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Can I get a little bit of credit
Old 4 weeks ago
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Can I get a little bit of credit

Hi Guys and Gals,

New poster here. I know music law can be a tricky and complex thing, but if anybody can shed some light on an issue I'm having, that would be fantastic.

So I wrote a song lyrics/chords/basic melody. I sent on a demo with my vocals, not great vocals mind you but to give a sense of timing and feel. Anyway the singer I sent the song onto, did a fantastic job which I knew she would. I wrote it for her to sing. Definitely put her own stamp on the song. Unfortunately due the singers reluctance to play live and also not wanting to contribute financially to the recording of track, I've had to work with another singer.


The original singer isn't too pleased, very attached to the song. Whilst acknowledging the song is mine, she feels her contribution was major. Does her contribution claim get undercut if she doesn't appear on the final recording. The singer I'm working with now is more of a natural type of singer, while the original singer has a high voice, almost operatic at times.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #2
Quote:
Originally Posted by zeroesandones View Post
Hi Guys and Gals,

New poster here. I know music law can be a tricky and complex thing, but if anybody can shed some light on an issue I'm having, that would be fantastic.

So I wrote a song lyrics/chords/basic melody. I sent on a demo with my vocals, not great vocals mind you but to give a sense of timing and feel. Anyway the singer I sent the song onto, did a fantastic job which I knew she would. I wrote it for her to sing. Definitely put her own stamp on the song. Unfortunately due the singers reluctance to play live and also not wanting to contribute financially to the recording of track, I've had to work with another singer.


The original singer isn't too pleased, very attached to the song. Whilst acknowledging the song is mine, she feels her contribution was major. Does her contribution claim get undercut if she doesn't appear on the final recording. The singer I'm working with now is more of a natural type of singer, while the original singer has a high voice, almost operatic at times.
You're talking about two different things here: copyright and royalties. If you wrote the lyrics, chords and basic melody, the song is yours, and you own the copyright. If the original singer doesn't appear on the recording, she would get no royalties, but she never had a claim to the copyright in the first place. The issue of copyright is pretty clear in this case: the song is yours.

A few cases have arisen where a singer's performance (and the melodies he/she added) enhanced the song significantly to where it was decided that the singer was also entitled to partial copyright on top of her royalties. The most recent (and famous) case of this involved Pink Floyd's "The Great Gig in the Sky". From the Wikipedia article:
"In 2004, she [Clare Torry] sued Pink Floyd and EMI for songwriting royalties on the basis that her contribution to "The Great Gig in the Sky" constituted co-authorship with keyboardist Richard Wright. Originally, she was paid the standard flat fee of £30 for Sunday studio work. In 2005, an out-of-court settlement was reached in Torry's favour, although the terms of the settlement were not disclosed.[8] All releases after 2005 carry an additional credit "Vocal composition by Clare Torry"[9] for the "Great Gig in the Sky" segment."

However, if your initial singer doesn't appear on any recording, and if the subsequent singer isn't basing her performance on the initial singer's performance, I would say the initial singer really has no case here. And even if the second singer basically mimicked the first singer's phrasing and performance, you wrote the basic melody, so you own the copyright. Unless one (or both) singers significantly changed the melody or added a new one which significantly enhances the finished product, they have no claim to copyright. And royalties only go to performers who appear on recordings.

There's also a concept called "work for hire" that may apply here, in which either singer would have been "paid" (or somehow compensated) for her performance on the song demo. In such a case, such payment is all that person is entitled to, and the payment (or compensation) settles all claims to royalties (copyright is almost never an issue here). But for that, you would have needed a basic contract, and my guess is you didn't have one. (It's not too late to get one for the next demo, though!)

Hope that helps!

Steve
Old 4 weeks ago
  #3
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Thanks Steve for that. Really informative and much appreciated
Old 4 weeks ago
  #4
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ionian's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by AuldLangSine View Post
If she just sang the song and thinks she owns it, I wonder if she thinks she also owns every other song she ever sang.
Never underestimate the depths of madness people will go to.
I was writing music for a musical. Wrote the songs, tracked everything with musicians, mixed it, and copyrighted the music. Next up was to land a demo singer for it to shop it around.

