#1
Me and my band have been discussing our songs and who should get credit for them lately. I am the lead singer/guitar and have written some songs and our drummer has written a few songs as well. He thinks we should each individually get credit but i think it should be shared between the band. So im just curious to hear what fellow musicians think about the subject. Thanks
#2
shared between band because it avoids people getting huge egos and it helps everyone in the band feel like they're helping with the creative process. if you do individuals you'll end up with the bass player, who hasn't written a song, never doing anything creative and just waiting for you to write songs.
#3
I would say the whole band gets credit unless you write guitar, lyrics, drums, and bass then the whole band gets credit but thats just me
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#5
give everyone credit, people get huge ****ing egos if you don't and that's why a ton of bands break up.
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#9
Technically, The writer of the lyrics and chords/music gets credit. That is how it legally, under the law, works- and how I personally believe it should work. You write the song you should get the credit you deserve. Be very careful with this kind of situation.
Example : Nirvana had Cobain who would generally share profits amongst bandmates. Once he died, Courtney love steps in and takes that **** away giving her rights to the songs Cobain actually wrote. than A ****ton of legal issues ensued.
#10
Quote by Highwaytohell
Technically, The writer of the lyrics and chords/music gets credit. That is how it legally,


Close.... 9/10. Should be....

Technically, The writer of the lyrics and melody gets credit. That is how it legally,

It really depends on how you want to operate. Open up your liner notes of your favourite CDs. Some bands will say "All songs written by band X." MOST will itemize the songs and list them as "song (person 1, person 2)".

Though each approach has its advantages, consider this....

You have a four-piece band. The drummer and bass player leave. They are part of the "all songs written by band X." Those two people now have a 50% interest in those songs that YOU wrote. They can use them without requiring your permission - and by "use" I mean sell, duplicate, manipulate, give away, etc. They continue to be entitled to 50% of your album sales, and performance royalties, even after they have left the band.... because they own 50% of the songs - even if, in reality, they didn't write them. But if you formally gave them writing credit, then legally, they have co-ownership of that material.

That kind of stuff can get messy and complicated. Do you really want to go there?

For us, I am listed as the writer of most of the songs on the CD. However, all the money we make through sales, gigs, and merch goes to a band fund, and that money is used to support the band. We don't draw an income from it. In that way, we all share equally in the material I created. THAT is where ego comes in. I don't have one, so it doesn't become an issue. The only thing I take wholly for me is performance royalties from TV and radio play.... which at this point.... hasn't added up to anything substantial. Nor do we expect it to, because our focus has always been, and always will be, merely staying local.

CT
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#12
Quote by Highwaytohell

Example : Nirvana had Cobain who would generally share profits amongst bandmates. Once he died, Courtney love steps in and takes that **** away giving her rights to the songs Cobain actually wrote. than A ****ton of legal issues ensued.


.... and this is an interesting slant on things... Cobain's approach was exactly like the one I described just a second ago. This is what a person without any kind of ego would do. (lesson - when considering band members, an ego is a great big red flag).

But, like any other asset of a person's estate, ownership of copyright can be willed to another person, or in the absence of a will, can be claimed (or disputed bitterly) by surviving kin. The solution to this would have been for Cobain to explicitly state in his will that the ownership of copyright be equally distributed among Love, Grohl, and Novaselic. In the absence of such a clause, Love is the only logical recipient of that copyright. And in the end, Cobain surely would have wanted his work to be able to support his surviving wife and child - at least in some significant way.

Of course, we have no way of knowing what was in his will.... or even if he had one. Most people at the age of, what... 27?.... do not have a will. If that was the case with Cobain, no wonder it became a legal quagmire.

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#13
Quote by SeeEmilyPlay
I've always thought it was about coming up with songs together and representing your work as a whole.


It is.... until it all goes sour. Look at all the posts on this very forum that complain about things going sour. They eventually almost always do. THAT's when it matters.

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#14
written by - *songwriter*
arrangement by - *band*

easy peasy
***Short Sig***
#15
Hrm... that sounds even more dangerously complicated. In a lot of cases, an arranger can claim they were creative contributers, even though they technically didn't write it. In copyright law, an arrangement (like if you took Ode to Joy and arranged it for chamber ensemble or something) is considered a creative work.

