Demystifying Music Splits: A Guide for Indie Artists

Written by on July 1, 2024

Demystifying Music Splits: A Guide for Indie Artists

Congratulations on venturing into the world of music collaboration! Whether you’re jamming with fellow artists or working with a producer, understanding music splits is essential. Here’s a breakdown of these crucial points for indie artists:

What are Music Splits?

Music splits refer to the percentage of ownership and royalty distribution for a song. This applies to both the composition(the musical arrangement, melody, harmony, and lyrics) and the sound recording (the actual recorded version, including performance and production).

Who Gets Points (Ownership) in a Song?

Typically, points are divided among the following contributors:

  • Songwriters: Those who create the melody, harmony, lyrics, and basic musical arrangement.
  • Producers: The individuals responsible for shaping the overall sound, including recording, mixing, and adding sonic elements.
  • Featured Artists: Artists who contribute vocals or instrumental parts to specific sections of the song.

How are Points (Ownership) Split?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. The split depends on various factors:

  • Level of Contribution: The person who wrote the main melody might get a higher percentage than someone who added a short guitar solo.
  • Industry Standards: Certain roles, like lead vocalists, might have established norms for point allocation.
  • Negotiation: Ultimately, the split is a business agreement reached through open communication and negotiation among collaborators.

What are Royalties?

Royalties are the payments artists and songwriters earn when their music is used commercially.

How do Royalties Get Paid with Music Splits?

Royalties are generated from various sources, and your split determines what percentage you receive:

  • Streaming Services (Spotify, Apple Music): Each stream earns a fraction of a cent, multiplied by your composition and recording point share.
  • Downloads: Per-download royalties are split based on your ownership percentage.
  • Sync Licensing (Film, TV): One-time fees are distributed based on your composition split.
  • Public Performance (Radio): Performance royalties are collected by PROs (Performing Rights Organizations) based on your composition split.

Tips for Indie Artists on Music Splits:

  • Communicate Clearly: Before creating music, discuss points and royalty expectations with collaborators.
  • Get it in Writing: Formalize your agreement in a collaboration agreement outlining point splits and other key details.
  • Consider Your Role: Think about your contribution and negotiate a fair split based on industry standards and your value to the project.
  • Seek Guidance (Optional): If dealing with a significant collaboration, consult a music lawyer to ensure a legally sound agreement.

Understanding music splits empowers you as an indie artist. By communicating openly and setting clear expectations, you can ensure fair compensation for your creative contributions.

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