Attribution Respect in Music

Written by Randall Wixen
Dec 07, 2022

Rodney Dangerfield used to complain that he got no respect.   Well, how about songwriters and recording artists?   Music plays a huge role in film and TV programs, yet the credit and respect paid to music’s part of the comprehensive work is often miniscule or missing altogether.
“No animals were harmed during the production of this picture” and “Stylist for third best boy” often appear at the end of a film before they show on a single “card” who wrote and performed 10 songs in the soundtrack, and three minutes after half the audience left the theater.   And when the film gets to TV, they shrink the credits down to ¼ of the usual size and speed them up to the point where it just becomes a blur even on an 82” 8K TV.
Can you imagine Casablanca without “As Time Goes By” or Apocalypse Now without “The End?”   Or “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” edited out of  The Wizard of Oz?   (I bet you don’t know who wrote it.)   These songs comprise fundamental parts of those pictures and receive downsized attribution.   Some TV shows don’t even have music credits.
Besides credits, music budgets are often an after-thought.   The studio thinks nothing of giving an A-list actor $10 million to star in a film, and can spend $50,000 a day on cast and crew catering.  And then they have “no money” for an iconic classic song for worldwide rights in all media in perpetuity, including the right to use the song in trailer advertisements for the film.   When $20,000 becomes too much to pay for a 2:30 use of a song the director really wants to have in her $75 million film, she then calls her friend who knows someone in the band to plead for a favor.
So, the next time you hear a great song in film or TV program, think of the people behind that song or that recording, and hope that they got a decent payday.   Show some respect.