An easy guide to creating song split sheets
When it comes to collaborative songwriting between bandmates and others, split sheets are absolutely essential to legal disputes and ensuring everyone is properly compensated for their contributions. Here, we look at how create split sheets in ten simple steps.
Guest post by Bobby Borg of the Disc Makers Blog
Musician, author, educator, and music industry consultant Bobby Borg lays out the process of creating a simple, functional song split sheet.
Adapted from the video, “How to Draft a Song Split Sheet, Simply.”
Using a song split sheet when songwriting with bandmates or outside collaborators defines who did what in terms of songwriting and arranging — and what percentage of the song they contributed — to help avoid any potential disputes and generally make it clear who contributed and how.
A song split sheet does not need to be complicated, and I’m going to show you how to draft one in 10 simple steps.
1. Song title
The first step is just adding the title of the song.
List all the writers who contributed to the song. So, if you have two writers, John Doe and Jane Doe, list their names.
3. Publishing company(s)
Include the publishing company’s name for each contributor. So if John’s is Mistra and Jane’s is SmileMusic, list them. If you don’t have a publishing company, leave this blank for now (and be sure to check back to my YouTube channel because I have another video coming about that).
4. Song splits
This can get tricky as it involves determining how to split the percentage of the songwriting (see the video below). If one writer has 60 percent and the other has 40, list that information.
5. Performing Rights Organization
Include the Performing Rights Organization (PRO) for each writer (typically ASCAP or BMI). If you don’t have a PRO, just leave it blank, but, as a songwriter, joining a PRO is something you should seriously consider doing.
6. Interested Parties Information number
Your IPI number (Interested Parties Information) is the nine-digit code you get from ASCAP or BMI when you affiliate with them. If one writer has an ASCAP affiliation and the other is with BMI, add that information. What happens if you’re affiliated with a PRO and you don’t know your code? Go to your PRO’s website and (using ASCAP as an example) click on “Repertory” in the left column. Then click on “Title,” then choose “Writer,” and then type in your name. Hit enter and your IPI number will appear. It’s public information, so don’t worry about security.
7. First use
List what the first use of this song is intended for. For example, if this song is intended for use on John Doe’s upcoming studio recording, include that information. This is important, because you want to be clear among the songwriters what the intended use of the song is. If anybody wants to use the song for something else, they’ll have to draft a written agreement, agreed upon by all parties, for that use.
This one is simple: all parties need to sign the agreement.
Include the email and phone number of all parties involved.
Mark the date of the agreement and make sure each party has a copy for their records.
11. There’s an app for that
There are two song split sheet apps I’d like to suggest. The first one is Auddly.com and the second one is songsplits.com. Personally, I like having a physical copy of the split sheet with everybody’s handwritten signature on it, but you might want to check out these apps.
Want more music career advice? Don’t just read it… watch the videos on Bobby Borg’s YouTube channel.
Bobby Borg is the author of Music Marketing For The DIY Musician (Second Edition), Business Basics For Musicians (Second Edition), and The Five Star Music Makeover (published by Hal Leonard Books). Get these books at any fine online store in both physical or digital format. Learn more at www.bobbyborg.com.