Songwriting in general


New Member
Oct 17, 2012
United Kingdom
Gear owned
Tascam SX1
Hello, If any of our members would like advice on the subject of ''songwriting, please contact me with your query. If any budding writers out there need a hand please ask, and I will assist you to the best of my ability. My credentials are. I am signed,also have a publishing deal with a globally known publishing house.Plus I am a recently retired pro- musician,session and journey man.So, I have a bit of knowledge of how the profession works. Regards,Jonte4
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Hi there, Thank you for your post. I will take you up on your offer. I came across this forum in searching for some tips about my recorder. My questions will be dealing with subjects related to publishing and so forth. One thing at a time so can you recommend the proper way to copyright, such as what service do you use and guidelines.
Thank you, drk
How to become expert in the music business:

1. Buy "This Business Of Music" and read it.
2. Get a lawyer who knows IP law.
3. Visit and read all of it.
4. Never ask advice on an Internet forum unless you are are interested in misinformation.

You don't need a "service" to copyright your work, BTW. The website tells all.
Another good book of knowledge I had the pleasure of reading in Music School was "The Musicians Business and Legal Guide" . Jim's reply is spot on!
Whatever book you buy, make sure it is relevant to the country you're in. For instance , American copyright books are useless in The Netherlands.
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Indeed, Arjan. For example here in Soviet Republic of Finlandija copyright is granted: if you create a piece of art you have copyrighted it instantly. Now ... the problem is of course how you prove it in case you go to court defending your copyright.
Yeah, same thing in the US: copyright is conferred automatically "at the moment of creation." But you have to register the work with the Library of Congress not just to prove copyright, but to even bring an infringement case to court.
Hello Jeff, I think the posts recieved just about got it covered in relation to the copyright query.?. I live and work in the UK. So! even though the book, 'This business Music' is superb,there's a shortfall in covering aspects which are relevant to me living and working in the UK. I'm sure every country on the Globe, has the same problems relating to copyright. One of the probs here, and I'm sure everywhere else, is' Subconscious Composition'. Huge amounts of cash are sometimes paid out after years of litigation. PS, As for asking for advice on the internet,I see nothing wrong with that approach. As for myself,I have had a good experience in retrieving knowledge off the internet.Surfing sites like this one. Separating the wheat from the chaff so to speak. You soon catch on to who is waffling,and who is not. I digress,as for myself,I'm a very simplistic person when it comes to work,I'm extremely old school. When I come to the conclusion of a project, I listen to it, assess it's merit. Luckily, I have a few musician friends who I ask around for a coffee and a chin wag, after about 10/15 mins I play the piece, see what reaction I get,if nothing is said,thats good. If I get a reaction,that's also good. Since I first started in this business I have been a member of 'The guild of international Songwriters and Composers'. as much as I dislike prostituting businesses, I find them very amiable and knowledgable. PPS,Jeff,prior to embracing the said copyright route,send a copy to yourself,date it,sealed of course.Do not open it,put it in your bank. When you decide which publishing house to go with, checkout if they have an assessment dept. Use it. You don't want to infringe anyones copyright. One last thing,you won't probably need me to tell you this,be honest with your compositions,there are literally millions of writers out there,with there music sites,using samples and arranger boards etc.separate your self,and don't become one of the herd.
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I repeat: Don't ask for legal advice on the Internet. It's always wrong. Ask for legal advice from a lawyer.

Sending a copy to yourself - so called "poor man's copyright" - has been debunked so many times in so many places that I won't even bother. In the US, you can't even bring a suit in court in the work is not registered with the LOC, and mailing yourself a copy by registered mail us a waste of postage.

Just read for the real answers pertaining to the US. I'm sure the UK has a similar site.

BTW, here's information from your own Guild on the subject: "I have posted a copy of my works to myself, but have heard this referred to as a poor persons copyright. Mailing a copy of the work(s) to yourself is not a good practice in itself. This type of evidence is problematic If the packet/envelope is sealed with sellotape or stapled then it could be argued that it has been opened and resealed, and could be fake/corrupted evidence. We strongly advise against this type of registration as a main registration but may good as a secondary back up to a main registration in support, but is questionable."
Hello Jon, (or if anyone can offer sound advice ?) i see you are in the uk. i have a number of questions if you dont mind
1) which parts of a song are copyrighted ?
Now, i am not talking about sampling a part of a song but say just me replaying the part in another song,
now if i strip a song down to its parts, i am led to believe...
Drums, are not copyrightable
bass is not ( or you could not ever play a blues bass line ever again) unless it forms part of the whole melody of the song like say "beat it" or say "another one bites the dust" or "the chain"

Guitar is not, but solos ??
keys are not unless again they form the main melody

Vocals are.. for lyrics and melody

so it would seem that anything that forms part of the songs main melodic structure is. no matter what instrument,
is this right ?

i have done a song with a bass line in it i think falls between the two, yes it is almost the same from another song but the song i have done is not the same,,,, tricky one,

So lets assume it is copyright infringement class, then....
2) how do i go about asking for (and to who) the right to use that bass line ?
thanks if you can help
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i am led to believe... Drums, are not copyrightable. bass is not ( or you could not ever play a blues bass line ever again) unless it forms part of the whole melody of the song like say "beat it" or say "another one bites the dust"
Be careful what you assume in this area: A well known recent case is the one of Robin Thicke/ Pharell Williams' 'Blurred Lines' and the Marvin Gaye song that contested its copyright. Much of the infringement ruling was based on the rhythmic aspects of the two songs and the order of those parts being too much alike.

Another striking example is The Verve's 'Bittersweet Symphony': They used a sample of a symphonic version of the Rolling Stones' 'The Last Time' (unrecogniseable as such in the way they used it) for their song. They lost the lawsuit and it now is a Jagger/Richards song. Listen to the two and try to spot the likeness! (Not to mention the fact that the Stones stole it themselves from the Staple Singers' 'This May Be The Last Time')
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Yea i know about the Blurred lines case but to be fair !!
i can see that,
Did you even finish reading my first line? That video is totally unrelated.
It is related, i know what you are saying, im saying yes at least in this i can hear more then just a rhythm track ( drum) thats related to each other hence me putting up the vid with both versions overlapped.

more to the point i am looking for any writen boundries for which instruments or parts of a song would infringe a copyright.
That video compares two videos (original and censored) to the same music. Not the Thicke song and the Gaye song.

But anyway, you won't find written boundaries for what will and will not infringe copyright. The subject is way too complex for that, as the examples show.
Ah crap, i see what you mean now !
"The subject is way too complex for that, as the examples show"
so it would seem, i have been trawling the net for clearer info.
so many conflicting ideas, its a bit of a minefield.
cheers Arjan
I don't know what the process should be but it often resembles something like....
(A bit less as time goes on...)
  1. Try and get a starting point that doesn't sound like total donkey crap.
  2. Try to put a few phrases together that won't make you feel too stupid. (You can mumble them when you sing them so hopefully nobody will really understand what you are on about).
  3. Go about recording it while suppressing the little voice in the back of your mind that keeps say "Good Lord. You are so pathetic. What's the fucking point"
  4. Play it back and try not to take the headphones off in shame.
  5. Maybe delete it. If not then put it on your laptop.
  6. Listen to it for a few days till you start thinking "Maybe it's not completely horrible"
  7. Maybe let your wife listen to it and hope that she doesn't rethink her life choices.
  8. Upload it and drink heavily.
  9. Repeat....

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