connected with the band....... and the songwriter always owns the rights to the song.

    A joint effort on the other hand is when my bassist comes to me and says "Hey Rod, I'm having a problem with this song and can't figure out a bridge (or chorus - or whatever) and the 2 of us sit down together - develope the song with input from both parties.......

    This could be a case of us jointly developing words or the basis of the music.. either or both constitutes a collaboration....

    in that case we are both named in the copyright.
  5. Kemble

    Kemble Member

    Hello gentlemen. I thank you for your explaination. I THINK I follow. Here is where I'm still a little foggy-
    I write several musical pieces allowing for 2 verses, 3 chorus, bridge, etc... I then give this demo to SallySinger who sings over my 'song' (is it a song?) and !bingo! we have a song.
    Who owns that one? both of us? Being as its her melody and words, is it then her song? (which would line up with the above explainations, but doesn't seem right).

    (Sally and I and the rest of the bunch are playing Friday night and I have yet to see 4 of the 5 songs we are performing...... :eek: )
  6. Rod Gervais

    Rod Gervais Distinguished Member

    Central Village, CT
    Home Page:
    You say in the 1st part that you write several musical pieces......... but then say that it's her words and melody.

    What it sounds to me like you are doing is taking her song and arranging it. You develope the chord structure and maybe you play the instrumental she couldn't hum or sing.... but it's still an arrangement....... she composed the song.

    The difference would be if you helped her with the words........ or she came to you with words and you developed the melody...... then it's a collaboration - otherwise it's her song.

    You cannot copywrite chords - notes - they belong to everyone - it's the structure of the song - the melody combined with the words that is capable of being copywrite protected. (or in the case of an instrumental - the melody itself)

    So even if she walked in and gave you just a melody for an instrumental piece - you become the arranger of HER melody.

    I don't know about fair - but legally it makes sense to me. (The 2 don't always equate).

  7. realdynamix

    realdynamix Well-Known Member

    :) That would be a collaboration, you both have rights *IF* it is agreed that you work together on the development of the song. Other than that, what came first, chicken or egg?
    Go on, ask Sally out, she must be a babe. :D

  8. Kemble

    Kemble Member

    Ok. I get it.
    If I write a bunch of great music and someone comes along and sings over it, its a collaboration.
    If chicky singer writes a great melody and I come along and add great music...its her song. Unless we agree that its a collaboration, which we WILL before my riffs are opened up for sharing.

    Oh, SallySinger is married and her husband is bigber than me...and my wife is WAAAAYYYY better lookin anyway! :D

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