What Constitutes Songwriting? The Million Dollar Question in the Music Industry


What constitutes songwriting? As an entertainment lawyer, it is the single question I get asked the most. And without a doubt, its one of the most important and complex questions in the music industry today.

While most musicians know very well how to write a song (whether the songs are good or not is another story!), what is less known amongst musicians is: which elements of the finished song count as songwriting? Should the tambourine player or backup singer be included as writers? What about the drummer and bass player? If the song is co-written with a friend, what percentage should each writer receive? How do we decide what constitutes songwriting?

Songwriting is Complex

The answers are not always straightforward, and I’ve found that the issue of songwriting and publishing is one of the most confusing for musicians. This is due in part to the fact that there is no “right” way to divvy up songwriting. As you can imagine, this creates much uncertainty in the music business…and uncertainty leads to misunderstanding…which leads to conflict…which leads to litigation. Songwriting disputes create a lot of work for entertainment lawyers, myself included. In a way this makes sense: the amount of revenue flowing to songwriters has never been higher. While the amount of recorded music being purchased continues to decline, the amount of music being used (in film/tv, on the internet, on radio, in video games, etc.) continues to escalate. Music is being used more today than ever before. The revenue generated from the use of music goes to the writers of that music.

Most songs in the world have multiple songwriters, so understanding the concept of co-writing is one of the most valuable things you can do for your career.

What are the “parts” of a song?

Most popular songs are comprised of vocals/lyrics, melody, chord structure, and instruments. The melody can be comprised of chords, instruments, vocals, or all of the above. In hip-hop, the vocals and beat take precedence (and instruments are often sampled). In jazz, the instruments are the focal point, with vocals often taking a back seat. Then in rock and roll, guitars and drums are more important than in country. In electronic music, the beat takes center stage, with some sort of melody coming from chords or vocals. So as we see, the “parts” that comprise a song – and the importance of those parts – can change from genre to genre and song to song.


Which “parts” constitute songwriting? 

Generally speaking, any significant contribution to melody, lyrics, or structure can count as songwriting.

We generally think of a songwriter with their guitar writing the songs and strumming chords, and the melody coming from a combination of those chords and the vocal. But a signature guitar riff (like Keith’s famous lick in “Satisfaction” or the riff in “Smoke on the Water”) might count as songwriting. Or the bass line on Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust”, or drum intro on their classic “We Will Rock You”. It’s hard to imagine these songs with any other bass line or drum beat, and they form as much of the structure and in fact melody of the songs as the guitar and vocals. A great example is the Procol Harum case, wherein organist Matthew Fisher sued the band for past royalties due from their massive 1967 hit “A Whiter Shade of Pale”, on which he played the main organ theme. Mr. Fisher was never given songwriting on the song, and felt that his organ riff was a critical part of the song’s structure and melody. At trial, his contribution to the song was deemed to be 40%, which amounted to millions in retroactive royalties since 1967. Sadly for him, he lost it all on appeal, with the court declaring his delayed claim “excessive and inexcusable” (he had waited 38 years to make claim, as he knew it would be the end of his tenure in the group!).

However – generally speaking – adding a guitar solo or drumbeat or organ over an existing song structure (and not contributing to the actual structure or melody of the song) is not typically considered songwriting. As you can see, what constitutes songwriting is very much a question of degree. Let’s look at some real world examples to provide some clarity.


How do the pros do it?

Chris Martin of Coldplay splits the songwriting equally with his band mates, even though he writes the music, lyrics, and melody. R.E.M. and The Red Hot Chili Peppers divide songwriting equally amongst the band members regardless of who wrote what for each song (and look how happy R.E.M. looks!). In U2, Bono claims the lyric credits but splits the music credits equally between him and the rest of the band. Professional songwriters in Nashville generally operate under a “gentlemen’s agreement” where the songwriting is split equally between whoever is in the room while the song is written (so they make sure the right people are in the room!).

The flipside of this is a band like the Rolling Stoneswho split the songwriting 50/50 between Mick and Keith and “hire” other members like guitarist Ron Wood to be in the band, and pay them a fee. Often, this fee is structured as a “work made for hire” arrangement, where the band member forgoes any songwriting credit he/she might be entitled to, as a condition of being “employed”. So even if the Stones record a song to which Ron Wood materially contributed, the songwriting would still be assigned entirely to Mick and Keith (no wonder Ron keeps recording solo albums!).

Then there is more “traditional” singer/songwriters like Neil Young and Bob Dylan, who typically write the entire song themselves, and bring the completed song to their backing band for additional instrumentation. In most cases, this additional instrumentation does not count as songwriting, so all of the songwriting stays with Neil or Bob. Both of these writers have definitely co-written songs over the years, but that usually involves a more overt effort to sit down with another writer for the purpose of co-writing (as opposed to simply bringing completed songs to a band to play instruments over).

So it really is a question of how the songs come about. With the Chili Peppers, the songs come about in a jam-based situation, where the music is created from the jams and Anthony Kiedis completes the lyrics later. With the Stones, it’s more Keith and Mick hanging out writing the songs, and bringing the mostly-complete works to the band. With Dylan and Young, they bring the songs to their band nearly complete.


How Should YOU Divide Songwriting?

The R.E.M./Chili Peppers method of songwriting splits is great if everyone in the band is crucial to the sound and success of the band. But if one or more members fail to carry their weight on a regular basis, then you’ll only resent them and be unfair to your own input by giving them an equal share of the songwriting.

The Rolling Stones/Neil Young songwriting approach works if you have enough money to “hire” your band mates, assuming your band mates are willing to give up their creative rights in exchange for a fee. Most bands, however, cannot afford to hire band mates, particularly in the early years. If this is your reality, and your drummer/guitarist/singer simply does not contribute at all to the songwriting process, you’ll want to have a candid discussion on songwriting splits and whether or not they’re going to be included. It could be the most important discussion of your music career.

It is important to remember that you want an arrangement that will keep everyone in the band happy, and more importantly, keep the songwriting juices flowing.


When is a Good Time to Determine Songwriting Splits?

The best time to decide songwriting splits is early in the creative process. Whether you’re sitting down in a Nashville-type co-writing situation or with your band mates, a discussion should be had in the early stages as to how things will be split. This is the tough part: sometimes you don’t know who deserves what until the co-writing has occurred. That’s fine — have the discussion shortly after the song(s) are written. The longer you wait, the more complicated things become (just ask the Procol Haram organist!).