(although you can't claim creative work by suggesting that you do another chorus at the end or something.... nor if you simply write your own guitar part... I'm talking about full arrangements. Nonetheless, you risk having the whole band collaborating on the arrangement of the piece, and having the other members of the band try to claim *it* as a creative work within itself.... My head hurts just thinking about how convoluted and nasty that could become)

The only resolution I can see to that advice would be determined in court. At least if you have a traditional "written by" - the law is clear enough that most people wouldn't pursue it to court.

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
Last edited by axemanchris at Mar 1, 2009,
#16
Quote by hendrix-4ever
Me and my band have been discussing our songs and who should get credit for them lately. I am the lead singer/guitar and have written some songs and our drummer has written a few songs as well. He thinks we should each individually get credit but i think it should be shared between the band. So im just curious to hear what fellow musicians think about the subject. Thanks

well if you had an album, it would say either your name or your drummers name for the songs you wrote. i think credit applies to who wrote the words and the main backing progression. if say you wrote the words but someone else made the progression, you'd should put the two names down. but if one person writes the words and the whole band makes the rest, the put written by_____ and arranged by_____. if you actually all come up with lyrics and progression parts, then id probably put all the names. but i doubt that would happen often.
#17
I have to disagree with the "whole band gets credit" thing. For example, take a certain song that my band plays. I spent hours upon hours composing the chord structure, bridge, etc. The singer in my band wrote the lyrics to it. If the song somehow becomes well-known, there's no way in hell that the other 8 members of my band deserve as much credit as I do or the lyricist does. On the other hand, we do have a couple of songs that just kind of materialized and were developed at rehearsal with everyone present. In that case, everyone deserves equal credit.
#18
I'd go for the whole band gets credit, but what I do is I'll claim credit for my solo or something, I know big bands do that too I mean arch enemy have it written along with the lyrics, they say who solos when.
#19
I should get the credit. Then everybody is happy :p.
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#20
Quote by Philbigtime
I have to disagree with the "whole band gets credit" thing. For example, take a certain song that my band plays. I spent hours upon hours composing the chord structure, bridge, etc. The singer in my band wrote the lyrics to it. If the song somehow becomes well-known, there's no way in hell that the other 8 members of my band deserve as much credit as I do or the lyricist does. On the other hand, we do have a couple of songs that just kind of materialized and were developed at rehearsal with everyone present. In that case, everyone deserves equal credit.


.... do you seriously have 10 people in your band?

Those who wrote the songs should get the credit for it. It's not egotistical to claim what is rightfully yours.
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Quote by MuffinMan
Jesus was all like "To those about to rock, I salute you." then he grabbed his mighty axe and rocked the Romans out really hard. Of course they were strict classical music so....
#21
Quote by Black Star=
Those who wrote the songs should get the credit for it. It's not egotistical to claim what is rightfully yours.


Who wrote the songs, though? Even if I write the progressions, melody and lyrics to a song, the bassist I drummer I play with contribute something creative to the song beyond just filling out the low end and backbeat on 'my idea' and the singer - if nothing else - preforms his interpretation of the lyrics and (more importantly) his interpretation of the melody. Even in a case like this where it might look like the credit should be mine, the idea I came up with is not the idea that might end up 'on tape'.

Much more likely, there's even more of a creative swamp, with bits and pieces of guitar and bass work inspiring each other, particular drumbeats suggesting certain types of playing to go over them (or even providing the inspiration for entire sections or even songs), often with lyrics the bassist has written set to melodies I then write (inspired by the phrasing and wording of the lyrics), which the singer then sings in a way that was not entirely intended by either of us. Or the singer might come in with an entire song written on acoustic, which we all pitch in for arranging, adding riffs, breakdowns, solos etc. Or almost any shade of grey in between.

For me, this is what I want in a band, a reason I want to play music - this collaborative, creative act. Creditting songs to the entire band is the logical conclusion based on this fact.

