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Question About Songwriting Credit and Royalties
Old 4 weeks ago
  #1
Question About Songwriting Credit and Royalties

Sorry if this is in the wrong forum. Mods please move it to the right place.

My question is this:

Say you recorded a cover of a song but you changed the chord progression, changed 10% of the lyrics and used a different song title.

How do you credit songwriting?

More importantly, if you want to release it, what do you have to do regarding royalties/publishing/copyright?

Do you have to get permission from whoever owns the rights to the original song before you can release it?

Thanks for any help!
Old 4 weeks ago
  #2
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
The "right" answer is "ask an attorney." The other answer would be "ask Weird Al." He pretty much does all those things, except he changes 100% of the lyrics.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #3
Lives for gear
William "Terry" W. Fisher III [Harvard Law professor] taught an online course some years back: CopyrightX. You can find the videos and notes still online. And there are several other useful online resources that I think will help you understand many of the aspects that are in play. Probably worth reviewing those before engaging an attorney. There are other great resources on the topic as well that will help you maximize the value of your subsequent discussions/interaction with an attorney, I think.

But, I'm not an attorney. Consult an attorney with strong competence in music copyright law in the affected jurisdictions. Copyright cases can be extremely expensive and infringements can lead to severely punitive consequences.


Best wishes,

Ray H.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #4
You need to be well researched and knowledgeable to release covers. You need to have all the Is dotted and Ts crossed regards licensing and metadata and codification and registration to make sure the original composer(s) get the correct royalties sent to them.

Australia manages this through APRA AMCOS and its licensing arrangements. They also have FAQs and PDF guides and other resources about the processes and requirements. As a composer, we also register with APRA here.

USA uses HFA I think. Not sure of the details there. Other jurisdictions will have their own licensing bodies and arrangements - you need to find yours and figure out the required processes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trakworx ➡️
recorded a cover of a song
If it's at all derived from or recognisably inspired by, it's a cover (here at least) so you need to deal with the required organisations and processes to stay out of trouble. Either that or you simply do not release it.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #5
Lives for gear
 
Marlowe's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
If you've significantly changed a song but it primarily remains the original song than it's best to ask permission from the copyright owner before releasing it in order to avoid possible legal action.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #6
Gear Nut
 
🎧 10 years
As a songwriter, not a lawyer - I would ask:

why the hell would you do this? AND change the song title? It sounds like "passing off" to me.

Write your own song, or respect the songwriting talents of the author you're covering.

If it's a comedic lampoon, then that may be a different matter. But the songwriter may not like you playing with his or her baby. So you'd better respectfully ask, and be prepared to be denied permission.

Sorry, but I have very little respect for those who use the talents of others to "create" their own work. Bit like sampling really...
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #7
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scardanelli ➡️
Sorry, but I have very little respect for those who use the talents of others to "create" their own work. Bit like sampling really...
We don't really know what's behind OP's ask. But he's one of the more solid citizens here, so I'm inclined to assume that there's nothing hinky afoot. Not on his part, anyway.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #8
Would anyone who was trying to "pass off" a song start a thread asking how to properly credit and pay the songwriter?

Thanks for all the answers!
Old 3 weeks ago
  #9
Moderator
 
psycho_monkey's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trakworx ➡️
Sorry if this is in the wrong forum. Mods please move it to the right place.

My question is this:

Say you recorded a cover of a song but you changed the chord progression, changed 10% of the lyrics and used a different song title.

How do you credit songwriting?

More importantly, if you want to release it, what do you have to do regarding royalties/publishing/copyright?

Do you have to get permission from whoever owns the rights to the original song before you can release it?

Thanks for any help!
Simplest answer is unless you're relatively well known, it'll probably be a blanket no from the publisher.

Yes you do need permission.

Generally speaking, you can change chords under "arrangement" license, but any lyrical changes need to be approved by the publisher, and most artists will say no.

IF by some miracle you did get approval, you'd end up with what's called a "derivative work" and you'd probably get a name on the credit but most likely the original author would insist on keeping 100% of the publishing.

And yes you need to get permission. The other option is you release it anyway, hope it's a massive viral hit and the original artist approves it in retrospect - but most likely they'll issue a cease and desist letter. But in this circumstance you'd only be able to release via soundcloud/youtube unofficially - any aggregator (CDBaby/Distrokid etc) would pull it immediately.
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #10
Moderator
 
psycho_monkey's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scardanelli ➡️
If it's a comedic lampoon, then that may be a different matter. But the songwriter may not like you playing with his or her baby. So you'd better respectfully ask, and be prepared to be denied permission.
Even if it's a lampoon (a la Weird Al) you still need permission (Mike Batt got turned down by Oasis for the Wombles...he wanted to do "What's the Story (Tobemory)" and they didn't see the funny side!).

You can parody something under fair use, or you can quote it (not 100% sure of the rules here), but it can't actually *be* the original.

Hence the amount of library soundalikes that are clearly inspired by a particular song but don't actually contain any of the same notes so are free from copyright issues.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #11
Gear Maniac
 
I released a cover song a couple of months ago so I had to look into what type of licensing/permission was needed. You need to purchase a mechanical license from the Harry Fox Agency. They have a site called Songfile (.com) where you can purchase the mechanical license for many songs (I'm not sure which ones aren't included there but the song I covered was). It cost $35 and allows up to 10,000 streams and 2,500 physical units under the license. Our version of the song was pretty different instrumentally than the original but the words, melody and chords were the same, so I'm not sure what the rules are regarding changing words or chords. That's something you might want to contact HFA and ask.
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #12
Moderator
 
psycho_monkey's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by sean8877 ➡️
I released a cover song a couple of months ago so I had to look into what type of licensing/permission was needed. You need to purchase a mechanical license from the Harry Fox Agency. They have a site called Songfile (.com) where you can purchase the mechanical license for many songs (I'm not sure which ones aren't included there but the song I covered was). It cost $35 and allows up to 10,000 streams and 2,500 physical units under the license. Our version of the song was pretty different instrumentally than the original but the words, melody and chords were the same, so I'm not sure what the rules are regarding changing words or chords. That's something you might want to contact HFA and ask.
I’ve just explained above precisely what the rules are - you need permission and you won’t get it unless you’re either a name yourself or have a pretty good reason why.

Your situation is completely different. You just did a simple cover, which even if you rearrange it, is covered under a blanket license as you say.

The two situations aren’t really comparable.
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