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APPETITE FOR DISCUSSION
Welcome to Appetite for Discussion -- a Guns N' Roses fan forum!

Please feel free to look around the forum as a guest, I hope you will find something of interest. If you want to join the discussions or contribute in other ways then you need to become a member. We especially welcome anyone who wants to share documents for our archive or would be interested in translating or transcribing articles and interviews.

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Cheers!
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Writing credits and shares on Guns N' Roses songs

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Writing credits and shares on Guns N' Roses songs Empty Writing credits and shares on Guns N' Roses songs

Post by Blackstar Mon Sep 06, 2021 8:10 pm

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.

https://www.ascap.com/repertory#/
https://globalmusicrights.com/Catalog
https://www.sesac.com/repertory/search
https://repertoire.bmi.com/

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 credited as one of the writers of a particular song, but may be entitled to royalties for it.

Axl is on SESAC, Slash and Duff are on GMR, and the rest of the members (old and "nu"), as well as the outside writers (West Arkeen, Del James, etc.) are on ASCAP or BMI. ASCAP, BMI and GMR report the percentage they control over other PRO's; for example, on 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, in some cases it can be calculated based on the information from the other PRO's.

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 ASCAP and GMR 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%. For example, ASCAP controls 35% of Welcome To The Jungle (Izzy's 20% + Steven's 15%) and GMR controls 40% (Slash and Duff's 20+20%), which leaves 25% for Axl.

In the case of additional songwriters, as expected, the band members' shares are decreased: on It's So Easy, ASCAP controls 54% (which includes Izzy's, Steven's and West Arkeen's shares) and GMR controls 28% (Slash and Duff's combined share); on Anything Goes, Reckless Life and Move To The City, ASCAP controls 41.5% (Izzy's, Steven's and Chris Weber's shares) and GMR controls 36% (Slash and Duff's shares). So what's left is, apparently, Axl's share.

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% and  ASCAP (Izzy) 24.26% - 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 obviously include Axl's shares  and, probably, Matt's and Dizzy's small shares (the data for Matt and  Dizzy are not clear; ASCAP lists them as writers on some UYI songs and  SESAC lists them on all songs). So, the fact that, for example, Slash is  not credited in the liner notes as a co-writer on Estranged, doesn't affect his royalties.

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 on each song (e.g. Don't  Cry, 50% Axl and 50% Izzy); then they calculated all that together and  determined each one's shares on the album as a whole (at least the songs  that didn't have outside writers) so Izzy, for example, had a share  around 24.5% on the album; and then they applied those percentages to  each song.

In the case of the songs co-written by outsider writers, the percentages vary:

- Right Next Door To Hell: GMR (Slash, Duff) 32.52%; ASCAP (Izzy) 16.18%. So the rest includes the shares of Axl, Timo Kaltio and probably Matt and Dizzy.

- Bad Obsession: GMR (Slash, Duff) 33.38%; ASCAP (Izzy, West Arkeen) 47.1%.  So the rest includes the shares of Axl and probably Matt and Dizzy.

- Back Off Bitch: GMR (Slash, Duff) 38.84%; ASCAP (Izzy, Paul Tobias) no info.

- The Garden: GMR (Slash, Duff) 9.54%; ASCAP (Izzy, West Arkeen) 54.84%; BMI (Del James) no info.  So the rest includes the shares of Axl, Del James and probably Matt and Dizzy.

- Don't Damn Me: GMR (Slash, Duff) 40.44%; ASCAP (Izzy, Dave Lank) 28.55%. So the rest includes the shares of Axl and probably Matt and Dizzy.  

- Yesterdays: GMR (Slash, Duff) 15.72%; ASCAP (Izzy, West Arkeen, Billy McCloud) 68%; BMI (Del James) no info. So the rest includes the shares of Axl, Del James and probably Matt and Dizzy.

Ain't Goin' Down (pinball machine)

GMR (Slash, Duff) 50%; ASCAP (Izzy) 25%; So the remaining 25% is Axl's.  

Shadow Of Your Love

ASCAP has no information about it. GMR and SESAC list Axl, Slash, Izzy, Duff, Steven and Paul Tobias as writers (without percentages).

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

The Plague, New Work Tune and Ain't Goin' Down No More (instrumental) can be found only on ASCAP. All Axl, Slash, Izzy, Duff and Steven are listed as writers. ASCAP (Izzy, Steven) controls 37.48%, so their combined share is slightly higher than for Appetite/Lies songs.

West Arkeen songs/"Hell House demos"

- Crash Diet: West Arkeen, Axl, Del James and Daniel Clarke are listed as writers. ASCAP (West Arkeen) controls 31%.

