4 Ways to Cite a Song

Method to cite a song

Fact
The MLA format no longer allows the use of URLs to cite references, since they are not static and often change.
Often, we quote references related to TV shows, which leads to a chuckle among friends. Or we hum a popular song because the lyrics are stuck in our head. We may narrate some jokes as our own among friends. All that is fine. But in the real world, if the rightful owners don’t get a special mention, it might lead to a case of plagiarism or copyright infringement.
Songs are often credited in essays or articles without the singer or songwriter getting their due. A citation includes giving a reference to the singer or songwriter if he/she has written the song. If the songwriter isn’t well-known, it’s best to describe his best works next to his name, to give him credit. Citations end up as a footnote, but it does help a listener if he needs to know the identity of the singer or likes his work.

There are different ways to cite songs, and that’s exactly what we shall talk about in the following sections.
► How to Cite a Song
MLA Format
The MLA (Modern Language Association) style is associated with arts or literature, and has been widely followed by countries like Brazil, India, China, Taiwan, and those from North America.

State the last name of the songwriter/singer, followed by a comma, and then the first name.
State the name of the song, followed by a period inside double quotation marks.
State the name of the performer, if it differs from that of the songwriter.
State the name of the album in italics. Also state the format in which it was recorded, in square brackets.
State the name of the distributor, followed by a comma, and the year of release, followed by a period.

Example: Jovi, Bon. “It’s My Life.” [Recorded by Richie Sambora, Max Martin]. Crush [CD]. Island, 2000.
APA Format
The APA (American Psychological Association) is associated with academic papers such as journal articles and books.

While citing a song, always state the name of the songwriter, starting with the last name and ending with the first initial of the first name, followed by a period.
List the year of copyright or the year it was published in brackets or parentheses.
List the title of the song, and capitalize only the first letter of the song or any proper nouns in the title.
State the name of the performers in square brackets.
State the album title in italics, preceded by the word ‘On’.
List the medium of the song on which it was recorded in square brackets, followed by a period.
List the name of the state in which it was recorded followed by a colon. After the colon, state the name of the city, followed by a period.
Lastly, state the year of release, followed by a period.

Example: Jovi, B. (2000). It’s My Life. [Recorded by Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora, Max Martin]. On Crush [CD]. New Mexico: Albuquerque. 2000.
► How to Cite Song Lyrics
MLA Format

Start by writing the songwriter’s last name, followed by a comma, and then the first name, followed by a period.
Write the lyrics.
Write the name of the song in double quotation marks.
Write the name of the album in italics.
Write the year it was published on the website, or you can write it as ‘n.d.’ for unknown date.
Write the name of the recording company. Also mention where you accessed the information from.
Write the date you accessed the information.

Example: Jovi, Bon. This ain’t a song for the broken-hearted. No silent prayer for the faith-departed. “It’s My Life.” Crush. Rec. 2000. Island. Web. 8 May 2015.
APA Format

Start by writing the songwriter’s last name, followed by the initial of the first name, and separate it with a comma, followed by a period.
Include the date of release in round brackets, followed by a period.
State the name of the song, followed by a period.
State the name of the album in italics.
State the source of the lyrics, preceded by the words ‘Retrieved from’.

Example: Jovi, B. (2000). It’s My Life. Crush. Retrieved from http://www.azlyrics.com/
Songs are even cited in music videos by obtaining permission from the songwriter/performer. They are then included in the end credits, along with the producer’s name as well as the year of the release, for easy reference.

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