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I haven't been able to figure out whether this question is on-topic, hopefully it is.

I have recently been wondering about how credits are given to the people who contributed to a song. To be more precise, on Spotify (probably not the best source I know), there are three main kinds of credit given for a song : Performance credits, Songwriting credits, and Production credits.
Judging by the names, one would assume that all the people who performed/wrote/produced the song would be accordingly credited as performer/writer/producer, right ? Except it doesn't appear to always be the case, as I will show with some examples below.

Take the track Teki by Alfa Mist : On Spotify, the writing, producing and performing credits are all given to Alfa Mist, but to me that seems obviously wrong, because Alfa is not the only performing musician on that track (all the musicians are listed on the YouTube link), so all the other musicians should be credited as performers as well.
Furthermore, Alfa is listed as the sole writer of this song on both Youtube and Spotify, but does it really mean that all of the parts were written by him ? Including the drums, the guitar solo, the lyrical part, everything ? Surely the other musicians had some say and influence on the final song, shouldn't they be credited for that ? (Maybe he's just that amazing and truly wrote everything, though that sounds crazy to me).

As another example, consider the tune Mirage by the great Art Blakey. Here again, on Spotify, the performing and songwriting credits are only given to Art Blakey. For the performing credits, that seems truly absurd, since Art is definitely not performing alone (musicians are listed on the YouTube link). As for the songwriting credits, it seems (to me) even harder to believe that Art Blakey, as a drummer, did write all the parts of the song, including the complex harmony and melody involved. Perhaps, here, "Art Blakey" should be understood as "Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers" (his band) ?

All that considered, my question is the following : Is Spotify wrongfully/misleadingly attributing credit for songwriters/performers/producers ? Or is there something I am missing, such as maybe some artists willingly giving up their contribution credit through some preliminary agreement ?

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    Your question is solely about Spotify, so I have amended accordingly. You should look up the difference between mechanical royalties, performance royalties, sync royalties and print royalties.
    – Doktor Mayhem
    Mar 13, 2022 at 14:48
  • Thanks for your edit. In fact, my question is pretty poorly phrased : I took Spotify as an example because it was the most convenient (to me) source providing that information, but I want to know about how the credits are given in general. I could have also only talked about, say, Youtube, but the credits are not systematically given with all the songs on Youtube. Regardless, judging by the downvote, should I conclude that this site is not the right place to ask such questions ? Mar 13, 2022 at 14:59
  • I didn't downvote - I think the question is possibly off topic, because Spotify and other companies may do their own thing even though from the perspective of music licencing organisations (eg PRS) it is very straightforward
    – Doktor Mayhem
    Mar 13, 2022 at 16:10
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    "As for the songwriting credits, it seems (to me) even harder to believe that Art Blakey, as a drummer, did write all the parts of the song, including the complex harmony and melody involved." -- I wouldn't assume that drummers don't write tunes. Many jazz drummers are steeped in the music and have no problems writing melodies and harmonies; Art Blakey was a professional piano player before he became Art Blakey the Drummer. But in this particular case, I think that Mirage was written by Mal Waldron, who recorded the tune first with Jackie McLean; McLean also played on the Blakey version.
    – user39614
    Mar 13, 2022 at 18:24
  • Very important point: credits, and the way they're displayed (especially on playback platforms), can be a separate topic from copyright and ownership. David Tennant and Michael Sheen can argue all day about who gets first billing in the credits, but royalties and rights are a whole nother matter. Mar 14, 2022 at 12:19

1 Answer 1

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This is, to put it mildly… complicated.
Somewhere there's an agreement, or several, written down, as to who gets what for what contribution. This is different for the writers, performers, record company & publisher. Each is handled by a different organisation. Getting a 'credit' on Spotify doesn't necessarily match what goes on behind the scenes. Spotify et al will just write down what they were given as info by the record company/distributor when the track was submitted.

Spotify will just pay the appropriate rights organisation what is owed for the track & leave them to pick through it as to who gets what.

I have tracks with full credit that make me nothing, or very little. I have tracks that haven't yet paid back their advance & may never do, so whilst the track earns money I don't see any of it. I have tracks with no public credit at all that make me… some money. [I'll never be rich;)

BTW, just because you wrote the drum part or the bassline right there & then in the studio does not automatically get you a writing credit. You could try negotiate for one, but it's not guaranteed. You just played on it, the song was already written. You will get paid for playing on it every time that specific recoding earns an airplay fee [so long as you fill in the right form to claim it] but you won't get paid if it sells a physical copy - that wasn't in your deal.

This can all get very weird at times, so you have to keep an eye on what you have registered with whom. More than once I've received payment for something I had absolutely nothing to do with… I really was never in the Brighouse & Raistrick Brass Band, honest guv.
On the other hand, you need to be ready to shout up if a track is missing.

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