A major benefit of having the discussion early is that everyone will have similar expectations in terms of songwriting splits, and this will create a more natural writing environment going forward. Now, the discussion may turn into an all-out fight when everyone’s true colors come out and they don’t happen to match. But maybe not. What I tell my fellow musicians is that it’s better to have that fight sooner rather than later. It will make all the difference.


Conclusion: What You Need to Know Now

1) SOCAN Registration is Not Enough. Most songwriters register their songs and songwriting splits with SOCAN and think this protects them legally. It does not. Or at least not in a way that will protect you in a songwriting dispute with your co-writer. SOCAN makes no representations that what their members register for songwriting splits is accurate. SOCAN administers and protects the performing right of its members, but does not administer or protect reproduction rights (mechanical rights, synchronization rights), print rights, translation rights, moral rights or neighbouring rights. So songwriting splits on SOCAN are not the law (in fact, I’m sure there are thousands of improperly registered songs on SOCAN). So you still want to register with SOCAN to get your performance royalties, but you need to protect yourself further with a Co-Writing Agreement.

2) Sign a Co-Writing Agreement. The best way to protect your rights in a song and to clearly articulate the songwriting splits between you and your co-writers is with a Co-Writing Agreement. This agreement outlines: the splits for each song; who has admin rights to the songs (i.e. who can sign off on the use of the songs for film/tv/commercials/etc.); whether the songs can be changed without the consent of the others; and a host of other important points. Also, if you hope to get your songs placed in film and tv, music supervisors need to know they have “one stop clearance” for the song…so without a signed Co-Writing Agreement handy, they will move on to the next artist and you’ll lose the opportunity.

3) Register with the Copyright Office. While copyright ownership in Canada is automatic upon the creation of a song, it is still important to have evidence that establishes ownership and date of creation in the possible event of infringement. To register a musical work claim in Canada, complete the form from the Copyright Office website (part of the Canadian Intellectual Property Office) and send it back to the office along with the filing fee.

4) Go forth and write. And write. And keep writing. And contact me along the way, with legal or music questions. I’ll listen. And I might have some answers for you. Good luck.


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119 Responses

  1. I’m in a dispute right now. I have someone who beat only. I wrote the lyrics and the melody. He feel entitled to get 50% of publishing rights n royalties. I know he gets nothing but I do believe he should at most get 25% if SONGWRITER royalties. Am I being unfair

    1. Hi Keda,

      It really depends on many factors. In hip-hop and pop, the producer often gets 50% of the songwriting, if they are brining all the music to the table and you bring the vocal and melody. This is why these issues should be discussed ahead of time with something put in writing. It really comes down to what the two of you can negotiate now, hopefully without the need for lawyers.


      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

    2. Hey, i was wondering the same
      I write the lyrics and melody of the song, but my producer did the piano backround and in the studio produced the music of song. What copyright should he get? He is asking for 50%

      1. I’ve been seeing this a lot lately, i.e. if the producer creates the music, he/she wants 50% of the songwriting. I guess this makes sense in principle, if we assume music/lyrics are each 50%. My only advice: you better make sure you love the music they’re bringing to the table if you’re giving them half, otherwise, write it yourself or get someone else to help. And if you have input into the music, perhaps it shouldn’t be 50% to them. As always, this is a case-by-case analysis depending on how the songs are written.

        Kurt Dahl
        Entertainment Lawyer

    3. HiKurt I am the singer and guitarist in a newly formed band. For all songs I write the lyrics and guitar and arrange the song structures. After I present a song to the rest of the band the bass player comes up with the bass lines himself and the drummer the beats. Occasionally another band member will suggest a slight change in the arrangement. What I would like to know is should I copyright the songs as myself or is it fair that the bass player and drummer have a % of credit because they write their own parts for the full band production.? Thanks in advance. Des.

      1. I would have to really hear the songs before and after your band member’s involvement, but it sounds like you are writing and they are adding accompaniment, which doesn’t technically count as songwriting. But then again, a lot of bands will disregard what the law says and give a cut to members like your rhythm section, as a sign of good faith and as an incentive for them to contribute in other ways to the band.

        Kurt Dahl
        Entertainment Lawyer

  2. Hi Kurt, a couple years back a drummer friend joined my band and presented me (the guitarist) with a CD he had already made with some cool guitar riffs he composed. As none of these “songs”, as he calls them, were complete I then proceeded to compose fairly extensive bridges, a chorus, transition riffs, modifications etc to what would eventually become the 3 songs in question. Typically he came up with the main chorus and verse riff but one tune only has one riff of his. The other members added lyrics, vocal melodies, bass lines, drums and we all had a part in the overall arrangements. Very much a group collaboration to be sure!
    These songs have been performed live and recorded on Iphones so far.
    Problem is, the drummer left a few months ago and has threatened to sue us if we perform or record any of these songs that he now claims “he wrote”. He suggests that we just “write new ones”, which we have.
    Is this not an unreasonable demand to make as we have already spent a great deal of time writing, rehearsing and performing this music to date?
    Does he have a legal leg to stand on or should we just continue playing these songs that were created by all the members of the band?
    We will give him credit as a cowriter and he is certainly entitled to his share of any money we make.

    1. Hi Chris

      It sounds like your drummer is definitely a co-writer of the songs in question (especially because he had the original “creative spark”, which courts have ruled is crucial). How much a % he is entitled to is a question of fact; I would have to hear his demos vs the current version of the songs to make an educated assessment.

      So you really need a Co-Writer Agreement that gives you (the band) the right to use/exploit the songs going forward. He will stand to gain from it (monetarily, and otherwise). But without something in writing, he can indeed stop you from exploiting the songs, because he is a co-writer.

      Email me to discuss further.


      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  3. Great article Kurt. Thank you for writing it. I was redirected from a reddit thread I started asking the question of how to split things. If I have any questions moving forward I’ll definitely pose them here. Thanks again.

    1. Right on David, thanks for taking the time to comment, and thank you for the kind words. Good to know I’m trending on Reddit!! 🙂

      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  4. If an artist has been issued a non exclusive license/lease on a beat, is the producer entitled to publishing for that? Does it matter if it’s been licensed several times?

  5. Hi Kurt,

    Does fact that producer/recording engineer is paid based on pre-determined rate have an impact ?