As far as the legal side of it goes, everyone having a 25% share sits fine with me - I'm in a band with what are essentially my three closest friends. If I didn't trust that they would be reasonable about how they used the songs we'd written after a potential split-up, I don't think I could call them three of my closest friends. I understand the need to think rationally about a band as a bussniess as well as an outlet for creative passion if you want to 'make it', but for me, splitting credit (money/whatever) equally is as rational as not checking your girlfriend's emails even though it might be the easiest way to find out if she's cheating on you or not. If you've reached the stage where you don't trust her enough not to spy on her, then the relationship probably isn't the one you should be in.
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Last edited by Damascus at Mar 2, 2009,
#22
Quote by Damascus
Who wrote the songs, though? Even if I write the progressions, melody and lyrics to a song, the bassist I drummer I play with contribute something creative to the song beyond just filling out the low end and backbeat on 'my idea' and the singer - if nothing else - preforms his interpretation of the lyrics and (more importantly) his interpretation of the melody. Even in a case like this where it might look like the credit should be mine, the idea I came up with is not the idea that might end up 'on tape'.


The credit should go to you, unless the singer significantly changed the lyrics and/or melody, in which case he would get credit as well. Lyrics and melody are the only things that matter in this situation.

For example, in Iron Maiden, Steve Harris writes most of the music. However, I doubt Dickinson sings every song and every lyric exactly how Harris wrote it. He adds his own touch to it. Yet, in over 70% of Maiden songs, he's not credited as a songwriter. I'm sure the only ones he is is because he significantly changed the lyrics and/or melody (or created them).
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Quote by MuffinMan
Jesus was all like "To those about to rock, I salute you." then he grabbed his mighty axe and rocked the Romans out really hard. Of course they were strict classical music so....
Last edited by Black Star at Mar 2, 2009,
#23
Quote by Black Star
The credit should go to you, unless the singer significantly changed the lyrics and/or melody, in which case he would get credit as well. Lyrics and melody are the only things that matter in this situation.

For example, in Iron Maiden, Steve Harris writes most of the music. However, I doubt Dickinson sings every song and every lyric exactly how Harris wrote it. He adds his own touch to it. Yet, in over 70% of Maiden songs, he's not credited as a songwriter. I'm sure the only ones he is is because he significantly changed the lyrics and/or melody (or created them).

That's crazy, as soon as I saw this post, Black Star came up on my Media Player.
#24
Quote by Black Star
The credit should go to you, unless the singer significantly changed the lyrics and/or melody, in which case he would get credit as well. Lyrics and melody are the only things that matter in this situation.

For example, in Iron Maiden, Steve Harris writes most of the music. However, I doubt Dickinson sings every song and every lyric exactly how Harris wrote it. He adds his own touch to it. Yet, in over 70% of Maiden songs, he's not credited as a songwriter. I'm sure the only ones he is is because he significantly changed the lyrics and/or melody (or created them).


Should? By what principle? What law? We wrote the song, so we can decide who we credit it to. Lyrics and melody are irrelevant - whoever the band decides should get the credit matters.

The entire point of my post was to emphasise how I see the creative collaboration of a band of trusting friends working - regardless of who writes what bits of what songs or what the 'standard legal procedure' on creditting is, we feel that creditting 'the band' is a better idea in our situation for a list of reasons:

- The most important one being that very often, the songs we write truly are creatively collaborative acts, with the things that 'normally' define who gets credit - lyrics & melody - often being very inspired by other parts of the music.
- Given the above, it's much more simple to just credit every song to the whole band, rather than having a majority of the songs with three or four writers and a few with just one or two writers, all of which are going to be different combinations of names. Picking out who wrote what and then writing it up is micromanaging on a scale I don't want to get into.
- It takes any potential problems with egos/resentment over money somewhat out of the equation. Queen, as far as I recall, started creditting songs to the whole band after bad feelings boiled up following the 'Bohemian Rhapsody/I'm In Love With My Car' single generated as much money for Taylor (wrote the B-side) as Mercury (who wrote the vastly more famous A-side). Other bands, like Radiohead, have been creditting the entire band since they started out, even though in this example Tom Yorke writes the lion's share of progressions and melodies and all the lyrics.
Quote by Ed O'Brien
“It’s not genius. It’s just that if you want something good to come out of something, you have to put in a lot of effort. That involves a lot of hard work, and a lot of blood, sweat and tears sometimes.”

http://urbanscarecrow.bandcamp.com/
#25
Quote by Damascus
Should? By what principle? What law? We wrote the song, so we can decide who we credit it to. Lyrics and melody are irrelevant - whoever the band decides should get the credit matters.

