Importance of a Musical Split Sheet in a Song
Have you as an artiste, musical producer, beat maker, talent manager or business manager and industry stakeholder come across the word ”split sheet” in your short or long term of years in the industry? I bet NO! as most Nigerian artistes never take out time to research how the industry works in advanced nations. All they care about is performance fees better known as ”show money” which is honestly the major income for most. One can attest to this as the often heard phrase among st our”naija” artistes is ”mr manager, get me shows nah”. At the just concluded entertainmentlawconnect where publishing was discussed, a talent manager for over a decade by name Mr Godwin Tom said that he has two A list artistes he has constantly been talking to about publishing and importance of split sheet but it always ends on deaf ears.
With that said, i bring to you a well researched and easy to understand article about split sheet starting from the meaning of ”publishing”.
What is Publishing?
Publishing is a non-legal term that is used to refer to part of a collaborator’s copyright ownership in a song. The copyright in a song actually consists of two parts, a writer’s share (50%) and a publisher’s share (50%), but some people casually use the word to represent both shares.Unless otherwise agreed to by the collaborators, a copyright owner is free to do whatever he or she wants with his or her portion of the song, such as assign it to a publishing company.The primary benefit of owning part of a song is that it generates royalties and other income from single and album sales, radio play, music streaming, and licensing, which is why claiming your ownership of a song is so important for future sake(s).
What is a Publishing Split Sheet?
A “split sheet” is an agreement that identifies each producer and songwriter, and states the contributor’s ownership percentage.The split sheet should include other important information as well, such as the contributors’ performing rights organization ( in Nigeria we got only COSON and MCSN who actually are at longer heads currently), the specific contribution of each person (i.e., beats, melody, core lyrics, hook), and each person’s publisher information. Also, it should indicate whether different versions of the song were created. These details may not seem important in the early stages of creating a song, but a split sheet serves as evidence of copyright ownership and will assure a third party, such as a potential publisher that there are no disputes over splits.
One of the biggest mistakes that i see collaborating songwriters and producers make is failing to complete a simple split sheet because if the song becomes successful, which is the intent of all collaborations, then there is a risk that one of the contributors, or more likely his or her publisher, will claim that he or she should own a larger percentage of the song than originally owned.
How Are Splits Typically Determined?
In concept, splits should be allocated according to a collaborator’s contribution to a song. Unfortunately, this is not a bright line concept because a contributor may believe that his or her contribution is more valuable to the final result than the other contributors may view it to be.
For example, if a song is divided up based on quantifiable measures, such as the lines of lyrics or music written, then a contributor who only wrote the hook to a song would only be entitled to about ten percent of the overall song.
The contributor who wrote the hook might not believe this method to be fair if the hook is frequently looped in the song and clearly raises the quality of the entire song, which is typical in hip hop. There are countless examples like this so the bottom line is that all of the contributors need to come to an agreement.
What Split Should I Receive?
The true answer to this question is the same answer that applies to all terms in music contracts, “it depends on the situation”. With that said, I have seen the following rules of thumb:
In urban music (hip-hop/contemporary rhythm & blues), a producer is typically going to receive 50% of the song, less any portion allocated to existing samples, because the music significantly contributes to the success of a song, and the songwriters will split the remaining part.
To warrant such a large share, an urban producer is expected to not only deliver a finished master, as opposed to just beats, but to also manage the project and sometimes mentor the artist.
In the rock and pop genres (and old school R&B for catalogue owners), a producer typically receives an equal share of all of the contributors based on the notion that the music and lyrics are equally important to the end result. Rock and pop producers are also expected to help make the song successful by using their connections with industry professionals.Lastly, in the jazz and classical genres, producers rarely receive any copyright ownership in a song.
With that been said, i hope you found this article really helpful to your career. Remember, we now have lawyers specialized in entertainment law and media in the country. So wisely contact one today to draft a copy for you as you decide to protect your future earnings and intellectual property or send a mail to [email protected]
Credits: sonicbids.com, Lawyersrock.com
The material contained herein is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute as legal advice, nor is it a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a practicing lawyer. Each situation is unique, and you should not act or rely on any information contained herein without seeking the advice of an experienced lawyer.