Collaboration has always been a part of the songwriting process, but these days, you’re seeing more and more people involved in the creation of songs. Whether you’re at one of Beyonce’s legendary group songwriting sessions or just co-writing with a friend, it is important to establish clear lines of communication about royalties.
At the Toronto Songwriting School, we are in a somewhat unique position when it comes to song contributions as part of the class is getting suggestions and feedback from the instructor and fellow students. In all classes and workshops, songwriters retain all their royalties. Merely suggesting the addition of bridge does not qualify an instructor for royalties.
This changes when the instructor or another member of the class makes a substantive contribution to a song – writing a melody for a student’s lyrics, for example. This becomes a case of co-writing and a discussion about the royalty split is appropriate.
It is best to agree on the split at the time of the collaboration and put it in writing to avoid conflict down the road. Download this Basic Royalties Split Agreement as a guide to use in your sessions.
Collaborating with songwriters who have complementary skills and new ideas can be a great way to break out of a songwriting rut, but songwriting is also a business. Putting a royalties split agreement in place early keeps everyone on the same page and helps to avoid hurt feelings down the road.