    1. Definitely Mason. Sometimes, the higher the fee being paid to the producer, the less likely they are to demand songwriting. The same goes for low rates…they often cause producers for ask for backend revenue (from songwriting).

      Email me with any questions.


      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  6. Hey 🙂 Someone brought me a backing track they had composed and I wrote a whole song to it, lyrics and melody. We agreed then to split that version 50/50. That was 12 years ago and nothing happend to that song. I2 years later I am using the lyrics and melody I wrote on a completely different backing track. Do I still recognise the original creator of the original music and still give 50% to him. Or what should I give him, if any?

    1. Hi DJ,

      This is a very interesting scenario. Check out my article on What Rights You Have in a Co-Written Song. It’s hard to separate the music and lyrics once they’ve been put down on a recording.

      Email me to discuss further.


      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  7. I’ve been trying to write songs as good as the Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, etc. etc. and found that the only tips and resources that have truly made sense where written by this author:


    He actually backs up his advice with evidence-based research

  8. VERY RANDOM QUESTION: There’s a FAMOUS feud that happened between two well known artists last year, a male rapper and a female country/pop singer. The rapper called the country/pop singer regarding a verse in one of his songs. He claimed PUBLICLY that the song idea was hers and that she “helped him write one of the verses.” A witness in the room, and also the rapper’s wife, confirmed that the country/pop singer “helped write the song.” THEORETICALLY, is the country/pop singer entitled to a co-writing credit in this FAMOUS song?

    1. They would need something more substantial than hearsay but if they could prove it in court, you never know! Something signed in writing is always your best bet.


      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  9. Thank you for this great information! I am currently in a band where I am bringing songs I have written (complete in terms of lyrics, structure, melody), but definitely not a “finished” product. I share my songs with the lead guitarist, who puts his ideas in, and then we present this to our bass player and drummer so they can learn the songs. The lead guitarist (who is also the producer) says we all split everything 4 ways in terms of songwriting credit, but I feel I’m giving up my rights or claim to my song every time I bring a new one to the group. This is not a position I want to put myself in, but I’m not sure how to handle it. I can see splitting everything 4 ways if everyone is involved in the creation of the song, but I’m not sure how to handle this. It seems like what was once my song, I’m now sharing with 3 other people, and I won’t be able to perform it with another band if any of these 3 people object.
    By the way, I’ve only been working with the current band for about 3 months. Any insight would be greatly appreciated!

    1. Hi Lynn,

      At first blush, it sounds like you and your guitar player are writers. Not sure on the split, I would need more info and perhaps to hear the songs. Maybe 75/25 in your favour, but again, I need much more info.

      But you need to discuss with everyone and be honest with your concerns. Ultimately, the 4 of you can agree on any arrangement you like, but it needs to accurately reflect how the songs are written. In other words, you need to have an awkward conversation or you’ll be stuck with the status quo.


      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  10. Hi Kurt,
    Im in the process of recording an EP and agreed to pay my friend 150 to produce/arrange the music in his home studio. I wrote them on an acoustic guitar. The lyrics, melody, and chord structure are mine and he’s adding drums, backing vocals, lead guitar etc. I said in passing that if the songs actually got big I’d give him credit. I just assumed by adding instrumentation/producing, he would be entitled to royalties. Now that Ive read up on it, its my understanding that is not the case. Would it still be fair to give a small percentage of royalties even though he’s already being paid a flat rate? What if I get signed and re-record the songs in a professional studio and none of his work even remains on the record? Then what would be the point of paying out royalties in that case?

    1. Hi William,

      My initial reaction is: your friend’s contributions are not songwriting, but I would have to hear more. Also, record royalties and songwriting are two different things. You could give him points on the record (i.e. record royalties) and that’s entirely different than songwriting. Email me to chat further.


      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  11. Good day

    Hi I’m from South Africa,I found your website/blog very helpful.

    i’m about to record a CD, currently have 2 singles,the first guy never really mentioned anything about credits i just paid him,the second one talked about percentages and he is the one i’m hoping to record the rest of my songs with,i also paid him.

    I write my songs,and i sing them..then we always work from there..beats,drums,keyboard,so he produce.Please enlighten me how is he still part of the song even though i pay him to record,and how much percentage is he entitled to

    1. Hi Noma

      It really depends on how much the producer contributes to the compositions. Like if a producer added drums and bass to a Bob Dylan song, they wouldn’t get part of Dylan’s songwriting, for example.

      Email me for more


      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  12. Hi Kurt,
    I have asked a jazz trumpet player to record aan instrumental lead/hook to a house track i made. We are now talking about the compensation. The artist would like to get a composer credit when their contribution is “composition material” and would like to be mentioned as a featuring artist. Which i’m open to, but… the big question then is how do we split this? What is a normal percentage for such a contribution? Are there any guidelines?

    1. Hi Sere

      It depends how important the trumpet line hook is to the overall song. I would have to hear before and after.

      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  13. Hi Kurt,

    I am collaborating with this producer from Norway and am I from California. He sent me the track/instrumental that was “work in progress” and is still work in progress( According to his soundcloud) to write lyrics and melody to it and I did. After I emailed him the lyrics along with my song idea, music and lyrics recorded to his track, he wants me to keep ajusting the melody and lyric to fit his track because he does not want any vocals on the first part of the drop( chorus in EDM music). He only wants vocals on the 2nd half of the drop. After we keep exchaging files, and I keep making modifications to both music and lyrics and he adjust the instrumental to fit those changes I go and record professionally the voice. After I start talkig to him about my cut in this entire project, meaning my royalties and that’s when it gets nasty. So, After I wrote the entire lyric and music to his track, and made all modifications he asked me, went on and professionally recorded the voice and paid out of my pocket, he only wants to give me 20%, explaining that a label would give me 10%! But he is not my label, did not invest a cent in me, I even paid $400 to record vocals and will have to pay more to professionally produce the vioce, cause he never ever produced voice and it’s terrible at that. He’s track sounds really good, resemble Kygo. I also came with the idea of chopped lyrics on the drop, and he agreed. I have all messages we’ve exchaged. I have not copyrighted the song yet, but I have videos, emails we’ve exchanged working on this song, my protools recording how this song came to live to where is right now, from my idea and all the smalls changes he wanted, here and there. Now, I haven’t sent him my vocals recorded professionally because we need to negociate the split royalities. We are both independent and don’t have any previous agreement. I spoke to a very experienced songwriter who wrote for Neil Diamond and he advised me I should get 50-50 with this producer on music and the lyric would be 20 for him and 80 for me, since I wrote the lyric. I was a little surprised, but agreed to give him 20 on the lyric. What do you think about this split?? Also, this producer wants my voice on his track, wants my creation, but he won’t share my name on the name of the track, featuring, which I find ridiculous and unacceptable. So, he said he will alow me to publish the song on Youtube and monetise it. It’s ridiculous. As a co-writer, I should be getting 50-50 with him on the publishing royalties, right? We are both unsigned! What is your advice and how would you do the split royalties? Who owns the masters in the end. Usually the master goes to the artist sining on the track, or to the label is the artist is signed, or is it diffrent in this case! Looking forward to your replay and advice. Thank you!

