Songwriter quits the band / isn’t credited

 
       
 
Nov 02, 2017, 12:24 AM

So earlier this year I quit my old band because I couldn’t stand the drummer.. I had composed and arranged the music for four of the tracks and they added slightly to it. The vocalist then added the lyrics.

They did me dirty and basically wanted to kick me out for no reason so instead I quit and copyrighted the demos for those four tracks that I had written, to protect myself.

Months pass and they’ve recorded my songs without me, without my permission, and don’t want to credit me on the album. They say I was part of the band when the songs were written so the band gets the credit, no mention of me individually. Am I wrong to assume that I still retain rights to my music in this instance? I feel totally ripped off.

[ Edited: 02 November 2017 12:47 AM by Jason Michael Langfield]
 
     
Jason Michael Langfield Joined Nov 02, 2017
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Nov 02, 2017, 07:06 AM

It sounds like you are the co-writer. Your copyright registration should contain the name of the person who wrote the Melody to which the Lyric is sung, and the name of the person who wrote the words. Those two elements are what is registered for copyright. The Sound Recording (SR) can also be registered for copyright, controlling use of that particular recording. Again, the Melody and Lyric are the main parts considered to be registered. All else is ‘arrangement’, the instrumental performance, etc. Players have come back and demanded a share of Royalties for their contribution to the finished recording, and prevailed in court.

If the Songs are being released for airplay you could also register the titles with a Performance Rights Organization (PRO) so they can collect and pay the owners the Songwriting Royalties, if any are earned. You can also register a Publisher to be paid Publishing Royalties. You may want to wait and see if they have any success in getting airplay. If no airplay results there will be no Royalties earnings, so, nothing for the PRO to collect.

Songs can be contracted for use in film or tv or other commercial use, a Synchronization Licence, again, requiring formal signature of the owners of the intellectual property to agree to the use and the fee.

Your lack of formal coordination with the Lyricist, and his lack of coordination with you, suggests any use of the Songs is fraught with potential discord which can disrupt the commercial uses of the Songs, a red flag to any company considering involvement with you or the band. Getting a ‘bad’ reputation regarding these works may taint you and them for future consideration by the entities you have to contract with in the business.

Work it out. It’s just business. Not personal.

There will always be another song to be written. Someone will write it. Why not you? http://www.garyeandrews.com

 
     
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Gary E. Andrews Joined Apr 12, 2005
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Nov 02, 2017, 09:31 AM

Happens. It’s that old question.
“When does a band break up?”
“The day AFTER the publicity picture is taken.”

Most bands simply don’t last very long. Dealing with other people are always a pain, no matter how great it is in the beginning. Why there aren’t many Rolling Stones out there.

Yes, you are still a co-writer and legally you are a partner in the songs. Gary is correct about controlling the recording of THAT song.
But you should take heart. MOST SONGS SIMPLY DON’T SELL ANYTHING, SO MOST LIKELY THEY ARE GOING TO BE OUT THE MONEY TO PAY FOR RECORDING, DUPLICATION, AND PROMOTION, AND YOU DON’T OWE ANY OF THAT.

If you can, seek an amicable aggreement. Just tell them you want credit. If they don’t, sure you can get a lawyer, but is it worth it?

We had a similar situation in my band in the 80’s. One of my best friends, and I had formed the initial band a few years before. WE were going nowhere, so we brought another guy into the band, who was an amazing guitar player and business person and he proceeded to take over the band. For the good. But my friend, couldn’t stand him, and he quit the band, thinking I would go with him. Didn’t make any sense because the new guy got us really on the road. A few years later the song that our original member put us into and eventually winning a major Nationwide talent contest. It was really cool for a while but we never excluded his credit, just never really mentioned him, because in rock, you rarely even mention writers. It is a given that everybody in the band were contributors to the song.

He wanted to sue and raise all kinds of hell until he realized WE WEREN’T MAKING ANY MONEY OFF THE SONG. It helped develop our brand but we didn’t even do the song much after all that. (Looking back it was really not that good of a song anyway.) In the end, we placated him by mentioning his name in an interview, and ended up giving him a piece of equipment, we had won. Easily settled and in the end, meant nothing any way.

If your song goes on to be a big hit, you will probably have a claim, but in most of music in the modern era, songs are not really earning much money. It is now all on ARTIST branding. So even going through legal channels, might be more trouble than it’s worth. You’re the only one who can decide what all that means to you.

But again, take heart. They will most likely break up before long anyway. And you can ALWAYS play the songs yourself. Even if they didn’t credit you, once a song is recorded anyone can perform it.
Personally, I’d go write more songs.

MAB

 
     
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MBarne4908 Joined Jul 29, 2010
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Nov 02, 2017, 11:36 AM

Americans tend to focus on having their stuff ‘copyrighted’ (i.e. registered with the LOC’s copyright office). Maybe that is because you guys like suing so much (or being indicted?!)...

The most straight forward way to put things in order is just registering songs with your PRO (BMI or ASCAP), so you have it defined who has which share in a song. They will license the song to anybody who wants to play it - your former band, you, or anybody who wants to cover your songs - and distribute the royalties accordingly. That’s it, and all people involved are happy.

