There is a huge mistake that songwriters especially beginning songwriters make when collaborating on a new song and it has nothing to do with writing a hook or the musicality of the song. It has to do with what happens after the song is complete and you are ready to release it to the world. What I am referring to people is amnesia. It is something that happens whenever a song is complete and people forget what their actual contributions were to the entire songwriting process.
What are songwriting percentages?
So in order to explain percentages I have to do a very quick overview of copyright/publishing. A full song is comprised of what I like to call shares. There are only 100 shares in a song. Fifty percent of a song is the lyrics and the other 50% is the music. So songwriters when collaborating split 50% between themselves.
So when I say you need to discuss percentages I am saying that once a song is complete you and your songwriters immediately should discuss the “splits” or shares of the song. If you wrote the bulk of the song you may want 35-40% of the songwriting but that is something that has to be negotiated. If you leave this up to chance at a later time you may be walking into a ball of confusion and risk ruining relationships with fellow songwriters. You also want to make sure that you are adequately being credited for your work.
In the following clip Grammy award winning music producer Bryan Michael-Cox talks about a specific experience he had with a fellow songwriter when it came to splits on a song.
So in conclusion get those percentages discussed immediately so you are not dealing with the same issues Bryan dealt with in this specific situation. In some situations you may be able to come to an agreement prior to starting the song that you will split everything 50/50 with your co-writer however this may be a little more difficult if you have a group of collaborators on song. At any rate though many find it difficult to discuss splits it is necessary. Well unless you don’t care about getting credit for your work but I have a funny feeling you want to make this a career.
As always guys remember to CREATE AND INSPIRE!