    1. Hi Koryna

      It sounds like you need to have a frank discussion with the producer RE songwriting splits. Whatever splits you agree on, you need that put into a Producer Agreement. Then all radio revenues etc through ASCAP/BMI will be split accordingly. You also want to discuss master ownership and revenue splits. You should own the master, but often the producer gets “points” on the master, 2-5%. Hope this helps


      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  14. Hi Kurt,
    If I am the main songwriter, (wrote 100% of a song) I had a bass player play my song in a demo— and then recorded the same song somewhere else with a different bass player, but they play a very similar line, shoukd i give publishing points to the original bass player? That only counts as arrangement correct?

  15. Great Article, Kurt!

    A friend replayed the main baseline of an old electro song for me and added drums and other sounds in Fruity Loop to create an entirely new song (I am clearing the use of the bassline). The entire concept was mine and he brought it to life as I don’t play instruments or use music programs. I wrote the lyrics and I am arranging the song. What is a fair songwriter split? He wants 25/75, my favor.

    1. Hi Ronald,

      Totally up to the two of you, and I would have to hear the original song and the new one. But 75/25 sounds fair at first glance.


      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  16. Hi Kurt.

    Very informative article. Thank you.

    I’m in a different position. I’m translating songs into a different language. Is there any precedent on that? Should I receive any sort of credit? The song is not mine, but only the translation.

    There is a company that likes my translation, and would like to produce my song. However, they want all rights to my translation, and I believe will not produce anything unless I sign away all rights to it. Would it be too much to ask for a small percentage, say 1-2%, of any sales of the song in the language of my translation? What do you think?

    Thanks for your help.

    1. Hi Joseph,

      Who owns the original songs? Maybe email me to discuss further. Translation rights can be complex.


      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  17. Hi. My producer has worked with me on an ep. we have a production contract and he does not own any of the rights or will collect any royalties. On one of my songs that was not finished he contributed to a couple lines in chorus- lyrics only and not music. It felt collaborative for that part and he had other structural ideas. This was the only song I was considering listing him as a songwriter more as a good karma gesture- but I don’t think he’s expecting royalties- all music is mine and most of the lyrics also mine. I just want to feel like I’m being fair and honest in this process. I have a co-writer for my other songs who definitely contributed much more musically and lyrically so that seems much more cut and dry as far as crediting- even there my co-writer is not expecting 50/50 in royalties as it was my project and I invested more in writing and financially to get it produced and recorded. I’m not sure what best way to approach this one song. My producer seems only concerned with being listed as main producer on his own line and I’m listed below as a coproducer. I’m fine with that per our agreement. And he said nothing about songwriting credit but I wasn’t sure best way to be fair. I want to build trusting relationships. What do you think? Thanks so much!

    1. Totally up to your instinct Anita. A small songwriting % can be a nice gesture if you feel its warranted. But it can complicate things in terms of registration etc. You can also give a higher % of record sales (points). Whatever you do, get a Producer Deal in writing so its clear.

      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  18. If I buy a beat with an unlimited lease and it has a hook already on it and I write the versus es tothe song. Can I still copyright the hold song and can I get it published even though the beat maker has it published?


  19. How much precent I’m i entitled to for writing the hook to a song.
    I was told 25% for writing the hook is what the standard is .
    But i had a conversation with the rappers manager who i wrote the hook for he told me the standard was 15% .
    Is this true or is he trying to pull a fast one on me ?
    (Is it 25% for writing the hook & 15% for writing a verse ? Or is it the other way around ? )

    1. There is no set standard for these things. It all depends on how good the hook is, how important the hook/verse is, etc etc.

      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  20. Hi Kurt
    I am the singer in a band and sings come to me our of the blue. I quickly write down the lyrics whilst singing the melody cos they come together. The verses just glow out then a chorus and the structure is all there. I sing it to myself over and over again till it sounds like I like anc this could take a week, and I might change a couple of words then I will sit down with a guitar to try and work out the chord progression that fits the melody. I am not a good guitarist and only know limited chords but get there in the end. My songs are blues. I take them to the band and try to explain to the guitarist how I want it to generally sound, the vibe if you will.
    Anyway we just perform here and there and are not going to be famous or record or anything but I am getting a bit peeved that the bass player announces on stage and to anyone who asks that I write the lyrics and that the guitarist writes the music. This makes me sound like a lyricist or poet which I feel diminishes my musical talents in that I can hear the whole song with all the instruments whilst I am writing but cannot obviously actually play them alL. I feel that I am the songwriter in the band. How can I convince the others? Obviously I will back down if you tell me that I am not. The guitarist tells the bass player what to play as she is not very creative but that is not my problem. She keeps carrying on how hard he works because he has to write the music for guitar and bass. The guitar and bass are really just playing standard blues progressions and he will work out a lead. I hope you don’t feel I am being petty but I don’t like being touted as a poet who needs someone to write the music to my words.

    1. Sounds like you have a special gift. Ultimately, you need to discuss with your band mates on this, as it’s more a personal distinction than a legal one. I would have to hear the before and after of the songs from your version to the final version to fully understand things, but you are definitely a writer.

      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  21. Hey Kurt,
    Sometimes I ask my girlfriend to make up a random song title or lyrical concept and then I go write the song. Should she get a writing credit for this?
    I give her a credit anyway but I’m just curious.

    1. That’s a great question Jonathan. Arguably she is creating the “initial spark” of creativity. I guess it really depends on how different the final song is from her original idea. And of course, whether giving her credit keeps the relationship happy 🙂

      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  22. Hey Kurt,
    I have written the lyrics, melody & music (including chord progression) to a song and I own a copyright. If I work with a songwriting mentor (who gives you tips) and/or a vocal coach who helps with my pitch, what percentage, if any, do I owe them? By the way, both the songwriting mentor & the vocal coach were paid, by me, for their help. If I ask my vocal coach to go in the studio with me to help me stay on pitch while I record, do I owe her a percentage of the song?

    1. No songwriting for the vocal coach, as that’s not songwriting. But your mentor might deserve some, if he/she actually helps co-write your songs.

      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  23. Hallo Kurt,
    Thank you so much for your very interesting Article. Here is my concerns and I am very happy I finally found a guy who is into things to bring some clarity on the matter. I started collaborating with other Artists as a Session Singer. Most of the times they give me the whole stracture of a Song as a demo and I put there the Vocal Lines and I write the Lyrics. (A lot of times I also interfere in chord progression and orchestration suggestions for the best stracture of the song). So far I had the idea that Music Composition consists of the Vocal Line Melody and the Chords. I will not mention Lyrics because it is obvious since I write every single word. So I have talked with producers in the music industry and some told me you claim the 50% of the Music Composition and others even 100% (totally crazy for me if you’d asked me!!!) as they say that the songwriting Rights are simply established from the Lyrics (of course) and THE MELODY of the Vocal Line which is established on a sheet. They don’t write on the sheet the chords but the Vocal Melody and this is officially the established Music Composition of a Song. Also the producer who gave me this Info also told me about it. “Think about if the music Composition was established with the chords. Then 200 people in the whole would simply claim 50% of the Music Composition of every Song!!! It sounds crazy but…is he right? Of course in a matter of a band this is in the good understanding between the members as your explained above. So the guy who writes Vocal lines and Lyrics backs up and shares his Rights with others for the good of the band.In my case is different. I am not a member of the band. I am just a guy who is being hired to do this work. For sure and not only because I write vocal Lines, I believe the Vocal Line is the most important thing on a Song. Songs with the most simple stracture became great because of the Vocal Line and not because of the 4 chords somebody wrote. On the other hand I am not an asshole to claim 100% of the music of the Song because I write also songs and I totally share the side of the guy who writes the chords. So I ask from the people who I work with to have 75/25 deal my favor. Do you find this unfair? Is there any official source that says that the Music Composition of a song is the Chords and the Vocal Lines and what their % are? Are they 50/50? Is there any official source that says that the music composition is registered not with a Sheet of the chords but of the Vocal Melody of the Song? I am looking forward for your Opinion !!! Thank you so much and I am sorry for the long Letter!

    Best Regards M.F.

  24. Hi Kurt!

    Thanks ks for sharing so much information and posting! I’m a singer -songwriter producer and I’m melody and lyrics to already produced music and writing full songs and sending them out to a producer to solely add his music. I have a few questions in general, I’d love your email it would help me greatly!


  25. I’m a Songwriter and a Record Producer that wears both hats as making beats and directing and overseeing recording sessions. I have to explain to alot of people that making beats doesn’t make you a Producer. It simply means you are just a Composer or Track Maker of some one that composes or program beats for recording artist’s. I explain to them if you weren’t there in the studio working directly with the artist, overseeing the recording sessions, coaching the artist, giving your input, arrangment, you didn’t Produce the record, you simply just made a beat and that was it. Most Hip Hop Producers started out as Beat Makers before taking over the acting role as a Record Producer which is simply how i started out wearing two different hats. Several Hip Hop Producers also reffer to themselfs as both Songwriters and Producers esp Rodney Jerkins. Many young cats just forgot what a real Producer is and simply thinks Beat Makers are the samething as Record Producers. And what I notice, Scott Storch, Pharrell Williams, Dr. Dre, Byran-Michael Cox, Rodney Jerkins, Timbaland or J.R Rotem are credited twice in Production credits as both Composer and Producer. Sometimes they are credited as Writer, Keyboards, Instrumentation, Drum Programming along with Producer credit.
    I was also told that Beat Makers get all the same publishing songwriting deals and 50/50 publishing royalities as Lyrical Songwriters while Record Producers get what is called “Producer Points”. I want to clearify if any of this information is correct?

  26. Hi Kurt,

    Thanks for this very interesting article.

    My band are currently in a situation where we have just let our guitarist go and the one song he brought to us (which was complete when he brought it to us – melody, lyrics, structure etc) I scrapped the lyrics and melody for and created brand new melody and lyrics, not comparable at all to the original he brought. Our bassist wrote a whole new bassline. The drums are basically a 4/4 beat that’s been used a million times before (see ‘I Am the Resurrection’ by Stone Roses for an example).

    So at this point, I wrote the melody and lyrics from scratch and our bassist wrote the bassline. The outgoing guitarist wrote the guitar parts, guitar chords and structure (though we did rejig the structure slightly). The outgoing guitarist is now trying to stop us from playing and/or recording the song, which we are not happy with as at this point, I definitely feel like it’s more ours than his.

    Obviously, we would credit him for his parts, but are we correct that we can perform/recored this song?


    1. He can stop you from using his parts. You either need to a) have his parts re-recorded and re-written or b) get him to agree to something in writing.

      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  27. Hi Kurt,

    I’m currently in a dispute with my guitar player. He left the band of his own choosing, but initiated the process of copywriting under his own name without notifying any of the band members (supposedly to the Songwriter’s Association of Canada). After meeting with him, he refuses to give writing credit to our vocalist, who has made significant edits to the songs’ melodies over the course of there development, believing that he and he alone wrote all the melodies.

    We have copies of old recordings to show how the songs developed, but how does the fact that he secretly submitted the songs impact things? Can we still credit my vocalist where she’s due?

