Producer Royalties: How Should Your Producer Be Paid?

kurt_dahlArticles, Lawyer News128 Comments

producer royalties

Producer royalties are a very important part of the music industry. Indeed, almost every music producer these days will ask for a percentage of your record royalties. This percentage of record sales is known as “points”.

Producer “Points” vs. Producer Songwriting

As a reminder, producer “points” on the record involve an entirely different revenue stream than if your producer is given songwriting credit. For more on the 2 different copyrights in the recording and the song itself, see here. For more on whether your producer is also a co-writer, see here.

In short: almost every music producer will ask for points on the record, but only those producers that actually co-write songs with you are entitled to songwriting.

producer royalties

What Is the Norm For Producer Royalties?

Once you’ve decided that your producer is entitled to producer royalties, the next question is: how much? From my experience, the industry norm is between 2 and 5% of record sales. In the golden age of recorded music (after Elvis, before Napster), this could results in a lot of money. Think about 3% of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, which sold 30 million copies in the US alone (30 million times $10 per record times 3% = $9 million). And most of those records sold for far more than $10.

While records don’t quite sell like this any more, some do. Adele’s last record sold 25 million copies, for example. So producer royalties are still a very important consideration when entering the studio.

producer royalties

How Should Producer Royalties Be Calculated? PPD or SRLP

Once you determine what percentage of record sales your producer is entitled to, the next question is: which amount does that percentage apply to?

The key to answering this question is understanding the acronyms SRLP and PPD, and their differences.

SRLP is the “suggested retail list price”, which is the approximate price charged by the retailer (Wal-Mart, your local record store, or one of the few retailers left).

PPD is the “published price to dealers”, which is the approximate price that distributors charge their dealers, or the “wholesale price”.

So: PPD is lower, SRLP higher.

producer royalties

How Does SRLP or PPD Effect Producer Royalties?

Whether you choose SRLP or PPD can make a huge difference in terms of dollars flowing from you to your producer. For example, a 3% SRLP producer royalty on a $12.99 album would be roughly $0.39 per record sold. If this same 3% royalty was based on PPD, which is typically half of SRLP ($6.50), then you’re looking at roughly $0.20 per record sold to your producer. In other words, you would need to double the producer royalty to about 6% to come up with the same royalty of $0.39 per record going to the producer.

Whether you agree to pay producer royalties on PPD or SRLP, the royalty should be proportionate. In other words, the royalty per record sold going to the producer should be more or less the same whether you’re going SRLP or PPD.

How Do You Agree On Producer Royalties?

Whichever royalty base is used, it must be clearly stated in a Producer Agreement. The Producer Agreement is a crucial agreement for any musician recording songs, as it clarifies and confirms the mutual expectations of both parties. I large part of my legal practice deals with Artist/Producer disputes.

A Producer Agreement covers many issues, including:

  • What is the Producer Royalty?
  • Is the Producer also a songwriter?
  • Who owns the masters? (typically the artist, but not always)
  • What credit is to be given to the Producer?
  • Is the Producer entitled to a percentage of SoundExchange revenue?
  • When does the Producer Royalty kick in? (usually once the Artist recoups their recording costs)
  • And much more

I highly recommend that a Producer Agreement be drafted and signed before you start recording. As always, email me with any questions.

producer royalties

128 Comments on “Producer Royalties: How Should Your Producer Be Paid?”

    1. I have a producer who is requesting 50% royalties on a single song, for Recording, Mixing/Mastering, and Production. Now my artist also is in a Co-Publishing and Administrative Deal with a private publisher. I understand how the royalties will be shared between the Artist and the Publisher, however I’m unclear on exactly, what the producer is requesting 50% royalties of. Maybe you can help me clarify a bit

        1. Hi kuhrt how would i split royalties with a producer for the track they produced. Bmi said they only pay artists. How will the producers recieve their payments?

          1. Hi Herman,

            The key thing is understanding which royalties you are referring to. If it’s from record sales, then typically you have a Producer Agreement that states how they are going to flow from you to the producer (often producers will require that the label pay them directly).

            If we’re talking songwriting – first you must determine if the producer is in fact a songwriter with you.

            Email me at kdahl@murphyandcompany.com to discuss further.

            Thanks

            Kurt Dahl
            Entertainment Lawyer

      1. I have a producer requesting 50% publishing is this rite also? I buy beats from him that’s it he said if the songs are singed and released on a major id he wants his royalties

        1. 50% publishing to a producer is not the norm, unless he wrote 50% of the composition. Email to chat further

          Thanks,

          Kurt Dahl
          Entertainment Lawyer

  1. If there is a co-producer that co-produced 4 out of 10 songs on an album and they receive 4 points on the album, does that calculate to 1.6% royalty or $1.60 per record sold?

    1. Hi Shayla,

      They would get 4% of the royalties for those 4 songs — the focus would be on the individual songs rather than the album (especially in the modern single-driven world). So when any of those songs is sold on iTunes for example, he would get 4% of the $0.99 sale price.

      If you are selling hard copy albums, let’s say for $10, that means each song is selling for $1 and the producer gets 4% of that dollar, or 4 cents. If they had produced all 10 songs, they would get 10 songs times 4 cents, or 40 cents per album sold. Because he produced 4/10 songs, that’s 16 cents per album sold. So not much. The key is to look at “points” as percentages. 4 points = 4%.

