Drumming and the law!

Paul Quin

Pioneer Member
Every now and again issues popup on this site which relate to legal issues concerning the music business or issues which sidemen/women face in their chosen profession. I try to address those issues when I can. Recently, however, I was asked to do a presentation on this issue through Drumchannel in the form of a roundtable and it has now been posted in Drumchannel's site. The "roundtable" consists of me, Terry Bozzio, Jonathon Moffitt and Danny Seraphine and some of the issues raised are relevant to many folks who post here and, hopefully, will be interesting to others.

The link is: http://www.drumchannel.com/entertainment/47827.aspx

The youtube trailer is at : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uw4__eQxveI (useful if you want watch one minute not 45)

I hope you enjoy. Please feel free to post comments or questions and I will try to facilitate a discussion on some of these issues if appropriate.

Paul
 
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SOGdrummer

Senior Member
Paul, thanks for posting the link. I think you are on to something with making sure that drummers (and all musicians) that contribute to the creation of the music are fairly compensated. We do need to be wary (in my opinion) of "patenting" drum parts. Can you really take ownership of a backbeat, or a chord progression? If so, don't we all violate that patent consciously and unconsciously, and probably owe a lot of money to the musicians of yesteryear.

The issue is a real one, I know for myself being in a local band playing originals, I believe that my contributions on the drums are a real part of the end product, but that may not always be considered...usually the writer of the tune feels he/she is to be credited.

Thanks again.

Jack
 

Paul Quin

Pioneer Member
Jack

thanks for posting a reply and for sharing your thoughts. The goal is certainly not to "patent" back beats, but is, as you stated, designed to come up with an equitable way to make sure that each contributor to the musical composition is rewarded. There are a number of avenues being explored and a number of potential solutions we are trying to develop.

I really appreciate you posting a response. It was fundamentally dissapointing to me that this thread drew no responses. This is an issue which effects pretty much all professional drummers and since many of the posters on this site aspire to that goal, I naively thought that this would be something that they would sign on to! You live and learn!

The fight, however, continues despite some apparent apathy.

Paul
 
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Average

Senior Member
Unless the person who wrote the song specifically wrote the drum part as well, it seems reasonable that the person who wrote the part would get some sort of writing credit. Its not like Andrew Lloyd Weber just writes a melody and expects every instrumentalist to come up with a part and the actors to write their lines.
 

Wolf

Junior Member
I can understand not giving writing credits to a session player paid to play along with the song. They're brought in and compensated, maybe not fairly if the song becomes a hit, but regardless they were paid for their contribution up front. Or if a singer/songwriter writes the song and gets a side band for live gigs. Maybe those guys don't deserve the credit either. But a member of a band who sits and grinds it at practice writing songs in the room with the rest of the band should get credit. Being there involved with the writing makes you accountable, as little as it may be, for at least some of the credit.
 

elpol

Senior Member
sorry if I'm hi-jacking this thread and I apologize for not having had time to watch the roundtable video: are you all aware of Neighboring Rights? Even session players who do not hold copyright or credit are entitled to a royalty payment if their 'work' is broadcast. There's also the Special Payments Fund program through the AFofM, which serves as another mode of royalty payments for session musicians. (if you participate, that is)

I for one have lamented for years the lack of appropriate recognition for drummers/percussionists as it pertains to songwriting credit. Rarely ever have I walked into a studio session or gig where my parts were written out by the composer, unless it was within the classical genre. We get our session fee, which usually includes some amount of our own creative input, yet we seldom, if ever receive credit for these 'original' contributions.

sigh
 

NUTHA JASON

Senior Administrator
that was a fantastic discussion. Dammit i'm riled up. where do i sign Paul!

it's even harder now with protools and qbase etc where drummers are not even needed in the studio.

j
 

Average

Senior Member
I for one have lamented for years the lack of appropriate recognition for drummers/percussionists as it pertains to songwriting credit. Rarely ever have I walked into a studio session or gig where my parts were written out by the composer, unless it was within the classical genre. We get our session fee, which usually includes some amount of our own creative input, yet we seldom, if ever receive credit for these 'original' contributions.

sigh
No doubt. I'm still trying to figure out who the drummer on the Dirty Harry soundtrack was. The drums pretty much made that soundtrack. It truly is something to behold and the guy got zero credit. At least list his name somewhere.
 

mattsmith

Platinum Member
Paul, I learned a lot from that discussion and can't tell you how much I appreciated it. I also remain amazed at how many people you know from all segments of the percussion world.

