When a song is created, the song is broken down into two main parts: the writers share and the publishers share. Separate copyrights for the sound recording and composition are also created but for now let’s focus on the writers and publisher’s shares of a song. Think of a song being worth 200 points, with 100 points assigned to the writer’s share and 100 points assigned to the publisher’s share.
The Writer’s share of a song
Using our 200 point idea, the writer’s share receives 100 points. From those 100 points, 50 points, or half, are assigned to the writer(s) of the lyrics, and the other half (50 points) are assigned to the writer(s) of the music or the music producer(s). So here are a few examples to illustrate how the points (percentage of ownership) on each song would be distributed:
Lyric writers: Jonathan Kirk (Dababy) 25%, and Rodrick Moore (Roddy Ricch) 25% (50 points total)
Producer/music writer: Ross Portaro IV (SethInTheKitchen) 50% (50 points total)
Thus, Dababy and Roddy Ricch would divide the lyric writer’s side evenly, both receiving 25% of the song, while producer SethInTheKitchen would receive 50% of the song as the only producer/music writer.
The Publisher’s Share of a Song
So what about the other 100 points of the 200 points? This goes to the publisher’s share of the song. Lets assume that the writers of the song are also equal owners of the publishing of the song (this is not always the case as many writers have publishing deals in which another company owns all or part of their publishing, more on publishing can be read here). If the writer’s equally shared in the publisher’s share, their individual publishing companies (for example: DaBaby’s –Baby Jesus Publishing (ASCAP)) would take the same shares as reflected from the writer’s side.
This is why it is essential that every writer also registers their own publishing company through their PRO (performance Rights organization) as not doing so means that you (the writer) is losing half of the money you might be entitled to collect!
What is a Split Sheet?
A split sheet breaks down the ownership shares of a song into the writer’s (lyrics and music) percentage and publisher’s percentages. Every time artists and producers work together and create a new song, they should fill out and sign a split sheet and make sure that each of the writers/producers gets a copy. When a song is complete, this split sheet should be used to register the songs with the associated PRO’s (performance rights organizations such as ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, etc.), labels and publishing entities. Any discrepancy in the registration can lead to money collected being held and not distributed until the discrepancy is resolved. No one likes to have their money flow stopped!
Where Can I get a Split Sheet?
Here is a FREE split sheet template for you to use. You should complete one split sheet for every song that you’ve created in the past and now moving forward.
Remember, continue to educate yourself on the business of music, the more you learn, the more you earn!
Jason Bost, Esq., MBA, is an attorney in the State of New York who focuses on civil litigation and entertainment law, and is the founder of the Bost Legal Group LLC, a firm providing legal counsel and representation on matters related to intellectual property, entertainment, trademark, real estate, foreclosure defense, bankruptcy, trust and estate planning, probate and surrogate court issues, immigration and civil litigation. If you have any questions feel free to contact Mr. Bost at 718-361-0299 or by email at email@example.com