      I hope this helps,

      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  2. What’s 5% PPD For one song dat sold 1 million how do you do the math if its more than a million. And what about streaming music as well

  3. I finished a mixtape im the recording artist also the songwriter i recorded in my own studio my producer wanted 100$ for every beat i payed him off also payed him off for mixing the songs. We dont work under a label were both upcomming we havent written a contract. But he tells me he wants 50% split of all the money except when im getting paid on stage? Whats the normal % i can give a producer and who can decide homutch a each get? Who gets to decide who is what of the contract?

    1. I would not agree to these terms. It sounds like you need a lawyer to negotiate the terms with this producer.

      If he wrote all the music, then he might be entitled to 50% of the songwriting, but it depends on the terms of sale for his beats. Email me to discuss further.

      Thanks,

      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  4. hi my name is matthew pandi and i am a music producer i got a contract that a has a split share of 80% that goes to the artist and 20% that goes to me is it a good deal or not

    1. Hi Matthew,

      That depends on how much songwriting you did! Every situation is different. Email me to discuss further.

      Thanks

      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

    2. Most of people like songs, because of the beat/instrument. For me i think producers should get more credits.

      1. That is an interesting viewpoint Fradella! As a drummer, I especially like it 😉

        I think it really depends on the genre and the song. In country music, for example, most would say that the beat is less important than in hip-hop. But in hip hop, the “beat” means more than just drums, it means music as well. So you’re right in that regard.

        Thanks,

        Kurt Dahl
        Entertainment Lawyer

  5. Hey Kurt, Thank you for this amazing article. It has helped me gain some understanding in the difference between PPD and SRLP. I have been sent an agreement, with an advance and percentage in PPD, was wondering if it would be possible for me to show you the agreement as I would really value your expert opinion on whether it is a contract to go ahead with or not.

    Thank you

      1. Hi. I write lyrics and create melodies to producers beats on the regular. How much does a producer get for royalties on online stores? I’m uploading a song that will
        Distribute my
        Music
        Through all online stores but he wants 60/40? He just
        Made
        The beat. So what’s the right percentage ?

        1. And no he did not write anything he just made the beat. I listened to it and started writing and composing a song. I can pick whatever percentage but I need to know the best answer. I pay to record my
          Music and get there and get it mixed. So what’s the best numbers you can give me ?

        2. And no he did not write anything he just made the beat. I listened to it and started writing and composing a song. I can pick whatever percentage but I need to know the best answer. I pay to record my
          Music and get there and get it mixed. So what’s the best numbers you can give me ? This is different

  6. Hi Kurt, I’m a unsigned artist. I sent a piano arrangement only of a song I wrote that I want him to produce for me. He use to work out of an established studio but now has his own studio in his house. He is a fairly known producer in nashville in certain circles. He gave me a contract where he’s asking for 3.5% royalties if I get signed by a label and 20% if I stay Indy. Below is the language:

    “If Master(s) are embodied on a record which is released by a Record Company, a pro-rated royalty equal to three percent (3%) of suggested retail list price (“SRLP”), or the equivalent wholesale (“PPD”) rate, (the “Base Rate”) payable from the first record sold and not returned (i.e. “from record one”) after recoupment of only the Producer’s Advance and reduced, increased, calculated, accounted for and paid in the same manner as are Artist’s royalties pursuant to the Recording Agreement.

    If Artist is not subject to a Recording Agreement and/or Artist distributes Master(s) directly, Artist shall pay Producer twenty percent (20%) of Artist’s net income (gross revenue less recording costs and Producer’s Advance) from sales or other exploitations of Master(s) from record one. ”

    Does this seem fair? I mean, I’m an unsigned artist, I wrote the song, and I’m asking the producer to produce 1 song based off a composition that I gave him.

    1. Hi Alfred,

      I would have to see the rest of the agreement, as there are other clauses that will effect this. Please email me and we can chat further.

      Thanks

      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  7. I’m helping a friend who is very creative and writes lots of songs (she comes up with chords and melodies) to becoming an independent artist. I told her since i know how to arrange songs I’d arrange all her songs for her and she likes that idea. I didn’t think to create any kind of agreement or contract as we are friends and we both think a verbal agreement should be good. In this case what % of royalty should a producer deserve? Any general suggestion?

    1. Donni

      The first question: are you a co-writer with her?

      Second: a standard producer royalty is 2-5%.

      Email me and we can chat more on this point

      Thanks

      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  8. Hey Kurt,
    Thank you for your article, it was a great read.
    I had a quick question regarding a quote I received for a master clearance.

    1. 7% of the wholesale price (PPD) ; pro-rated by the total number of royalty bearing tracks on the record concerned, sold, paid for and not returned.
    (Does the 7% apply to just physical CD’s, or albums sold on iTunes as well? If applied to iTunes, what is the wholesale price?)

    2. I have to additionally pay a one-time AF of M payment plus an additional 2% of all gross receipts in excess of US$25,000.
    (What is an AF of M payment and why do I have to pay it? What does the 2% of all gross receipts mean?)

    Thanks!

  9. Hello my Question is, if the producer get 4% of song and he is not the song writer, how do you put that in for bmi seeing that it has 200%. What percent on bmi do I put in if I’m the artist, writer and publisher?

    1. 4 “points” for a producer is not the same revenue source as songwriting. They are 2 distinct copyrights. See my other article on this topic.

      Thanks

      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  10. Hi Kurt,
    Question: Is a text message a legally binding contract?
    A music producer asked for 33% royalties on a song via text message. I agreed by texting back. We recorded, then the producer wouldn’t give me song until I signed an agreement. Which I did not. I recorded a whole new song with someone else. So can he sue me for royalties?
    Thanks,
    Lisa

  11. I’m recording a song with producer. I made a beat myself and also wrote the song. We went in there and he simply revamped I.t, produced around it and is recording and mixing but I asking for 50% of sales. Is this correct? Granted he gave me a discount and I can’t really even prove that that really is “discounted” from his prices. I can see if he started a beat from scratch and helped write but that’s not the case. Just a little confused.