  28. Hi Kurt, I am an up and coming female singer songwriter with an EP and a few singles on Spoitify, etc. I don’t normally co-write, however a musician acquaintance asked me to do a co-write session with him as he thinks I write good hooks. He had the idea for a song and wanted help to finish it. Its a mens drinking song, so does not appeal to me and I wouldn’t sing it. We finished the song and he has been performing it over the last 12 months, he offered me a 25/75 split in his favour and I agreed, I have no experience and he is. I have just looked on PRS (I am in UK) and he has put me down for 25% Performing rights and 0% mechanicals. What gives. Should I not get 25% of both. I am confused and cant find anything online to explain why he had done this. I wanted to have the facts before I speak to him. Our paths have not crossed since the co-write. Hannah

  29. Hi Kurt. I am not sure my first message uploaded correctly, so here it is again, please feel free to delete it, if its doubled up. I had a co-write last year with a guy I bump into on occasion in our local scene. Hes’s an older guy and I am a young female. He had a song that he needed help with and he knows I write catchy hooks. I added a few lines to his song and he said he would give me 25% split. I have juts had a look on PRS, (I am in the UK) and he has only given me 255 of the performing rights but 0% of mechanicals. a, why has he done this. b. I don’t remember ever a discussion about only getting 25% of one type of rights. I am not too savvy and don’t want to tackle him without any facts. What has made matters a little worse is that we have not met up in about a year but he leaves an occasional “funny” comment on my facebook. Fir example if I get a great gig, he might comment something like ” Maybe I should get my hair bleached and wear a short skirt”. These comments undermine me as an artist as he is trying to say without my blonde hair, I wouldn’t get the gig. I am blonde but I don’t wear short skirts to sell my act. I know am getting off the subject but I think its related, as he is not respecting me with these comments and my contribution to this song but not giving me 25% of both rights. He promotes local shows too, which I have been a part of but not recently. So I did not want to rock the boat and fall out with the guy but his comments and this 25% is bugging me. Thanks for your time.

  30. Hi Kurt, thanks for all the great info and advice.

    Am wondering how to figure out songwriting credit if I’m paying someone a fee for songs I’ve already written and started producing. To be clear, I’m bringing in completed songs written by myself.

    They’re helping me with production ideas but also have thoughts on adjusting arrangement and some lyrics here or there. With lyric/arrangement suggestions, sometimes they give actual words, sometimes they give a directive suggestion for a section (e.g. “can this be clearer”) and I re-write it.

    It’s kind of like editing work toward the end of the process, and I’m wondering your thoughts on if this would constitute songwriting ownership, and if so, how much would seem fair. Thanks!

    1. Hi Cat

      Yes, it sounds like they’re producing rather than songwriting, and you’re paying them for these producer services. Unless something they suggest crosses more of a line into songwriting, I would say they are producing.

      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  31. Hello! 2 examples in question:
    1. I have a song, written on guitar with chords, melody, lyrics. A friend suggests repeating a line in the chorus. Does this constitute a writing credit? If so, approx (fair) percentage?
    2. I have a song, written on guitar with chords, melody, lyrics. A friend suggests altering the melody very slightly of the last line of the chorus and adding a walk down chord in the last line of the chorus. Does this constitute a writing credit? If so, approx (fair) percentage?

    1. I would have to hear the songs before and after the suggestions, but at first blush, I don’t think either constitutes songwriting unless you’re being generous and/or the two of you intended to “co-write” together when the suggestions were made.


      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  32. Hi Kurt,

    I am a newvartiste working with s producer. Do far we have not signed any contract yet. However with all the songsvwe have worjed on, I write thrm myself and then he produces it. Sometimes I write mayge the chorus first alone, then wgen we are in the room together write tge rest of the song myself whilst he makes the instrumental. He may cut off a verse in tge final version if he thinks the song is too long of tell me to add another verse of he thinks it is too long.

    In addition he has suggested that he will pay for promotion and advice on branding etc all in exchange for 50% of everything i do. He however says he is not my manager so i end up having to find people to create promo flyers come up with video concepts etc myself. And so far he has not funded everything i have funded a lot myself which he claims he will pay back.

    Is 50% a fair exchange for everything including publishing for atleast five years? What happens when a manager comes into the picture?. I dont want to offend him but how do i go about negotiating a proper ,more specific deal?

  33. Hi Kurt, I have been buying licenses of royalty free instrumentals (modified in some cases slightly) from audioblocks and creating song lyrics to the instrumentals. Do I fully own the rights to the songs I create?



    1. Hi Brooke,

      I would have to see the agreement or terms of use from the website to give a solid opinion. Please feel free to email me them.


      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  34. Hello! A producer friend sampled one of my songs for a hip hop beat and the finished product is basically a 3-minute loop of my song with drums and lyrics over it. He has proposed a 45/35/20 split amongst him/rapper/me, respectively. I don’t think this is a fair split, considering the entire song is just my song with drums on top. Is this unreasonable?

    1. Hi August,

      20% to you sounds low, but I’d have to hear the song as well as the original song of yours. I would push for higher, closer to 50% if all of the music is yours.


      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  35. Hello! If I am bringing fully written songs to a friend and he adds other instrumentation and mixes the songs, how does he get credited and paid? He has a home studio. I guess I’m not sure how to think of that relationship since he IS “filling out” the skeleton that I bring him, despite it being a full skeleton. I’d appreciate guidance!

    1. Hi Chrissy

      Tough question. I’d have to hear the songs before and after the producer’s input. If it’s just playing instruments to musical parts that you’ve written, that’s not songwriting. Sounds like producer points plus a cut of all “direct monies” (SoundExchange, film/tv, licensing, etc). Get a Producer Agreement in place either way.


      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  36. Hello ! I just recently wrote a song to an instrumental that I liked but when I tried to purchase it the instrumental was already sold. I really like the song and want other people to hear it too. I was thinking about putting it on soundcloud and have people listen to it there. I know that once it out there people can take the song if it’s not copyrighted or published and i don’t want that but at the same time I can’t copyright it because i’m not authorized to use the instrumental. Is there a way i can put the song just on soundcloud and not collect any money but at the same time protect my rights as a vocalist and songwriter on the song ?

    Thank you in advance !

    1. Hmmm. Not sure how to accomplish this. Sounds like a more in-depth issue that requires a lawyer to be hired.

      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  37. I wasn’t sure how to word my google-search, but I worded it well enough to find your article, and it is very enlightening.

    [I’m not sure if I can name names, but I will with the understanding that this post may be edited.]

    I email Peter Stoller occasionally. He’s the son of Mike Stoller, and he handles Leiber and Stoller’s business affairs. He’s very responsive and answers all kinds of questions I have about L&S songs and the artists who recorded them.

