When is words & music "written by" and when is it lyricist+composer?

Once again, someone has doubled up lyricist and composer credits based on a generic “music and lyrics by” booklet credit. I’m debating whether to open up a new discussion about this; I’ve said my piece about it repeatedly, and yet it keeps coming up.

I left these edits votable so as to 1) get everything done in one fell swoop and 2) gather some opinions on the matter.

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I’ve always understood that if it was in the booklet as words & music by, then we add that to the work. Only on ISWC or right services that we didn’t assume both.


I’ve never seen anyone explicitly claim this. I have reason to doubt that reasoning, though. I’ve seen it in sheet music books as well, such as this one. Most of the works contained therein have the roles clearly defined; there are a handful that don’t, and on those works the contributors are listed next to “music and lyric by.” I just assumed the publisher listed them that way for continuity purposes, rather than suggesting both/all contributors contributed both music and lyrics.

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This too. Usually an album wide credit is all that many artists need because only one person is the creator of the works on the album. If a track is a collaboration then you get a “except for track 4 with” type credit.

Separate per track credits only make sense when every track is different.

I’m talking about a per track credit, not a whole album credit. Sorry I didn’t specify.

I’m confused then. What else does “Words and Music” mean than “Lyrics & Composer”?

It means exactly that. I thought you were confusing credits that appear once in a booklet, with ones that appear on each individual track in the booklet. Like if it said all words & music by Chicago, for the entire release obviously, we wouldn’t know each members contribution to each song. But when a booklet says Words and music by Robert Lamm & Phil Goldston on one track, but on another track in the same booklet say Music by Jason Scheff & Robert Lamm and Lyrics by Robert Lamm it leads me to think that maybe both Robert Lamm & Phil Goldston actually had a hand in both the words & music as the booklet says.


I add a lot of works and credits, and follow your description exactly. This is why I was confused by the question. Knowledge of a band often helps. Two names on Words and Music means two people sat down and collaborated. A common thing to happen if you read the biographies and listen to the interviews.