As a struggling songwriter, there’s a lot of things to navigate before you can get a successful “cut”. One of them are what I call “credit hunters”. For a long time now, singers of all genres have tried to get songwriter credits as their “fee” for covering certain songs. As we all know, even adding one phrase to a song provides songwriting credit.
Most of the time, this is done for monetary gain but it’s also a way for some to gain “credentials”. This confirms that the songwriter’s badge is one of the most sought after form of recognition in the music business. After all, it’s all about the song isn’t it?
Kreviazuk & Lavigne
In the June 2007 issue of Performing Songwriter, Canadian songwriter Chantal Kreviazuk expressed her astonishment that Avril Lavigne was calling herself a songwriter, since she usually gets songs from other people and adds herself as co-writer. Kreviazuk later had to retract her comments for fear of upsetting a powerful artist (and scaring off many potential clients). Lavigne would love to be respected as a songwriter but people just won’t let her do that. Poor Avril.
Clarkson & Davis
We all want recognition. American Idol success story Kelly Clarkson has experienced some frustrations trying to get some songwriting credits herself. She explains it as sexism, but I don’t really buy this considering the high percentage of sought-after female songwriters. A hit is a hit and usually, executives will use any song that can bring them more federally approved paper currency. It’s more likely that she has problems convincing Clive Davis, her famous producer. She’s the real deal, but she’s understandably upset that she cannot use more of her own song on albums that bare her name.
Presley & Parton
As a struggling songwriter, it takes a lot of courage and self-confidence to say “no” to a well-known pop star. Yet, this is exactly what Dolly Parton did when Elvis Presley asked to be named as co-writer of “I will Always Love You” in exchange of covering the song in the late 60’s. She stuck to her guns and the song became a hit for herself and others, including the now famous Whitney Houston cover. No means no Elvis!
Anka & Carson
Then, there are songwriters who openly offer songwriting credits to incite the use of their songs. The best example is Paul Anka’s “Johnny’s Theme” song for the Johnny Carson show. Carson was actually going to choose another theme, when Anka approached him with the idea of splitting the song’s publishing. Both men collected millions of dollars on the arrangement.
Just Say “Maybe”
I can’t possibly advise you say “no” to credit hunters, because they can really make a big difference in a song earning potential. The trick is to not give credits to anyone who has done nothing to make a song happen.