A choreographer I got for the project told me, "I've done some singing and musical theater, I can do the vocals." I let her sing the demo. Next thing I knew she served me with papers and attempted to sue me for co-ownership of the songs! Friggin two year lawsuit.

These days I either come off as professional or a d!ck (depending on how much real world experience you have in the music business) but I don't even say hello to people anymore without having them sign papers first.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #5
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bgood's Avatar
The easiest way to try to avoid any problems is to let the new singer create her own part using your original singing as a guide... don’t use the other chick’s version enter the discussion at all... don’t ever post a a version of the first chick’s tune online or forward it to anyone...

Let it die in silence and f#ck her if she gets mad... also, f#ck you for not getting thing in writing before you had her in on your tune and create her own melody... I hope it’s a lesson you’ll remember!

If a singer you respect tells you that the vocal melody that you scratched out sucks and that she/he has a better idea, be open to that... particularly if voice isn’t your 1st instrument... but, that means sharing songwriting, so be open to that, too
Old 4 weeks ago
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bgood View Post
The easiest way to try to avoid any problems is to let the new singer create her own part using your original singing as a guide... don’t use the other chick’s version enter the discussion at all... don’t ever post a a version of the first chick’s tune online or forward it to anyone...

Let it die in silence and f#ck her if she gets mad... also, f#ck you for not getting thing in writing before you had her in on your tune and create her own melody... I hope it’s a lesson you’ll remember!

If a singer you respect tells you that the vocal melody that you scratched out sucks and that she/he has a better idea, be open to that... particularly if voice isn’t your 1st instrument... but, that means sharing songwriting, so be open to that, too
Yep I'll admit naivety crept in, never underestimate stuff like this again. Don't mind giving people their due where it's due. I suppose in a way I saw it like when somebody like a Jeff Buckley sings "Hallelujah" he takes it to unreal heights vocally but ultimately still a Leonard Cohen song.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #7
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by zeroesandones View Post
Hi Guys and Gals,

New poster here. I know music law can be a tricky and complex thing, but if anybody can shed some light on an issue I'm having, that would be fantastic.

So I wrote a song lyrics/chords/basic melody. I sent on a demo with my vocals, not great vocals mind you but to give a sense of timing and feel. Anyway the singer I sent the song onto, did a fantastic job which I knew she would. I wrote it for her to sing. Definitely put her own stamp on the song. Unfortunately due the singers reluctance to play live and also not wanting to contribute financially to the recording of track, I've had to work with another singer.


The original singer isn't too pleased, very attached to the song. Whilst acknowledging the song is mine, she feels her contribution was major. Does her contribution claim get undercut if she doesn't appear on the final recording. The singer I'm working with now is more of a natural type of singer, while the original singer has a high voice, almost operatic at times.
Good points by others. But let me also point out the bold above.

You either pay the singer an upfront fee for the vocal or you work out a backend deal of some kind (a backend royalty payment, partial ownership of the song, or an IOU of some kind or other you both agree on).

Asking a demo singer or feature vocalist to pay for recording fees is unheard of, the absolute reverse of the correct direction of who's supposed to pay who for what. You're the customer here, employing the services of a singer to complete your work for you. The customer is who pays. This request of yours is without question what tipped the scale in the "isn't too pleased" direction and set off the domino effect of ensuing issues and bad vibes.

Also worth noting, even if you don't use a demo singer's vocal, you still pay them for their work. You don't get mad at them for not fronting their own money, cut them from the song, and then also not pay them. Bad business, bad vibes. Consider this a learning experience on doing people right.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newguy1 View Post
Good points by others. But let me also point out the bold above.

You either pay the singer an upfront fee for the vocal or you work out a backend deal of some kind (a backend royalty payment, partial ownership of the song, or an IOU of some kind or other you both agree on).

Asking a demo singer or feature vocalist to pay for recording fees is unheard of, the absolute reverse of the correct direction of who's supposed to pay who for what. This request of yours is without question what tipped the scale in the "isn't too pleased" direction and set off the domino effect of ensuing issues and bad vibes.