  12. Hi Kurt,

    After reading several of your responses to other individuals I believe the producer I am working with is trying to take advantage of me. He is only producing the beats for me but I do all the songwriting, mixing, and recording and am going to be paying for distribution and all that other stuff. Anyways we have agreed upon 40% of all future royalties and he sent me a contract that I never signed because I originally thought that was too much. Would it be possible for you to recommend a place/person/organization where I could find a more legitimate producer that will work on a more reasonable percentage without any money needed upfront?

    Thank-you,
    Samantha

  13. Hi kurt,

    We are an unsigned act getting an album produced and recorded by a producer signed to a major publishing label in the UK. We have created the tracks to our songs to a demo standard and have wrote all lyrics and melody. We are using his services to record vocals, enhance production (make them industry ready), mixing/mastering. He has also said that with his publishing label on board, they could open doors to major record labels to help us get signed. The producer has offered us a discounted rate, around £450 per track and wants to own 33% of each song. Does this seem fair? Thanks.

    1. Hi Georgia,

      I would have to see the entire deal, but what you’re talking about is 2 separate deals: a Producer Deal and a Publishing Deal. I would obtain legal advice in the UK before signing anything!

      Thanks

      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  14. Hi there,
    I saw this quote;

    ” Sometimes producers, namely “producers of tracks” who compose the music, are entitled to 50% ownership of the song, and thus, 50% of the mechanical royalties also referred to as the publishing rights to the song. The record company would pay the other 50% of the royalty to the other songwriter(s), usually the writer(s) of the lyrics. If the artist is the sole songwriter then normally the producer would not share in the mechanical royalties if the producer does not contribute to he songwriting”

    Could you clarify if the music produced by the Producer, to a song already written (including the melody), is the same as the producer composing the music? I’m the songwriter, the Artist/Perfomer, Rights Holder and the one submitting the funds. Producer did not write any of the songs. The tracks they produced are paid in full before the track is released. Nothing is agreed, but they’ve asked for 50% artist royalties. I think that’s way too high, so thinking to suggest 35%. Is this reasonable?

    1. Hi ST

      Yes it really depends on the situation. I don’t think they should be entitled to 50% of the composition unless they wrote all the music. Email me to chat further.

      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  15. Hey Kurt Dahl, I’m an Upcoming Producer, and I’m making a collaborative Project with my Friend who is an Aspiring Artist. Most of the beats in our collaborative album have been made 100% by me, however there are some beats on the album that have been made using “free” loops from a site called Looperman.com I put “free” in quotations because while the site says any loops acquired from the site may be used for commercial and non-commercial purposes, I still fear that I could get into legal trouble if I use a loop from this site with the commercial project my friend and I are doing. Is my fear misplaced? I recently went to go check the comments of one of the loops I used and the loop creator is asking people to buy rights for the loop yet he posted it on a Royalty-Free Loop Website? I want to disregard that but Is he in the right, and do I owe him something for his loop when I release the project? Thank You.

    1. Hi Andrew

      Yeah you want to be careful with these beat sites. Do some research into their track record and customer reviews. And read their Terms and Conditions and any other fine print as closely as you can, to make sure they have no claim if the song becomes a hit.

      Thanks

      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  16. Hi,
    I agreed a 50/50 split via e mail on royalties with someone that did a remix of one of my tracks. I sent over my vocals and they built the music & beat around them from scratch. I liked the remix that much that I decided to use that as my official single release. Do I have to pay the producer 50% of all iTunes sales and streaming online? And what if a label was interested in the track. Would I have to split 50-50 on every level? Radio play, sales etc. The producer had no involvement in writing the lyrics that was all me. They just created the music and beat.

    1. Sounds like you need a clear agreement in place Danny! It’s not clear to me if the producer meant 50% of the master or of the compositions, which are entirely different copyrights and revenue streams.

      Thanks

      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  17. Kurt,

    This is an outstanding article!! Well put together and its helping job my memory on some important things.

    I have a client that is looking to get help with paying the cost necessary for mixing and mastering a completed song. I know me and my partner would get Executive Production credit as we would both split the amount down the middle to pay the full amount; but would we use a producer agreement to get points off the song to recoup and profit from our investment down the road?

    1. Hi Jamel

      It doesn’t sound like a Producer Agreement makes sense, as you’re not producers. If anything, an Investor Agreement might make sense, where you recoup your investment from record revenues.

      Thanks

      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  18. Hey!

    I have been working with a producer for original works for a while and am registering the works but having a hard time figuring out “composer credit”. There are a few songs that I had written lyrics and melodies for and sent over to my producer who then created music around my melodies. He did not help with lyric or melody, just music. However, I also pay him by the hour for his services. Due to this, is he still entitled to composer songwriting credit for creating the music or no because he was paid hourly? Thanks!

    1. Hi Alicia,

      The line between writer/composer and producer is a fine one. If he “created music”, it sounds like he’s a co-writer. Unless your melodies dictated 100% of the music and it was a clear line b/w the two, which I would suggest is rare. But if he wrote all the music and you did lyrics/melody, many times that would justify 50% of the writing.

