Why Are Music Credits Messed Up?

Kyran de Keijzer
November 26, 2020

There is no doubt that credits are messed up. It seems to be this thing that we've all accepted and are not doing anything about. But why are credits so messed up and why is it so hard to solve it?

We've all heard the sob-story. "My credits aren't right" or "I wasn't credited for my work", it's the oldest tale in the book, but yet we've all accepted this as a reality in the music industry.

It's become a giant ball of messy data that we can't trust and don't dare to unravel and fix.

For all the efforts happening from capturing tools and platforms, in fixing new credits, we seem to be turning the eye to the legacy credits.

Each music professional that I speak to however, seems to be just as, if not more, interested in fixing their legacy credits than properly capturing new their new credits.

So, why are credits so f***cked up?

Submitting Credits

For years, credits have been capturing at the time of distribution. We spend all this time in creating our album and only when we want to distribute it, do we start thinking about the credits.

This is mainly because of the who's distributing music. If you're with a label, it seems to be their responsibility in sending the credits. They won't ask for it, unless they know it's scheduled and ready to go live.

Independents however, only get to see this option when they have all their tracks uploaded to their distributor. The last daunting screen, "what are the credits"

The scrambling for last minute credits results in phone calls, email chains and in most cases, forgetting that certain people worked on the song.

The Lackluster Label Copy

When we do manage to write down all the names of the participants an email is sent to the label or an attempt at a label copy.

Sadly, these label copies or emails are not sufficient in properly identifying the right collaborators.

Having "John Smith - Producer" doesn't cut it anymore. We need to know WHICH John Smith produced this.

What is his contact information, what is his legal name, what is his ISNI, these are ways in which we can identify him properly.

Without it, credit systems or DSPs have to guess which John Smith worked on your song, and more often than not they guess it wrong.


Independent Distributor Credits

If the labels can't get right 100% of the time, then what about the independent artists.

Sadly, it's not much better.

Amazing new platforms have shot up out of nowhere in the last decade to help independent artists send their music to DSPs within 24 hours.

It has never been easier to get your music heard out in the world. And we're happy that the platforms are doing what they can to help push credits, but it's not enough.

We again, have a problem of identification. If we put in John Smith, as our producer, there's no telling from the Distributor's side. Who this John Smith is.

So, even in 2020, with all this amazing technology both the signed artists and independents run into the same issue

Identifying the right collaborator

There is a big adaptation for a new identifier in town, the ISNI (The International Standard Name Identifier).

Even though ISNI has been around for a while, it's now catching fire in the music industry.

The industry has had the proper identifiers for artists (IPN) and for songwriters (IPI), but every other role was left out and not identified.

Now, each collaborator, whether you're a producer, a guitarist, or an engineer.

You should have a unique code that represents you and all your credits.

This is exactly where Muso.AI can help, is ensuring that this is set for each new submission

But additionally, help set this properly on all your legacy credits and fix this mess of bad data

The Implications of bad credits

The result of not having an industry with clean data has many implications.

Mainly, not getting paid what you should, or not getting the recognition you deserve.

But it cuts a lot deeper than this, that we will cover in a next article.

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Kyran de Keijzer

Co-Founder of Muso.AI and a passionate producer/engineer. Working every day to solve music credits for music professionals around the globe

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