Emily Warren, other songwriters take stance against unfair crediting practices in open letter
In a March 30 open letter, prominent singer-songwriters Emily Warren, Justin Tranter, and Ross Golan pledged that they will no longer provide publishing or songwriting credit to artists or other individuals who did not contribute to a song’s writing process. The authors of the letter, who identify as “The Pact,” specifically pledged not to extend publishing and songwriting credit to those 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 effort is said to be led in large part by Warren. In the time since its virtual dissemination on March 30, the letter has attracted signatures from some of the industry’s most influential songwriters including Victoria Monet, among many others. The Pact’s movement comes at a pivotal time when many songwriters are collectively working toward a paradigm shift in the music industry, seeking to be viewed with the same significance as the artist who will be vocalizing or otherwise performing the song that they wrote.
Dancing Astronaut‘s March Supernova Jonathan Mendelsohn spoke to some of the unjust practices that singer-songwriters face in today’s industry in a recent interview. Mendelsohn stated, “In EDM, the DJ/producer is king and there have been times where I had to fight for the recognition and terms I felt I deserved. I’m wise enough to not work with artists like that as a rule and instead gravitate towards the people I feel a sense of loyalty from and [who] make me feel like part of the team.”
The Pact can be found on Instagram. Their collaborative letter, along with other information on their mission to bring greater equivalence to songwriters, is available here. The letter can also be read in full below.
“To whom it may concern:
The beauty of the music industry is that it operates at its best as an ecosystem. Behind most songs, there is a story of collaboration. By the time of release, a song has been touched not just by the artist, but by songwriters, producers, mixers, engineers, record labels, publishers, managers and more.
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.
That is why we have decided to join together, in support of each other, and make a change. What we are saying is this:
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.
To be clear, this action is being taken for two main purposes. First and foremost, we hope that this action will protect the future ‘us,’ the next generation of songwriters – those who believe they have no leverage and no choice but to give up something that is rightly theirs. The second purpose is to shift the rhetoric and perspective surrounding the role of a songwriter. As songwriters, we are fully aware of the importance of the artist who goes on to perform and promote the songs we write, the role of the producer who takes the song to the finish line, and the role of the label that finances the project and plans for strategy and promotion. In light of that, we are not suggesting we dip into those revenue streams, we are not asking for something we don’t deserve. We are simply asking for that respect in return. We are simply asking that the ecosystem stay in balance; we are simply asking that we not be put in positions where we are forced to give up all we have in exchange for nothing; we are simply asking that we give credit where credit is due and only take credit where credit is earned.
If we take the song out of the music industry, there is no music industry. As of today, we will no longer accept being treated like we are at the bottom of the totem pole, or be bullied into thinking that we should be making sacrifices to sit at the table. We are all in this together, and we all need each other for this wheel to keep turning. So let’s start acting like it.”
Via: The Pact
Featured image: Baeble Music