Songwriting credits

by claesgellerbrink

Chest Fever, Claes Gellerbrink and Araceli Perez
Chest Fever, my first band without any issues regarding who wrote what, maybe because it’s just the two of us

A big discussion in all bands I have ever been a part of has been, who is going to get credits for the songwriting? Since I have never been a part of a successful band that has actually made any money this hasn’t really felt too important in the past, especially since I didn’t use to write music. However, over the years my opinion has changed quite a lot. I started to write music seriously when I moved to Spain in the spring of 2010, before that I just expected others to supply the band with songs. I think I wrote one or two songs for The Caper Story, the last band I played in when I lived in London, well I came up with the riff and then the singer sorted the lyrics. In those cases I felt it was more of a collaborate effort to create music and didn’t mind if the others had an equal share in the credits of writing the song. After all we were a band and we all added something to the finished sound of the song. When I arrived to Barcelona I was unemployed for the first two month and decided to write a song a day however bad it was, just to get used to writing songs and especially to get used to write lyrics. It went pretty well even if I didn’t managed to write a song a day I probably came up with 10 songs at least during this period, some of them I still play today and think are pretty good songs. These songs I consider being 100% mine, not only because I wrote them on my own without the influence of others, but because I have tried to be in 3 different groups during my 3 years here and played those songs in all three bands. If I would have given credits to the others in the first band I played in but recorded it with the last, how would that have been? The drummer kept the beat, the bassist came up with their own bass lines and the guitarists added a fiddly bit or two in every band but to be completely honest, they didn’t sound that different. The songs sounds like they do because of me, what I had in my mind when I wrote the songs still guides anyone who I play it with and therefore the credit should, according to me, be solely mine. It might seems like a egoistic way of seeing music and I can understand that, but if you change this from songwriting to any other form of artistic creation it would seem fairly obvious. I’m a photographer by trade, well nowadays I’m mainly a retoucher but still, I would never give away the copyright of my images or share the credits with anyone else and I don’t think others should either. If you have a few beers and jam up a song, that’s a different story, anyone adding anything to that song should of course have a part of the credit. I’m referring to when you bring a finished song to a band and they expect to get songwriting credits just because they changed the drum beat or added a bass line. This is not even a matter of money, well I haven’t made any money out of my music yet, it’s just a matter of freedom. I don’t want to end up having to share my credits with someone that I might not even be friends with any more just because we used to be in a band together at one point. Or having the possibility that someone decides to play a song that I wrote in his new band without my consent just because they got a share of the credits and therefore can partly call it their own. I need and want the freedom to be able to do do whatever I want with with my own music, now and in the future. It’s perhaps a silly matter until money comes in to the picture but I still think it’s important to make up your mind before greed starts to influence and cloud peoples judgement. A song you have written will be with you for the rest of your life while band members tend to come and go.

I thought of all this because I was listening to Boris the Spider, a song written by John Entwistle for The Who’s 1966 album A Quick One. I read somewhere that they all contributed with songs to the album because they realised that a lot of the money lied in getting royalties for the songwriting. If this is true or not, maybe Pete Townshend was just tired of supplying all the material, it’s a good point. If you want some royalties you better start writing songs.