Looking for advice regarding writer/producer splits and revenue streams.

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  • #12783 Reply
    Happy Ears
    Participant

    Hi all,
    I’m looking for some advice regarding writer/producer splits and revenue streams.

    Aside from production/library music, I also write full songs with lyrics not only aimed for TV film placements but also aimed for Artist on labels (We’re of course aiming for hits :)).

    I’m currently working on a song which I co wrote with a lyricist.

    I wrote the music as well as produced/mixed/mastered/engineered and played/programmed the instruments in my studio except for the bass and the vocals which we split the cost of the session musicians

    All together I’ve spent probably 3-4 work weeks on this project (we had 3 different singer, revision etc.)

    She wrote the lyrics in 2-3 days and and showed up for one of the vocal sessions, and that pretty much her time investment in this

    At this point it feels unfair towards me to be splitting any income with her 50/50 %.

    Also she is fairly green in this business so any placement will probably come though my connections.

    In regards to Film /TV placement . Is it fair for me ask that we split any Synch License 50/50 (As we a 50/50 co writers on the music) then that I take 100% of the master recording fee (as the producer of the track) ?

    Also we have an artists who might use the song on her album, what kind of revenue sources are we looking at then, assuming they are using my track with the artist just replacing the current vocals and what would be fair splits among writers in that context?

    Thanks you in advance for any input!

    #12784 Reply
    Happy Ears
    Participant

    bump

    #12785 Reply
    Art Munson
    Keymaster

    She wrote the lyrics in 2-3 days and and showed up for one of the vocal sessions, and that pretty much her time investment in this

    That makes her a co-writer on the song and should be split 50/50 (including the publishing). Check those old Beatles tunes. They always split 50/50 even when it was obvious who actually wrote the song. I seem to remember an interview where John and Paul said just having some one in the room added to the energy.

    Replacing the vocal should not change the writers split. Why would it? The song wouldn’t exist without her lyrics.

    As for any sync or master fees. You probably should have worked that out in front but you could probably make a case for taking a bigger percentage of those fees.

    Just my 2 cents worth and I am not a lawyer.

    #12786 Reply
    woodsdenis
    Participant

    I would keep everything as a 50/50 split, however if you think you have spent a much greater time on producing the master recording then put a monetary figure on that. You then ask for that figure to be paid to you from any master synch licences before the split comes into play.

    #12788 Reply
    Desire_Inspires
    Participant

    Also she is fairly green in this business so any placement will probably come though my connections.

    That is a disgusting attitude to have. No wonder the music business is suffering.

    If you really think she deserves less royalties and money, then just pay her a flat fee for her work and be done with it. Since you have the “connections”, you should have a budget to pay the young lady for her efforts.

    #12789 Reply
    Happy Ears
    Participant

    Thanks for the input Art and that might be a good work around idea woodsdenis!
    Seems like I didn’t make myself clear enough in my initial post.
    Sorry about that.
    I never meant to say anything about changing the 50/50 split ratio between me and the lyricist’s writer shares and the respective publishing shares. (remember synch fee has 2 parts, one for the master and one for the writers/publishers.

    My point here:

    “Also we have an artist who might use the song on her album, what kind of revenue sources are we looking at then, assuming they are using my track with the artist just replacing the current vocals and what would be fair splits among writers in that context?”

    In the record industry it pretty common to give an artist some writer’s share if they include it on their album. (started long ago with Madonna and continues today with people like Beyonce) The artists who is interested in our song was recently in a major singing contest on national television and have some major stuff going on.

    So my point is:
    What is a fair writers/publishing % to give out to the Artist? ex 10% to the Artist then 40 & 40 to me and lyricist if included on the album? and if they use my track and someone else produces the Artist’s vocal on top of my produced track. What’s fair in terms the master recording/production income such as a fee the label would pay to own the master share?

