Asked in Contracts and Intellectual Property for Massachusetts

Q: I'm a songwriter. I write lyrics for a band. They want to have a formal contract where I get 10% of royalties. Fair?

They pay me a flat rate for each song, but now they are wanting to pay me 10% of the royalties they receive as well. Is this a fair deal?

1 Lawyer Answer
Jonathan R. Roth
Jonathan R. Roth
  • Salem, MA
  • Licensed in Massachusetts

A: Fair is in the eye of the beholder. A lyricist who composes a song with someone else gets 50% of the royalty for the song, not the recording of the song. The royalty is split between the song writers and the publisher. If there is no publisher, then the song writers get the entire royalty. Now the song Royalty is not the same as what the band gets for recording and selling its recording. The band pays a royalty for playing the song and for each recording sold of the song. The royalty is different for recordings and concerts. So what is it the band is offering as a royalty for their use of the song?

Now if you wrote the lyrics in collaboration with someone else, then you would get less than 50%. Without knowing more, I cannot say what is fair.

I hope this is helpful and free to contact me if you have more questions.

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