Songwriter Group Tells Artists to Stop Claiming Credit on Songs They Didn’t Write

The Pact, a newly formed songwriting group, has called for artists to cease claiming credit on songs that they didn’t author.

The songwriting group levied the demand in a pair of multi-slide Instagram posts, which, at the time of this piece’s writing, were the only two messages that had been published to the entity’s profile. Additionally, The Pact boasts 3,393 followers on the platform and hasn’t yet specified its members’ identities.

The debut message that The Pact directed towards the now-standard practice of giving songwriting credit to non-contributing artists (and, in some instances, others who are not involved with the writing process) consists of eight slides, the first of which features text asking: “How does an ARTIST make money?”

Slides two, three, and four feature illustrations as well as text showcasing some of the ways that artists generate revenue today, specifically including live/touring, TV performances, VIP/Meet + Greets, merch, brand partnerships/endorsements/sponsors, feature fees, private performances, SoundExchange/PPL, points on the master, and publishing.

But slide five asks how songwriters make money, followed by a single-word slide six, which reads “publishing.”

“And yet, more and more often, SONGWRITERS are being asked to give up PUBLISHING to ARTISTS who did not contribute to the composition in any way,” proceeds slide seven. “It’s time to make some changes #thepact,” the eighth and final slide finishes.

The second post, leading with a “How much does a songwriter make from streams on Spotify?” slide, includes a chart indicating that songwriters earn $2,000 per 10 million Spotify streams, “based on 100% publishing share in a co-pub deal.

“Meanwhile the master owner(s),” the next slide indicates, “A.K.A. the ARTIST/LABEL, with 0% publishing will go on to make 13x AS MUCH on the same song.

“AND YET more and more often,” reads slide six, “SONGWRITERS are being pressured to give up their very small piece of the PIE.”

The latter post has garnered approximately 11,685 likes thus far, and nearly 200 individuals have weighed in with comments.

“As someone who’s been on both sides of the coin, songwriters are the most powerless in this situation. It’s our responsibility as artists to speak up and vouch for the songwriters until the system changes,” wrote singer-songwriter Annika Wells.

“Honestly thank you so much for making this very simple but effective graphic to explain these disparities,” weighed in New York-born singer-songwriter Norma Jean Martine.

Early last month, PRS for Music changed the rules associated with its licenses for small-scale livestreams in the UK, after receiving ample social-media criticism from artists who’ve turned to livestream gigs amid the pandemic. And back in August of 2020, Spotify, Amazon, Google, and Pandora scored a victory against the Copyright Royalty Board’s proposed 44 percent songwriter royalty increase.

3 Responses

  1. Jeff Reynold

    Songwriter/Producers can own the whole pie. Use work-for-hire agreements with the artists. Too much heavy lifting? Collaborate with people who have something to offer.

  2. Mary K.

    Artists want a piece of the song, claiming that their vocal stylings helped craft the work. Without them and their built celebrity, the song wouldn’t get played or heard. Is it right? No.

    • Anonymous

      My response to such Artist is: 1) If I never wrote the song, you wouldn’t be doing ‘vocal stylings’. 2) You already make big money for the record sale, merch, touring and such. Leave the songwriters publishing alone.

      If the artist makes major changes before recording and releasing, that is another matter. If they merely show up to put a vocal on a produced track, they can bugger off.

      I am not current on how things are paid out, but it used to be the artist, could make up to $4/CD sold (Big names, lesser names $.50-1.00). The song writer would get $.05-.07.

      The artists tour and sell merch. The songwriter would get basically a nickel for airplay on the radio.

      If I became famous singing someone else’s song, went on tour, killed it with merch sales etc….I would probably give a bonus to the songwriter out of my own pocket!

      Greed is the #1 issue in this business, always has been.

      Cheers