The entire point of my post was to emphasise how I see the creative collaboration of a band of trusting friends working - regardless of who writes what bits of what songs or what the 'standard legal procedure' on creditting is, we feel that creditting 'the band' is a better idea in our situation for a list of reasons:

- The most important one being that very often, the songs we write truly are creatively collaborative acts, with the things that 'normally' define who gets credit - lyrics & melody - often being very inspired by other parts of the music.
- Given the above, it's much more simple to just credit every song to the whole band, rather than having a majority of the songs with three or four writers and a few with just one or two writers, all of which are going to be different combinations of names. Picking out who wrote what and then writing it up is micromanaging on a scale I don't want to get into.
- It takes any potential problems with egos/resentment over money somewhat out of the equation. Queen, as far as I recall, started creditting songs to the whole band after bad feelings boiled up following the 'Bohemian Rhapsody/I'm In Love With My Car' single generated as much money for Taylor (wrote the B-side) as Mercury (who wrote the vastly more famous A-side). Other bands, like Radiohead, have been creditting the entire band since they started out, even though in this example Tom Yorke writes the lion's share of progressions and melodies and all the lyrics.


First off, chill the fuck out. You asked "Who wrote the song?" and I answered based on what is both commonly accepted and what the law itself states. If you didn't want that kind of reply, you shouldn't have asked your question on a public forum. If your point was to make us all look like egotistical assholes for not crediting the entire band, you're just as wrong as you're trying to make me seem. Just as you said, it's our songs, we can credit whoever we wish. In my opinion, if the person did not contribute a substantial amount of creative input into the song, they should not get credit. If the band has a problem with it, then they have issues much deeper than an ego.

I'm not trying to argue with you. You're right: It's your band, your songs, you can decide who to credit. I'm just simply stating that, by law, the lyrics and melody are all that really matters when crediting a song.

The reason why the law is like that is simple: Lyrics and Melody are generally the two things that make a song unique. Chord progressions, bass lines, guitar riffs, drum beats, etc. are rarely truly "creative", and are often repeated in thousands of songs across a variety of different genres. Find me two songs that have the same lyrics. I bet you a thousand dollars it's much harder than finding a song with the same chord progression.
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Quote by MuffinMan
Jesus was all like "To those about to rock, I salute you." then he grabbed his mighty axe and rocked the Romans out really hard. Of course they were strict classical music so....
#26
Quote by Black Star
First off, chill the fuck out. You asked "Who wrote the song?" and I answered based on what is both commonly accepted and what the law itself states.


I was under the impression that the law states that the people who wrote the song are the people who are creditted with writing the song.
Quote by Ed O'Brien
“It’s not genius. It’s just that if you want something good to come out of something, you have to put in a lot of effort. That involves a lot of hard work, and a lot of blood, sweat and tears sometimes.”

http://urbanscarecrow.bandcamp.com/
#27
Music by: [Name of Composer]
Lyrics by: [Name of lyricist]
Preformed by: [Name of all in band]

DONE!!! hope it helps.
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And with these wings
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#28
Damascus - In your situation, your approach is very valid. It's what you want and it works for you and your band.... run with it. Nobody should tell you that it is wrong.

However... a few things to consider:
1. Sometimes bands that start off as best of friends have a way of ruining those friendships. Kinda like a girl who is a close friend. Sometimes you can have sex with them and still be best of friends. Other times, as soon as you have sex with them, the friendship is ruined.
2. It sounds like you guys have been at it for a bit, and that hasn't happened to you. You're lucky. Because you're lucky in that situation, that is why your approach works for you.
3. What you have, in effect, done from a legal/technical standpoint is written the songs (lyrics and melody) and told a benevolent lie that the rest of the band contributed, thereby allowing your band mates to have equal ownership/control of the material. You "gifted" it to them. Considering #2, then that's cool. Considering most other situations that we read about in the bandleading forum, and how often they come up, that is rarely the best situation for most of us. As I say... .look through most of your favourite CDs and check out who the writing credits go to.

