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Songwriters Rally To Stop Artists Being Credited For Songs They Didn’t Write
Songwriters who have written for or with the likes of Dua Lipa, Justin Bieber, and Ariana Grande have signed an open letter in a bold statement to stop singers and performers receiving writing credits for songs they haven’t written.
A group of top-level songwriters, coined The Pact, recently initiated a social media campaign followed by an open letter, detailing their plans to refuse writing credits when requested by artists who haven't contributed to the composition of a song.
The full mission statement available on Pact’s website is as follows:
“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 Pact
Variety refers to the practice of artists demanding credit and publishing for songs they did not write as “one of the longest-running open secrets of the music industry”. However, songwriters are not holding specific artists accountable as of yet, with the understanding that it’s the entire team behind each particular artist who must assume responsibility.
The key paragraph of the letter, which is available in full here, describes publishing revenue as the sole income of songwriters, juxtaposing this against the performer’s comparably countless revenue avenues:
“Over the last few years, there has been a growing number of artists that are demanding publishing on songs they did not write. These artists will go on to collect revenue from touring, merchandise, brand partnerships, and many other revenue streams, while the songwriters have only their publishing revenue as a means of income. 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.”
Pact’s letter has sparked a conversation throughout the music industry about why singers and performers feel entitled to writing credits they haven’t earned. For many, it seems to be a case of artistic credibility. For others, it’s simply how the industry’s operated for as long as they’ve been in it. Variety reports that “this practice dates back at least to Elvis Presley’s early superstar days and has continued to varying degrees ever since.”
Should The Pact’s mission prove successful, it could be the most important step towards empowering songwriters of this decade.
If you’re a songwriter looking to join the movement, you can sign The Pact’s open letter here.