    I once asked him about King Curtis’ famous sax solo on Yakety Yak. I asked whether Curtis had come up with it himself, or had Mike Stoller composed it, or had it been a combination of the two. That was one question he never answered, and now I think I know why 😉

  38. Hi I added music to a friends poetry. She now wants to leave and take my music. What are my rights here.

  39. Hi Kurt! I have a few comments and questions. My first question is regarding the anomaly of instrumental bands. Obviously there is no vocal melody or lyrics so who would get credit in a band like that? Assuming that each member just writes their own parts exclusively…

    And do you have any idea how all of these arbitrary laws surrounding music credits and songwriting were created.? Like who sat down and decided what constitutes songwriting and how to define it? When I listen to music I think of the “song” as the the bass parts, guitar parts, drum parts and vocals as a whole. But I guess the song legally speaking is only the melody and lyrics. Anyone who agrees with these laws should listen to all of their favorite music without any of the band members’ parts that didn’t get credit. Most songs would have no rhythm section in that case and some would only have vocals. IMO the laws are kind of unfair and shitty, but I’m sure you understand since you’re a drummer.

    Thank you for your time


    1. Not sure on #2 but for #1, that’s a great point. Instrumental bands would (I assume) often split songwriting equally. But I have never come across that in my legal career so I guess it would depend on how the instrumentals came about. If one person wrote everything and simply had the others play his parts, then maybe it wouldn’t be divided equally. Thanks for keeping me curious 🙂

      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  40. Hi there!

    I have created an album where I wrote all the chords, music, lyrics, and ideas for beats etc. For the basic instruments, i did not “write out the parts” as in write up the bass line etc, but came knowing the basic best i wanted and the style. This album is a jazz, neo soul fusion.

    The band gave creative advice by fixing some chords I wrote down wrong and thinking of some intros and outros, as well as helping me switch beats when it was time during songs. But overall I had the structure. The band has an entity of their own, but we had only verbally agreed they were a separate entity upon creation of the , and this is mine.

    I did pay them, but now as we finished recording the tracks I’m sitting wondering if they own the rights to any portions of my songs, if I am able to eventually tour with other people (as they are my tunes), and all that. Many songs on the album they had nothing to do with, and on the others they just birthed my ideas and thoughts and then gave a few arrangement thoughts of their own (such as the intro, outro, etc.)

    I know it’s late in the game to draw up a contract, but if I did do I actually owe them anything besides a mention on this project?

  41. If a band wants certain percentage of royalty from song writers then the band should pay the writer a percentage from each performance of money made at the door when playing the writers song that equal fair agreement too.

  42. My son’s ex girlfriend is on his songs with 8 words opening the song. It is not the hook, but just a sentence in the beginning. Can she sue him for her voice on the song?

  43. Hey Kurt,

    Reading about how all these great bands split the copyrights was really enjoyable and interesting.

    I’d like to ask you a question myself. I usually write the lyrics and in many cases the melodies and some guitar riffs in my band. Basically I take the idea to the rehearsall or talk it over with one of them and then come up with the rest of the song and the instrumentation together. So I guess I’m the one who gives birth to the song and then the whole band raises it.

    Being a drummer, I can totally understand and accept why instrumentation counts as co-writting, but don’t you get an extra credit for the vision of the song? Coming up with the lyrics, melodies and musical themes is the most crucial part. Is someone who came up with an idea (in this case myself) and someone who helped devellop it (the whole band – including myself) equally credited for it?

    Thanks a lot in advance for your answer, I’m really looking forward to hear your thoughts on it,


    1. I think you are right, the “creative spark” as to who birthed it us quite important, and it sounds like you should be entitled to a majority of the songwriting. So as per the article, there is no one way to split it, and it’s only in some circumstances that an equal split makes sense (RHCP etc). I’ll leave it to you to determine what that split looks like for you and your band!


      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  44. I have a friend who I have known for over 40 years. He’s been a professional musician and written in Nashville for many years. I happened to stop and visit him a few months back and played a song I’d written. He made a suggestion to change one line of the song and I liked it and did. I took it as just a suggestion by a friend and nothing more, like I do with my other songwriter friends. I’m now in the middle of recording a CD and he just texted me that he’s expecting co-writing credit for the song. What are my obligations here?

    1. Wow good question, and interesting ask by your friend. It depends how major his suggestion was to the song, and how much it changed it (i.e. if that one line is the main hook that is repeated 20 times in the song, that’s something). But overall, you two need to have a call to discuss. You need to figure out what % of the song his suggestion makes up. Is it 5% or 20% or more?

      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  45. If a singer/instrumentalist writes 95% of a song and brings it into the band room to finish it and offers an equal writers split how can they retain control of that song if the band breaks up.

  46. My guitarists started playing a riff and then I wrote an entire song off of it (lyrics and melody). Is he entitled to 50% co-writing? Also, for 30 other songs he was work for hire for just recording demos…what contract do I need for that? Does he need to sign 2 contracts? Can he sign an overall agreement or a contract for each song?

    Thank you!

    1. Good question Cassandra. You need a Session Player Agreement for the other songs where he is not a writer, and a Co-Writer Agreement when he is a writer. If he wrote the music for that one song, it sounds like he would be a co-writer. Email me and I can further advise.

      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  47. I’m the front man and my band recently brought up getting a contract for writer splits. Here is my situation. I started the band myself, and when it comes to writing. I write the entire song (Lyrics, Melody, Guitars, Bass, Synths, Drums, ect…) and record it as a demo on my computer. The entire song is pretty much done but before we record it officially at a real studio, the band will mess around with the their parts I’ve written and sometimes change them alittle or write a whole new part for a section. Then once its all recorded, I then go through and produce it, which means I might cut certain parts or change a few things that they recorded after they recorded. Just minor stuff. Also I personally pay for the entire recording and all related band things, like photos or music videos, just whatever the band needs is 100% funded by me. So I figure 100% of the masters belong to me, but for song writing credit what is a fair split. Because if I left the band there would be no more band, but if one of them left they can be replaced, which I wouldn’t want to do cuz I like my members but just saying. I was thinking of the 100% of songwriting credit, 50% goes to me for writing the actual song, then the other 50% goes to whoever was on the actual recording at the studio. So being a 3 piece I’d technically get 50% plus 1/3 of actual recording so Id get 66% and they would each get 16%. is that fair?