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#30
Quote by Damascus
I was under the impression that the law states that the people who wrote the song are the people who are creditted with writing the song.


It all depends on how you define "writing" a song. If the band members are just writing their own parts after the chord progression, lyrics, and melody are all done, then I'd hardly say that they're participating in the songwriting process. They're writing bass lines, drum fills, and guitar riffs; not songs.
My guitar modification blog.
Quote by MuffinMan
Jesus was all like "To those about to rock, I salute you." then he grabbed his mighty axe and rocked the Romans out really hard. Of course they were strict classical music so....
#31
Quote by Black Star
It all depends on how you define "writing" a song. If the band members are just writing their own parts after the chord progression, lyrics, and melody are all done, then I'd hardly say that they're participating in the songwriting process. They're writing bass lines, drum fills, and guitar riffs; not songs.


You're not understanding what I'm trying to say - as far as I'm aware from what axemanchris has said, legally, the people who wrote the song - the people who are legally considered to have to written the song and therefore are entitled to royalties etc. - are the people who are creditted with the song.

Who wrote what is irrelevant. I could give my grandmother songwriting credit for a song she's never listened to and she'd recieve royalties. I could be getting this wrong, but it looks obivous that the only thing the law is concerned with is who is officially listed as writing the song.


Quote by axemanchris

3. What you have, in effect, done from a legal/technical standpoint is written the songs (lyrics and melody) and told a benevolent lie that the rest of the band contributed, thereby allowing your band mates to have equal ownership/control of the material. You "gifted" it to them. Considering #2, then that's cool. Considering most other situations that we read about in the bandleading forum, and how often they come up, that is rarely the best situation for most of us. As I say... .look through most of your favourite CDs and check out who the writing credits go to.

CT


I'd just like to make it clear that I don't write the lyrics and melody to all of the band's songs, or even most of them. I've written the melodies to most of them and the lyrics to a minority. I used the example of a song I wrote both to to illustrate how I feel that even in a situation in which it might appear as if I'd done all the work, there's still a very collaborative process going on - I'm often unable to think of a good way to structure an outro or a breakdown until the drummer comes up with a good beat for it, I'll base the vocal melody off a guitar line the singer wrote, the bassist will suggest a radical overhaul to how I'm playing a certain guitar section or whatever.

I'm not saying that there aren't some bands in which it would be a 'gift' to share songwriting credit, but I'm not in one of them.
Quote by Ed O'Brien
“It’s not genius. It’s just that if you want something good to come out of something, you have to put in a lot of effort. That involves a lot of hard work, and a lot of blood, sweat and tears sometimes.”

http://urbanscarecrow.bandcamp.com/
#32

You're not understanding what I'm trying to say - as far as I'm aware from what axemanchris has said, legally, the people who wrote the song - the people who are legally considered to have to written the song and therefore are entitled to royalties etc. - are the people who are creditted with the song.

Who wrote what is irrelevant. I could give my grandmother songwriting credit for a song she's never listened to and she'd recieve royalties. I could be getting this wrong, but it looks obivous that the only thing the law is concerned with is who is officially listed as writing the song.


Not exactly - hence, for example, A Whiter Shade of Pale being litigated and someone else receiving a share of the royalties, or Clare Torry suing for a songwriting credit on Great Gig in the Sky.

There will be a presumption that the people who are credited with writing the song did so, and they will be able to receive royalties for it, but if it can be shown that someone else did, they will be entitled to the royalties and credit. So you could credit a song to you, your mate, and your grandma, if you and your mate wrote it, but he'd be able to claim that your grandma had no input in writing it and get his 'fair' share of the royalties and credit.

