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#952784 - 03/31/12 08:42 PM how do collabs work in terms of getting paid?  
Joined: Mar 2012
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kimander Offline
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kimander  Offline
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I'm new at this. I've been getting mixed advice. I've heard you should never pay someone to collaborate with you, but there are people that pay producers all the time.

Also, let's say a lyricist finds a musician to collaborate on a song with and neither of them pay each other. Then they put the song up on itunes. Do they split the profits 50/50? What if all they make is 20 bucks?

#952785 - 03/31/12 08:49 PM Re: how do collabs work in terms of getting paid? [Re: kimander]  
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Colin Ward Online content
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It is negotiable and you should clearly understand what the rules of the game are before you start. Most songwriting splits are even - 2 people 50-50. three people 33-33-33, etc.

You should not pay a service to "co-write" with you IMHO - that is, a lyricist should not pay someone who advertises in Popular Mechanics to write music for his lyrics and call that co-writing.

It is possible that one of the songwriters contributes more than the other....either more of the lyrics, or possibly a lot of music for a few lyrics. That's where you can jointly decide to split it in some other proportion.

There are thousands of songs that go on iTunes and make less that 20 bucks. That is the business. You have to jointly decide who gets what AHEAD of time.


Colin

I try to critique as if you mean business.....

http://colinwardmusic.com/

http://rosewoodcreekband.com/


#952788 - 03/31/12 09:23 PM Re: how do collabs work in terms of getting paid? [Re: Colin Ward]  
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Kevin Emmrich Offline
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There's songwriter splits and there are artist or performers cuts:

If you sold a song for $1.00 on i-tunes:

1.) I-tunes takes 35%: $0.35
2.) PayPal get 10% (if you use micro-payments): $0.10
3.) co-writers and publishers get $0.091 (legal "mechanical" rate)
4.) Artist/performer gets what is left: ~ $0.46
5.) There might be some fixed costs you have to pay off first -- like recording fees, marketing, etc, etc.

So, if you co-wrote a song with someone else and kept all the publishing and sold a million downloads you would get 1/2 X 1,000,000 x 0.91 = $45,500.

Now if you get radio play or rhapsody/spotify spins that is a different stream of income.

Kevin


"It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The 'hard' is what makes it great."
Kevin @ bandcamp: Crows Say Vee-Eh (and Kevin @ FAWM 2016)
#952806 - 03/31/12 11:46 PM Re: how do collabs work in terms of getting paid? [Re: Kevin Emmrich]  
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kimander Offline
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kimander  Offline
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Thanks so much for the detailed explanations, Colin and Kevin.

#953384 - 04/05/12 02:57 AM Re: how do collabs work in terms of getting paid? [Re: kimander]  
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Brian Austin Whitney Online content
Brian Austin Whitney  Online Content


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Kimander,

The default split, if no other legally recognized agreement is made, is 50/50 for 2 cowriters. Accepted customs usually dictate that if you pay someone to write lyrics or music you should get a written agreement at the time of payment (in other words make sure you have it in hand BEFORE you pay/send payment or simultaneously if in person) saying it is a "work for hire" which means in exchange for payment, you own the entire work, words and music, in total in exchange for payment. That would make any future legal questions pretty clear cut. If they want their co-writing share, then no payment should be offered and going forward any investment in the song (i.e. paying to record it, make a demo etc.) should be equally split. If someone does the recording for you and is a co-writer, they should only charge you 50% of the rate on your co-written songs because they must share in the investment of the song.

In my view, the easiest and fairest way to go is to discuss this topic BEFORE you write together, agree on a 50/50 split no matter who contributes what to the creation (i.e. writing) of the song and never try to guess who contributed more or less. Rarely is there an even 50/50 split in how much someone contributes. Even when one writes the music and one writes the music, it's likely that the melody (i.e. music) or lyric will be the popular reason a song finds success over the other contribution. And someone could contribute seemingly very little, but that small piece which completes the song that later finds success is STILL a vital part of it all and by default deserves an equal share. Since 99.9999% of songs written never make a penny, the real idea behind co-writing is to create a happy and fair environment where each side tosses in all their best ideas and on some songs, one person may be responsible for more and on others the other person might. Plus a smaller contribution can include the best part, like the hook like, or a melodic turn which makes the song. Also make sure to learn the difference between melody and a music track. A music track in and of itself is not co-writing if a written melody and lyric are simply used with it. It may give the creator of the music track an arrangers copyright so that arrangement of the song belongs to them, but I suggest you do some reading on the matter if using someone's music track which does not include a melody. (Like a drum and bass track with no instrument playing a melody...see the difference?)

Good question. Check out Collide and Celldweller, 2 successful JPF Goth Rock type groups that you may find interesting. Both are all over the net.

