How to make a split sheet and why it matters05 July, 2022
Dreaming of a music career is one thing. Practically achieving it is another.
Gone are the days when artists used to rely solely on their talent and skill to get through in their careers. Converting your talent into business is the only way you can monetize your talent. For that, you need to be able to sell your creative work properly and professionally. This can be achieved successfully with the help of a split sheet.
If you are a songwriter or a musician you must have sufficient knowledge about a split sheet.
To be paid for the songs and music that you create, you must have a detailed list of the collaborators of your song or music. This can be done with the help of a split sheet.
First, let us try to understand what is a split sheet?
A split sheet is a written agreement that lists out specifically all the contributors to the song or music and establishes a legal ownership percentage between them. It does the important work of managing multiple songwriter ownership.
A single piece of song or music will invariably have a lot of collaborators. Acknowledging them and ensuring that they get paid as per the amount of work that they have done is possible by preparing a split sheet. Every person involved in the creative process has to be properly compensated for their contribution and for this, the split sheet plays a vital role.
• A split sheet will tell you how to split the royalties generated by the sale of your music or song. Hence, they can be considered to be an important part of the Music and Song Industry.
• A split sheet safeguards the interest of each creator of the song or music and adequately credits and compensates them for their creativity, talent, and effort.
• Split sheets give a clear idea about who is to be paid and how much. Without it, the creators of a song or music might even get less due and less money for their creations.
• Split sheets can also be used to capture important information while writing or recording music.
Split sheets should be prepared for every song or music that you plan with your collaborators.
To avoid unnecessary and messy legal hassles afterward, it is important to have a proper split sheet in place.
However, it should be understood that split sheets are different from the copy-right agreement and are not to be confused with it.
Split sheet template download
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Determination of the percentage of ownership
This is an important step in preparing a split sheet. The percentage has to be discussed with all the collaborators, and all the parties before finalizing. The sum of all the split percentages has to add up to 100%. There are different ways in achieving the split percentage for each co-writer or co-producer. One is assigning a percentage as per their contribution, while the second method is splitting the rights equally among each co-writer or co-producer. Assigning equal ownership is perhaps the easiest and safest method. It will create a bond with the collaborators which can go a long way in creating and marketing more music or songs. It also helps to avoid arguments, creates harmony, and boasts goodwill.
Having said that, it is not easy to determine split percentages based on individual contributions. This is because not all contributors have contributed equally and many times it becomes difficult to assign a specific percentage to their efforts. For example, one co-writer might have written just a small part of a song, while another co-writer might have done the songwriting plus done the production of the song.
Why a split sheet is necessary: Ten-twenty years down the line, it would be very difficult to remember the percentage of royalty verbally promised at that time. Hence, it is necessary to have a properly drafted and signed split sheet beforehand. It also gives a feel of professionalism to songwriting. It is useful since music publishers are not able to register a song if they do not have the names of all the songwriters.
Sound recording and song split sheets are useful to capture songwriting and arranging. Split sheets are simple templates that keep everyone working on the same song on the same page. It gives a brief idea about who is responsible for a particular function and lets us know what each collator is doing.
Often, credit information and liner notes are never created. Hence, it becomes very difficult to identify the songwriter, musician, producer, etc. who made a song possible.
When to create a split sheet:
It is important to finalize and create a split sheet as soon as you have finalized the song and before you launch the song and it becomes popular.
When to sign a split sheet:
The songwriter's split sheet is usually signed before the songwriting session or the recording session is over. Sometimes, for first-time songwriters, the songwriter's split sheet is signed after the first songwriting session. All the collaborators should ideally take a print of the split sheet, read and study it properly before signing, and if the need is even consult a lawyer for more advice.
What should a split sheet contain?
Any simple split sheet should contain the following basic information:
• The title of the song.
• The date of the agreement.
• A list of all the collaborators.
• The specific role of each person (eg. Songwriter, producer, etc.)
• The percentage that each person is assigned.
• Performing rights affiliate as both a publisher and a songwriter.
• A mention of the specific contribution that they have made individually (eg. Melody, beat, lyric, etc.).
• Record label, Performing Rights Organization (PRO), and Publishing Company (if available).
• Mailing addresses and contact information.
• The publishing company.
• Publisher’s name, company, IPI number.
• The publisher’s email id is a must for contact.
• The signature of each contributor is a must.
Once the split sheet is prepared, each of the collaborators should sign it and each of them should receive a copy of the same. After that is done, you can register the song.
It is to be remembered that one can edit any details of the split sheet as long as all the collaborators agree on it and re-sign the amended agreement.
Additional details that can be added in a split sheet are:
• Recording artist, label, and contact number.
• Producer of music and audio engineer.
• Email address and phone number of music producer and audio engineer.
• Studio name, address, and phone number.
• Sample list and the name of the artist, album, etc.
Who all should sign the split sheet and why:
Several creative people are required to sign the split sheet as soon as they finish finalizing their song. They are as follows:
1. Music Producer: Is a person who is responsible for the creation of a melody.
2. Major Recording Artist: Is a person who records the song and they have an ownership interest.
3. Music Publisher: If we use a sample, the music publisher, based on copyright law, can very well ask for a share of the publishing. Hence, a percentage of their ownership should be decided.
4. Musicians & Vocalists: A vocalist creates the melody of the song, while a musician creates the musical element of the song. They together make the song possible and hence they should be included in the split sheet along with their respective percentages. One can include them in the songwriter's share of ownership.
Apps used to create split sheets
The internet is everywhere and online services that help in creating a split sheet are available. Apps which help in creating a split sheet are also available online.
Releese's Music Cloud is the perfect solution to create splits sheets, separating Publishing and Neighboring rights into 2 distinct categories makes it easy to understand who owns what. In addition to splits, Music Cloud features other useful tools like expense tracking, distribution, publishing and neighboring rights collection, landing pages and much more.
One of the other popular apps is the SPLITS app. It is a free app and belongs to Create Music Group. It is simple to use and quickly generates a split sheet with the help of a few simple clicks. It is a hassle-free way of avoiding any disputes between the collaborators of the song or music.
On the internet, there are several databases such as Tivo Music Metadata, which extracts from AllMusic, MusicBrainz, etc. Other databases available are Amazon, Google, Pandora, etc. Having your name in the public database is essential for your career growth as an artist because it validates you as an artist. People get to learn about you and you become more visible to the Music Industry which may one day provide you with better and bigger opportunities.
Also, people from the Film, TV, and advertising industry know how to contact you if they have some interesting project for you.
Thus, a split sheet is a simple document that lists out all the artists and their contributions, guaranteeing them a specific percentage of the profits of royalty that the song or music will eventually earn.