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 Rep: 12 

Re: Songwriting Credits

Blackstar wrote:

ASCAP has two versions of Ain't Goin' Down listed, one is (apparently) the instrumental and the other is the one that was on the pinball machine.

 Rep: 664 

Re: Songwriting Credits

James wrote:
Sky Dog wrote:

There’s a reason it didn’t get released back in the day…meh.


Funny how it was initially on the UYI tracklist sent out to media outlets in the weeks before UYI release.

I was bummed when it wasn't on there....but thankful years later when I heard it.

Re: Songwriting Credits

Sky Dog wrote:

It’s a weaker Out TA Get Me or Back Off Bitch….to me at least.

 Rep: 664 

Re: Songwriting Credits

James wrote:
Sky Dog wrote:

It’s a weaker Out TA Get Me or Back Off Bitch….to me at least.

It's worse.

Excluding My World....not even a real might be the worst thing recorded during the UYI sessions.

I can see why they threw it away on a pinball machine. Hell.....that deserved a better song. That pinball machine was awesome. I loved playing it at the pool hall.

 Rep: 12 

Re: Songwriting Credits

Blackstar wrote:

ASCAP controls 30% of Absurd, so that's Dizzy's share on the song, since he's the only one of the listed writers who is represented by ASCAP. So the remaining 70% will be divided between Axl, Slash and Duff.

(Note: This post has been updated a few times since first posted. Last update: Nov. 10, 2023)

Maybe someone has done this before, but I had a thorough look at the online repertories of ASCAP, BMI, GMR (Global Music Rights) and SESAC, which are PRO's (Performing Rights Organizations) that collect royalties on behalf of songwriters and their publishers, so they list all the musicians who receive songwriting royalties for each song.
These data are the result of the way a band has decided to split the publishing rights/royalties (i.e. royalties from songwriting) between the members and may not be identical to to the writing credits in an album's liner notes: for example, a band member may not be listed in the liner notes as one of the writers of a particular song, but may be entitled to royalties for it; or the songs may be collectively credited to the band, but in reality not all members get an equal publishing share for them.

GN'R members and outside co-writers are represented by different PRO's:

* SESAC: Axl.
* GMR: Slash, Duff.
* ASCAP: Izzy, Steven, Matt, Dizzy, Paul Tobias, Tommy Stinson, Robin Finck, Chris Pitman, West Arkeen (estate), Chris Weber, Dave Lank.
* BMI: Josh Freese, Buckethead, Brain, Pete Scaturro, Caram Costanzo, Del James.

ASCAP, BMI and GMR report the percentage they control over other PRO's; e.g. for a song listed as co-written by Axl, Slash, Izzy, Duff and Steven, ASCAP reports the percentage it controls, which corresponds to the combined shares of Izzy and Steven, and the same goes for GMR in regards to Slash and Duff's combined shares.
SESAC doesn't provide this information, which would be Axl's share. However, there is another source for that: the database of Universal (which has Axl's publishing) reports the percentage it controls. Universal also has Chris Weber's publishing as far as GN'R songs are concerned, so that makes possible to determine which portion of the share controlled by ASCAP is his, as well as Timo Kaltio's publishing (he's not on ASCAP though, so it doesn't help as much). There are also the databases of PRO's that represent music rights in other countries (e.g. CMRRA in Canada and SACEM in France), which may provide more details about the publishing shares in combination with the main databases listed above, as songwriters that are in different PRO's in the US may be in the same PRO of another country.

1. Appetite For Destruction and GN'R Lies

In the albums' liner notes all original songs are credited collectively to "Guns N' Roses" and, wherever the case, to additional songwriters (West Arkeen on It's So Easy, Chris Weber on Anything Goes, Reckless Life and Move To The City) *

The information in the databases confirms what we know from other sources about how the publishing was split between the members: Axl 25%, Slash, Izzy and Duff 20% each, and Steven 15%.

More specifically:

1) For all original songs with no outside writers: ASCAP (Izzy, Steven): 35%; GMR (Slash, Duff): 40%; Universal (Axl): 25%

2) In the case songs with additional songwriters, as expected, the band members' shares are decreased:

- It's So Easy: 17,5% Axl; 28% Slash + Duff; 54% Izzy+Steven+West Arkeen.

