Don’t Give Songwriting Credit to People That Didn’t Earn It (Why You Need a Split Sheet)

A Songwriter Split Agreement is one of the most important agreements for any musician sharing songwriting credit with others.

Songwriter Split Agreement will allow you to clearly indicate the percentage each co-writer owns of a composition.  This protects your interest in the composition and also reduces any confusion or arguments regarding ownership percentages later on after the composition has been written.

There have been many horror stories in the music business of co-writing disputes and it is something you want to avoid since publishing income from songwriting is still the one of the most viable income streams in the music business.  One story involved a superstar band (whose name IAR cannot reveal for confidentiality reasons) and a hit song written by the members of this band.  As is typical, there were one or two girlfriends and other entourage members hanging out in the studio with the band when they wrote this particular hit.  The band recorded and released the hit and significant money started rolling in.  By this time, some of the girlfriends had become wives and some had become ex-girlfriends.  One particular ex-girlfriend contacted the band and said that she had contributed some lyrics while they were writing their hit song and therefore was entitled to a percentage of ownership (and therefore royalties).  The band argued she did not contribute anything to the song.  The ex-girlfriend had no proof she actually contributed, but the band also had no proof she didn’t contribute.  So what happened?  The band was forced to give the ex-girlfriend the percentage of ownership she was demanding.  Had the band completed a Songwriter Split Agreement at the time they wrote the composition, they could have shown that the writers listed on the Songwriter Split Agreement were the only writers of the song and been able to squash the ex-girlfriend’s demands.  

This example is precisely why you should complete a Songwriter Split Agreement at every co-writing session to protect your ownership interest in each song you write with another musician.  Indie Artist Resource knows how important this contract is to any songwriter and especially how having this contract in place could actually save you from tens of thousands to even millions of dollars in avoiding disputes like those in the example above.   The Songwriter Split Agreement created by Indie Artist Resource that can be used again and again, making it a great value by providing on-going protection for a one-time price.

Don’t give up ownership and royalties of your songs to your ex-girlfriend, the pizza guy, or anyone else that did not actually contribute to your work.  Get the Songwriter Split Agreement and save yourself the headache later.


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Jacobson, Esq. Erin M.

Erin M. Jacobson is a practicing attorney that represents musicians, songwriters, music publishers, producers, and other music professionals. She is known throughout the music business as "The Music Industry Lawyer" and her clients range from Grammy and Emmy Award winners to independent artists and companies. She works directly with her clients at every career stage and strives to protect her clients and their creative endeavors through deal negotiations and proper intellectual property management. Erin founded Indie Artist Resource to provide protection to independent musicians with barriers to obtaining basic legal and business documents.

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