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Writing, royalties, and credits. Virtual Instrument Plugins
Old 1st September 2006
  #1
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PapillonIrl's Avatar
 

Writing, royalties, and credits.

Ok, can anybody tell me what the general situation is with this as it's something I'm a little clueless about.

Let's say you have a band, female singer.

Great at coming up with melodies on the spot, quite a quirky and talented lyrist also.

She writes ONLY when working off a band jamming/rehearsing/writing material in a rehearsal room.

Never on her own, so the chords etc. are the bands creation, and the melodies and lyrics are the singers.

How would the credits generally be distributed, and more importantly...the royalties ? heh


Also, is there a standard legal document for a producer/enginner working for free on the basis of point(s) on the back end ?

Thanks,

Nathan
Old 2nd September 2006
  #2
Lives for gear
there's no automatic

MY view is that if you're there and thwere's writing going on, you're contributing, you're a co-writer.
and that means you split it equally

I don't think you can say reasonably that this line is more important than this one or this chord doesn;t matter and so on
Old 2nd September 2006
  #3
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PapillonIrl's Avatar
 

Thanks.

Really love alot of your work BTW, and I ain't just saying that 'cos a big name took the time to answer my question.

I had thought that the main melody writer and lyricist had a bigger cut for some reason....but your view seems to make much more practical sense.

Cheers,

Nathan
Old 2nd September 2006
  #4
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Jamz's Avatar
If you want to keep bloodshed to a minimum within a band make sure the writing splits are agreed upon by all involved up front. Good to have a rule book before the game begins. I've watched band members attack other members after the album was completed arguing over splits. I do agree that If it's a group and you all contribute the simplest arrangement might be equal splits.
Old 2nd September 2006
  #5
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robmix's Avatar
There's precedent for this, if any group of people are in the room writing the song it must be split evenly unless agreed upon beforehand. Like WW said, it's impossible to decide who came up with what line after the fact, if one line is more important than the other, or if any melody or lyric was influenced by someone else's idea.
Old 2nd September 2006
  #6
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Ganglion's Avatar
From a technical standpoint, I believe publishing is 50% lyrics, 50% melody. Chord progressions can't be copyrighted. However, any honest "front person" would definitely recognize the contributions of the band and share in the publishing to some degree.
Old 2nd September 2006
  #7
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robmix's Avatar
Technically true, but again who's to say the chords didn't inspire the melody or the person playing the chords wasn't humming a melody idea. It all gets too fuzzy . . . The idea of 50% melody and 50% lyrics also got wiped out by modern R&B/hiphop and pop producers. Now it's usually 50% track and 50% melody/lyrics.
Old 2nd September 2006
  #8
Gear Nut
 
cush's Avatar
 

Publishing Split

In an one band of mine, we formed a publishing company to handle all our royalties. Whomever wrote each song kept the writer's share and the band (including the writer) split the publisher's share equally. That way everybody got something to acknowledge their contributions (even the drummer ). It kept peace.
Old 2nd September 2006
  #9
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i would say 50% for her melody and lyrics. 50% for the rest of the band. if the band contributes melodic fragments and such then give the band a bigger percentage.
Old 2nd September 2006
  #10
i usually make sure the vibes get all the credit.

if there's any credit left, i usually give it to the bass player.

9 times out of 10, the bass player will kick your ass
if you don't give him his fr*gg*n credits.



as far as royalties go,

i usually just give the band some plastic crowns
to wear on their way home from the session.

that usually does it.
Old 3rd September 2006
  #11
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PapillonIrl's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sqye View Post
i usually make sure the vibes get all the credit.

if there's any credit left, i usually give it to the bass player.

9 times out of 10, the bass player will kick your ass
if you don't give him his fr*gg*n credits.



as far as royalties go,

i usually just give the band some plastic crowns
to wear on their way home from the session.

that usually does it.


Old 3rd September 2006
  #12
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Ganglion's Avatar
Another way I've seen it done is lyrics 50%, melody 10% and "the music" as 40%.
Old 3rd September 2006
  #13
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matt thomas's Avatar
here's a bit of a blurb I wrote (slightly edited) in another thread recently

from : https://www.gearslutz.com/board/so-much-gear-so-little-time/83205-how-should-we-split-up-percentages.html



this is one of the most important questions in the music industry

VIRTUALLY EVERY BAND THAT DOESN'T DIVIDE ALL THEIR ROYALTIES RELATIVELY EVENLY BREAKS UP OVER IT.

normally (not that "normally" means much) a band would divide royalties as such:

for album royalties (non publishing) and live revenue every full time band member gets an equal cut even if they only play the triangle or even if they don't play on some songs.

for publishing royalties (from album sales and airplay, live returns etc) it is more difficult. Sometimes the main song writer takes 100%. Sometimes they are all split evenly no matter who wrote what (as in the case of radiohead, U2, REM, coldplay). And then there is pretty much anything in between. In some bands the singer gets 50% even if he didn't write it, just because he's the singer. Some people don't count anything past the vocals as song writing. There is no defined way of dividing publishing royalties.