- Anything Goes, Reckless Life and Move To The City: 22.5% Axl; 36% Slash + Duff; 31.5% Izzy + Steven; 10% Chris Weber.

* Note: Live ?!*@ Like a Suicide, which was later included in GN'R Lies, listed individual writers: Axl, Izzy, Slash and Chris Weber for Reckless Life; Izzy, Chris Weber and "DJ" (real name Daniel Nicolson) for Move To The City. However, as evident from the data above, the arrangement changed later with these songs being credited collectively to GN'R and all members (plus Chris Weber) having a publishing share.

2. Use Your Illusion I and II

Unlike Appetite and Lies, the UYI liner notes list specific writers for each song (e.g. Axl and Izzy on You Could Be Mine, Slash and Axl on Locomotive, etc.).

However, that doesn't affect the way the publishing for each song is  split: according to the PRO's, the four "main" members (Axl, Slash, Izzy  and Duff) get a fixed percentage for each original song written  entirely by the band. Only this time the way the shares were calculated  was more complicated compared to the shares for AFD and Lies songs, so  the percentages are not round figures (according to Slash's book, that  happened because they had to calculate a small share for Matt - and I  guess Dizzy, too - as well as because of the many outside writers like  West Arkeen, Del James, etc.).

For example, although only Axl is credited for writing November Rain in the album liner notes, GMR (Slash and Duff) controls 47.68%, ASCAP (Izzy) 24.26% and Universal reports 26.27% for Axl - and these shares apply for every original UYI song  that doesn't have additional writers (the decimals in the ASCAP shares  differ slightly from song to song - it may have to do with the publishers). The remaining percentages are obviously Matt's and Dizzy's small shares.

The formula they seemingly used was: first they determined who wrote what (ie. the writers of each songs that we read in the liner notes) and  the percentages of each one's contributions to each song (e.g. Don't  Cry could be 50% Axl and 50% Izzy); then they calculated all that together and  determined each one's shares in the album as a whole (at least the songs that didn't have outside writers), so e.g. Izzy has a share around 24.5% for his overall contributions to the albums; and then they applied those percentages to each song.

So, the fact that, for example, Slash wasn't credited in the liner notes as a co-writer for November Rain and Estranged may affect his share in the albums as a whole, but doesn't mean that he doesn't get royalties for these songs (like when streamed or played on the radio).

* Note: In the 2022 reissue of UYI, the liner notes reflect the real credits that can be found in the PRO's databases, so all members are credited for all songs.

More specifically:

1) Original songs with no outside writers: 26.27% Axl; 24.5% Izzy; 47.7% Slash + Duff; 1.5% Matt + Dizzy.

2) Songs co-written by outside writers:

* Right Next Door To Hell: 50.84% Axl + Timo Kaltio; 32.52% Slash + Duff; 16.18% Izzy. That leaves a small share of about 0,5% for Matt and Dizzy.

* Bad Obsession: 18.38% Axl; 33.38% Slash + Duff; 47.1% Izzy + West Arkeen; 1.14% Matt + Dizzy.

* Back Off Bitch: 21.01% Axl; 38.84% Slash + Duff; 40,15 Izzy + Paul Tobias (+ Matt + Dizzy).

* The Garden: 5.26% Axl; 9.54% Slash + Duff; 54.84% Izzy + West Arkeen. So the remaining 30.36% includes the shares of Del James, Matt and Dizzy (BMI doesn't provide info on Del James' share, but it's safe to assume that it's about 29%).

* Don't Damn Me: 21.89% Axl; 40.44% Slash + Duff; 20.22% Izzy; 16.66% Dave Lank. That leaves about 0.8% for Matt and Dizzy.  

* Yesterdays: 8.67% Axl; 15.72% Slash + Duff; 68% Izzy + West Arkeen + Billy McCloud. So the remaining 8.92 includes the shares of Del James, Matt and Dizzy (again BMI doesn't provide info on Del's share).

3. Ain't Goin' Down (pinball machine)

25% Axl; 50% Slash + Duff; 25% Izzy.  

4. Shadow Of Your Love

24.38% Axl. The rest is divided between Slash, Izzy, Duff, Steven and Paul Tobias (the databases don't provide percentages).

