Songwriting UK — Winter 2017

(Axel Boer) #1


and my bandmates ended up agreeing to
without a clue what the implications were
and would be considerably better off as a
They’re often unaware of how all the bits
of the music industry jigsaw fit together, and
even that the copyright in your words and
music lasts for your lifetime plus 70 years. Get
that wrong at the start, and you’ve potentially
signed away a fortune.


I’d always strongly advise that as soon as a
song has been written as a collaboration that
the writers involved use one the MU’s free
Songshare Agreements so that each writer’s
contribution and share in that song is agreed
at the time of writing. Those shares can later
be used to register with PRS and MCPS and
will avoid future contention over the far too
common “who wrote what” scenario.

We’re recording

an album, should

the Producer be

entitled to a share

of the writing


For artists starting off this can be a difficult
area to understand and agree on, especially
if the producer is also the studio owner, as is
often the case, and there is a fall-out, and the
producer demands a share of writing before
releasing the wav files or master tracks.

You need to consider what exactly is the
producer’s role in the process and what are
they bringing to the table? I have a Jane’s
Addiction album where Bob Ezrin is credited
as co-writer on every track. Conversely, Steve
Lillywhite is quoted as saying he’d never ask
for songwriting points or credit, even though
he’s a very energetic and hands on producer –
probably the most hands on I’ve worked with
in 40 years.
These things need to be discussed and
put clearly into writing at the outset of any
relationship which is where the MU can

How can I best
protect my rights?
Musicians are great at the creative side but
not great at the business stuff – that’s when
trade union membership is crucial.
If the services the MU offers had been
available when I started out in the mid 1970’s,
I’d have been able to get free legal advice
before signing all the terrible contracts myself

The MU represents
over 30,000 musicians
working in all
sectors of the music
business including
education, orchestras, gigging
bands and of course, songwriting.
find out more at


The MU’s Paul Gray (second from right) with The Damned, who he recently re-joined in New York as they recorded their latest album
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