Learn how to divide your song splits when working with a large group of songwriters
Let’s say you’re a singer that writes your own songs. Or you’re a professional songwriter. However, you usually write by yourself or work with that one producer you’ve built a bond with. But now for this particular project you’re working with an entire group of people. It’s no longer a standard song session. It’s a jam session. You may be wondering to yourself, “how does the song splits work?” “We’re all jammin’, so who is the songwriter?” You’ll find the answer to the question and more when we explain to you step by step how song splits work during a jam session.
What are song splits?
Before we can explain how to distribute your splits during a jam session. Let’s first break down what song splits are. Song splits are the determination of percentage of royalties paid to songwriters of a particular song. Technically there is no right or wrong way to split songs. However, there are ways that are more effective and fair than others.
How are they divided?
As stated earlier, there’s no right or wrong way to divide splits of a song. But there are more common ways and ways that are considered fair to split your song credits. Song splits are usually divide evenly between the songwriter and the producer. Yes in case you aren’t aware the producer is credited as a songwriter as well. When he or she creates the beat for the song, that’s an entity of the song. Therefore they are listed as a songwriter as well. If it’s just one songwriter and one producer than ideally the song splits are divided 50/50 between both parties. Always keep in mind entire total of the song credits have to equal to 100%. This is regardless of how many parties get involved.
What about a jam session?
A jam session is when there’s a group of people contributing to a song. It’s usually 5 or more parties. This can mean more than one producer and a handful of songwriters. The thing about jam sessions is a lot of times they happen unplanned. However, if someone gets pulled in unexpectedly or gets involved at the last minute. They’re still one of the songwriters of the composition. Let’s take a scenario and say you as the artist write your own songs. You also have a friend who co-wrote the song with you. You 2 as songwriters are in the studio with your producer. Then comes in 3 more people that the producer know. As you all are working on creating the song, the three people start adding their input. They come up with lyrics, instrument suggestions and help to write the melody. These 3 people are now songwriters and apart of creating the record. Even if they weren’t initially scheduled to be apart of the process. Even if they only added a small amount of input. They are still songwriters and deserved a portion of song splits as well. The more people that comes in and contribute. The more songwriters are now added to your project.
The best method to distribute song credits in a jam session
If a scenario like the one mentioned above ever happens. The best method you can do to make sure things are still in order and that the song splits will be distributed fairly, is to immediately take our your song split sheet. You should already have your split sheet with you before the session even starts. A split sheet is an agreement between all songwriters that documents the shares of a song. You should always keep a handful of split sheets with you at every music session. If the number of songwriters that end up on a song exceeds the number of slots listed on the split sheet. Take out another one and use as many split sheets as you need. Below is a list of what fields should be on your song split sheet:
- First and last name
- Song title
- Recording artist
- Record label (if applicable)
- Home address
- Phone number
- Publishing company of each songwriter (if applicable)
- Ownership of song percentage amount
- Performing rights organization (PRO) you’re registered with (if applicable)
No matter how fun or care-free the jam session seems to be going. As soon as you see more people are being added to the party than the initial agreement. Politely stop the session and say “hey I’m going to pull out another split sheet and add you all on it.” Or you say “before we go any further let’s state how we going to distribute the credits.” Remember there’s no right or wrong way to distribute music song credits. All parties involved just have to be in agreement with it. If there are 7 people apart of writing the song and you all want to divide the splits into 7 ways equally that’s great. If you want to decide the percentages based on who contributed how much. That’s great too. However, the more people that becomes apart of the songwriting process. The harder it will be to figure out who contributed what percentage wise. Our suggestion would be once there are more than 5 parties involved with writing the song. Split the song credits equally amongst everyone. This will help avoid any confusion or fights over who gets what credit wise. Below is breakdown of a clean and fair way the song splits can go with 7 contributors to a song:
Scenario – 7 songwriters (including producers) for a song:
–In this example we’ll split the song evenly amongst all 7 parties. This meaning dividing the splits into 7 out of 100.
Songwriter 1 > Wrote half of the 1st verse = owns 14.2% of the song
Songwriter 2> Wrote the other half of 1st verse = owns 14.2% of the song
Songwriter 3 > The primary producer = owns 14.2% of the song
Songwriter 4 > Wrote the chorus aka hook = owns 14.2% of the song
Songwriter 5 > Wrote the 2nd verse = owns 14.2% of the song
Songwriter 6 > Secondary producer = owns 14.2% of the song
Songwriter > Wrote the bridge = owns 14.2% of the song
If you’re not comfortable doing a jam session or having too many people work on your song please communicate that with the producer. Before the song session even starts, let him or her know you want a strict and private session. It’s perfectly fine to let them know you’re not comfortable with people popping up unexpectedly at your session. Remember it’s your studio time. You paid for it and most importantly. It’s your song. However, as you grow as an artist you may began to appreciate the magic that can happen at a group jam session. Some of the biggest hits were written unexpectedly and by a group of people. For example, the famous song “Money (That’s what I want)” by Barrett Strong, written largely by Berry Gordy had an unexpectedly songwriter contribute to it. Berry Gordy recalls in his book “To be loved: The music, the magic, the memories of Motown: An autobiography.” When he wrote this classic record he was playing around on the piano and one of his secretaries, Janie Bradford playfully added a line that she had no idea Berry Gordy would add to the song. It stayed and the song became one of the most famous hits of all time.
So if you ever find yourself in jam session with more songwriters that you bargained for. Don’t get discouraged or nervous. Simply have your split sheet prepared as you and your fellow music creators make magic. Who knows you may be creating history in the making.