    @Desire the “young lady” is a non musician, middle aged poet (10 years older than me) and a stay at home mom who I invited to write lyrics for this song because I liked her poems. She is completely delighted to not only have a professionally produced/written song featuring her lyrics but good prospects of having her very first song placed on a real record with a nationally know Artist!
    And yes all thanks to my 25 years experience of writing/producing music and the network I’ve build up in the music business

    BTW You got a pretty lively imagination there, Let me know if you want her address so you can put on your shining armor and go save her from me “taking advantage of her” I’m sure she would be very happy ha ha Just kidding.
    But Joking aside.
    I’m mainly trying to find a fair income split for both me and the lyricist so I can use that going forward, she will probably agree on most anything I suggest but I really want this to be fair for her too, so I was looking for input since I’m mostly familiar with the instrumental production music world.

    I was also looking to see if I’m ignoring some kind of additional producer income, especially in the “record label” world…..

    Lets look at some of the income flow for a Beatles song on their album.

    “Beatles Song 1 on some Beatles album”
    Writers and their respective publishing shares are equally split 50/50%
    Then George Martin as the producer is paid by the label to create a master recording that the Label now owns (I assume if the Label nor the Beatles were to pay George Martin he would be the owner of the recording?)

    Then the label pay the publishers the mechanical royalties for units distributed who then pays their writers.

    Then the Label also pay the Artist (in this case the same as the writers) some kind of royalties for units sold?

    Secondly:
    and if a music sup on a show have $10000 in total synch fees for “Beatles Song 1” Label gets $5000 for the Master fee and Writers/Publisher gets $5000.
    Is it common for a label to share their their master Synch fee with the Artists?

    The third scenario is if no Artist is in the picture for mm and the lyricist’s song. (Aka called the hot innocent underwear model”LOL)
    If a music sup offer me and the lyricist $1000 to use our song.
    I’m 50% writer/publisher and the 100% producer of the song and (derby the owner of the recording since this is a separate thing from writing).
    The lyricist is 50% writer/publisher of the song
    What is the fair split for a $1000 divided among me and the lyricist?
    (Would love it MichaelL with the lawyer background chimes in.)
    Thanks guys!

    #12790 Reply
    Art Munson
    Keymaster

    In the record industry it pretty common to give an artist some writer’s share if they include it on their album. (started long ago with Madonna and continues today with people like Beyonce) The artists who is interested in our song was recently in a major singing contest on national television and have some major stuff going on.

    I agree that practice has been going on for decades and if Madonna or Beyonce me that deal I would take it in a heartbeat! I wouldn’t take it for an artist who doesn’t have that kind of stature.

    As for a “fair” split of the other income? You will probably get any number of opinions but only you will know what feels right to you.

    #12792 Reply
    Desire_Inspires
    Participant

    @Desire the “young lady” is a non musician, middle aged poet (10 years older than me) and a stay at home mom who I invited to write lyrics for this song because I liked her poems. She is completely delighted to not only have a professionally produced/written song featuring her lyrics but good prospects of having her very first song placed on a real record with a nationally know Artist!
    And yes all thanks to my 25 years experience of writing/producing music and the network I’ve build up in the music business

    Sounds like a sweet deal.

    If she is simply delighted to just be a part of the contract, why did you bring up the issue of compensation? It seems as if she is comfortable to receive no money from the project. Just be sure to have her sign a work-for-hire form.

    Let her know that she will be waiving her rights to ownership and compensation. That would be the best business practice and protect you from legal hassles.

    #12794 Reply
    Art Munson
    Keymaster

    If she is simply delighted to just be a part of the contract, why did you bring up the issue of compensation?

    Because Happy Ears is trying to be fair or he wouldn’t have brought it up here!

    #12795 Reply
    Desire_Inspires
    Participant

    Ok. Thanks.

    #12797 Reply
    bradymusico
    Participant

    I always give my cowriters 50/50 splits across the board, even if I do 95% of the work. Sometimes it’s those little things they bring to the table that result in the track being sold/licensed in the first place. It’s all pie in the sky though, until the piece actually makes money. I’ve seen a lot of colleagues sweat over complex writer/pub/producer splits and many of them are sharing these complex splits of ZERO…

    Art is right though, only you can answer what “feels right”. We’re all just speaking from our own bag.

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