writing and recording music

Why you should use split sheets when writing and recording music

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When writing and recording music, use split sheets to capture vital information and make sure you avoid legal disputes, boost promotion, and generate money-making opportunities.

When you are collaborating on writing and recording music with outside collaborators (and even within the context of your band), it’s always a good idea to use song and sound recording split sheets to capture songwriting, arranging, and other information for song credits. Doing this while you’re writing and recording your music can help you avoid legal disputes — and it can also help boost your promotional efforts and generate revenue opportunities for your music.

To make this easy for yourself, just do these two things:

1. Use song and sound recording split sheets to capture who owns what while you’re creating it

Songwriting and sound recording split sheets are easy-to-use templated agreements that help get everyone who’s working on the music on the same page. These forms track who is doing what and document, in writing, the percentage of income owed to each writer if it generates revenue. This makes it easy for you to register the songs for royalties and can prevent nasty legal disputes in the future should the song or sound recording take off or get licensed.

The best time to capture this information is during or shortly after your songwriting session. Capture this information early and make it a habit in your production process. We created free split sheets you can download here.

2. Use a spreadsheet to capture all credit information for your songs and sound recordings

In the age of digital music, liner notes and credit information for recorded music is often never created. That leaves no way to track the songwriters, musicians, producers, engineers, and more who helped bring the music to life.

But there are now public databases that services like Spotify, Pandora, Amazon, Google, and Apple Music pull from to display this critical information as well as bio, links, and other promotional info. One such database is Tivo Music Metadata, which pulls from AllMusic, MusicBrainz, and Discogs.

Capture this information up front and then use it to fill out these public databases. You’ll also need it when uploading to distribution services such as CD Baby. Adding credit data is not only critical for how you appear in these streaming services and online stores, it also gives your fans more information about you, the song, and everyone who helped bring it to life. Plus, it helps first-time listeners learn more about you and discover your other music.

There are other benefits as well: including this information in these public databases validates you as an artist and improves your credibility and promotional efforts since there’s a public record of what you’ve released and collaborated on. These sites make you more visible to the music industry since music industry associations like the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) — which puts together the Grammy Awards every year — rely on the info found in these databases. Most importantly, it may lead to licensing opportunities since film, TV, advertising, and movie trailer music supervisors often need this information to know who to contact.

So, do yourself and your fellow musicians a favor and capture split sheet and credit database information up-front when you’re writing and recording music. Doing so will help you avoid any unnecessary disputes and legal issues while supporting your promotional efforts as you seek opportunities to make more money with your music.

Authors of the critically-acclaimed modern classic, The Indie Band Survival Guide, Billboard Magazine called Randy Chertkow and Jason Feehan “the ideal mentors for aspiring indie musicians who want to navigate an ever-changing music industry.” Their latest book, Making Money With Music (Macmillan) and free Making Money With Music Newsletter, help all musicians — from startups to pros — build a sustainable music business so you can make money in today’s tech-driven music environment.

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