5. Appetite For Destruction 2018 reissue ("Locked and Loaded") - "new" songs

* The Plague, New Work Tune and Ain't Goin' Down No More (instrumental): 25% Axl; 37.48% Izzy + Steven; the remaining 37.62 is apparently Slash's and Duff's combined share, who are also listed as writers (GMR doesn't provide info).

Izzy's and Steven's combined share appears to be slightly higher than for Appetite/Lies songs, but it might be a mistake on ASCAP's database.

6. West Arkeen songs/"Hell House demos"

* Crash Diet: West Arkeen, Axl, Del James and Daniel Clarke are listed as writers: 31% West Arkeen; 38% Axl. No info on the other percentages.

* Bring It Down Home: West Arkeen and Axl are listed as writers. 50% West Arkeen; 50% Axl.

* Too Much Too Soon: West Arkeen and Duff are listed as writers. 90% West Arkeen; 10% Duff.

* Sentimental Movie: West Arkeen, Duff and Del James are listed as writers. 75% West Arkeen; 25% Duff + Del James (the databases don't provide info).

* Just Another Sunday: No information at all (most likely because it's not on the West Arkeen tape).

7. Hollywood Rose songs (The Roots Of Guns N' Roses album)

* Killing Time and Rocker: 50% Axl; 50% Chris Weber.

Interesting that Izzy doesn't have a share, although he probably co-wrote these songs. Maybe he didn't care to pursue it, but apparently Axl did.

8. Chinese Democracy + Oh My God

Like on UYI, the credits in the album's liner notes list specific writers for each song. But, in this case, the publishing is also split on each song separately. However, the album credits don't completely coincide with the names found in the repertories: in some cases, the latter list additional names. The are also some differences between the credits in the liner notes in the regular album artwork ("bicycle" cover) and the ones in the alternate artwork ("red hand" and "grenade" covers), which suggests that there were probably mistakes in the liner notes.. So the data provided by the databases about the percentages they control on each CD song may be actually informative, at least to an extent, about each member's contributions.

It seems that Axl reserved a fixed 50% for himself for lyrics, melodies  and probably arrangement and production. Then his percentage might increase depending  on the part he had in writing the music. So, for example, it appears  that Axl wrote most of the music on Prostitute (since he has 90%) and a  big part of the music on I.R.S (since he has 75%).

Specifically (marked in red are the additional writers that are listed in the repertories but not in the album's liner notes - I have gone with the liner notes in the alternate album artwork):

* Oh My God: 50% Axl; 33% divided between Paul, Sean Riggs and Tommy; 15% Dizzy; 2% Josh Freese.

* Chinese Democracy: 50% Axl; 27% divided between Josh Freese and Caram Costanzo; 21% divided between Dizzy, Paul, Robin and Tommy; 2% Eric Caudieux.

* Shackler's Revenge: 50% Axl; 20% divided between Buckethead and Brain; 25% divided between Pete Scaturro and Caram; 5% Robin.

* Better: 50% Axl; 50% Robin.

* Street Of Dreams: 63% Axl; 37% divided between Dizzy, Paul, Tommy and Robin.

* If The World: 55% Axl; 45% Pitman.

* There Was A Time: 50% Axl; 50% divided between Dizzy, Paul and Tommy.

* Catcher In The Rye: 67% Axl; 33% divided between Dizzy, Paul, Tommy and Robin.

* Scraped: 52% Axl; 24% Buckethead; 24% Caram Costanzo.

* Riad N' The Bedouins: 50% Axl; 50% divided between Dizzy, Paul, Tommy and Robin.

* Sorry: 50% Axl; 33.33% divided between Buckethead and Brain; 16.67% Pete Scaturro.

* I.R.S.: 75% Axl; 25% divided between Dizzy and Paul.

* Madagascar: 50% Axl; 50% Pitman + MLK estate. Universal database also lists a version without credit to the MLK estate in which Axl's share is 67%, so it's safe to assume that Pitman's share is 33% also in the version with the MLK speech, which leaves 17% for the MLK estate.

* This I Love: 100% Axl.

* Prostitute: 90% Axl; 10% divided between Paul and Robin.

