Music Industry

Who Wrote That Song? Well, It’s Complicated.

Assigning credit to those who contributed to the writing of a song has always been a contentious issue. Today, though, it’s even more complicated and weird. The Guardian explains:

David Guetta is a confusing man for a number of reasons, the latest being his involvement in the aptly titled single Complicated. Sonically, it’s a straightforward approximation of the current pop sound – the song’s true complexity lies in how it’s billed. Brace yourself for an explosion of pop-lexicographical wizardry that will leave you wondering if you’re reading about a pop record or an attempt by the exam board to make equations relevant for A-level maths students: Complicated was released by Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike vs David Guetta feat Kiiara.

Scan the charts and release schedules and you’ll see numerous variations on the theme, from “and” and “with” to “x”, “+” and “presents”. But they don’t all mean the same thing, and there can be fierce behind-the-scenes struggles over how artists are billed, how far up the credit chain they’re allowed, or whether they’re even credited at all. So just how important is a credit on a hit song? Let’s kick things off with British singer Kyla. She scraped the Top 50 in 2008 as the voice of UK funky track Do You Mind, but by last year she was resigned to the idea that music would only ever be a hobby. Then Drake, out of nowhere, decided to sample Do You Mind on One Dance.

“I kept getting all these emails from Sony saying, ‘Contact us, it’s urgent,’” she recalls. “I didn’t think it could be anything that urgent, so I went shopping.” When Kyla got home she called Sony and found out what Drake had in mind, and as well as using the sample he also chose to give Kyla an artist credit, a twist of fate – or twist of feat, if you will – that she didn’t allow herself to believe until the song dropped, just three days after she’d found out it even existed

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Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38061 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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