Musicians, producers, artists, songwriters, composers, and everyone in between have the opportunity to own publishing rights to their songs and collect royalties. Here is a quick and easy way to make sure that you get your share of the music publishing rights to the music you help create:
A split sheet establishes in writing who owns what percentage of the composition, or the publishing rights. (The ownership of the recording is a different matter.) Publishing splits can be negotiated as a cowriter, producer, band member, etc. Click the link above to see what a split sheet looks like. You can even download this template and use it for yourself. Note that if you are the only writer, you automatically own 100% of the copyright.
Deciding on who gets what percentage of a song is completely negotiated between writers. Sometimes co-writers will splits works evenly regardless of who wrote which part(s) of the song. Other times they’ll assign percentages based on each individual’s contribution to the final product. Either way, it’s best to decide on splits and get them in writing as soon as you’ve finished a song, as negotiations may get messy the longer you wait.
As a song is released and used around the world you, the owner of your copyright(s), are due publishing royalties. Having a percentage of publishing ownership can be a great source of recurring revenue.
Note that if you include a sample of someone else’s composition in your work, it is expected that you clear those samples with those who own that recording and/or composition. You can offer that person or organization a percentage of the publishing, negotiate a fee, or simply acquire permission to use that sample.
Once you’ve decided on songsplits and you plan on releasing your music, go ahead and register your publishing splits with a publishing administrator like Songtrust to get set up to collect music publishing royalties.
It’s clear that streaming is the present and future of music consumption. Chance The Rapper’s ‘Coloring Book’ was the first streaming-only album to win a Grammy this past weekend, Prince’s Warner Bros. catalog was streamed almost 5 million times in two days (up 6,323% from the previous two days) after being released onto more streaming platforms, and more and more services are popping up to compete with streaming giants like Spotify and Apple Music. According to a report published by Parks Associates, there is a dark horse in the streaming market: Amazon Prime Music. The company’s senior analyst says, “Nearly one-half of streaming music subscribers, the equivalent of 15% of all broadband households, indicate they have a subscription to Amazon Prime Music.” In the Middle East, streaming service Anghami–which co-founder Eddy Maroun says was created when he figured out that piracy was the only option for music consumers in the region–has 33 million users.
So the question is no longer whether streaming is going to survive the music industry, it’s how the music industry is going to survive streaming. The monetization of music, and specifically monetization of composition copyrights and compensation for songwriters, is under turmoil in the digital age. Streaming services are finally starting to embrace the industry where they derive the value for their businesses, with Spotify hiring former manager Troy Carter, and more recently, Amazon hiring Alex Luke, former Executive Vice President of A&R at EMI Music, to serve as Global Head of Programming & Content Strategy. Partnering with digital service providers is the only way for rightsholders of music to make streaming work for both consumers and creators of music alike.
ASCAP and BMI have joined forces to release a statement against the Department of Justice’s decision to mandate 100% licensing. BMI also announced that it was taking legal action to challenge the decision in Federal Court, while ASCAP is “tak[ing] the lead for the two PROs in pursuing a legislative solution to ensure the continued availability of fractional licensing as well as other remedies to the outdated consent decree regulations that disadvantage songwriters and composers in the digital age.” In a letter to ASCAP members, President Paul Williams urged songwriters to stay united to fight the DOJ’s decision and lend their support to ASCAP and BMI initiatives.
The European Commission will allow Sony Corp to take 100% ownership of Sony/ATV worldwide, bolstering the major music company’s market power. With the masters and the publishing that Sony controls, combined with its partial ownership of EMI Music Publishing, the EC approval sets Sony on track to quickly meet, or perhaps even surpass, UMG’s $5.7 billion combined publishing/master revenues last year. President of the National Music Publishers Association, David Israelite expressed his concern, saying that this acquisition is in the best interests of recorded music rather than songwriters, and that Sony Music is “driven by an outdated mindset that somehow if songwriters get less from digital music services there will be more for [its] record label.”