FDP Home Page / FDP Forum / FAQ's

The FDP is made possible by the following companies and individual members like you.
Please use the links below to show them we value their sponsorship.



Jensen Loudspeakers

Apex Tube Matching

Antique Electronics Supply

Yellowjackets Tube Converters

WD Music

Amplified Parts

* God bless America and our men and women in uniform *

* Illegitimi non carborundum! *

If you benefit and learn from the FDP and enjoy our site, please help support us and become a Contributing Member or make a Donation today! The FDP counts on YOU to help keep the site going with an annual contribution. It's quick and easy with PayPal. Please do it TODAY!

Chris Greene, Host & Founder



Find musicians
in your area!
  Search the Forums  

FDP Forum / Tin Pan Alley - Songwriting / Copyrights and division of work, seeking opinions



Nov 7th, 2014 09:44 PM   Edit   Profile  

Let's say two people work on a song. They agree to split the music 50/50.

They sell the song to someone for $100. That means each person gets $50. Correct?

Now let's say that one person writes lyrics for it, and they keep 100% for the lyrics. The lyrics are then added in so that the song now has vocals.

What is the division now?

Are the lyrics considered half of the song, and the music the other half?

If so, that means that the lyricist would get:
$50 + 1/2 x $50 = $75.
The other person would get 1/2 x $50 = $25.

Or are the lyrics a stand alone entity, which could be ported to another arrangement to be done by another artist? In that case, the lyricist would get a share from the new artist, and the original music writer would get zero.

Is this how you'd do it? Does anyone have any experience with this?

Thanks in advance.



Dec 26th, 2014 04:28 PM   Edit   Profile  

I think it's getting a wee bit convoluted there.
2 persons work on music. One person works on lyrics.
The song is made up of music and lyrics so therefore royalties for that song ( defined as music & lyrics in this case ) are divided by 3.
However I believe that a lyricist, for example, can maintain his sole rights to the words he has written and offer those words up to other musicians to compose music.It may become somewhat of a sticky wicket however if, for example, the music composers of the first part claimed " Inspirational rights " ( for want of a better term )which led to the wordsmith's impetus for his lyrics in the first place.
Did I make any sense ?


Crozet, VA

I'm "Branded"-- my stars are ripped away
Jan 2nd, 2015 08:42 AM   Edit   Profile  

If two people work on a song, then it should be 50/50. Any other division leads to potential problems of trying to decide the percentage of work each composer did. If someone and I write music together and then I came back and added lyrics -- it is still 50/50. You can do it any way you want to, though.

Once a song has been joined together (lyrics and music), they can not be split apart unless all parties agree. So if you have a co-write with lyrics and music and it has been recorded in "tangible, fixed form", then the song is protected by a copyright. You can not take your lyrics and go off and find another composer.



Jan 2nd, 2015 05:47 PM   Edit   Profile  

KVE...Yes of course lyricist / composer = divided by 2 not 3. My typo.
Not sure I agree with you on the second part though. If I copyright my lyrics ( lets say I am a lyricist and not a music composer ) they are my lyrics.They are my words plain and simple and I can chose how many composers I desire to use them. At no time does the music composer A own my words. If he puts music to my words and Celine Dion picks the song up then we ( composer A & me ) split royalties 50/50. However if composer xyz uses my words to write a different musical score and Jayz picks it up and raps it then composer xyz and me split the royalties and in no way does composer A share.


Crozet, VA

I'm "Branded"-- my stars are ripped away
Jan 3rd, 2015 06:49 AM   Edit   Profile  

if you send someone lyrics and they write music to it, you all are going to be linked together on that song -- forever. If you have lyrics that are published (therefore copyrighted), then you have leeway in assigning rights in the future.

However, since this music co-writing thing is all about relationships, it might be more advisable to go with one composer and then, if it doesn't work out, ask if you can go another route with the words.

