Paid but not credited

I am sure that this is a basic question and has already been answered somewhere…

What do you do when someone is credited as being involved with a song on major organizations databases (like the union, Ascap, or etc) but they are not credited anywhere else (liner notes, wikipedia, etc) or maybe have very few mentions on unreliable sites.

I am looking at some royalty distribution lists, and seeing people who are not mentioned anywhere else.
I mean, wouldn’t a pay check (and W-2) for working at McDonald’s sort of prove that you worked at McDonald’s even though you weren’t invited to the company picnic?

I, too, have noticed such discrepancies, especially when comparing the songwriting credits in liner notes with those in rights databases. In one case, every member of a band had songwriting credits for their album, but bandmembers later said that only one of them actually wrote the songs. The actual writer had just been generous in crediting his bandmates when he registered the songs with performance rights organisations.

Whomever you credit, you may want to document in the edit notes any discrepancy or inconsistency you find.


Please always do this :slight_smile:
Like, really, always.


Sure, “always do that”. But if there is already a “rule”, why go through the hassle of adding it, only to have someone come around later to remove it.

No one will remove your edit notes, but adding edit notes might prevent someone else from making an incorrect change to your updates.

To your specific question: If a person’s specific role is mentioned in an official source, and that role has a relationship in MusicBrainz, it is safe to add the credit. It doesn’t matter if the person is not credited in Wikipedia or the liner notes. (Like the saying says, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence) There are certain kinds of credits that might be omitted from liner notes, such as session musicians or subcontractors. As for the royalty lists: royalties might be paid for use of a sample, but this is only one example. In any case, if you don’t know the person’s contribution, don’t credit them.


I think artistic and official credits are preferred to royalty database records.
If the booklet says band credits, we shall use that.
Royalty databases will always list band members by the artist intent is to credit the whole band.
Additionally to edit notes, discrepancies can be recorded in more visible annotations.

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As I understand it, royalties can be assigned to people and institutions that weren’t involved in the creation of the work. So I’d consider the royalty distributions list to be possible evidence (but not proof) of involvement.

The most fundamental “rule” (as I understand MB) is that relationships are meant to capture facts. So as editors we try to determine the facts from the sources we can find, and ideally we cite those sources for voters, future editors and data users.

As always, information that doesn’t fit into any of the existing fields or relationships types canl be recorded in the annotation.


The payments can be assigned, but I don’t think that they change the name.
So, it would be like CallerNo5 played the hurdy gurdy, but has died and his estate/son CallerNo6 receives his share.

Or, at least, the ones I’ve dealt with do it that way.
And that is because CallNo6 did not play hurdy gurdy. Nothing will ever change that. The only thing that changes is where the money goes.

This also plays into the situations that KISS often found itself in.
Ace Frehley was too drunk to record, so they had someone else play the parts, but they didn’t want to let the fans down so they put his name in the “special thanks” section of the liner notes.
Until, after 20 years of rumors, the 20th anniversary reissue was released, then the right guy was credited as the guitar player.

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CallerNo5 played the hurdy gurdy, but has died and his estate/son CallerNo6 receives his share



At one time it was common for bands to give all members songwriting credits so they’d all have a share in the royalties. That’s why you’ll see songs credited to all members of a band in a database, liner notes or both.
In the event of a discrepancy between what’s printed on the release, I usually give liner notes precedence over rights society databases. There are a limited handful of exceptions:

  • Someone was found to be involved after the release came out. That’s what happened with Ted Nugent’s “Stranglehold”; Nugent admitted his former bandmate Rob Grange co-wrote the song but never received credit.
  • There were allegations of plagiarism, and the plagiarized party’s name was added to the credits. There are a number of cases in which this happened; probably the most egregious one I can think of is Michael Bolton’s “Love Is a Wonderful Thing”.

One thing to keep in mind: songwriting credits are often used as bargaining chips. Artists will often be given credit in exchange for making a guest appearance on a track, and in the case of tracks with samples the authors of said samples will often be given credit alongside the core work being performed in the track. (This last example is the likely reason you’ll find remixes or other alternate versions being given their own entries in rights society databases.)

I know this is off-topic, but I have to clear the air on this.
Ace Frehley was never “too drunk to record” per se. In the case of the Destroyer sessions, he got frustrated from being under the microscope and started skipping out on sessions. He didn’t realize at the time that that meant he would be replaced with a session guitarist.
I’m not aware that the “special thanks” situation you described ever happened on any KISS album. I do know that at least on Psycho Circus, the members of KISS were listed in the liner notes, as if to suggest they all played on all tracks on the album. (It later turned out this was not the case.)

This situation is not unique to KISS. Many other bands have used session musicians on their album, often uncredited.

There was no “20th anniversary edition” of any KISS album; are you perhaps referring to the KISS: The Remasters series?


Once the song falls into public domain, previous names disappear and are replaced with D.P.
I see that in JASRAC for instance.
Royalty databases are helpful but not very good to copy credit info from there straight ahead as their purpose is something else.
Booklets are better to follow artistic info.


[quote=“jesus2099, post:12, topic:311752, full:true”]
Once the song falls into public domain, previous names disappear and are replaced with D.P.
I see that in JASRAC for instance.[/quote]

Not always. I’ve encountered many older Japanese songs whose creators’ names are still credited.

For the most part, I was speaking in “general” terms, which includes Ace not even being in the band when he “recorded” one of the albums.
But, I was definitely thinking of Bob Kulick being listed in the special thanks section, but then later releases (most likely what you posted) have him credited.

Like I said above, I am not aware of there being any such “special thanks” section on any album. I cannot find evidence of such.