It happens quite often in music – songwriters collaborating on songs for verses and hooks. Songwriters become so excited about the creative part of making music most overlook the small, yet important things that should be done immediately following the creative process.
This includes discussing and writing out who gets what percentage of the song in the event that it generates revenue. This can simply be done with song split sheets. While many think it’s a long and drawn out process, it should only take a matter of minutes to complete. By doing this, you will save yourself trouble down the line of trying to figure out who should get their fair share of money a song may generate.
It is strongly encouraged that you seek advice from an attorney to have a more elaborate and formal agreement when cowriting as other factors could come into play. At a minimum though, you should consider having the following on paper.
- Name (of the song)
- Date of recording
- Name (of the songwriter)
- Contact information (for each songwriter)
- The performance rights organization (PRO) each songwriter is affiliated with
- The publishing company the songwriter is with and
- The percentage breakdown of the song for both songwriter and publisher.
Now this isn’t the same as filing the copyright forms and ownership of the recording. This aims to identify who gets what percentage in terms of revenue from the song. Check out this great read from Billboard that talks about the story of Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk” and how the percentages of the song were divided up among the writers and the publishing companies. It appeared this was a win-win across the board for everyone involved in the process.
So before you begin releasing projects with a great amount of features, take the time to discuss who’s entitled to what if, and when revenue from the songs come in. This will save you time, money and hassle trying to figure it out down the line when more could be at risk.
See articles from others discussing split sheets…
“Split Sheets: Collect Your Music Publishing Royalties” by Jason Cerf
“Are You Co-Writing Songs? A “Split Sheet” Just Isn’t Enough” by Justin M. Jacobson, Esq.
“Who Owns Your Songs? A Guide to Publishing Split Sheets” by Shaine Freeman