      Thanks

      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  19. Hi Kurt,
    My band has recorded popular music & some original pieces as part of a live dance show. What is the going rate/guideline for royalties for our work to be used in the show. If i have also mastered it would this be a seperate percentage?
    Would kindly appreciate your guidance in this very complex industry

    1. Hi Sally

      There truly is no “going rate” for production (nor for mastering). It really depends on your bargaining power and reputation. Producers fees go from “free” to “sky is the limit”.

      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  20. Hello
    I have an exclusive Liscence Agreement for a beat I purchased with my producer. I alone have written the songs and laid down vocals for the master recording. He is wanting to split 50/50 of publishing share and letting me have 100% of the writers share, is this reasonable??. Also, he is stating that he is to own the mechanical rights of his beat. Does that mean we split 50/50 ownership of the master recording as well??.

    I am working with another producer but he will not agree to sign any type of contract with me. Am I being set up??

    1. It’s difficult with beat purchases. Sometimes, the beat creator wants half of songwriting, other times, you take full ownership. It sounds like this is the former, where his “beat” is the equivalent of writing all the music, while you bring the lyrics.

      The question for you: is the music good enough to warrant 50% of the writing, or are you better off to create something on your own?

      RE the other producer, get something in writing!

      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  21. Hey! – I’m having trouble getting my head around this. if the composer makes the music instrumental he’s entitled to 50% royalties song share, correct? – Therefore with the points revenue from streaming, who’s responsibility is it to collect revenue and distribute to the composer in a self-releasing/independent situation?

    Many Thanks!

    1. Hi Joe. That depends what arrangement you have b/w composer and the artist that releases the song. You could have that revenue go to each directly, or go to artist and then distributed to composer.

      Thanks

      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  22. Hey, I’m working with a producer and we have agreed to 10% of royalties. when i register publishing does he get an composition credit? also do i register publishing under my real name or artist name. Last inquiry if I have a llc do i use that entity for publishing and if so does a tune core publishing contract influence how i use my publishing through the llc? (which serves as a record label)

  23. What if their was a producer who help with the music but now theres another producer. The present (new) producer is just redoing the music that I and the first producer did, adding a musical string he now wants 3% royalty when I hired him to replay my music exactly as it is. He said no one producer can copy another producer work exactly the same but it’s clear it’s the same song, same melody, most of the same music. He may did a horn that is slightly different because of his program versus the one I and my other producer used. I did not sign the contract but may be willing in giving him 2% because his one or two lines I may want to keep. How do I make sure the first producer and myself get the producer credit as well as he but not him claiming 100%. I am the writer, owner/artist, my melody and I helped produced the track before I cam to this present producer who wants credit for redoing with what he calls producer credits.

    1. Yes it really depends on a) how much the first producer is asking or already receiving and b) whether the new producer’s changes made a significant change to the song. From there, it’s a matter of negotiation. I wouldn’t give up more than 4% total on the song.

      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  24. Hi, I am currently writing music to beats that I can lease online from producers who promote their instrumentals on beat stores.

    I can pay for an unlimited lease of that beat which gives me the right to stream on the major platforms but the beat maker will retrain 100% publishing rights and I get 0%.
    There is another option to purchase the beat exclusively and that gives me 50% of the publishing rights. My question is what do I gain from getting 50% of the publishing rights over 0%.

    1. I’m not an expert on statute of limitations, but I assume so. But if a deal was renewed (as was the case in the Led Zeppelin case), then that might effect things.

      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  25. my cousin is my producer and agreed to make beats for me in return of percentage from my sales. i did not pay for the beats up front and am now ready to submit my music for distribution. we didnt agree on any percentage split, i created all of the lyrics, melodys, hooks, etc, he just created the beat and sent it to me. what is the proper percentage split for that? is 80% artist, 20% producer fair on songwriting info?

    1. That is really up to the two of you to discuss and agree on. Many producers take 50% of the songwriting if they create all the music.

      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  26. Hi I am a music producer requesting 50% royalties for the master recording. I provided my services not as a work for hire but as a producer who composed the music for the song with the artist. She is requesting 100% rights to the song. How should a buy out price be determined if it was not predetermined. I would like to have the right to submit the song to publishing opportunities.

    My intentions with every artist I offer my services to without work for hire established is to retain rights. Would that need to be expressed and established in a producer agreement?

    1. The buyout price really depends on the bargaining power of the two parties. I would highly recommend that you have a Producer Agreement drafted that you can use for all of your artists, as it will prove to be invaluable. Happy to help

      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  27. I am looking to purchase some tracks from someone and they are asking for 25% of publishing but I will get 100% of all royalties does that mean
    I would still have to pay him after I have already bought the beat exclusively.

    1. I would have to see the deal Mike but the publishing should simply flow to them through the applicable PRO (ASCAP, SOCAN, etc)

      Thanks

      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  28. Hello, I have a question concerning BMI and ASCAP and was wondering if you could help me out? I have a small indie label and I also create my own music instrumentals. My question is: “when registering with either, how do I go about it? From what I gather I should become a member of one as a composer, and become a member of the other for my publishing company since I will also be co-writing with others and want to have those works under the publishing company. Is this the correct way to go about this? Thanks so much.

    Trey

    1. Hi Trey. I’m more familiar with SOCAN here in Canada, but my understanding is that both BMI and ASCAP offer basically the same services, so you pick one or the other. But I would contact both and try to get some answers directly from them.

      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  29. i hired a music producer to produce music for my single track .(i am the writer and composer of the track.) we had writen agreement saying that i engaged this music producer to produce music for my track and i will pay him royalty 30% and he will hold copyright ownership rights for UK country only (if song is released / sell) (Never released)

    i payed him his whole fees to produce track

    But now i have changed my mind and now i am using some other music producer to produce music for the same track and m GONNA RELEASE TRACK WITH NEW MUSIC FROM NEW MUSIC PRODUCER.