    1. Based on what you’ve said here, this seems fair to me Benjamin. It really comes down to: who is actually contributing to the songwriting? It sounds like that is mostly you, and you’re offering some to the other members as an incentive to stay in and contribute to the band, which is common.

      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  48. Thanks for answering so many questions above.
    I have 3 question and need your thoughts.
    I am helping my 16 year old son in starting his music career.
    He is a great songwriter. He has written about 100 songs at this point and could sit down and write 3 songs a day. They are very marketable and do not doubt some will be in movies and sports songs after covid-19 to be on ESPN.
    He is buying the beats to the songs that he wants to release but the beat makers are wanting 50% publishers share and some beat makers want more. I feel like this is to much being that my son uses the beats to write the lyrics, sings, has others he records that sings, may add instrumentation also, markets, etc… and the mixes the final mix.
    The songs would go nowhere without the melody & lyrics in my opinion.
    I was thinking like 10 – 15% at the very most 25%.
    (1) What do you think is fair? (We really want long term relationships)
    (2) Do you have contract templates and or provide services?
    (3) I feel like we own the masters. Needing to know when we copyright a song with the copyright office do we list the beat maker also?

    Note: We have come to a stand still in releasing his first songs because we need good contracts to avoid future problems. He has lost some followers in the wait and I don’t want him to get discouraged. He does have many people some simi-famous reaching out to him. He also has others reaching out to him and he is featuring on some of others songs.

    1. Hi Mark

      Yes, many beat makers ask for 50% of songwriting/publishing, as technically, they are creating all of the music. However, you are giving up a lot indeed, especially if these songs have great potential. Your best bet is to either a) produce the beats yourself or b) hire a producer to create the beats, and pay them a slightly higher per-song fee in exchange for them getting less on the songwriting side. As for the numbers, it’s all a matter of negotiation. I can help further, just email me.


      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  49. Hi can sue a band for the name that i made up and suggested to them?

    Can i sue for album tittles and concepts
    Can i sue for performing a songs that i made up, and they became a hit song for someone else?

    Can i sue for the tittled name of an artist that became successful under the name tittled by me?

  50. Hello is that your response to my questions? I dont understand. I’m
    new at this form of inquiring.

  51. Hi Kurt.
    Quick question. If our singer writes all the lyrics but often none the music is he then considered the songwriter and so entitled to 50% of the song, the rest being split evenly among the rest of the bandmembers? His understanding is this from some Sask Music seminars apparently.

    1. There are always many factors to consider in how the songs came about, but it is quite common in the industry to allocate 50% to lyrics and 50% to the music. But if the songs come about via creative collaboration between all 4 of you (for example), then perhaps 25% each makes sense. And as far as dividing the music 50%, it would only be equal among members if each member contributed equally.

      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  52. Hi there Kurt,

    Really appreciated reading your article! Thank you!

    From your description I fall under the more “traditional” singer/songwriter category. I have a concept album that I’m currently recording. Previous to the recording process I wrote all the songs, chords, lyrics and melodies… Within the recording process my husband, who is an orchestral clarinettist collaborated with me and wrote his own clarinet parts to go within one of the songs as well as viola parts to go in a couple others. In terms of genre, the album is turning into a blend of alternative indie folk with orchestral touches. I guess my question is: Is my husband classified as a songwriter on the songs he’s written parts for or is he an arranger/orchestrator?

    Thank you for your time!
    B x

  53. Hi Sir, what if I have made a melody of a song and then I introduce it to my friend so that we write a lyrics to put on it. But seriously he only contributes one or two words only on a lyrics. Should he considered as a songwriter of a song or only a contibutor?

    1. Depends how crucial those words were! And if anything was agreed upon ahead of time (i.e. equal split of writing regardless of contributions etc). But likely, he should be entitled to some small percentage of the songwriting.

      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  54. I wrote a hook and melody and brought it to a producer.

    I asked him if he could create an instrumental around it.

    He said he will use the hook and he created a whole instrumental for it.

    Obviously I am a co writer. Is that all or do I get some production credit too?

    In addition, their is another writer and another vocalist.

    1. Typically you would each get 50% of the songwriting and he would be the sole producer, unless you were involved in the actual production of the music and song.

      Kurt Dahl
      Entertainment Lawyer

  55. I’ve worked with several singers over the years who came to me with an acapella melody and lyrics. I wrote the chords, of course adjusting them to both our satisfaction. I never took writer’s credit because I felt the creation was already there, I just happen to be a professional and thus more educated in chord progressions.
    There was one song that a singer had hired someone else to write the chords. I totally revamped that one, finally convincing her even the time signature should be changed – swing to salsa. The melody remained in the same key, for instance the first note started on the note E; but I put the chords in another key, so instead of the first chord being E and the key being Em, the chord and key are Am. I consider that a complete rewrite and a compositional credit. Is it?
    That said, I just want the credit so people know my skills, I don’t care about the money; it’s a great song and if it were picked up by a big band I’d just like to be associated with it.

  56. Hi there,

    I am co writing a song with a friend of mine and she’s asked for us to do a songwriting agreement and for me to present what percentage of the song I want to give her, and that it should be represented in the percentage I offer her. The song’s overall concept and structure are made, the melody and harmony, she is helping me with the lyrics. The melody may slightly change as we change the lyrics of the song together. The lyric work I believe we should split equally, but since the other parts of the song are made, I think a rough estimate should me 75% to me (for melody, harmony, structure and lyrics writing) and 25% to her as she is splitting the efforts in writing the lyric with me. She is saying she wants 35% in order to compensate her for her time. What do you think is fair? Thanks

  57. Hello Kurt… I’m a songwriter who doesn’t play an instrument. In my former band, I would bring the lyrics and the melody. I would sing the song to the band, how I wanted it to sound. They would then play the melody that I was singing. We didn’t deviate from what I initially wanted to hear. Does the fact that I couldn’t transcribe the melody into notes and chords myself, take away the fact that I ‘wrote’ the melody?
    To be fair, I gave everyone an equal share of the music on my first album, even though I didn’t believe we in any way played equal parts. I’m hoping that didn’t set a precedent. Thank you for any insight.

  58. Sorry… but a ps to my question above. If I sing my melody to 100 different bands, it’s going to sound, pretty much, the same all 100 times. I now have a recorded version of a song, and the former band mates are looking for credits. I want to share credit with the band that actually worked on and recorded the song(s). Thanks!

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