"Ghost credits and royalties probably date back to the dawn of copyright if not
the dawn of creativity. As depicted in the recent film “Ma Rainey’s Black
Bottom,” for decades they have been particularly rife in the music business,
where the often-collaborative nature of songwriting makes it difficult to
prove, let alone quantify in percentages, who contributed what.
According to a recently formed group of songwriters and producers calling
themselves the Pact, the practice, long an open secret in the industry, is as
bad if not worse than ever today — and unlike Elvis, the artists are going
after credit as well.
As songwriters have seen their leverage eroded by streaming — which pays a
larger royalty for recorded music than publishing — artists, managers,
producers and even executives have amped up their demands for credit and/or a
percentage of the songwriters’ publishing in exchange for the artist cutting
the song, or even simply for bringing the song to the artist. And as the value
of song catalogs has risen in recent years, with Bob Dylan selling his to
Universal Music Publishing for more than $300 million and Stevie Nicks selling
hers to Primary Wave for $100 million, sources say, more people are playing
Via Esther Schindler.
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics