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Simon Cowell, the music mogul, recently parted ways with Little Mix, the girl group he supported and signed after they won the X Factor in 2011. The stated reason? He had a falling out with their management company, Modest Management, over the songwriting splits on their single “Woman Like Me.”
Some may think it’s a drastic move over a minor issue, but such fallouts are more common than ever before, especially given the exponential growth in the number of credited songwriters on today’s big hits.
Splits are the concept that leads to songwriting crediting headaches like these.
And every songwriter and musician who distributes their music should understand what they are and why they are important. It will save you a lot of trouble later on.
However, splits are not always straightforward. So, to help you understand splits better, here’s everything you need to know.
Bonus: If you want to know more about Pre-Mastering, read The six tips for better pre-mastering!
Songwriting splits for streaming services in 2022
With today’s digital distribution services that make it simple to get your tracks on streaming platforms, figuring out songwriting splits is just as important as figuring out royalty splits.
Some digital distribution services offer the feature, making it simple to decide who gets what before releasing it.
They’ll even handle paying everything out to the correct accounts of each collaborator. So, everyone gets money on time and without hassle.
When you set up your songwriting splits, they’ll most likely mirror whatever royalty splits have been agreed upon. So, you’ll just need to enter your split percentages and everything will be taken care of.
If the ability to easily split streaming revenue is critical for your project, choose a distribution service provider that can provide this feature.
For example, LANDR Distribution provides this type of service and is backed by an incredible team of human support professionals who can assist you along the way.
The finishing touch
Finally, there’s the infamous artist motto “change a word, get a third“, which states that when an artist receives a finished track, he or she expects a share of the songwriting in order to cut it.
Dyo, a UK songwriter, says she usually leaves a verse lyric blank for the artist to contribute to, so the artist feels involved in the writing process.
In these cases, everything is negotiable. Those who are willing to walk away hold the majority of the power in any negotiation.
You must determine how likely it is that someone else will cover the song. If the artist is well-known enough, it may be worthwhile to give up a larger percentage. After all, having 15% of a Drake song could be worth more than having 50% of the same song that an unknown artist released.
The biggest roadblock to resolving the splits is our unwillingness to discuss them as songwriters.
Negotiate your songwriting as soon as possible
The biggest roadblock to resolving the splits is our unwillingness to discuss them as songwriters. I should know, because I avoided it for the majority of my songwriting career. It’s like giving someone a prenup on a first date, in other words, a real vibe killer.
However, regardless of how awkward, how many writers. Or, how uneven the splits are, you must discuss splits early if you want people to pay you correctly. Or, at all.
No one will get money from others if the split agreement and song registration with your Performing Rights Organization (ASCAP/BMI/SOCAN/PRS, etc.) are incomplete or in dispute.
This happens more often than you think. A few years ago, the CEO of the UK performing rights organization PRS stated that one of Beyoncé’s albums was still being litigated 18 months after it was released. Beyoncé, without a doubt, had enough money to pay her bills, but some of the co-writers may not have.
To ensure that people pay you when streaming your track, broadcasting on radio or television. Or, performing at a concert, make sure your PRO has a “clean” registration of it before releasing.
This means they know who wrote it, what their IPI/CAE (songwriter ID) numbers are, and who their publisher is (if any). And, that everyone’s percentage of the song is 100 percent – not 101 percent or more.
If you want to make music for a living, you must manage all of your rights so that people properly pay and credit to you.
Face the music
Nobody becomes a music creator to do administration. But, if you want to make music for a living, you must manage all of your rights so that people properly pay and credit to you.
Bite the bullet and discuss how you and your co-writers should split songwriting credits as soon as possible to avoid tears and arguments later on. Or, as in Little Mix’s case, falling out with your label.
We hope you’ll know more about Songwriting Splits after reading this article!