Brian


Brian Austin Whitney
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"Don't sit around and wait for success to come to you... it doesn't know the way." -Brian Austin Whitney


#953475 - 04/05/12 03:53 PM Re: how do collabs work in terms of getting paid? [Re: Brian Austin Whitney]  
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HoboSage Offline
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Originally Posted by Brian Austin Whitney
Accepted customs usually dictate that if you pay someone to write lyrics or music you should get a written agreement at the time of payment (in other words make sure you have it in hand BEFORE you pay/send payment or simultaneously if in person) saying it is a "work for hire" which means in exchange for payment, you own the entire work, words and music, in total in exchange for payment. That would make any future legal questions pretty clear cut.


Brian:

While I will not comment on any copyright law other than U.S. copyright law, I have to say that your view of the "work made for hire doctrine" under current U.S. copyright is, with all due respect, not quite right - and reflects an all too commonly believed fallacy.

Unless the one being "hired" meets the tests of actually being an EMPLOYEE of the copyright claimant, then as a matter of law, there can be no work made for hire of a musical work or a sound recording by a mutual agreement that it be considered a work made for hire. The Copyright Act lists those types of works not created by an employee which can be made works for hire by agreement - a list of works that is set by the statute and cannot be altered by an agreement. The works on this statutory list are: "a work specially ordered or commissioned for use as a contribution to a collective work, as a part of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, as a translation, as a supplementary work, as a compilation, as an instructional text, as a test, as answer material for a test, or as an atlas." As you can see, lyrics/poems/literary works, musical works and sound recordings are NOT on that list, and the Copyright Office, the Courts and even the major labels all read the Act just that way.

There was a brief period of time during President Clinton's first term when lawmakers bought and paid for by the RIAA slipped through, as an attachment to other unrelated and comprehensive legislation, an amendment to the Copyright Act which added musical works and sound recordings to the listed types of works that can be made works for hire by agreement. But, because this quickly resulted in record labels essentially stealing master recordings without having to compensate the rightful owner, after an outcry from artists, this amendment was quickly repealed. So, if you're a lyricist and you don't actually hire a musician to write music for your songs - i.e., you don't set their hours of work, pay them wages and withhold income tax, FICA and workers comp., etc. - then they are an independent contractor and not your employee, and their music CANNOT be a work made for hire - regardless of whether you both agree that it will be. You must have an ASSIGNMENT of their copyrights to you if you want to have a legally valid and enforceable claim to the total author's share of the copyrights.

Now , in fairness to you, you do also suggest the lyricist get the musician's agreement that the lyricist will be the sole author of words and music in exchange for payment, and if worded properly, this could constitute an assignment of the musician's copyrights. But that has nothing to do with and cannot make the music a work made for hire, though record labels still include that language in their artist-unfriendly contracts. The difference is important. When a musical work really is a work made for hire because it's by an employee within the scope of the musician's employment, the employer is the sole author identified on the copyright registration. Now, I'm not completely sure, but I believe if a musician is an independent contractor for a lyricist - even if they assigned all their copyrights in the music to the lyricist - the musician is to still be named as the author of the music on the copyright registration. The distinction arises because all work by an employee within the scope of employment is the employer's at the moment of creation, while an independent contractor musician has his copyrights as the author of the music at the moment the music is recorded, and then those rights are subsequently assigned to the lyricist - AFTER the musician's copyrights have already secured.

Anyway, please forgive me for going on so long about this. But, I thought it important to clarify the work made for hire doctrine under copyright law, and impress upon members here the crucial importance of having a clearly-stated assignment of copyrights as part of any collaboration agreement, if that is what the parties intend.

P.S. I would think Attorney Shapiro would essentially agree with all this. smile

Last edited by HoboSage; 04/06/12 11:24 AM.
#954043 - 04/09/12 03:26 AM Re: how do collabs work in terms of getting paid? [Re: HoboSage]  
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Brian Austin Whitney Online content
Brian Austin Whitney  Online Content


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According to your reading of the law, writing a jingle for a corporation who already has a lyrical slogan in exchange for payment would not be possible even with a work for hire agreement, but this occurs regularly with the corporation or hiring entity being listed as the sole owner of the copyright. I see this all the time with advertising, films and other creative works.

I did include having a contract because it is my long standing and stated policy that you should never have sign any contract for any reason without an appropriately qualified attorney representing only your interests. I also regularly advise against EVER paying someone to co-write a song with you in the first place, in part because misunderstandings and fairness always come into play and also just because it's where all manner of ill intended sharks hang out. I also strongly recommend against co-writing with anyone you are paying at a recording studio to do a project for you or to play instruments etc. But if you MUST, contracts spelling out everything and reviewed by your attorney should occur. And co-writers should split any and all costs associated with the co-written work. Otherwise all sorts of abuses may and often do occur.