It's always interesting to me the variety of substantial people who come to this forum. Like everyone else who has been here a while, I had ocassionally shared a thread with Paul without fully understanding who he was. Then he approached me at the last NAMM and I thought I had met the ambassador to the drummers' UN. He seemed like the most connected person in a building full of connected people. And he's also a great guy. During my free time he was gracious enough to introduce me to one very heavy hitter after another, and he did all this without my asking. As someone just starting out in the nitty gritty part of this profession I considered his unsolicited intervention a great blessing.

Paul, I just wanted to take a minute to publicly thank you for that weekend and all the continued follow ups. I now understand why you're the drummer's lawyer.
 
S

SickRick

Guest
Paul, I learned a lot from that discussion and can't tell you how much I appreciated it. I also remain amazed at how many people you know from all segments of the percussion world.

It's always interesting to me the variety of substantial people who come to this forum. Like everyone else who has been here a while, I had ocassionally shared a thread with Paul without fully understanding who he was. Then he approached me at the last NAMM and I thought I had met the ambassador to the drummers' UN. He seemed like the most connected person in a building full of connected people. And he's also a great guy. During my free time he was gracious enough to introduce me to one very heavy hitter after another, and he did all this without my asking. As someone just starting out in the nitty gritty part of this profession I considered his unsolicited intervention a great blessing.

Paul, I just wanted to take a minute to publicly thank you for that weekend and all the continued follow ups. I now understand why you're the drummer's lawyer.


+++++++++ /signed/

Fantastic Link! Thank you very much!
 

Paul Quin

Pioneer Member
Thanks for the responses!

In regard to the Neighboring rights issue the problem is that most session work is done under a "work-for-hire" agreement in which the session player receives a fee for that work and thereby gives up and waives the right to receive payment under any other scheme, statutory or not. The other problem is the definition within most statutory schemes of "the work." The definition is often cross referenced with the copyright laws which does not provide a royalty payment for anything other than the melody, key chord progression and the lyrics. I suspect, although I don't know, that this was an attempt to redress prior wrongs but it never really became efffective.

We are working in two areas to address this issue. First, we are working up draft agreements to be presented to the artist who hires the drummer. These agreements. at this time, go only to the issue of future sampling of the drum part if the drum part is something that contributed to the overall mode of the piece and was written and played by the drummer. This is a complicated process because the agreement cannot leave room for ambiguity but must be perceived as fair to the artist or no-one will sign it. After all we are asking artists to give up money which, under the current law, no matter how unfair, goes legally to them.

Second, we are researching potential representatives who would be willing to propose amendments to the current law to specifically address the sampling issue. This will be a long and arduous process. The unfair treatment of drummers and other sidemen/women within the music industry for some reason falls behind the state of the economy and the war in the minds of our congress. There are also, of course, international ramifications under the Berne Convention. This is a long term solution but will probably take a lifetime to get done in the way we need. Once we are up and running, however, with proposed drafts of the legislation we will need the support of EVERYONE through calls to their representative and the signing of petitions. We are not there yet, but when we are I promise I will let you know . . . .

Thanks again for your thoughts and for the PMs of support.

Paul
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
I think Danny Seraphine nailed it when he said it's up to drummers to ask for their fair share and if it means losing a gig then it's best to know upfront. It might also provide opportunities for younger drummers who are content to play second fiddle (drums) in order to gain experience and get on the map. Would that start to be seen as scab labour?

It depends on how pivotal the nuances of a drum line are to the success of songs. You'd like to think that Bad Company's Simon Kirke received a decent royalty for Alright Now. The Sweet's Mick Tucker's borrowings from Sandy Nelson were essential in their hit, Ballroom Blitz. Not sure where the royalties would go there ...

In my old bands we'd share songwriting credits even stevens if the song arose from a jam, but if any of us came into the room with a fairly well-developed song idea, others would play a role in getting the song to work and received a minor credit.
 
wow very interesting discussion. i kinda wish danny would have gone a little deeper with his discussion of chicago and his first hand experience, but perhaps he didnt want to delve into that.
 
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