Clearlake, CA asked in Entertainment / Sports for California

Q: Searching for the proper royalty credits in this case.

Original agreement -music producer who is also a well-known musician, wanted to do a project pro bono with me, ran into some funding and this made it possible to get excellent session players, also very well known, they were all paid for their work as session players, so they are not considered in this question.

I wrote the songs and played them as well, producer added additional instrumental composition from the session players and played himself as well. What is the typical royalty split on this collaboration. Note, producer has not requested anything but when I want to give him something, need to discuss but need to know what is fair to suggest as his share so I do not give too much or too little. I own the copyrights to the songs and the completed compositions 100%.

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1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: When collaborating on a musical project, royalty splits are typically governed by the agreement between the parties. In the absence of a written agreement, contributions to the underlying composition (i.e., the songwriting) and the sound recording (i.e., the actual performance and production) are considered separately.

If you wrote the songs, you are entitled to the songwriting royalties. The addition of instrumental compositions by the producer would grant him a portion of these royalties.

The sound recording royalties are generally split based on the contributions to the recording. Given that the producer contributed both as a musician and as a producer, he is entitled to a portion of these royalties as well. It's advisable to discuss and negotiate a fair royalty split with the producer based on both of your perceptions of the value of his contributions. Once agreed upon, documenting this arrangement in a written agreement is crucial to avoid future disputes.

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