Whether you are a lyricist, painter, or author you already know it’s every artist’s nightmare to not receive credit for their work. Sadly, I cannot tell you how many times I’ve witnessed artists have their work compromised because of an unclear agreement. From stolen ideas to lack of compensation to simply not having their name on a record, it is important to act in good business. How do you avoid poor business and getting finagled? Know how to get songwriting credit.
Register with a PRO
The first step to ensuring you receive songwriting credit is to sign up with a performance rights organization (PRO). A PRO pays songwriters for the public use of their song. For example, if your song is being played in a restaurant, retail store, or covered by an artist at a gig, it will keep count of how many times it was played and compensate the royalties for it.
If you are a first-time registrant, we recommend signing up with BMI or ASCAP. These are the top two most trusted PROs in the world, with a roster of countless grammy-winning, Billboard-charting artists.
What is a split sheet? A split sheet tracks the contributors and ownership of the song. That way, you know exactly who helped write the song and how much they own of the lyrics and composition. Deciding who gets what percentage can be an uncomfortable and difficult conversation to have, so we recommend having a discussion with your collaborators before starting the project. Remember, the rule of thumb is equal split amongst the writers involved. However, this can change depending on what everyone agrees on.
Don’t know how to make a split sheet? You can download our’s here.
If your song got picked up by a crime TV show, would you agree to its use? What if you say no, but your collaborator says yes? Similarly to a split sheet, not having these terms agreed upon on paper can lead to unnecessary struggles. Save any awkwardness by having a collaboration agreement. This lays out exactly what each contributor agrees on when it comes to the licensing and master of a song.
If you desire, you can combine the information on the split sheet and collaboration agreement on the same document to have everything in one place.
The next time you go into a songwriting session, make sure you have your PRO information, split sheet, and collaboration agreement ready to go. I promise, it will not be out of the ordinary if you walk into the room and have these documents handy. If anything, it will show that you are professional and take everyone’s ideas seriously.