I would recommend to divide publishing royalties as close to evenly as the main song writers can feel comfortable with. Often if there is one main song writer and they can't handle even splits a compromise can be that they get twice what the other members get. For example in a 3 piece the split is 50-25-25, or in a four piece 40-20-20-20.

and note that this is no matter who wrote what on a particular song. This avoids people wanting to do their parts over someone elses.

arrangers don't normally get paid, there is a grey area between writing and arranging

Of course this is just my opinion, however I have researched this alot and it is based on recommendations from many big artists/producers.

personally I would opt for even splits no matter what, but I do understand when other people think differently on the matter


narco
Old 3rd September 2006
  #14
Gear Addict
 
Levi's Avatar
 

By U.S. law, it's divided 50% for melody and 50% for lyric. HOWEVER, I believe that if there's 2 people in the room, it's split 2 ways... 3 in the room, split 3 ways. My thoughts are this... if you have 7 bucks to get into an 8-dollar movie, you ain't gettin' in. If your friend shows up, gives you a much-needed buck, as well as paying for his own ticket, you both get it. Sometimes, you'll be the one bailing HIM out. It all evens out in the wash. Sometimes, you'll write the whole song and the other person will only contribute 3 words... other times, they write it all and you change an "and" to a "but." It still took both of you to achieve a final product.

I've never been so agrivated in my life... when you sit down at the end of the day and count words and notes to figure out splits. Needless to say, that's the last time I write with those folks! Once in a while, if it truly was, for example, a 75-25 split on creativity, and I feel that the song will have legs and make a great "financial impact" on my wallet, I'll agree to it. But it better be good!!! heh I think in a band situation, ESPECIALLY a band situation, be careful how splits go. You could be packing it in by week's end if everyone involved is not on board with how it's going down. Better to split it evenly and everyone makes money, rather than 1 or 2 makes a buttload of cash and the rest are BEGGING to go on the road so they can make rent!!! Just a bad scenario all the way around.
Old 3rd September 2006
  #15
Gear Addict
--"By U.S. law, it's divided 50% for melody and 50% for lyric. "
This might be a default rule in the event the people haven't written their own agreement, and they can't agree after the fact to any % of contribution. It certainly isn't the final say.

--"There's precedent for this, if any group of people are in the room writing the song it must be split evenly unless agreed upon beforehand. "
Precedent is only binding to the extent the facts are replicated in subsequent cases. If, for instance, a neutral person witnessed the co-creation (say, hypothetically, a documentary were being made, so the whole process could be viewed), then a court (or mediator or abitrator) could decide that Joe Blow did 90% of the writing, while Plane Jane only threw in 10% worth. Who wrote something is a question of fact, not law.

--"Chord progressions can't be copyrighted."
Not true. Any creative work can be copyrighted. A melody, a drum beat, a chord progression. What you can't copyright is something that is generic, doesn't stand by itself, or something that isn't committed to some final medium. I can record GCD progressions and copyright the recording. But there's nothing novel about the progression, so I can't stop others from using it. I can't possibly prove that I came up with GCD, but I can prove that I recorded that PARTICULAR performance. That is, the performance is copyrighted, though the progression would not be. But if the progression were somehow unique (good luck with that!), it could be copyrighted. E.g., the opening chords of Beethoven's fifth is a chord "progression." If it weren't in the public domain already, he'd have a copyright on it.

Lee
Old 4th September 2006
  #16
Moderator
 
matt thomas's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Levi View Post
By U.S. law, it's divided 50% for melody and 50% for lyric.

I too am suspicious that this is not the case. Can you show which law says this?

majority of rap = no melody
majority of classical music = no lyrics

various types of music have neither (much dance music, ethnic music)

Under such a law there would be serious problems with copyriting these types of music

I wonder if Bruce Swedien on the guest forum considers the riff in Michael Jacksons "beat it" to be part of the song, or perhaps the bass line in billy jean? Under this law I would have a good case to be able to put either of those riffs in my own music with out worrying about copyright infringment.

you may be right, but I would like to see proof that such a law exists.

