Sharing Credits In An Age With No Liner Notes
While the onset of the digital age has made many aspects of networking in the music industry easier, it has also made the publicizing of credits that much more challenging, meaning it can be harder for engineers and producers to find clients.
Guest post by Chris Robley of DIY Musician
Musicians: a lack of credit can hurt our collaborators’ livelihoods. Let’s make up for that.
When it came time to record my first solo record — shortly after moving to Portland, Oregon, where I knew very few people in the music scene — I just flipped through the CD jackets of two local albums I loved, and what do you know, they were both engineered by the same person. That was easy!
I emailed him, introduced myself and my music, and two months later we were in his studio finishing mixes.
Producers, engineers, session players, songwriters — they all get work this way. You see their name in the credits of some piece of music you adore and ask if they’d be interested in your project. Hopefully they say yes.
But in a digital music world, “credits” are harder to find.
You’d think it’d be just the opposite, right?
A few of my engineer/producer friends have talked about how they’ve had to hustle more than ever over the past few years to find clients. The clients that DO call them out of the blue are calling because of word-of-mouth referrals from other artists that my friends have worked with (the best kind of referral), but there are fewer of those “hey, I saw you had a production credit on that song…” kind of inquiries.
Of course credits are still commonly listed in the liner notes for CDs and vinyl, but most people are consuming music via streaming services now, and there’s no simple way to click on a song in Spotify and see who arranged the string parts or created that face-melting synth sound.
With all the focus on metadata these days, shouldn’t there be an industry standard for listing credits (across all platforms) for production, beats, session work, co-writes, engineering, and more?
But no. No easy-to-use, catchall, credit-sharing solution has arisen for digital music.
So it’s up to us, the artists, to share credits online for the following collaborators:
- producers and beat-makers
- session players
- band members
- featured soloists not already included as “featuring” in the artist name
Until it’s standard practice for digital music platforms to request and display credits, we need to do what we can, where we can, to make sure the information is as accessible as possible for anyone that might be curious about the creation of a song or album.
Here’s a list of places we can post full credits:
- YouTube and Vimeo video descriptions
- Song or album notes on CD Baby, Bandcamp, etc.
- Your website
- Wikipedia entries for albums
- Any blogs, email newsletters, or social posts detailing the creation of a particular track
Then you should also try to submit credits (along with general information about your music) to any relevant online databases, including AllMusic/Rovi.
It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s a courtesy you can show for those that helped you create your music.
Chris Robley is the Editor of CD Baby's DIY Musician Blog. I write Beatlesque indie-pop songs that've been praised by No Depression, KCRW, The LA Times, & others. My poems have appeared in Poetry Magazine, Prairie Schooner, The Poetry Review, & more. I live in Maine and like peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, a little too much.