What is a split sheet or publishing split?
A split sheet is an important legal document for songwriters (of either lyrics and music composition). Split sheets identify the songwriters and percentage of the song that was written by each person. A split sheet should be created for each song.
Other synonyms for split sheets include:
– music split sheet.
– publishing split sheet.
Why do songwriters need to create a split sheet?
Split sheets allow for equitable distribution of royalties earned by the song. They also provide an important legal record that prevents future distributes about songwriters’ contribution.
Songwriters include anyone who contributed to the lyrics and composition, regardless of their titles. This is clarified by US Copywriting law,
To be more explicit, a songWriter is someone who creates a musical composition: the melody, harmony, lyrics, arrangements, beats, etecetera (ASCAP, 2020).
Therefore, to belabor the point, a songwriter also includes anyone who contributes any form of lyrics or beats, music notations, music notes etcetera.
What is the relevance of US Copyright Laws to music split sheets?
Split sheets refer to written agreements regarding the division of royalty shares between copyright owners of a song. Therefore. all of the individuals who wrote any part of a song can be considered as the copyright owners.
Under the law, the work that is produced by songwriters is referred to as a Musical Composition.
Note that copyrights are not assigned by law to people who produce covers of the song. Persons who publish a cover song are required by law to purchase a cover song license.
You can obtain a cover song license for 12.00 a year at this link.
Specific elements of US Copyright Law that relate to split sheets
According to Copyright.gov (2019), a musical composition consists of music and any accompanying words.
The law also says that a musical composition may be produced in two ways:
• in the form of a notated copy such as sheet music.
• or in the form of a phonorecord (for example, cassette tape, LP, or CD).
Therefore, when registering a musical composition, consideration is only being made to the music and lyrics which are embodied in that composition. However, the registration would not include a recorded performance of that composition.
A split sheet should be created for all versions of the song
We can derive from US Copyright Law that a split sheet should be produced for all versions of the song. This is because the law allows for the registration of the copyrights of all versions of a musical composition:
Original compositions, original arrangements, or other new versions of earlier copyrighted compositions are also included under this law.
Copyright owners of musical compositions can make copies, prepare derivative works, sell or distribute copies, publicly perform or display the work, and authorize others to exercise the exclusive rights of the copyright.
What content should be included in a split sheet?
Split sheets should ideally contain:
– Song title.
– Songwriter name, birthdate and contact information.
– Performance Rights Organization to which each songwriter belongs.
– The agreed on percentage ownership of each song.
– The specific contribution each person made to the song:
– Include any versions of the song:
– radio version
When should the music split sheet be filled out
Split sheets or should be filled out on the completion of the recording session. All dates should be included on the split sheets and separated by commas.