Of course, being credited would be the proper thing to do - but who cares, just be happy you left ;-)

Cheers,
Bernd

Bernd
good lyricist, mediocre songwriter, lousy musician;
likes rock, writes for anybody anyway
http://bernd-harmsen.com

 
     
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Bernd Harmsen Joined May 31, 2009
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Nov 02, 2017, 01:52 PM

PRO’s do not licence the Song titles registered with them. They only detect that those Song titles are played in revenue generating venues and collect licensing from those venues. If they do not detect any play of those Song titles they don’t pay any Royalties.

If someone uses your Song and excludes you from compensation the ONLY way to bring an infringement suit in federal court is to have a copyright registration of the Melody and Lyric.

Again, PRO’s only document the titles of Songs, and who their members are who own the Songs, as Songwriters, and who publishes them, as Publishing Companies. They do not pitch those titles to ‘consumers’, artists, their management, record labels, or publishers. All they know about them is the title. They do not have recordings.

There will always be another song to be written. Someone will write it. Why not you? http://www.garyeandrews.com

 
     
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Gary E. Andrews Joined Apr 12, 2005
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Nov 02, 2017, 05:33 PM

It’s not about the money for me. It’s about the principle of the matter.

[ Edited: 03 November 2017 11:06 AM by Jason Michael Langfield]
 
     
Jason Michael Langfield Joined Nov 02, 2017
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Nov 02, 2017, 05:46 PM
Bernd Harmsen - 02 November 2017 11:36 AM

Americans tend to focus on having their stuff ‘copyrighted’ (i.e. registered with the LOC’s copyright office). Maybe that is because you guys like suing so much (or being indicted?!)...

The most straight forward way to put things in order is just registering songs with your PRO (BMI or ASCAP), so you have it defined who has which share in a song. They will license the song to anybody who wants to play it - your former band, you, or anybody who wants to cover your songs - and distribute the royalties accordingly. That’s it, and all people involved are happy.

Of course, being credited would be the proper thing to do - but who cares, just be happy you left ;-)

Cheers,
Bernd

WOAH!!!! WOAH!!!! WOAH!!!!

Give the GOLDEN QUOTE of the YEAR award to Bernd! Leave it to a Non US Citizen to hit EXACTLY the problem. Bernd, you are right on! This is the MOST LITIGIOUS society on earth. People sue each other for EVERYTHING! Make a bad joke? LAWSUIT!!!! A baker doesn’t want to bake a cake for some childish spoiled group…? LAWSUIT!!!! It is today’s LAWSUIT LOTTERY!!!
And one of the TOTALLY SILLIEST things are over copyrights, and registration and all that idiocy. Everybody who has written “I LOVE YOU” thinks they are the only one’s ever to do it, so they sure nuff have to go on a suing frenzy! And all over songs that DON’T MAKE A DIME!!!!
The only people who make any money in the music business are attorney’s telling their clients how special they are!

But your last line is the best. He should THANK HEAVEN ABOVE he found out now and got out. Because all bands start out great! All for one and one for all. Then things get dicey. Someone slights someone else, someone else starts a whisper campaign against someone else, and then it starts to get nasty. More time is spent arguing over things than making music.

Then it gets REALLY fun as money starts to get involved. The band van breaks down and the band credit card starts to be run up. Someone brings a wife or significant other on the road and an extra hotel room is needed. Some piece of equipment that actually benefits only one member of the band, but EVERYONE has to pay for it. Throw in money for travel, merchandise, food, etc. I’ve seen bands fall apart over what resturant to eat in.

And in today’s politically charged climate, wait till someone gets on social media and starts ranting about some political thing going on and immediately destroy’s the entire band’s reputation and gets them shot down on gigs. A person I know just did this. Got on Facebook, started what was a fairly logical point, but it got out of hand QUICKLY!!! People attacking him from all directions. The band started being dropped from really huge gigs because the promoters wanted no part of the controversy. The next thing? All the band members get on Facebook saying that HIS point of view was NOT THEIRS. but too late. And yes, the band broke up.

I think our friend here will be thanking his lucky stars he got out when he did and on down the road will be looking at the songs and laughing that he ever was concerned. And sort of glad they DIDN’T list him as a writer. HE will write a lot better songs and be a lot better off.

Now I could be wrong. But I don’t think so. Gotta love bands. About the most predictable things there are.

MAB

 
     
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MBarne4908 Joined Jul 29, 2010
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Nov 15, 2017, 05:49 AM

Here’s one of the latest TAXI newsletters. You can sign up for the newsletter even though you’re not a paid member of TAXI. Those of you with recording capabilities could find marketing opportunities there. I notice instrumentals are desired frequently.

Note the requirement that you must control your Master and Copyright.

There will always be another song to be written. Someone will write it. Why not you? http://www.garyeandrews.com

 
     
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Gary E. Andrews Joined Apr 12, 2005
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Nov 15, 2017, 09:43 AM

I once was in Washington DC with Michael Lascow, the owner of Taxi when we were part of a delegation of songwriters lobbying Congress for songwriter’s rights. During a break in the day, I was sitting with him outside the capital building and asked him, ‘What do I tell people about your service? I’ve never used you because I have my own contacts, but others ask me. What do you want me to say?”
He said, “We’re based in LA, so we are going to have better luck in film and television. It is totally on the strength of the song and the recording.”

