Sharing Songwriter Credits

Xdrummer

New member
Does anyone here ever share songwriter credits with others? I'm not talking about co-writing - but rather as barter for other contributions?

I write with the primary purpose of getting published and placed (generate revenue vs. simply a "vanity recording"). While I can be mostly self contained (I play several instruments, can engineer, arrange, etc.) I do choose to use outside singers and on occasion, musicians who have better chops on instruments that I don't consider myself strong enough (fiddle, pedal steel, banjo) - perhaps you can tell I write mainly in the country genre.

Since there is no assurance that any songs will actually general revenue - I try to control my "front end costs" - so I offer a % of songwriting credit in exchange for standard session fees (or I may pay a reduced fee and then a %). If the singer/musician has faith in the song, they can choose to take a calculated risk that maybe the back-end pay-off will be better than a one time session fee. If they arn't willing to have some "skin in the game" I then have to decide if I'm willing to pay a higher session fee up front (normally, I'm not)

The % I offer is subject to the value of the performance. As an example, a dynamic lead vocal which can really "sell" a song has more value than an 8 bar fiddle solo. So I may offer a vocalist up to 25% vs. maybe 5-10% to a musician.

It costs me less up front - and if the song does place getting a smaller % of something is better than 100% of nothing (if I can't submit the song because my vocals aren't strong enough or my fiddle part sucks).

I draft up a basic Agreement which dictates the % and indicates any material that generates income most contain that person's performance (I sometines record a song with more than one lead vocalist to see which ultimately sings strongest). The Agreement also indicates the contracted singer/musician has the obligation to keep in touch and provide current contact information (so I don't have to try to hunt them down if some money does roll in). Lastly, I provide a copy of the Copyright Form, so they can see they are listed as a partial "writer"

Everyone understands this is primarily a "fun" endeaver that "may" pay somewhere down the line. Worst case, we've created music that hopefully we can feel proud of.

Does anyone else use creating ways to defer up front costs? If yes, how do you structure your barter "Agreements"
 

ido1957

9K Gold Member
My friend and I share 50/50 regardless of who writes what. No contract just a friend thing. Odds are we won't make millions in royalties.
 

gecko zzed

Grumpy Mod
My friend and I share 50/50 regardless of who writes what. No contract just a friend thing. Odds are we won't make millions in royalties.

Yup likewise.

The first CD my musical partner and I put together we registered tracks according to who composed (her, me or both). But the second one it was not worth going to that trouble, so we just fifity-fifty for the lot. And we will be doing the same when the third is done.

Millions in Royalties? Not likely. And nor is that the aim. The enjoyment comes from creating.
 
Yes, I do this in reverse. I accept a high % share of a friend's credit in return for my contributions to production and instrumentation.

Our percentages are declared when the works are registered with our royalty collection agencies, though.
That means if he gets super famous I don't have to worry about getting screwed over. :p
 

GazEcc

mBallstát atá tiomanta
If I'm working as a sessionist, I only ever get offered pay, and need to sign a release (I have a small come on performance rights but its negligable) However if I'm hiring players I never offer a share of the song. Simply because its easier to sell or licence a piece when you own 100%, try selling or renting 93% of a house :P
 

Xdrummer

New member
Yes, I do this in reverse. I accept a high % share of a friend's credit in return for my contributions to production and instrumentation.

I don't want to get into your business - but can you expand on what a high % may be - and what is the level of your contribution?

I have one vocalist who has perfotrmed on many on my recordings, sings lead and comes up with good harmony parts - and has been very generous with his time. So I offer him 25% on most songs (even if there are no harmonies, etc.). I've offered him 50% on a couple of songs becuase he also made some suggestions for the melody line that I really thought may a significant improvement.

I do copywrite the songs with the shared credit - to make sure it is "on record" but I maintain the rights to make any decisions on publishing, etc.
 

Xdrummer

New member
Simply because its easier to sell or licence a piece when you own 100%, try selling or renting 93% of a house :P

This is a valid point! I include wording in the my Agreement form that I maintain all rights related to decisions on publishing, licening, etc.

As asession player, I've almost always taken a basic session fee and waived any rights to future royalties. I have done some projects were I acted as both a session player and a co-producer/engineer. In that case I took points rather than a fee (ultimately I made no money - but it was very enjoyable.

As others have indicated, neither the sngers/musicans or I really anticipate any significant money - so it is first an foremost an enjoyable pursuit of trying to create good music. I get enough each year from BMI to purchase a new piece of gear (which is helful since like most on this site I have a serious case of GAS) - but with the publisher getting 50% and then me giving X% to others - my piece of the pie is relatively small. But a smaller % of something is still more than 100% of nothing.
 
I don't want to get into your business - but can you expand on what a high % may be - and what is the level of your contribution?

I have one vocalist who has perfotrmed on many on my recordings, sings lead and comes up with good harmony parts - and has been very generous with his time. So I offer him 25% on most songs (even if there are no harmonies, etc.). I've offered him 50% on a couple of songs becuase he also made some suggestions for the melody line that I really thought may a significant improvement.

Sounds like I'm getting screwed. :p

I take a fixed 40% on all songs for contributing everything except basic chords, lyrics and melody.
I record, mix and "master", play all instruments, create and record harmonies, create artwork, publish to online retailers, submit to radio stations etc, register with royalty agencies, track and monitor usage, maintain and update websites...it goes on.

I love the musical agreement though. There's not many people would give you that much freedom and pretty much always be happy with what you add.
I mean, he sends me an iphone demo of vox+gtr and I send back a radio pop song, more or less.

For the last album we did I set a price for the job + the agreement on top.
Generally for singles or 3/4 track EPs I wont ask for payment because I know the royalties will cover what I wanted.
The chap's been decent enough to offer me 50% in those cases for that reason.

It's all spawned from serious motivation issues in honesty.
Without him I'm looking for other clients, and without me he's sat on his arse doing nothing.

I think, technically, I'm a 40% decision maker in publishing agreements etc, but I'd never be a thorn in his foot and he knows it.
We both want the same thing.

The only annoying thing about it is that I show as 40% copyright owner/writer in iTunes etc.
We didn't really want that to be a public thing because, really, he is the song writer.
He's a very proud lyricist and I'd hate anyone to think I had a part in that.
 

DM60

Well-known member
You can revenue share without crediting. Publishing and record companies do it all the time. Many recording studios do work on Spec. Just an extra form to fill out I would think.
 
I think it wasn't an option through CDBaby, but I'm not 100%.
IIRC they wanted to know the split and the collection agencies because they monitor, and pay for, youtube uses etc.
The also take our stuff to iTunes and the split details show.

There probably is a way around it. I never checked back to see.
 
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