9. CD era songs reworked and released by the NITL lineup

As far as the "liner notes" go, there seems to be a return to the  Appetite/Lies formula (which is a common formula used by many bands):  the songs are credited collectively to "Guns N' Roses" (however, according to a press release issued by the band for Hard Skool, the song was written by Axl).

Regarding the publishing shares, although there seems to be a similar pattern with CD as far as Axl's share is concerned, the difference is that now Slash and Duff get a cut from the remaining percentage (apparently as part of an arrangement for agreeing to work on these songs). Judging from the data so far, it seems that Slash and Duff's shares are not fixed, but depend on how many other writers there are. It should be also noted that there may be additional factors affecting these shares; for example, Slash's and Duff's shares are all theirs, since they're their own publishers, whereas a portion of Axl's share goes to Universal, since it has his publishing (usually the publisher gets 25%-50% of the artist's share, but in Axl's case it's likely that Universal gets more because of the deal Axl signed in 2005).

So in this case the shares are a bit less representative than the ones on CD about who wrote what, however they do provide an insight.

* Absurd: 49% Axl; 30% Dizzy; 21% Slash + Duff. Pitman is not listed as writer.

* Hard Skool: 76% Axl; 11.5% divided between Tommy, Robin and Paul Tobias; 1% Josh Freese; 11.5% Slash + Duff.
    So it seems that Axl wrote a big part of the music for Hard Skool besides the lyrics, similarly to I.R.S.

* Perhaps: 70% Axl; 30% divided between Slash, Duff and Paul Tobias (no information about the exact shares).
    So it appears that the song was mostly written by Axl.

* The General (listed on SESAC and other PRO's as The General and Monsters): 40% Axl; 60% divided between Slash, Duff, Brain, Steve Freeman and Marc Haggard (no info on the exact percentages yet). 
Note: Steve "Extrakd" Freeman and Marc "Mirv" Haggard have written songs with Brain and Buckethead.

 Rep: 664 

Re: Songwriting Credits

James wrote:

Great job compiling all that.

Yeah years ago when we saw this stuff on there, UYI was all out of wack. If/when the box set happens, they should update the liner notes.

ASCAP controls 30% of Absurd, so that's Dizzy's share on the song, since he's the only one of the listed writers who is represented by ASCAP. So the remaining 70% will be divided between Axl, Slash and Duff.


Chinese Democracy era songs are getting UYI era members writing credits.

It's funny how easy it was to retcon 20 years out of existence.

 Rep: 18 

Re: Songwriting Credits

exoterica wrote:

I know the Gn'R community loves drama but I don't think they cut Pitman out.

By the sounds of it, they had been cutting out his work on this song since Bumblefoot joined.

It wasn't going to be an electronic inspired song anymore, it was going to be funk and punk.

If Pitman did the bridge, it's his worst work by far and I can say that because I'm maybe 1 in 100 that has actually listened to his solo stuff, which is competent across the board.

 Rep: 664 

Re: Songwriting Credits

James wrote:

I know the Gn'R community loves drama but I don't think they cut Pitman out.

If he's been removed from songwriting credits, he's been cut out in some capacity.

Re: Songwriting Credits

Sky Dog wrote:

I was going to say that Axl isn’t giving slash and duff much of anything related to  a Chinese song….that 70% stuff on Absurd is highly questionable.

 Rep: 12 

Re: Songwriting Credits

Blackstar wrote:

Absurd is, in a way, a return to the band's old M.O., which is more convenient in the current situation The credit in the "liner notes" is collectively to "Guns N' Roses", like it was on Appetite and Lies. And as far as the publishing/royalties go, they're being split similarly to the Illusions: the "main" members and partners in the band (now Axl, Slash and Duff) get a cut regardless of who wrote what. It's not really that much different than Slash and Duff getting royalties for songs written by Hollywood Rose, or for Back Off Bitch and Shadow Of Your Love that were written by Axl and Paul Tobias in 1982, or for songs written by West Arkeen and Del James.

And then the other current members (practically just Dizzy) are getting a cut depending on if and what they have contributed in the songwriting.

What remains to be seen is whether Pitman's case is indicative of a pattern that will be followed with "nu" members (or at least some of them), or it just happened that whatever Pitman contributed to the song wasn't such that would require giving him credit and a royalty share.

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