    Do you think he can still claim for 30%royalty and uk rights if i release this track in which he has 0% credit .?

    Thanks

    1. I would have to see the agreement signed between the parties, but I don’t see why you would give your producer ownership of the master. That’s a bad idea.

      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  30. Thank you so much for this valuable information. I’ve done quite a bit of searching and this is by far the most helpful page i’ve been able to find. I’m a producer (beatmaking and helping with lyrics/vocal melodies) and i’ve found myself in a tricky situation. If you could help me out, I’d be tremendously grateful. Here’s my situation: I’ve been hired by the client to create jazz/hip-hop instrumentals from scratch. These beats are created by me, while the client is there in the studio to provide feedback on things they like/don’t like. Once the beat gets to a certain point, the client begins writing lyrics. I often either come up with the vocal harmony entirely or at least have a large role in shaping them. I also change words/structure of entire lines or create entire new lines myself. So, I create the instrumental music and also have a large role in creating vocal melodies and writing lyrics. We have both agreed that it would be best to draft out a contract clearly stating our terms, and he left it up to me to make a proposal i’m comfortable with. The client really likes my work and has a strong desire to continue working with me. Long story short, I want to own the instrumental music that I create entirely, so that I can use it in television and also my own personal website. As for the songwriting, I also want my fair share- which, after reading your articles, seems like quite a large share if not at least 50%. The entire project is being recorded at my studio and I’ll be mixing & mastering everything myself. The client does sing and perform saxophone on almost every song. My question is concerning split sheets, copyright, and publishing. Considering my roles in this project, what do you think i’m fairly entitled to? I hope this isn’t too wordy or unclear. I appreciate your help, thanks so much for your time!

    1. Thanks for the kind words Mark. Sounds like 50% of songwriting is fair, if the artist creates the vocals and lyrics. I would highly recommend that you discuss this with the artist and get something in writing. Email me for further assistance. Thanks

      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  31. 22 years ago-I wrote two songs that the producer claimed he wrote and went and claimed under his nam falsely to the US copyright office. THe producer also went on to do deals with Dreamworks/SKG/Universal and claimed 50% publishing on the songs. I am disputing this producers claims and want him and the other producer removed from all publishing and mechanical claims.What is the next step?

  32. Hi,

    If I’m purchasing an unlimited licenses to a beat from an online beat store, that warrants 50% writers share to the beat maker and 0% publishing rights to me, is that common practice with unlimited licenses or am I getting cheating out of my proper publishing rights?

  33. Hi I’m a producer and in most cases artist come to me with songs written and hire me to do the music tracks…is it right to charge them for my services
    And ask for 5% producer credit…also am I composing the music? In which case I could ask for 50% of the writing.

    1. It really depends on each scenario David, and whether you contributing to the songwriting or not. If you’re co-writing, you deserve songwriting. If you’re producing, you deserve producer points.

      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  34. Hey Kurt,
    Thank you for the article, and really hope i will get a response.

    I saw you answered this already kind of, but wanted to ask some comprehensive questions.

    I want to buy all the beats for my demo tape online. However, the license agreements have me a little wary and confused. I’ve put some license agreement sections in quotations so you can perhaps help me understand better. (All licenses have a an upfront payment requirement ranging from $25 – $200)

    “Performance Rights. The Licensor here by grants to Licensee a non-exclusive license to use the Master Recording in Unlimited non-profit performances, shows, or concerts. Licensee may receive compensation from performances with this license.”

    ^ This seems a little confusing, am i allowed to receive compensation or not? If my music does well and i put my sweat and financial investment into a concert, do i then have to go back to the beat maker and ask for permission to make money from it? And if he says no or asks for like 60% of my earnings, can i not have my concert?

    “The Licensor hereby grants limited synchronization rights for One (1) music video streamed online (Youtube, Vimeo, etc..) for up to 500,000 non-monetized video streams on all total sites. A separate synchronization license will need to be purchased for distribution of video to Television, Film or Video game.”

    ^ This begs another question. If for instance, a video game wants to use my music, i will then have to go to the producer to ask for another license. If he asks for a ridiculous percentage fee of my earnings, or a ridiculous upfront payment, can he then hold the license and therefore my music for ransom until i pay him what he wants? Same question if i want to shoot a music video and monetize it e.t.c

    “Licensor, owns 50% of the writers share.”
    ^ I think this is supposed to be standard, but it doesn’t seem quite fair. My reasoning is this: The beat is very valuable of course and makes a large part of the song.
    However my contribution to the trajectory of this song is significantly higher than the beat producer’s.
    I will pay for the studio session to record the song, i brought the vocals and the melody, and i also will pay for promotion of the song with time and money.
    I also read that publishing is 50% of total revenue and 50% is writers share. If i don’t have an exclusive license (which i can’t afford, and which the producer is not offering at this time) that means i don’t own the publishing rights. So if my producer asks for 50% of writers share does that mean i am essentially giving 75% of all royalties to the producer?
    That wouldn’t be fair at all to me.

    Overall my main concern is that if any of my songs are hits, the producer can then inflate the percentages of song revenue he wants in any income area he wants and hold my song rights for ransom until i agree to all his prices whether they are fair or not. And this is because we didn’t agree on percentages of everything beforehand.

    Also how does this hold up legally if the artist is not in the U.S but buys from a producer in the U.S?

    Thank you so much in advance.

