If you pay attention to what is happening in the world of music news - or, if you read the gossip columns (and you know who you are) - then you might be aware of a big old controversy brewing between Avril Lavigne and songwriter Chantel Kreviazuk. Kreviazuk, who is an artist in her own right but is better known for being the songwriting brains behind many top hits, including some Avril Lavinge songs, recently suggested in an interview that the notion that Avril Lavigne is actually a songwriter herself is pure comedy gold. The charge is that Ms. Lavinge allows people like Kreviazuk to write songs for her and then helps herself to a co-songwriting credit. Kreviazuk backed down from her comments after Lavinge balked, but the Chalotte Examiner
recently ran a great article
detailing the problem with pop song writing credits. Artists have a huge incentive to claim they are themselves songwriters and not just performers - songwriting gives them more credibility, but perhaps more importantly, the big money is in the songwriting. Songwriting royalties are attached to that song for life and are still being paid out long after anyone cares to pay to see the performer anymore. Whether Avril Lavigne is guilty as charged or Chantel Kreviazuk has some other agenda is beside the point - there is still a lot of nudge nudge, wink wink "songwriting" going on in the music business, which should be of major concern to songwriters.
You don't have to be at the Avril Lavigne level in the music business to worry about this, either. Simple misunderstandings between band members can lead to a lot of songwriting confusing no matter how many albums you're selling. To keep things fair, and to avoid needless hassle down the line, you should always be clear about who wrote each song you have - especially if you have an album coming out. You may not think it matters now, but if that albums start selling like crazy, and you think you are the sole songwriter, and the bass player thinks they co-write the song, watch the sparks fly! Always, always, always nail these details down before they become a problem if you are serious about your music career.