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Industry Secrets Behind Music Splits: A Comprehensive Guide for Recording Artists

Understanding music splits is crucial for any recording artist navigating the business side of the music industry. Splits determine how earnings from a track are divided among collaborators, making it essential to grasp the nuances and paperwork involved. In this guide, we'll delve into the intricacies of music splits, who benefits from them, the necessary paperwork, proper division of earnings, the role of producer credits, and provide resources for further learning.

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1. What Are Music Splits?

Music splits refer to the division of ownership and revenue shares among contributors to a musical work, typically including songwriters, composers, producers, and performers. It's essential to establish clear splits to ensure everyone involved receives their fair share of royalties and credits.


2. Who Can Benefit from Splits?

- Songwriters: Those who contribute lyrics or melodies.

- Composers: Individuals responsible for the music's instrumental composition.

- Producers: Those who oversee the recording, mixing, and production of the track.

- Performers: Artists who contribute vocals or instrumental performances.


3. Paperwork Involved in Splits

To document splits, artists should create a split sheet outlining each contributor's percentage of ownership and entitlement to royalties. This sheet should include details such as full legal names, roles, ownership percentages, and contact information. Additionally, registering the song with a performance rights organization (PRO) like ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC helps track royalties and ensure proper distribution.


4. How to Divide Earnings

Earnings from a track are divided based on the agreed-upon splits outlined in the split sheet. For example, if a song has three contributors with equal ownership (33.33% each), royalties and revenue generated by the track will be distributed accordingly. Digital music distribution platforms often handle this division automatically based on the registered splits.


5. The Role of Producer Credits

Producers play a significant role in music splits, especially if they contribute creatively to the song's arrangement, sound design, or instrumentation. They may receive both production credits and a share of the earnings based on their contributions. Clear communication and agreement on producer credits and splits are vital during the song creation process.


Famous Music Examples and Outcomes of Splits:

1. The Beatles - "Yesterday"

- Songwriter: Paul McCartney

- Outcome: McCartney owns 100% of the publishing rights, showcasing a solo songwriter's control over a classic hit.

2. Beyoncé - "Irreplaceable"

- Songwriters: Ne-Yo, Beyoncé, and others

- Outcome: Splits were likely negotiated based on each songwriter's contributions, highlighting fair distribution among multiple collaborators.

3. Drake - "Hotline Bling"

- Songwriters: Drake, Paul Jefferies, Timmy Thomas (sample credit)

- Outcome: Splits involved both Drake's original composition and sample usage, demonstrating the complexity of splits in modern music production.

4. Taylor Swift - "Shake It Off"

- Songwriters: Taylor Swift, Max Martin, Shellback

- Outcome: Splits reflect collaborative songwriting efforts, showcasing how multiple writers can share ownership and royalties.

5. Ariana Grande - "Thank U, Next"

- Songwriters: Ariana Grande, Victoria Monét, Tayla Parx

- Outcome: Each songwriter likely received proportional splits based on their contributions to the song's creation.


Resources for Understanding and Utilizing Splits:

1. ASCAP - [Link to ASCAP's Split Sheet Template and Resources]

2. BMI - [Link to BMI's Guide to Music Publishing]

3. SESAC - [Link to SESAC's Educational Resources on Music Splits]

4. Music Business Worldwide - [Link to Music Business Worldwide's Articles on Music Splits]

5. Songtrust - [Link to Songtrust's Guide to Music Publishing and Splits]


Contact Information:

- Twitter: [@ASCAP](https://twitter.com/ASCAP)

- Instagram: [@bmi](https://www.instagram.com/bmi/)

- Facebook: [SESAC](https://www.facebook.com/SESAC/)

- Website: [Music Business Worldwide](https://www.musicbusinessworldwide.com/)

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This guide should give recording artists a comprehensive understanding of music splits, from their importance to real-world examples and resources for further learning.

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