  35. Hi,

    This is all so helpful! I have three scenarios. I’m working with a producer at the moment. I’m not paying him for his services, and I would like to work out a fair and amicable split as we will be working on multiple projects together.

    Scenario 1: I’ve written a song (guitar, lyrics and melody) and I am the artist. He’s going to be doing the production on the track which will obviously involve creating drums etc around my composition. Is 50% of the master ownership fair? Or do I also give him 50% of writing credits?

    Scenario 2: The producer sent me a track, I have written the melody, vocals and am the artist on it. Do we split the songwriting credit 50/50? Do I also get 50% of the master for being the vocalist?

    Scenario 3: We are working with a back-up vocalist, her boyfriend will also be funding some of the releases. Is the best way to cut them in by giving them publishing %? What % would be fair?

    Is it best at the early stages of a career to just split 3 ways?

    Thank you in advance for your help – greatly appreciated and so happy to have found such a good resource!

    Jacqui

  36. Hey Kurt,
    Thank you for the article, and really hope i will get a response.

    I saw you answered this already kind of, but wanted to ask some comprehensive questions.

    I want to buy all the beats for my demo tape online. However, the license agreements have me a little wary and confused. I’ve put some license agreement sections in quotations so you can perhaps help me understand better. (All licenses have a an upfront payment requirement ranging from $25 – $200)

    “Performance Rights. The Licensor here by grants to Licensee a non-exclusive license to use the Master Recording in Unlimited non-profit performances, shows, or concerts. Licensee may receive compensation from performances with this license.”
    ^ This seems a little confusing, am i allowed to receive compensation or not? If my music does well and i put my sweat and financial investment into a concert, do i then have to go back to the beat maker and ask for permission to make money from it? And if he says no or asks for like 60% of my earnings, can i not have my concert?

    “The Licensor hereby grants limited synchronization rights for One (1) music video streamed online (Youtube, Vimeo, etc..) for up to 500,000 non-monetized video streams on all total sites. A separate synchronization license will need to be purchased for distribution of video to Television, Film or Video game.”
    ^ This begs another question. If for instance, a video game wants to use my music, i will then have to go to the producer to ask for another license. If he asks for a ridiculous percentage fee of my earnings, or a ridiculous upfront payment, can he then hold the license and therefore my music for ransom until i pay him what he wants? Same question if i want to shoot a music video and monetize it e.t.c

    “Licensor, owns 50% of the writers share.”
    ^ I think this is supposed to be standard, but it doesn’t seem quite fair. My reasoning is this: The beat is very valuable of course and makes a large part of the song.
    However my contribution to the trajectory of this song is significantly higher than the beat producer’s.
    I will pay for the studio session to record the song, i brought the vocals and the melody, and i also will pay for promotion of the song with time and money.
    I also read that publishing is 50% of total revenue and 50% is writers share. If i don’t have an exclusive license (which i can’t afford, and which the producer is not offering at this time) that means i don’t own the publishing rights. So if my producer asks for 50% of writers share does that mean i am essentially giving 75% of all royalties to the producer?
    That wouldn’t be fair at all to me.

    Overall my main concern is that if any of my songs are hits, the producer can then inflate the percentages of song revenue he wants in any income area he wants and hold my song rights for ransom until i agree to all his prices whether they are fair or not. And this is because we didn’t agree on percentages of everything beforehand.

    Also how does this hold up legally if the artist is not in the U.S but buys from a producer in the U.S?

    Thank you so much in advance.

  37. Hi, Kurt! Good info, thanks. Just need to check, is it okay if I pay the producer a flat/one-time payment (without any royalties later)?

  38. Hey Kurt.

    I have a producer who is producing a track for a big latin artist but I want to make sure he gets the best deal. For example the Latin artist wants his track to go on his debut album and they will own the master and release it through their label. its a no brainer because its a big artist and would really open doors for this producer who in all honesty wasn’t really going to make an impact with this track as this artist is who is taking it off his hands. Just as an FYI there are 4 artist who wrote on the song just so you have an idea.

    Now my question is whats the best deal does he ask for 7,000-10,000 advance for his production since he is the only producer and ask for a piece of the master lets say 5%? And take some publishing as well ? which would be fine since he did have to do with the arrangement of the song. Keep in mind these 4 artist are very high profile so I would like him to get his fair piece of the piece regardless of the artist on the track.
    What would you recommend?

  39. Hi Kurt:

    We made a deal with a new producer to give them 5% of a song we are recording (plus an up front production fee). Now that their attorney has looked at they agreement (2 months later!) they are asking for 30% if we self-release, as opposed to 5% if a label releases it. Is this industry norm? If we had known they wanted 30% we would not have started working with them in the first place..it seems exorbitant as we feel they are not co-writers, nor have they substantially changed the song, just made it cooler and fresher. Thoughts?

  40. Hi Kurt,

    First of all thank you for replying to all of those comments, your article helped me greatly. I’m an independent music producer (not signed to a publisher) and I have a few questions regarding rights, and song/phonogram registration. I’ve also sent you an email with another much more specific situation I’m in, along with the following two questions.

    1) Is it the norm to charge both upfront fees and a percentage of the master rights? Or is it the norm to give out all master rights to the client when they also pay you upfront? You’ll probably answer that it depends on the deal, but it’d be great to know which one of the two agreements is more common.

    2) How and where are SRLP and PPD credits registered? Are they part of the SoundExchange royalties? If I’m not mistaken, in the SoundExchange registry format, there’s not an option to choose which type of royalties I’m claiming. Are there other rights I should register beside SoundExchange (master rights) and PRO rights (songwriting & publishing)? Should I register all of these rights by myself if I don’t have a publisher, but planning on signing with one?

