Competitive Composition

When you find a group of musicians that you write, perform and hang with and can trust, well you may have won a lottery in life!

It's extremely hard to find all of these qualities in one place and therefore when one finds it - hang on to it with everything you've got! When writing music and taking all of the time and effort like sitting in the same room and hashing out ideas both good and bad remember one thing : You - are - all - in - this - together. You all deserve a piece of the royalties whether some of you agree or not. Here's why:

1.) Everyone has made the effort to be there and add some of there own personality into the overall product or composition regardless if its a riff or transition they deserve credit and recognition.
2.) Everyone needs incentive and also requires rewards for there efforts in order to feel like they are contributing and being valued. Everyone is trying to build their careers.
3.) Most people have bills to pay and people in their lives to support.

I have been in situations where group members basically state, "Everyone gets only what they put in. No writing no money." This does make sense but I think that for some musicians it places a burden on them which for some may cause uneasy feelings and can drive some people to manipulate and spin compositions in their favor for more residual income while others are left to literally fight to have their ideas heard and considered.

While even though you may not write a song there are mechanical royalties that musicians get paid for performing on a record that is residual but most either don't know this or don't pursue it and miss out on residuals that should be legally theirs.

There can be much confusion about what constitutes composition which can also skew the reality of what's happening. Composition is what we refer to as Harmony and Melody. Any changes in this is what writing credit is for. If there is a change in duration of a part or adding sections or moving them around - this is called arranging and is not composition. If some one takes your part that you played on keyboard and then plays it on guitar it is not writing credit! It's merely production and no one would receive any special credit for this except the original contributor!

Competitive Composition creates infighting and contempt in what otherwise would be and should be a great relationship between musicians. Always be upfront and professional with the people you work with as this can effect your reputation and longevity in the business. If the intent is to have some one be a silent partner or ghost writer then be up front about it and make agreements prior to working together. If you ever have any questions contact a music lawyer and don't be afraid to ask the musicians that you are working with about writing credit. If they truly care about you and your career as a musician they will be honest and upfront with you and not take offense to your questions.

Good luck and as always - Stay True - Stay on Fire!

Joe Pinnavaia is a professional musician, guitarist, instructor and composer from Buffalo, NY, USA.

His first solo release, "InVitro", under the project name Test Tube Rhino, is now available digitally from iTunes and Amazon from Steve Vai's Digital Nations.

Joe Pinnavaia