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Indie Artists, Labels and Managers

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#copyrights #cowriters #emusicentertainment #producers #splits #splitsheet Feb 15, 2020

Making Money In The Studio Is A Vibe

Artist love to be in studio vibing, however, being in the studio and creating music can lead to a career and making money.  Artists often feel that they will kill the vibe if they discuss business.  What they do not realize is that handling their business shows they are serious about their craft and can be done easily.  While Artists love to be creative and are adverse to paperwork,  Indie Artists without the benefit of a manager will need to find a way to make this leap.

What Is A Split Sheet? 

A split sheet memorializes who created what portion of the music.  It allocates percentages for the producer and the songwriters, which serve as evidence in copyright ownership.  This is important because all monies flow from the copyrights.  Split sheets have information on the songwriters and producers including their Performing Rights Organizations (PRO's) which is necessary when it comes time to register the song and then get PAID.  

Everyone involved in the songwriting should sign the split sheet as evidence they agree with the contributions allocated to them. 

When Is It time To Create A Split Sheet?

The best time is right after you finish the song.  The allocation of money can create issues down the line.  It makes sense to know that everyone is comfortable and clear about their contributions from the start.  Once the money is flowing it can complicate relationships.  Also, determining who created which part of the song, well after it is done can lead to differences of opinions and arguments.  Therefore it is best to do this right away.

However, if you have created lots of music in the past with co-writers without split sheets, you may want to start creating split sheets for those songs and circulating them among the prior co-writers for songs already written.  Now, If the song is already out, you should get the split sheets done now, before you enter into any type of negotiations for any type of deal or sync placement.  Licensing entities and publishers don’t want to sign agreements with Artists, without the proper paperwork.  It is important to handle your business so when the opportunity presents itself you do not lose it.  In addition, your PRO, publisher, record company or distributor may hold back royalties from your music in order to avoid liability.

What Split Should I Receive?

This is determined on a case by case basis.  Contracts 101 says that an agreement is valid when there is a meeting of the minds.  How the allocations are done, depends on you and your co-writers and what you agree too.  Sometimes bands or a singing group will divide the percentages evenly among the group regardless of the contribution.  Another philosophy is that the hook is worth more than the verses.  So who ever writes the hook may be entitled to a larger portion.  You can also split the rights among each co-writer according to how much they contributed.

Genre may also plays’ a part in determining splits. Hip-hop producers typically get 50% of the ownership because the music significantly contributes to the success of a song.  The other 50% is divided amongst the writers who create the melody and the lyrics.  Remember, if you include a sample of someone else’s song in your work, you must get permission from whoever owns the rights to that work. Sometimes you will have to give the original owners a percentage of the publishing rights and/or an upfront fee.  Also, keep in mind this process is time consuming and can be expensive.

Pop and rock genres producers, generally share equally, with all co-writers.  The belief in these genres is that the music and lyrics are equally important for the songs success. 

Finally, producers based on their experience may also request an up-front fee and a percentage of the royalties that come from sales and streaming.

What Leverage Do You Have When Negotiating The Splits?

It depends.  If you are just starting out and have no track record in the music business you will probably have very little leverage to negotiate deal terms that are more favorable to you than industry standards that the writers routinely require.

However, here are some factors that may help you to negotiate better terms for yourself:

  • If you have a large number of fans and or social media followers;
  • If you have a marketing and promotion strategy and/or budget to market the song;
  • If you have a sponsor or social media influencers who will help promote the music;
  • If you have a label and/or team that will help promote the project; and
  • If you have a track record of sales and or shows.

Finally, remember you may also need producer agreements and songwriter agreements if you are also the Artist recording the song.  Seek the help of an experienced entertainment attorney to protect your rights. 

I hope this has been helpful and please use the link below to download the blank split sheet for your use. 

As always please like, share or comment or you can also email me at [email protected]



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