Hiring Musicians and Sharing Royalties…

Home Forums Contracts Hiring Musicians and Sharing Royalties…

This topic contains 11 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  angopop 9 months ago.

Viewing 12 posts - 1 through 12 (of 12 total)
  • Author
  • #26558 Reply


    I mainly compose library music on my own, but there are some songs that will sound better bringing in musicians.

    I’m curious how other people here handle the issue of sharing revenue … do you split 50/50 (or differently depending on their contribution) and pay them yourself if/when revenue comes in – or do you give them co-credit and just split all revenue automatically when libraries and PROs pay out?

    Also, what type of contract do you have the musician sign?

    For me, I know the track will be more marketable, so it’s worth it. I’m waffling between keeping it simple by splitting it 50/50 with co-credit, — or giving them equal percent at first (starting at 50%) then reducing the percentage after revenue reaches some predetermined amount (say $1000, perhaps).

    Any thoughts?

    #26559 Reply


    50/50 or upfront payment / buy out. I wouldn’t recommend trying to keep tabs on residual income and changing the split as time goes by.

    Someone tried that with me once – he hired me to ghost write on his various TV shows and said I couldn’t be on the cue sheet but he’d have his book-keeper go through all the PRO statements and calculate my share. He gave up pretty quickly after finding out what a PITA it was. Bought me out for a fee.

    #26560 Reply


    If you are bringing in musicians to record music you have written, you can treat it as a work for hire. You pay the musicians for the session, but they don’t participate in ownership or royalties.

    I think you can find boilerplate WFH agreements online. Doesn’t hurt to speak with a music attorney of course. But the spirit of this kind of agreement is pretty straightforward.

    #26563 Reply


    I have done both. I did a few 50/50 deals with a couple of friends. To keep is simple, we submitted exclusively and plan to forget about them. The only issue would be a sync fees. Since they were submitted through my JP/MIBE accounts, I presume a check would come to me only, but I’m honestly not sure.
    If I want a track to be non-ex, I just do a flat work for hire using a contract template a bought from a legal document website. I’ve only done that a couple of times with tracks that I feel had strong earning potential if done “right.”

    #26564 Reply


    Oh, I forgot to mention I have used the “barter” method a couple of times too. I have traded recording/producing services for session work on a hand shake. I won’t do that anymore. I haven’t had a problem (yet), but one track in particular has a few high profile placements and I’m always worried a session player will hear it and think I made a ton of money and ripped them off. A ton of money, ha.

    #26565 Reply


    If I want a track to be non-ex, I just do a flat work for hire using a contract template a bought from a legal document website.

    Even we lawyers are in a “race to the bottom” situation thanks to technology and cheap competition!

    #26569 Reply


    Buy em out up front. No sharing of royalties. Find the money somehow and pay them fairly up front. Yeah, it hurts to pay up front, but the downsides of sharing royalties are a pita all the way around. The extra accounting, and then the loss of royalties down the line more than make it a loosing situation to share royalties.

    #26570 Reply


    As with many things in this industry (and life) — it’s a gamble.

    I have one song that I want a saxophone on, that would be the focus of the song, so I’d be more inclined to share that one 50/50. It’s a crucial part of selling the song.

    I have another where I just need a jazzy ride cymbal behind guitar and bass, so the generous part of me says “keep it simple and just do 50/50” whereas the anxious/financial/practical side says 50/50 will possibly lose me a bunch of money in the future.

    My songs up till now have not sold much, so this doesn’t seem like much of an issue, but like most people here, I’m optimistically thinking “THIS song will be THE ONE!”….

    #26581 Reply


    From my perspective, sharing royalties is an all around fail for both sides and a bad idea IMO.

    1. – you split royalties on a sax solo or drum part and you get a $3500 license. That was an expensive overdub, and it’s almost certainly going to KEEP paying the instrumentalist. Of course, he/she is elated but you are probably never going to split a royalty for a simple overdub again….


    2. – The song never does anything. Yes, you are off the hook for paying the musician, but they will never want to work for you again. It’s a loose / loose for both of you. Although you didn’t put out any money, you are not going to get them to play for you next time.

    3. – Accounting. From here on out for the rest of your career, you’re going to have to administrate all these little deals…. Ugh. That might be the worst part…

    Anyone who tells me I’ll get credit, it will help my career, OR THAT THEY WILL SHARE PROFITS with me gets an automatic write off. Musicians are one of the most taken advantage of professionals out there. Take care of your musicians and they will make your music POP. and you’ll make money.

    #26599 Reply

    Daniel Barry

    If you need a guitar riffs or solos shoot me an email, I’ll do 50/50

    #26600 Reply

    Daniel Barry
    #26626 Reply


    Hi Daniel, thanks for the offer… guitar’s my main instrument too, so I’m covered there … but will keep you in mind!

Viewing 12 posts - 1 through 12 (of 12 total)
Reply To: Hiring Musicians and Sharing Royalties…
Your information: