'Uptown Funk!' Gains More Writers After Gap Band's Legal Claim

Courtesy Photo
A still from Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars' music video "Uptown Funk."

Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk!” -- the Bruno Mars featuring hit that recently topped the Billboard Hot 100 for 14 weeks -- originally had six songwriters. On April 28, it officially picked up another five.

According to documents from RCA Records, which released the song, the original writers -- Ronson, Mars, co-producer Jeffrey Bhasker and Phillip Lawrence (one of Mars’ partners in his production team The Smeezingtons), along with Nicholas Williams (aka Trinidad James) and producer Devon Gallaspy, whose “All Gold Everything” has “portions embodied” in the song -- have been joined by the five writers of The Gap Band’s 1979 hit “Oops Upside Your Head”: bandmembers (and brothers) Charlie, Robert and Ronnie Wilson along with keyboardist Rudolph Taylor and producer Lonnie Simmons. They were added in the wake of a claim put forth by publisher Minder Music on behalf of the “Oops” songwriters.

Sources tell Billboard that the claim, which Minder filed into YouTube’s content management system sometime in February, put the song’s ownership splits at more than 100 percent. In those situations, YouTube stops paying publishers and moves the proceeds into an escrow account. The settlement, which sources say gives 17 percent  to the “Oops” writers, frees up those monies, albeit with different songwriter shares going forward.

'Uptown Funk' Is Longest-Leading Hot 100 No. 1 of the 2010s

Asked whether he believes the March decision around Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” -- in which a jury ordered its songwriters to pay $7.4 million to the estate of Thicke’s admitted influence, Marvin Gaye -- had an impact on this move, Danny Zook, who manages Trinidad James and runs sample clearing house Alien Music, says, “Everyone is being a little more cautious. Nobody wants to be involved in a lawsuit. Once a copyright dispute goes to a trial, [if a jury is used], it is subject to be decided by public opinion -- and no longer resolved based entirely on copyright law."