Songwriters Call on Artists to Stop Demanding Credit and Publishing for Songs They Didn’t Write


Songwriters Call on Artists to Stop Demanding Credit and Publishing for Songs They Didn’t Write

The Pact—Emily Warren, Tobias Jesso Jr., Tayla Parx, and others—pledge to stop catering to recording artists’ “bully tactics and threats” in demanding publishing
Musician recording an acoustic guitar
Musician recording an acoustic guitar (Neil Godwin/Total Guitar Magazine/Future via Getty Images)

A group of songwriters have formed a group called the Pact and released an open letter calling on recording artists to stop demanding songwriting credit and publishing on songs the artist didn’t write, Variety reports. The list of signees thus far includes songwriters Emily Warren, Tobias Jesso Jr., Tayla Parx, Justin Tranter, Toss Golan, Amy Allen, Lennon Stella, Shae Jacobs, Sam Harris, Deza, Joel Little, and more. Many of these songwriters have written hits with major stars.

“This body of songwriters will not give publishing or songwriting credit to anyone who did not create or change the lyric or melody or otherwise contribute to the composition without a reasonably equivalent/meaningful exchange for all the writers on the song,” the group pledged.

In addition to a statement regarding pay inequities from streams on Spotify, a statement posted to Instagram discusses how publishing is the only primary source of income for songwriters compared to the many potential revenue streams for recording artists (including touring, merch, brand partnerships, and more). 

This demand for publishing is often able to happen because the artist and/or their representation abuse leverage, use bully tactics and threats, and prey upon writers who may choose to give up some of their assets rather than lose the opportunity completely. Over time, this practice of artists taking publishing has become normalized; and until now, there has been no real unity within the songwriting community to fight back.

“The egregious practice of a recording artist asking, pressuring or even forcing a songwriter to give up songwriting credit, and a percentage of a song’s income, when they did not participate in writing that song has, unfortunately, been business-as-usual for decades,” Songwriters of North America said in a statement. “But in the digital era, when artists and labels are already receiving most of the revenue from streaming, demanding a piece of our work is kicking us when we are already down and is simply greedy and cruel. The working songwriters and composers of SONA endorse The Pact and will support any songwriter who stands up and speaks out against this unfair practice.”

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