Explain how Mark Ronson or David Guetta are the artist of a song?

You’ve heard “Titanium” featuring Sia or “Uptown Funk” featuring Bruno Mars. In each of the songs, the DJ is the artist and no matter where you look on the web, they making seem like it is their song.


As my high school history teacher would say No! No! No! You’re wrong!
Sia sings all of Titanium and Bruno sings all of Uptown Funk. The DJ may have written the song and produced it but they did not “perform” the song. Does anyone say “P.Y.T.” is a Quincy Jones song featuring Michael Jackson? Is “Beautiful” a Linda Perry song featuring Chestina Aguilera?

So what is it about about these two writers/producers where the singer gets second-billing? Just because they put it on their album?

As Wikipedia notes Ronson had a hand in writing, producing and playing instrumentation on the song which was created for an album going out under his name. He was the driving force behind the song. He works collaboratively bringing in other writers, engineers and musicians as he requires. After progressing the song to a certain point he bought in a vocalist. In practical terms it is because he is already famous he gets to keep the overall credit.

Admittedly is is customary to credit a singer or a group but there are plenty of examples of music produced by session artists, professional writers and producers who opt for anonymity.

A more reclusive producer will have songs credited to “front men” with the Milli Vanilli debacle being a prominent example. Ronson, however, enjoys the fame.


They’re the artists in the same way Phil Spector was the artist in his early-1960’s hits. In fact, if crediting conventions used today had applied then, we’d see songs like “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling”, Phil Spector (featuring Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield).

The same way that Alan Parsons is the guy whose name is attached to all those albums he didn’t sing or play any instruments on.

Why is the singer of a song the “artist”, as opposed to the drummer or the piano player?

Hip-hop DJs/Producers have long released albums as artists, usually with different vocalists/rappers on each track. IMHO, they are the artist because they usually create a work that is their’s as a whole and features a multitude of guest performers. I am more of an album-oriented person myself, so I gravitate toward album projects and album artists. While I realize there are always non-album singles, I usually see each song as a track from an album. So, let’s say DJ Premier put out an album called “DJ Premier- Something,” and Nas hopped on track #7, it would make sense to me that Track #7 is credited as “DJ Premier featuring Nas.” If the Roots did an album without Black Thought, instead featuring a dozen guest vocalists, I would expect it to be credit to “The Roots, featuring…” and so on.

I don’t know much about Guetta, other than their high-profile collaborations and some singles- Mostly Ronson, since his singles have been played on alternative rock stations. But I’m assuming they do album projects in much the same way, and I have no beef with them doing it as singles, either.

Of course, this happens in other genres as well. Plenty of “bands” are credited to a solo musician who may or may not sing or play a guitar or even write the songs.

Similar to my previous examples, Slash’s debut “solo” album (not counting Snakepit and other stuff) credited to just Slash, had a different featured vocalist on every track. Most of the songs were also co-written. Even his followup albums that feature a consistent singer and band members are credited as Slash, featuring…"

I missed the edit window and then went away but I wanted to add, in fairness to Ronson, he operates in at least two ways.

Sometimes he operates as the “star” and releases material under his own name. However on plenty of other occasions he works as a more conventional producer and the albums he’s worked on are released under the name of the vocalist or band: Amy Winehouse, Adele and Bruno Mars.

It’s not as if every time he’s involved in some music he feels he has to have his name up front.


Actually, I haven’t, so forgive me if I’m missing the point; but is this the same kind of situation as, for example, Santana’s “Supernatural” album, where many of the songs have guest vocalists?

I think another similar example of this would be Kerry Livgren’s first solo album.

The copyright for a song is automatically owned by the Songwriter, who can, in turn, transfer the copyright to the Publisher, if that’s part of their deal. The Songwriter and/or publisher make their deal with the Record Company and they Record Company, in turn, makes the deal with the Performer.

Needless to say this can all get very complicated, especially when the same people wear many hats.

In other words, the Performer, if they aren’t also the Songwriter or Publisher are just hired guns.