So, are you an attorney? Do you know Stu Shapiro? If not, you shouldn't represent yourself as giving legal advice or knowing what his opinion would be one way or another. I don't do that and make it clear people need to consult their own attorney's even when he is answering questions.

By the way, you're welcome to offer feedback, but as an anonymous poster, I can't trust your advice, no matter how well intended, because you may well have a secret agenda or be misrepresenting yourself for reasons unknown or just for kicks. This is why we strongly suggest people use their real names or at least check in with verifiable information if there's a valid reason to remain anonymous. And if you're an attorney, you should offer those credentials for scrutiny. Also, do you know Stuart Shapiro? If not, you shouldn't state what he would or wouldn't agree with. We let him speak for himself around here and we don't suggest he agrees with us unless he says so himself.

Thanks, Brian

Brian


Brian Austin Whitney
Founder
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Skype: Brian Austin Whitney

"Don't sit around and wait for success to come to you... it doesn't know the way." -Brian Austin Whitney


#954076 - 04/09/12 01:57 PM Re: how do collabs work in terms of getting paid? [Re: Brian Austin Whitney]  
Joined: Apr 2012
Posts: 37
HoboSage Offline
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HoboSage  Offline
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Joined: Apr 2012
Posts: 37
I was not giving legal advice, but my opinion of copyright law - something I know quite well. In your posts you gave your opinion that if a lyricist got the musician to agree that the musician was providing music to the lyricist as a "work for hire," that would mean that the lyricist would be the sole author, and that is completely inaccurate under the Copyright Act. I only mentioned Attorney Shapiro because he is an attorney and listed as a mentor for this thread, and I thought you might want to confirm with him that what I was saying was correct. It seemed to me like a perfectly appropriate thing for me to do, and yet you find fault with it. You also state that if I'm an attorney I should offer my creditals for scrutiny, as if I am here on this web site representing myself as a lawyer - which I am NOT doing - and you also state that you "strongly suggest people use their real names or at least check in with verifiable information if there's a valid reason to remain anonymous." Where do you strongly suggest such a thing? Nowhere on the registration page do you even remotely suggest a thing. Yet, here you are finding fault with me for that too.

Given that you have issues with me for no valid reason whatsoever, and given that you are the Grand Poobah of this site, I no longer wish to be a member here. Please permanently delete my account immediately. Thank you. I will also send this to you via PM. Geez.

Last edited by HoboSage; 04/09/12 01:59 PM.
#954111 - 04/09/12 10:19 PM Re: how do collabs work in terms of getting paid? [Re: HoboSage]  
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Brian Austin Whitney Online content
Brian Austin Whitney  Online Content


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As you're an anonymous user, and could be anyone with any agenda, there is no reason to be concerned with your comments on general topics. But when you discuss legal issues, and suggest a well known and respected attorney will agree with your assessment without even divulging you who are, then it has to be strongly pointed out as such. You could be telling the truth, you could be lying 100% and since you're anonymous, you bear no consequences to damage you do to others or your own viability. You choose to hide for a reason. We just can't risk what that reason might be as we've had plenty of previous experience with other anonymous users who stir up issues. Since you've responded in such an extreme manner, it appears our caution is justified. A reasonable person would understand that. Of course as an anonymous user, you could come back again and no one would know the difference. But you'll receive the same distrust on matters of real importance if you choose to hide again. You've only been here a few days and have 37 posts? I suspect you've been here before as someone else who has been similarly confronted. Of course we'll never know right?


Brian Austin Whitney
Founder
Just Plain Folks
jpfolkspro@aol.com
Skype: Brian Austin Whitney

"Don't sit around and wait for success to come to you... it doesn't know the way." -Brian Austin Whitney


#959390 - 05/12/12 05:46 PM Re: how do collabs work in terms of getting paid? [Re: kimander]  
Joined: Sep 2011
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pathardy Online content
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pathardy  Online Content
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Then 10 bucks each.

A producer is a business person/artistic craftsman. The writers are pure artists, who share in the dream of what their creation might bring.

Would I pay a collaborator who thought so little of his or her work that he or she would accept a payment for services and forgo any great rewards ( because it's one or the other ). No, I would not choose to work with such a person, thought it might be more profitable for me, if I really do have a potential hit ( and don't we all ? ).

Would I pay a producer? Sure, he's providing a service, but I get release waivers for contributors ( demo musicians, etc ) other than the composers.

But, if the producer's ( or anyone else's ) contribution is artistically significant, such that the song now has a different focus and direction, ( and current writers approving ), I'd take him on as the third collaborator in exchange for forgoing payments and now to share the dream on spec as a collaborator. It's one or the other, in my book.



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