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What is a Co-Writer?

Our team is frequently asked, “who is a co-writer?” A common practice in the music industry, co-writing is when composers, artists, and/or producers collaborate and create a finished project together. 

Many songwriters — even solo artists — collaborate with multiple creators, or just co-write the occasional song with a friend. Unfortunately, co-writing can be confusing when it comes to royalty collection. That is why completing a split sheet every time you create a song is so important, even if it is with a longtime collaborator or your best friend. Split sheets help avoid any potential confusion over which writer owns what percent of the royalties earned from the song being created.

We cannot stress how important split sheets are. They’re so important, in fact, that we created a free template for them here. Our team speaks with so many creators that have never filled one out while writing their music and have missed out on numerous potential royalties as a result - because if you co-write a song and fail to determine splits, your collaborator can register it however they see fit. Without a document indicating your agreement, you may not be able to get the registrations updated with pay sources to collect your fair share.

We often use the term “outside” writers to describe co-writers that don’t have an account with Songtrust. When you are adding a Songtrust song that has multiple writers besides yourself — and you are not collecting on behalf of them — we ask you to add them as “outside writers” to your account. This allows you to account for the percentage of the song that they own and helps us register it with the correct splits.

When a song is registered in our system with incorrect splits, and we send it out to collection societies, it will inevitably create a conflict because different writers of the same song are registering it with different splits. This means that you could experience delayed royalty payments and even have unallocated royalties enter what’s sometimes referred to as the dreaded “black box.” Avoid this by deciding splits as you develop your songs and registering those splits correctly with your publisher and collection societies.

To make sure you’re collecting all your mechanical and performance royalties globally, register for Songtrust as your publishing administrator today!

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