I know there may have been various mediations where this may have been the resolution for a particular case, but if there is such a law I would genuinely like to know about it.

narco
Old 4th September 2006
  #17
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robmix's Avatar
Levi is totally right, according to copyright law it's 50% melody and 50% lyrics. Just goes to show you how outdated the law is.
Old 4th September 2006
  #18
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Levi's Avatar
 

Under copyright law, there are different "copyrights." Copyright SR is for the "sound recording," which Onan talks about in his post above. Chord progressions cannot be copyrighted, but the sound recording of those chords can. However, the workarounds for these copyrights are "sound-alike" recordings, which someone can take a sound recording and copy it, perhaps changing a chord or inversion, or even just the instrumentation of one of the instruments and then there is no copyright invasion. Unfortunately, that's how it would stand in a court of law. I've had several instances of this, where I've been on the receiving end of doing all the work, arrangements, production, etc. and then have the "real" producer go in and mimic ver batim what I did, even down to specific sounds... and there's not a thing I can do about it!

Under Copyright PA (performing arts), a melody constitutes 50% and the lyric constitutes 50%. This is what would hold up in court. My wife is a music publisher and we've come to blows over the years over this very argument. But, unfortunately, she is correct and the law stated above is the precident. Yes, unfortunately it is extremely outdated. THIS IS WHY YOU MUST COME TO AGREEMENTS WITH ALL PARTIES INVOLVED IN THE BEGINNING!!! Get it in writing, get a lawyer involved, get it signed... whatever it takes so that your agreement will override the above, or at least show the intent to the courts that you had specific splits. If you leave it to chance, and there is a falling-out of band members, writers, etc., then more than likely the above will be the ruling in court. Perhaps there are specific incidents where this would not be the case, but do you want to take the chance?

Now more than ever, splits are crazy! Look at R&B and rap records... sometimes, there are up to 14 "writers" on a song!!! Just stay on top of your splits, even try to get them in writing (you will when you fill out your Copyright PA form) and be careful who you trust... many a friend has been lost over a split that wasn't set in stone from the beginning, and many more over copyrights that NEVER generated ANY income!!! heh

I just read Narco's post above about Bruce Swedien and "Beat It" and "Billie Jean." Bruce would be a part of the Copyright SR, as that was his part of the record. That is why if you use "actual" samples of the recording, you must gain clearance from the publishers, as well as the lable that owns the master recording (and sometimes there is a "clearance" division of companies as well for this very reason.). This is where it all becomes a grey area... by law, you could "recreate" those signature licks and, IN THEORY, be OK and above the law. BUT, I'd probably change a note or two in the recording to show that it was different and that the similarities are coincidental. My wife and I have a friend who is a musicologist and is the "go to" guy when big copyright cases go to court... Garth Brooks, Faith Hill, Bryan Adams, Mutt Lange, etc. He basically will take scores of the songs in question, put them up to the light one on top of the other, and see which melodies line up. Depending on how often and how similar the scores match usually dictates how much money is shuffled from one party to another. I've had several friends who completely knew that one of their songs had been ripped off, and blatently, so they waited until it peaked on the charts and THEN went after the parties in question... that way, the majority of the income had already been made and their take, or agreement, of the monies and splits would be much bigger instead of going after it in the beginning, only to have radio kill it, the lable pull it, and make nothing. It's all pretty interesting when it comes down to it! And music is such a "FUN' business, eh?

Last edited by Levi; 4th September 2006 at 04:17 PM.. Reason: Adding text...
Old 5th September 2006
  #19
Gear Addict
http://www.copyright.gov/

From the US Copyright office website: "Copyright protection subsists from the time the work is created in fixed form."

Lee
Old 5th September 2006
  #20
Moderator
 
matt thomas's Avatar
I've just spent ages reading through www.copyright.gov trying to find stuff on legal definitions.

I found this:

Quote:
1. Music Copyright Law in General
Section 102 of the Copyright Act of 1976 identifies various categories of works
that are eligible for copyright protection. See 17 U.S.C. § 102. These include “musical works” and “sound recordings.” Id. at Section 102(2) and 102(7). The term “musical work” refers to the notes and lyrics of a song, while a “sound recording” results from “the fixation of a series of musical, spoken, or other sounds.” Id. at Section 101.

so it says what is copyrightable is "the notes and lyrics" of a "song". And it sounds pretty much like it means the lyrics and melody. However you could argue that "notes of a song" doesn't necesarily mean the melody. The bass line in "Billy Jean" is made up of "notes"

It is interesting that they define a "musical work" in terms of a "song". This would imply that a symphony is not a "musical work", which seems wrong to me.

and then there was this from:

SIXTY-EIGHTH
ANNUAL REPORT OF THE
REGISTER OF COPYRIGHTS
FOR THE FISCAL YEAR ENDING JUNE 30, 1965

Quote:
"Although the point is
not discussed, the decision also suggests that
where two authors wrote the words and a
third wrote the music of a song the renewal
rights are to be divided into three equal shares."

which to me would suggest that the "music of a song" is copyrightable, unless the term "the music of a song" refers only to its melody.


And then I got over it and left it there (for now)

most of law is here if you're interested:
http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.html#101

narco
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