    1. Hi Jose,

      Producer points are quite normal, in addition to an upfront fee. The points themselves aren’t registered with SoundExchange, but you might agree with the artist that you are also entitled to a % of SoundExchange and all similar “blanket use” revenues. In such a situation, you would register your producer interest with SoundExchange. Email me and we can discuss further, as it gets complicated quite quickly.

      Best,

      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  41. Hi Kurt,

    Great article and Advice given here. I own an independent label and I manage a band which I co-founded and co-song-write with. We split ALL royalties evenly (songwriting, performers, sales, streaming etc.).

    We are recording our debut EP with a producer who is charging us flat fees only for his time recording and mixing. I would however like to cut him in on Sales & Streaming royalties as a goodwill gesture as he has gone above and beyond for us already to help us find funding to cut costs of studio hire, accommodation etc.

    If we cut him in on 5%, does this means that he owns 5% of these recordings or just gets a commission on them?
    If we agree to cut him in, can we only pay his cut AFTER recording costs are recouped?
    Would the cost of travelling to studio, food, fuel,marketing, graphic design of EP be classed as recording costs or is that separate?
    He is also a musician and may track some of his own synths etc. Would it be common also to cut in a producer as a non-featured artist for performers royalties?

    Cheers!

    1. Hi Jonathan,

      His points are only an entitlement to revenues, not ownership. I would have it be after all recording costs are recouped, yes. And that can include any cost that is reasonably connected to the recording. This is all up for discussion/negotiation with your producer, and should be outlined in a Producer Agreement.

      And yes, producers are often registered for and entitled to receive performance royalties.

      Thanks

      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  42. Hi Kurt,

    I’m thinking of cutting a producer in 5 points on a 4 x track EP that he is producing for a band I manage / co-write with. Does this mean that he owns 5% percent of the recordings or is just commissioned on sales / downloads?

    Also, should he be entitled to income streams such as Youtube Content ID & Sync deals which involved the recordings or is it common just to pay out on streams and downloads only?

    Cheers

    1. Hi Jonathan

      Producer points are just an entitlement to income, not ownership. RE the other revenue streams, that’s up to you and the producer to negotiate but yes, many producers get a % of licensing revenue as well.

      Thanks,

      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  43. I have a artist that used a producers beat for one of his songs and the producer contacted me asking for $100 dollars to exclusively purchase the beat as well as 50/50 Royalties and Credits. Is This At All Reasonable?

    1. Hi Chuck

      I see a lot of Beats with 50/50 arrangements like you’ve mentioned. I always say: the beat better be worth it. Only you and the artist can decide this.

      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  44. Hi Kurt,

    My producer is asking for just 10 % of the royalties that will come from the track, I would like to know if I have to give him 10 % of both Performance and Mechanical royalties or just one of the two? I have written the track myself and he has helped with the arrangement and of course production.

    Thank You for your help

    1. Hi Emily,

      Is he asking for 10% of songwriting/publishing revenues, or 10% of master side revenues? Two different copyrights and vastly different revenue streams, but a seriously important distinction to make. If he didn’t help write the song, he shouldn’t get songwriting.

      Thanks

      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  45. H Kurt,
    I continue to not get a grasp on understanding royalty splits
    I purchased an exclusive track from a producer for $150.00 online. He’s asking for writing Share of 50% and Publisher share of 50%.
    But I recorded at a studio that I paid a flat fee for recording, mixing and mastering.
    Do the engineer get any royalty spits after my flat fee has been paid?

    1. Hi Tiffany,

      It depends on the terms of the agreement with the Beat Maker. I’ve seen all sorts of arrangements. Feel free to send me the agreement and I can advise accordingly.

      Thanks,

      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  46. Hey there!! Firstly thanks SO much for this. So I wrote all the lyrics for a song and the music producer is asking for 25% of mechanical royalties. Is this prop?

    1. Hi Kerri

      I would have to see the proposed deal, but typically a producer doesn’t get mechanicals unless they helped write the composition!

      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  47. Hey Kurt,

    This comment section is really done. Great work! Quick question. A producer agreed to 1.5 points on a record that he produced with the belief it was being released on a major with the typical artist royalty (16%). The record is now being released independently so there are no artist royalties in the traditional sense. Trying to calculate SoundExchange is difficult now because using the usual math equation of 1.5/16 to get to the percentage of producer income for SoundExchange doesn’t make sense. How does the producer calculate how much he gets from SoundExchange for an independent release if the original agreed upon point number is 1.5?

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Stephen,

      I always cover the Label Release vs. Independent Release matter in all Producer Agreements I draft, so you don’t run into this challenge. Obviously that wasn’t the case here. I’m not sure the best way to deal with it now but perhaps it’s a discussion between artist and producer on what is reasonable in the circumstances.

      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  48. Hi , If i buy a beat exclusivly with 50% publishing rights split, and then perform a song i made with the beat a concert, does the other half of publishing rights owner get paid ? and do you think a 50% publishing rights is a good deal for a beat ?
    Thansk alot

    1. Hi Mohammed,

      Technically, all songs performed at live events should be logged by the artist through their performing rights org (PRO). So yes, if you perform a song that is 50% pub to another writer, that writer would get paid when you perform it. Whether or not the deal is good depends on the deal and how much you paid etc

      Thanks

      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  49. Hi, i read your article about how much a producer should make off your song. Im an independent rap artist im looking to buy a beat from a producer with exclusive rights. I completely wrote the song on my own in the contract he’s asking for 50% publishing rights. Can you please explain to me what publishing rights are & if that amount is too much to give away & what is the standard percentage of publishing rights a producer should get? Also do all producers have to get publishing rights to a beat i buy?