Any other approach will probably lead to folks not wanting to work with you anymore. There are tons of grey areas in all this copyright stuff (which to me seems totally unenforceable anymore anyway), but I would always err on the side of the co-writer being co-writers forever on that song. But the approach you list can work, too (maybe).

See page 80 and 81 about lyrics + music (refresh a couple times)

(This message was last edited by kve at 08:57 AM, Jan 3rd, 2015)


LA-la-land, CA

Insert clever comment here
Jan 5th, 2015 02:36 PM   Edit   Profile  

Even split, no matter how many people contributed what, as long as they are on the copyright, and that it's a collaboration, not separate entities (i.e. a poem and an instrumental) that were already copyrighted separately.



Jan 5th, 2015 05:01 PM   Edit   Profile  

Listen W3. I actually went thru this.
The composer I was working with told me a bout a performer he had seen and asked me to write some lyrics. I did and sent them over to him. He composed the music,performed recorded the song and presented it to the perfomer.
The performer came back and said she liked the music but was going to write her own words.
So where did that leave me?
IMO if I copyright my lyrics before they are put to music by anyone they are my lyrics to present to as many composers as I want. Each composer is free to copyright the song comprised of my words and his/her music royalties to be split on a 50/50 basis but in no way are my copyrighted lyrics locked in to that one song and only that song. I can have a country song, a rock song, a rap song all using my words with music & performances by 3 different artists. They are my copyrighted words. Period. Agree or disagree?


Crozet, VA

I'm "Branded"-- my stars are ripped away
Jan 6th, 2015 07:06 AM   Edit   Profile  

case #1: It sure sounds like a collaboration to me. They should have left you on as a co-writer even if none of the new words were yours. Or at least asked if it was OK.

case #2: Many people can add music to the same Emily Dickinson poem over and over again. So, yes, three different composers can set your words to different music. But that is just a hypothetical situation. It probably would never happen in real life (unless you become a famous poet). Today, you need to co-write with the artists themselves if you want "cuts".


LA-la-land, CA

Insert clever comment here
Jan 6th, 2015 03:42 PM   Edit   Profile  

Slimlefttown, are you asking me? If your lyrics were copyrighted separately, they may be used as many times in as many songs as you wish. In that case, then, there are 2 copyrights: 1 for the music and 1 for the lyrics. That's different than the definition of "co-writing".



Jan 10th, 2015 08:08 PM   Edit   Profile  

No G3 that question was for KVE (Jan3 ) who was not in agreement.
Agreed "That's different than the definition of "co-writing".

KVE. Case #1. Why would they? Nothing of what they created would be mine.
Case # 2. I don't know the percentage of artists who write their own material individually or with co writers but the chances are slim and none that any but the few inner circle get to work with the " artist ". I really think it is not a "hypothetical" situation. Unless you have an agreement in place with another individual ( co writer ) I'm think a musical composer and/or wordsmith should have their own copyright to their creation.


Willoughby, OH , USA

I'm arrogant and a moron
Mar 18th, 2016 12:39 PM   Edit   Profile  

What about if a lyricist/composer writes a song with one verse and a chorus, asks you for assistance and you write lyrics to another verse, i.e. you finish or complete the song? The original guy did most of the work. You merely contributed the final touch.
Or maybe you write an instrumental hook that brings the whole song together?
One of my duo partners brought a new song into rehearsal and when he played it for me I "heard" a chord change that the wasn't playing. He eventually incorporated that additional chord. Does that make me a co-writer?

FDP Forum / Tin Pan Alley - Songwriting / Copyrights and division of work, seeking opinions

Reply to this Topic
Display my email address             Lost your password?
Your Message:
Link Address (URL):
Link Title:

Moderators: Chris Greene  Iron Man  reverendrob  

FDP, LLC Privacy Policy: Your real name, username, and email
are held in confidence and not disclosed to any third parties, sold, or
used for anything other than FDP Forum registration unless you specifically authorize disclosure.

Internet Application Development

Copyright © 1999-2019 Fender Discussion Page, LLC   All Rights Reserved