Also, if you don't use a demo singer's vocal, you still pay them. You don't get mad at them for not fronting their own money, cut them from the song, and then also not pay them for their work. Bad business, bad vibes. Consider this a learning experience on doing people right.
A band set up was the proposal, it was never a for hire situation.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zeroesandones View Post
A band set up was the proposal, it was never a for hire situation.
Proposing a band implies shared ownership of the material unless alternate terms are stated upfront. Proposing a band would be the 2nd compensation option here: "a backend royalty payment, partial ownership of the song, or an IOU of some kind or other you both agree on."

You can't propose a band, have someone do a bunch of work for free under the understanding of "we're in a band together", and then cut them from the band with nothing, without leaving them feeling a certain way about the whole deal.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #10
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by newguy1 View Post
Proposing a band implies shared ownership of the material unless alternate terms are stated upfront. Proposing a band would be the 2nd compensation option here: "a backend royalty payment, partial ownership of the song, or an IOU of some kind or other you both agree on."

You can't propose a band, have someone do a bunch of work for free under the understanding of "we're in a band together", and then cut them from the band with nothing, without leaving them feeling a certain way about the whole deal.
Never said they weren't entitled to a cut, was just trying to field advice on the topic, was all. Trying to get to some working arrangement with this person. Also I just didn't cut this person out of the band.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zeroesandones View Post
Never said they weren't entitled to a cut, was just trying to field advice on the topic, was all. Trying to get to some working arrangement with this person. Also I just didn't cut this person out of the band.
For sure, just pointing out that this isn't a one way street with the singer being unreasonable.

I'd pay them a flat fee for their work and that's that. They're entitled to compensation of some kind, its either work-for-hire or shared ownership or some other kind of agreement you can work out. The final option is burn them and carry the social/reputation karma with you. This final option isn't uncommon.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #12
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by newguy1 View Post
For sure, just pointing out that this isn't a one way street with the singer being unreasonable.

I'd pay them a flat fee for their work and that's that. They're entitled to compensation of some kind, its either work-for-hire or shared ownership or some other kind of agreement you can work out. The final option is burn them and carry the social/reputation karma with you. This final option isn't uncommon.
Nah man, thanks I have to see all sides, I'm with you. This vocalist was unreal, I'm losing a great talent, nothing fun about this at all. Reason for being on here and getting opinions. It's definitely a lesson learned.
Old 4 days ago
  #13
Lives for gear
It's an age old problem.

Be fair and honest, did the session player add significantly to the song and make it considerably more fabulous with their talent? If they did then they should be correctly rewarded.

I mean what are we saying here .... you bring in a session musician and say to them please don't be creative!!

That's not how to make great music.

A few points given away here and there can build a relationship with a few great players and form long term relationship that can help make a career.
Old 2 days ago
  #14
Quote:
Originally Posted by zeroesandones View Post
Hi Guys and Gals,

New poster here. I know music law can be a tricky and complex thing, but if anybody can shed some light on an issue I'm having, that would be fantastic.

So I wrote a song lyrics/chords/basic melody. I sent on a demo with my vocals, not great vocals mind you but to give a sense of timing and feel. Anyway the singer I sent the song onto, did a fantastic job which I knew she would. I wrote it for her to sing. Definitely put her own stamp on the song. Unfortunately due the singers reluctance to play live and also not wanting to contribute financially to the recording of track, I've had to work with another singer.


The original singer isn't too pleased, very attached to the song. Whilst acknowledging the song is mine, she feels her contribution was major. Does her contribution claim get undercut if she doesn't appear on the final recording. The singer I'm working with now is more of a natural type of singer, while the original singer has a high voice, almost operatic at times.
You owe the original singer half of all money earned from the song. You need to be a man and do the right thing by her. Case closed.
Old 1 day ago
  #15
Legally he owes the original singer nothing--especially if she didn't develop the melody or anything else that was kept in the final recording or was ultimately copyrighted.

Morally, he could certainly offer her some form of recompense/payment, though that may be seen by the original singer as some "admission" of wrongdoing--of which, again, legally, there was none (at least, not in what he's described here).

But if the bridges haven't been completely burned between them and he can enlist her help on another tune, he could certainly offer her some sort of "work for hire" payment for that one. I'd make sure it was all in writing, however, so she knew she was being paid for her work on the demo, and so that she didn't expect anything else.

Steve
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