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NPR Arts & Life

All Songs +1: The Weird World Of 'Feature' Credits

Songs that feature other artists aren't obliged to credit those guests — but when they do, it can get complicated.
Songs that feature other artists aren't obliged to credit those guests — but when they do, it can get complicated.

Last week, All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen and I took note of an article from The Guardian examining something within music that's uniquely byzantine: the practice of giving guest artists credits in song titles. You've no doubt seen some variation of it — "Song Title (feat. An Artist)." It's something that should be fairly straightforward, no? Well, no.

"Scan the charts and release schedules and you'll see numerous variations on the theme," wrote Guardianreporter Peter Robinson, "from 'and' and 'with' to 'x', '+' and 'presents'. But they don't all mean the same thing, and there can be fierce behind-the-scenes struggles over how artists are billed, how far up the credit chain they're allowed, or whether they're even credited at all."

Well of coursethis, as with much of the music business, is relatively insane. To understand it better, Bob and I spoke to Peter from his office in London to unpack this funny little corner of music and its business. — Andrew Flanagan

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