The vast majority of television and film pitches are instrumental because lyrics interfere with action and dialogue in a scene. Also, most film and television music is BACKGROUND and only there to “sweeten” a scene, not overpower it. So having a well created song, that is music only, is an important part of those pitches. One way to achieve this is to have music only “Tracks” on songs you record is a good idea. Just get a copy of the music with no vocals on it, which is a good idea in any way because you might end up with re-writes, lyric changes, etc. and you should be able to make those without having to re-record the entire song.

Good luck, Hope Jason’s situation has cleared itself up.

MAB

 
     
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MBarne4908 Joined Jul 29, 2010
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Nov 17, 2017, 10:34 AM

No.. They’re sticking to their guns and trying to facebook smear me, claiming I’m “jealous of their success” and they’re gonna take me to court, yada yada. I hope they do.

 
     
Jason Michael Langfield Joined Nov 02, 2017
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Nov 17, 2017, 10:48 AM

Well, you could always threaten to retaliate on Facebook etc. pointing out at every opportunity that you wrote the songs and that you own the copyright. Apart from making them look like jerks, it could certainly have a negative effect on their future prospects, as nobody wants to work with a band embroiled in copyright disputes. I would hope that the very suggestion would induce them to do the right thing - nobody really wins in public disputes of this kind.

 
     
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Gavin Sinclair Joined Dec 02, 2014
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Nov 17, 2017, 01:17 PM

Jason,

With all due respect to Gavin,that is actually THE LAST THING I WOULD DO. It is not going to turn out well. The majority of people just view it as inner disputes with disgrunteled members and usually tend to believe the first people against the later people that come in. It all looks petty and nothing carried out in public ever turns out well for anybody. Look at all the political nonsense, hatred and fighting and relationship ending going on in Facebook or other social media, if you need any further proof.

Actually you should just stay away from it. Because here is the NUMBER ONE RULE OF THUMB IN ALL OF MUSIC:

THE MORE PEOPLE TALK ABOUT THEMSELVES, HOW THEY ARE “MAKING IT” HOW MUCH MONEY THEY ARE MAKING ALL THE THINGS THEY ARE DOING, THE LESS THEY ACTUALLY HAVE GOING ON.

THE LESS PEOPLE TALK ABOUT THEMSELVES, HAVE OTHER PEOPLE TALK ABOUT THEM, PLAYING THEM UP, THE MORE THEY HAVE GOING ON.

If you really have a lot happening, you don’t have to HYPE IT. Other people do that. They comment, share, like, actually SHOW UP. People who engage in the whole “online damage” are always one step away from obscurity. Let them have it.

On a similar note, something happened to me which you might find interesting. 35 years ago, I was in the rock world of the 80’s. My Band, 24 KARAT, won a major battle of the bands in LA and were a fairly big deal in our home town of Birmingham Al. and in the southeast We had our fifteen minutes of fame and had a good time. But as rock music changed from the power pop of the 80’s into the Seattle Grunge rock era, our band broke up and our type of music went away. I transitioned into country and moved to Nashville in 1988.

Starting a completely new career, new music, etc. I more or less forgot about THE OLD DAYS. Since it was before CD’s easily accessable video, the Internet, it was all convienently forgotten. So I thought.

Yesterday, I was contacted by a guy from my home town who wanted to interview me for a YOU TUBE show about Birmingham musicians who moved away and how their careers progressed. It turns out he was in a band called RELIKS, which basically took our music, re-created it note for note, and moved on, actually getting pretty close to a deal. He sent me an actual link to his band, and a television show they did doing one of our songs. So I got to hear my old rock self recreated. A very funny feeling. Still,the song was pretty amateur but our band was a pretty cool show group, like many of that era. And their band took what we did and added their own stamp. And they were better looking. LOL!

The point is for your concerns is that MOST OF THIS IS OVER PRETTY QUICKLY. Most music is a momentary blip on the radar screen and we all move on. I wouldn’t get too involved in name calling and any of that idiocy. Let them do what they do AND WRITE MORE SONGS. In all likely hood, they are going to be gone before you know it and you will learn from the experience. And sometimes revenge is a dish best served cold.

If you want to see that old rock band copying MY OLD ROCK BAND, here it is:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3BDK2sGjUk&sns=fb

 
     
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MBarne4908 Joined Jul 29, 2010
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Nov 17, 2017, 03:44 PM

Skimming again, MAB? LOL

I suggested that the very threat of doing something like this might make them do the right thing, rather than having to follow through on the threat.

 
     
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Gavin Sinclair Joined Dec 02, 2014
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Nov 17, 2017, 04:04 PM

Yep you caught me Gavin. I apologize to you, you did say that. At the Frank Brown festival and every time I get going someone stops to talk to me so you are correct. Just call me out. I’d suggest to let it lie, but you never know what is gong to work.

 
     
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MBarne4908 Joined Jul 29, 2010
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