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What You Must Know Before Splitting Royalties

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When it comes to releasing new music that results from collaborative effort, it’s important to know not only who contributed to what on each the track, but how much of the recording each person owns.

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Guest post by Liz Ohanesian of the Repost Network

You have a killer track ready to unleash on SoundCloud. You’ve sorted out the songwriting credits. At least, you have the names of everyone who contributed to the track. But, wait, there’s more. You also need to know how much of the song or recording each person owns. This will become extremely important once your music brings in revenue.

One of the advantages of the Repost Network is that it can split the royalties amongst the writers. In order to do that, though, you need to figure out what that split is.

“If you write your own music and you record your own song, you get all of it,” says W. Joseph Anderson, an L.A.-based attorney with Manatt, Phelps & Philips. “But, if you write with certain people and you record that song, you’re going to split a portion of that amongst all the writers.”

You’ll need to take into account various people who might have contributed to the recording, like producers or featured artists. “What are they expecting you to do?” Anderson asks. “Maybe you’ve never talked about it. You just assumed that you would do it one way or another. That’s the next big issue.”

Anderson says that artists should document the process of making the song to help figure out these royalty issues. Make sure you know what collaborators expect from a royalty split before you plan the release. This is one of those situations where managers and lawyers will come in handy. “We’re really here to make sure things go smoothly now,” says Anderson, “so that when something either does explode and go viral on the upside or completely crashes down and burns on the downside, it’s a lot better for you, the artist, then if you were to try and go it alone.”

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