Of course, whether vocal melody, lyrics and guitar chords constitute sufficient to claim a songwriting credit will depend on the song - imagine if Lou Reed claimed Herbie Flowers had no share in Take A Walk on the Wild Side. Two chords, ridiculously simple vocal melody, and a lead bassline...Who deserves a share of the credit in that song?
#33
Quote by Damascus
I'd just like to make it clear that I don't write the lyrics and melody to all of the band's songs, or even most of them. I've written the melodies to most of them and the lyrics to a minority. I used the example of a song I wrote both to to illustrate how I feel that even in a situation in which it might appear as if I'd done all the work, there's still a very collaborative process going on - I'm often unable to think of a good way to structure an outro or a breakdown until the drummer comes up with a good beat for it, I'll base the vocal melody off a guitar line the singer wrote, the bassist will suggest a radical overhaul to how I'm playing a certain guitar section or whatever.


Honestly, that's the only example that would constitute a songwriting credit. I'd explain further, but Samzawadi does a good job of it himself:

Quote by Samzawadi
There will be a presumption that the people who are credited with writing the song did so, and they will be able to receive royalties for it, but if it can be shown that someone else did, they will be entitled to the royalties and credit. So you could credit a song to you, your mate, and your grandma, if you and your mate wrote it, but he'd be able to claim that your grandma had no input in writing it and get his 'fair' share of the royalties and credit.


If your band ever becomes successful, and something goes terribly wrong, there's the possibility of lawsuits for royalties, especially if certain members can prove that that person had no involvement in the lyric / melody writing process.

Quote by Samzawadi
Of course, whether vocal melody, lyrics and guitar chords constitute sufficient to claim a songwriting credit will depend on the song - imagine if Lou Reed claimed Herbie Flowers had no share in Take A Walk on the Wild Side. Two chords, ridiculously simple vocal melody, and a lead bassline...Who deserves a share of the credit in that song?


Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Lou Reed listed as the sole songwriter of that song? Also, the main bass line is like 3 notes. It'd really be at the court's discretion as to whether the bass line could really be considered the "melody" or not, though I think not. Also, chord progressions are irrelevant.
My guitar modification blog.
Quote by MuffinMan
Jesus was all like "To those about to rock, I salute you." then he grabbed his mighty axe and rocked the Romans out really hard. Of course they were strict classical music so....
#34
It would be an interesting dilemma - attributing writing credit to someone else, and then having that assignment of credit contested in court.

My *guess* is this:
a) The person who contests the writing credit and requests that it be retracted is also listed as a co-writer: Would be seen as a greedy attack, perhaps out of retribution. It would clearly be challenged as "you were part of this agreement of credit before.... why are you contesting it now?"
b) The person who contests the writing credit and requests that it be retracted is NOT listed as a co-writer: The currently credited co-writers would be called as witnesses to verify that they, in fact, DID write the song.... or more to the point.... all of them willingly allowed each other's names to be listed for writing credit..

Either way.... the collective wins.

Yes, when you register your song with a performing rights organization, publishing collective, etc., you enter the data that you want. If you want to "gift" ownership of the song to your grandmother.... just like any other material asset.... you can. She receives the royalties, and gains ultimate control of the composition.

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#35
Quote by Black Star
.... do you seriously have 10 people in your band?

Those who wrote the songs should get the credit for it. It's not egotistical to claim what is rightfully yours.


Hah... yes, I do, if everyone shows up. Which makes the songwriting credits even more convoluted. It's rare to have a rehearsal where all three horn players show up - we usually have two. The percussionist makes it 75% of the time, as does a backup vocalist. The only people we absolutely NEED to get through a rehearsal are me (lead guitar), drums, bass, and singer. If we "wrote" a song in practice, how are we supposed to remember who worked on it and to what degree?

I look at it like this - my drummer brought a song in. Complete with lyrics, melody, all chord changes, etc. I spent many hours crafting a good solo for it, along with a different chord change to fit my little melodic line. But - guess what - I didn't write that song. I would never expect to get credit for it. Similarly, the bass player does not deserve songwriting credit on a song that I spent easily 30-40 hours composing for coming up with a cool bass line. To me, that's just not how it works.