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  • Writer's picturegregoryguaymusic

TWO MAIN CATEGORIES OF MUSIC ROYALTIES, AND HOW SIMPLE OR COMPLEX IT CAN BE.

TWO MAIN CATEGORIES OF ROYALTIES.

Splitting songwriting can be clearcut or tricky, but how about splitting ownership of the SR (soundrecording) or Masters? Typically, labels owns the rights to the Masters, even if the artists own a percentage. Many people throw the term 'Royalties' around without being specific. Labels or Artists can make money from streaming through owning the SR, but only songwriters/publishers generate income from radio play.

Set up an account with SoundExchange to collect SR/Master Royalties, as a performer but set up with a PRO (Ascap/BMI) to collect royalties as a songwriter. Labels typ. control the SR/Master, and Publishing Admins typ. control the writing royalties.


Being part of a few bands in Charlesotn, SC, I"m trying to learn as much as I can for myself, and also to steer the bands, and any type of writing or recording collaborations, into a knowledgeable, respectful, and sustainable relationships.


Where it gets tricky, is this: amateur, even many pro, musicians are often confused about this whole splitting royalties thing. And notice, when I said 'royalties', I didn't specify writing or Masters - that just makes it worse lol.

 What's easy is this:

  1. the band plans writing sessions, which should be clearly different than a rehearsal. Maybe that's an equal split, but what if the keyboard player never brings any ideas, and rarely offers any harmonic or lyric suggestions? Well, maybe it shouldn't be an equal split the NEXT time? Or, be like Coldplay, split it no matter what.

  2. bands fund recording, mixing, master, promotional efforts equally, and split ownership of SR/Masters equally. That would be great if it were that simple, but I think it's rare. And that is why labels usually do this and take anywhere from %50-100, I think. So, if two members of the band take on all these costs, but the other two are simply contributing their time and talents in the studio.... perhaps a custom split for their efforts, rather than equal?

It's not always that simple, is it?

Equal splits for writing and masters are great but ultimately it may be the salesman of the band, or label, or publisher, that brings money to the band. Music Publishers would take %50 of that top before giving money to the Writers, if they landed a song in a movie. The other %50 would go to the label, or directly to an independent band. So, this %50 would be split to the artists that own their portion of the recording.


Many songwriters are also acting as manager, Publisher, Label, financer, maybe even invested in $20,000 of recording gear, and have the responsibility of educating themselves and their peers in order to balance professional music business standards with keeping it fun among friends.


Tell me what has worked, or hasn't worked, for you, below!

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