- Bring It Down Home: West Arkeen and Axl are listed as writers. ASCAP (West Arkeen) controls 50%, so the other 50% is Axl's.

- Too Much Too Soon: West Arkeen and Duff are listed as writers. ASCAP (West Arkeen) controls 90%, so the other 10% is Duff's.

- Sentimental Movie: West Arkeen, Duff and Del James are listed as writers. ASCAP (West Arkeen) controls 75%, so the other 25% is divided between Duff and Del James.

There's no information at all about Just Another Sunday (most likely because it's not on the West Arkeen tape).

Chinese Democracy + Oh My God

In this case, the credits in the album's liner notes coincide with the names found in the repertories* (EDIT: I made the mistake to think that the credits on wikipedia are based on the album's liner notes, so I didn't bother to look at the booklets. But I then realised that they're based on the repertories, so there are additional writers who are not credited on the album - I've marked them in red). Axl is on SESAC (doesn't give info on percentages). Dizzy, Robin Finck, Tommy Stinson, Paul Tobias and Pitman are on ASCAP. Buckethead, Brain and Josh Freese are on BMI. So the data provided by ASCAP and BMI about the percentages they control on each CD song may be actually informative, at least to an extent, about each member's contributions::

- Oh My God: 50% Axl; 48% divided between Dizzy, Paul, Sean Riggs and Tommy; 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; 45% divided between Buckethead, Brain, 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; 48% Buckethead and Caram Costanzo.

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

- Sorry: 50% Axl; 50% divided between Buckethead, Brain and Scaturro.

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

- Madagascar: 50% Axl; 50% Pitman and MLK estate.

- This I Love: 100% Axl.

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

It seems that Axl reserved a fixed 50% for himself for lyrics, melodies  and probably 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%).

Absurd and Hard Skool

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 the press release issued by the band for Hard Skool, the song was written by Axl.

Regarding the publishing shares, so far only Absurd has been  added to the ASCAP and GMR repositories (SESAC is yet to be updated).  ASCAP lists Axl, Slash, Duff and Dizzy as writers/royalty recipients.  ASCAP (Dizzy) controls 30% (15% directly to Dizzy + another 15% for his  publisher), so this is Dizzy's total share and the remaining 70% will be divided between Axl, Slash and Duff. (Pitman, who is also on  ASCAP, is not listed as a writer.

Hard Skool hasn't been added to any repertory yet. But, based on the press release and what happened with Absurd, it's safe to say that only Axl, Slash and Duff will be listed as writers/royalty recipients.


Last edited by Blackstar on Mon Oct 11, 2021 4:36 pm; edited 7 times in total (Reason for editing : Update about CD credits and Hard Skool)
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Post by ludurigan Thu Sep 09, 2021 11:16 am

Wow great info. Apparently Izzy wrote even more than I thought!
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Post by Blackstar Thu Sep 09, 2021 11:29 am

@ludurigan wrote:Wow great info. Apparently Izzy wrote even more than I thought!
It basically means that the the way the band shared the publishing (the royalties) from the Illusion albums wasn't essentially different than the way they did it for Appetite and Lies: all Axl, Slash, Izzy and Duff got a fixed share on every song that didn't have additional writers, regardless of who wrote what (and who got writing credits in the albums' liner notes) on that particular song. So, for example, Izzy, Slash and Duff got a share on November Rain and similarly Axl, Slash and Duff got a share on You Ain't The First (even though, according to the album credits, they didn't have a part in writing it). I assume this is information that most people were not aware of.

Addition/clarification: But the way the shares for the Illusions were calculated was more complicated (Slash talks about it in his book): this time they used a formula, calculating who wrote what, then that was applied to the album as a whole (at least for the songs that didn't have outside writers), and then it was divided per song, so they ended up getting the same fixed percentages for each song.. And as a result, whenever a song, e.g. November Rain, is played on the radio, they all get royalties for it, although Axl is the sole writer.


Last edited by Blackstar on Thu Sep 09, 2021 10:18 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Post by Blackstar Thu Sep 09, 2021 1:17 pm

Regarding the royalty shares on Absurd, it seems that the policy is similar to the Illusion albums: the "main" members and partners in the band (now Axl, Slash and Duff) are getting a cut regardless of who wrote what. And then, other current members (Dizzy) are getting a share depending on if and what they have contributed.

What remains to be seen is whether Chris Pitman's exclusion from the credits is indicative of a pattern that will be followed with other former members (or at least some of them) or it just happened that his contributions to the song were not such that would require giving him credit and a royalty share.


Last edited by Blackstar on Thu Sep 09, 2021 2:22 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Post by ludurigan Thu Sep 09, 2021 1:47 pm

very interesting!
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