Split sheets are an essential part of the artistís tool kit.
While our music comes with a higher calling, being an artist is also a business.
And just like any enterprise, creatives should be compensated for their work and the time spent to produce their music.
Thatís where split sheets come in.
While there are many moving parts in creating music, this should be step one.
In the first article in a series we are calling the Artist Tool Kit, we will discuss what split sheets are and their importance, when to use them, and how, as well as provide you with a simple template you can use on your next project.
Letís get started.
What Are Split Sheets?

A split sheet is a written agreement between all song contributors and states the ownership percentages of each one.
The percentages, then, determine how much each party will receive in royalties from the music.
Every song with collaborators should have a split sheet to ensure everyone involved in the creative process gets paid for their work. With all that said, split sheets are not a copyright agreement, which is different.
Why is a Split Sheet Important?

A split sheet is vital for legal and financial reasons.
According to U.S. Copyright Law, without a written agreement (i.e., split sheet), any royalties for co-written projects will be equally divided among the number of people involved. Meaning everyone gets the same amount regardless of the work performed.
Unequal distributions of funds can lead to bad blood and result in costly legal battles when the splits and ownership are not established in writing.
Under such circumstances, Performing Rights Organizations, labels, publishers, licensors, and third parties hold the royalties until the disputes are settled. Which means no one gets paid.
How To Approach Talking About It and When?

Talking dollars and cents with friends or creatives you know can feel uncomfortable. But remember, this is business, yours and theirs.
But to ensure everyone gets appropriately paid, this is a must. Have the conversation before the writing starts, if you can, or shortly after the project is finished- definitely before it starts to accrue royalties.
The longer you wait to decide on the split, the higher the chances for resentment and, in extreme cases, legal action.
What Is Included in the Split Sheet?

Included in the split sheet should be everything you need to officially document song ownership and contractual agreement between collaborators. This may include the following:

  • Song Title
  • Recording Band/Artist Name
  • Label Name
  • Studio Name and Address
  • Writer Name and Contact Information
  • Publishing Company with %
  • Affiliations
  • Percentage Ownership
  • And Signatures

We have prepared one for you to use here.

Get it now!


Artist Tip

How Are Percentages Determined?

The total of all percentages in a sheet must equal 100%. The final percentages are all agreed upon by everyone involved. You can either split the rights evenly across the board or by contribution.
Splitting the rights evenly is the easiest, as it puts everyone on equal footing and sets the tone for future projects.
Dividing up the percentages by contribution gets hairy as not everyone contributes the same; contributions by co-writers, for example, may not be as significant to the song, and some artists may be involved in songwriting and producing- giving them a slightly more substantial share.Eph. 4:29Whichever you decide, all parties must agree and sign.Eph. 4:29
Is A Split Sheet Legally Binding?

Once all parties sign, the split sheet becomes a contract. It protects all parties involved legally and ensures everyone reaps the benefits of their work.
Build Your Tool Box

Holy Culture is a place for artists to find support in their calling to use their musical talents to lead others to Christ.
For those starting your journey, we want to equip you with the tools you need to succeed. From split sheets to PRO to marketing yourself and your music- we aim to cover all these topics to inform you as you step into the shoes of being an artist.
With each article, we will build a toolbox for you to refer to each step of the way and give you resources to take on.
If this article was helpful to you, make sure you subscribe to get alerts on other related pieces of content so you are always one step ahead.
The best is yet to come.

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