Friday, September 19, 2014

Can I Use Stage Name to Credit Songwriting?

the diabolical Biz Markie credits
his songwriting to Marcel Hall
Dear Rich: I use an artist name with a last name that is not my legal last name and has no relation to my birth name. I have no interest in legally changing my last name, and all my music copyrights are filed under my legal name. My question is when I credit myself on a CD with "music and lyrics written by...." can I use my artist last name, or should I use my legal last name? I find it visually confusing to have one artist name on the CD and a different last name for "music written by." But am I legally obligated to use my real last name? You're not legally obligated to credit your songwriting with your "real" name, but many artists do it. Sometimes they do it to personally acknowledge the songwriting, sometimes to simplify copyright registration, and sometimes just to make it clear whose name goes on the check. If you're going to credit your songs to your stage name, that pseudonym should be included on the copyright registration and at your performing rights society (ASCAP or BMI).