Give Them Credit: More Than 80% of Mainstream Songs Are Written By the Artist

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Who’s actually writing their own music these days?

That can be a complicated question, though in the eyes of the law, the publishing credit determines whether a performer actually wrote the song.  And this is more than just a technical distinction: a writing credit entitles the performer to a piece of the publishing revenue (depending on splits, other writers, etc.)

So, we spent last week searching the databases of ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC, and cross-referencing the top 100 charting songs on BigChampagne’s Ultimate Chart (week ending 11/11).  The result?  A whopping 83 percent found the performer, or at least one of the band members in the writing credit.  Sometimes alone, though usually alongside a writing team.

The reason?  The obvious takeaway is that performers are starting to play a more active role in the writing process.  That’s a trend that’s been happening for decades, and look no further than the ‘singer-songwriter’ for proof.  But even if the performer has very little input on the songwriting side, they often massage their way into the songwriting credit – and get paid a split as a result.  That could be a function of the relationship with the increasingly-common ‘writer-producer,’ but few outside of that small team can really say who wrote what.

All we have is information about who’s got a credit, and who’s getting paid.  And it turns out a lot of performers are now getting paid on both the recording and publishing sides.