    1. Hi Nana

      I’ve seen a lot of these 50/50 publishing Beat deals and all I can say is, I hope the beat is good enough to justify such a split! Otherwise, create your own and keep all of the songwriting. Publishing is a huge revenue stream.

      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  50. Im an independent rap artist im looking to buy the exclusive rights of a beat from a producer for $350. I completely wrote the song on my own in the contract he’s asking for 50% publishing rights. Can you please explain to me what publishing rights are & if that amount is too much to give away & what is the standard percentage of publishing rights a producer should get? Also do all producers have to get publishing rights to a beat i buy?

  51. Hi Kurt,

    First of all, thank you for your post. It is very clear and informative!
    I have a question re PPL in the UK. I know that you’re based in the USA but hopefully you will know for the UK as well. Are Record Producers (as well as as session musicians) automatically entitled to PPL royalties as Studio Producers (Non featured artist) if they’ve played on one or all the instruments on a track? Or is it something to agree on before working on the production? So if there is no agreement in place the artist (or label) doesn’t have to register the record producer (or any session musician) if they don’t want to?
    Lastly, is Sound Exchange the equivalent of PPL in the USA?

    Thank you very much

    1. Hi Serge

      I’m in Canada but similar principles apply. I always suggest that a producer have a standard Producer Deal that lays out their “points” as well as their % of SoundExchange revenues and other “direct monies” (film/tv licensing revenues, etc). Hope this helps

      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  52. Hi Kurt,

    Thanks so much for this article! Question: I created a completely sample-free music composition and felt a singer friend of mine would sound good on it. She’s in the UK, I’m in the States. She ended up recording to it and paying to have it mixed. Shes interested in putting the song out and asked me about splits. I suggested that we split the whole thing 50/50 on both publishing & master. She agreed to the publishing split but felt since she paid to have the song mixed, an 80/20 master split was fair. I offered to split the cost of mixing with her so we can then do a 50/50 master split. She then said it was more than just money, it was the time and effort she put in to record and find the mixing engineers that makes 80/20 fair. We are both independent unsigned artists. Does her offer seem fair in your professional opinion? Many thanks.

    1. A lot depends on who paid to “create” the master, i.e. the production costs. Sounds like it was you (production) and her (mixing). It also depends on what sort of dollars we’re talking about, and how much time/effort went in to creating the master (i.e. if you spent dozens of hours on it, you would have a stronger claim to higher ownership). So: I would need to know more and you could possibly put together a compelling case for higher % or a buyout of those rights.

      Thanks

      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  53. Hey Kurt!

    So I haven’t yet signed an agreement with my producer, which i really need to sort out and should have done already by now!
    Before we started working together, he sent me a production deal of $400 for 4 sessions, not stating what it was for, all the email says is ‘Production Deal, a simple straight forward production package at $400 per month, 1 4 hour session per week’
    I did raise concern over this but he said this is just studio costs and artists have to cover them, without me getting a recoup.
    The songs were created by both of us, we wrote them together and he produced them, so it would be fair to split the publishing equally.
    I have so far given him $800 and this is getting out of my budget, as he hasnt put a cap on the upfront fee per song he wants, just to keep paying $100 a session until the song is complete.
    We have 3 songs together so far, and im not sure where i stand and what i can do. We haven’t completed the songs but i cannot pay any more money to end up splitting the publishing equally or to not get a recoup.
    The money im paying he says isnt going towards the masters either, it is purely just his fee for his studio rent etc.
    I have raised concern with him that surely i get a recoup once the song is out, but he has tried denying that this is the case.
    What should i do and how shall i email him without him not wanting to finish the songs?

    Thankyou
    Gemma

  54. My producer/mixer is asking for 50% for a song I wrote. He is just producing. Please let me know your thoughts

  55. Hi Kurt,

    Thank you so much for providing all this valuable info.

    Should production points be paid from the first album sold, or only once an album has recouped its costs and the artist is also making a profit?

    Dan.

    1. Always after recoupment, but then they get backdated to the first record sold. In other words, once the artist is out of the red, the 4% or whatever gets applied to every record sold to that point.

      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  56. Hi Kurt,

    I write all the lyrics, melodies and come up with the majority of creative ideas for my music, and then my producer will sort the instrumentation, mixing and mastering. I currently pay him for each recording session (this payment includes the studio renting fee and the cost of his time). Soon I would like to release my first single that he has helped to produce, as I have been paying him along the way and neither of us are established artists or producers, what percentage of the song would you recommend he gets. (or percentage of sales? I’m not really sure if he would get a percentage of the song ownership or the sales..?)

    Thank you, let me know!
    Lily

  57. Hello Kurt,

    I am currently preparing to record and release a Hip-Hop project. I understand that in my genre it’s typically a 50/50 split. My question is what exactly is to be split? I do know there are two royalty pots: Publishing & Master. Would I split only Publishing royalties with the producer or both, Publishing and Master royalties? I want to be fair, because we both need each others’ works to create the finished songs, but I don’t want to give away too much, especially considering that I will be doing everything independently (creating two LLCs to form my own Publishing Company to affiliate with ASCAP and a Publishing Admin and also forming a Record Label, so that I may receive both, the publishing and masters royalties, directly). I just want to be sure that I’m being fair to not only the producers I work with, but also myself.

    Thank you!

    1. I’d have to hear the song but many producers do indeed ask for 50% of songwriting if they write and provide all the music

      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

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