The Muse's Muse  
Muses MailMuses Newsmuse chatsongwriting resource home
The Channeling (Ways to reach your Muse)
Shaman's Q&A:


Hey Shaman! Your articles are cool beans! Can you tell me how to decide who gets credit for a song and how do I show that on a CD?
Keep up the good work cutie.


Thanks for the email, Jenny??¦??¦??¦??¦and your personal comments. ;P

The question of who gets credit for a song is a big one. I will do my best to keep it short. I will also refer you to Mary Dawsons column for additional perspective. She had a reader ask her a similar thing, and there's a good response there. I, of course, will focus on the Good-witch aspect of your question.

First lets get your second question out of the way: You will notice on a CD booklet that there are two areas where the artists are mentioned. Once when referring to instruments played, and once when referring to the songs.

If a name is listed under the "instruments played", then you know that the person played that instrument on the recording. What that exactly means could be broad. What I assume about the instruments played section is that the person played the instrument, but also added their own unique style. In other words, though they didn't write the song per-se; they did contribute and did more then just play note-for-note from a lead sheet.

But it also could mean that they functioned as a set musician and played everything note for note. Now on the opposite spectrum, they could have contributed more (i.e. a replaced chord, or "I like #1 over #2, etc.); but the original idea was made in working-skeleton-form by someone else. This is where the gray area begins; and also where the good-witch bad-witch thing makes a difference for both involved.

I'm the main songwriter in the band. Now I view the band as a family. You don't screw over family. As the original songwriter, you have to be really honest with yourself. But at the same time, bad witches try to take credit from your song when they don't deserve it.

First of all you have to understand that bad-witches arrive where they are in many cases, because they've been abused in the past. I try to be sensitive to that when I'm dealing with them. If they played an instrument, then their contribution is listed in the instrument section. Its pretty much guaranteed that all people contribute something (ie. the instrument section on your CD cover.)

To me, though, the credit for the song isn't asking the question of contribution. Its asking, "who wrote the original idea". Its saying, if "x" person wasn't here, would we even have anything to contribute to? Its important for all members to be honest with themselves about who is "x".

To me, everyone gets equal credit for playing live (ie. $) Because no matter who wrote the song, everyone is a team out there. (The other aspect is CD royalties. Even if I wrote every single song, I would feel like crap if my band was on poor street while I was a millionaire.) As far as the CD, I personally would never go higher then 70% in my favor (even if I wrote 100% of the songs!) But that's just me. I would still have my credit for writing the songs, but handle the $ differently. (For royalties other than the CD, ie. sheet music, someone using the song, etc. then I might follow the 100%.)

The fact that I feel this way takes worry away from the other members of the band, who work their buns off for the band, but don't write a note. They in turn, give credit where credit is due, and aren't trying to take credit only because they suggested an A chord instead of a F#m chord.

I hope that I answered your question. If I did not, please feel free to ask me. (I did make some assumptions about your question.) Just remember that these are people you're working with; people who have aspirations too. Though it's not your job to make their dreams come true, but they are friends of yours. If you are the main songwriter, though, they in turn have a responsibility not to be threatened by that fact. Its important for both people to be extremely honest with themselves about it.

It will be easier all around if you have thought this over before a situation arises. The fact that you're asking the question is a good sign. Musicianship makes the world go around.

Take care,

--Shaman Sean

Back to top

Help For Newcomers
Help for Newcomers
Helpful Resources
Helpful Resources
Regular Columnists
Music Reviews
Services Offered
About the  Muse's Muse
About Muse's Muse
Subscribe to The Muse's News, free monthly newsletter for songwriters
with exclusive articles, copyright & publishing advice, music, website & book reviews, contest & market information, a chance to win prizes & more!

Join today!

Created & Maintained
by Jodi Krangle


© 1995 - 2016, The Muse's Muse Songwriting Resource. All rights reserved.

Read The Muse's Muse Privacy Statement