Music contracts, split sheets and producer agreements are boring.

But they are essential to protect your work and to make sure everybody knows when, how and how much they’ll get paid.

This post includes split sheet templates and examples of session musician and music producer agreements that you can consult and download for free.

Note that the contracts below are just suggested templates to get you started. You have plenty of other options out there and it’s always a good idea to consult with a lawyer to get your own template reviewed and approved before you sign.

If you’re strapped for cash, remember that most lawyers offer a free first consultation. You can also receive free legal advice from services like the Volunteer Lawyers and Accountants for the Arts if you’re in the US.

Now that’s clear…. Let’s dive in!

Scenario 1 – You Co-Wrote a Song with Someone Else

Music Split Sheets & Band Agreements
Bandmates be cool.

What’s the risk?

Your co-writer and you are not clear about who’s entitled to what. The song becomes a success and you start fighting over money.

How do you stop that from happening?

You write up and sign a split sheet to clarify who wrote what. That will determine who owns what and how each of you will get paid.

Song Split Letter by Digital Music News on Scribd

If you already know you’re going to take care of publishing and/or promoting the work, you might want to write a band agreement and include words explaining what you’ll do and how you’ll be compensated.

Band Partnership Agreement by Digital Music News on Scribd

 


Scenario 2 – You Co-Produced a Sound Recording with Someone Else

Music Producer Agreement
Does your music producer deserve points on the board?

What’s the risk?

The music producer and you are not clear about who’s entitled to what.

Maybe you think you own the recording but the music producer considers they should get a share of the masters because they agreed to record your songs for cheaper than their normal rate.

Or maybe the music producer believes their contribution to the composition warrants a share of the songwriting credits.

How do you stop that from happening?

You write up and sign a music producer agreement to clarify:

Check out the music producer agreement templates below.

 

OPTION 1

You hire a music producer to record your work. You pay them a fee and nothing else, i.e. you keep 100% of copyrights and the producer is not entitled to any royalties.

>> Check out the Sample Producer Contract (Work for Hire) by Digital Music News on Scribd

OPTION 2

You hire a music producer to record your work. You own 100% of the copyrights. You pay them a fee and give them a share of future earnings.

>> Check out the Sample Producer Contract (Royalty-Bearing, Collaborative Agreement) by Digital Music News on Scribd

OPTION 3

You hire a music producer to compose and write music for you. You own 100% of the copyrights but agree to give the producer credit, pay them a fee upfront and give them a percentage of future profits.

>> Check out the Sample Producer Contract (Royalty-Bearing Work-For-Hire) by Digital Music News on Scribd

 


Scenario 3 – You Had Other Musicians Play On Your Recording

Work-For-Hire Session Musician
Part of the band or work-for hire?

What’s the risk?

They consider themselves part of the band and think they should get songwriting credits and/or a portion of the sound recording copyright. You disagree.

How do you stop that from happening?

You write up and sign a work-for-hire agreement making it clear that you own 100% of the copyrights related to the sound recording and the underlying composition.

>> Check out the Musician Work for Hire Agreement by ucf on Scribd

 


 

Ok, we’ve covered a lot of ground. It’s a lot of information.

Now let’s simplify things and address a couple of potential concerns/obstacles.

Feeling Dirty About Signing Split Sheets and Other Music Contracts?

Listen, I know it’s not easy asking a friend to sign a contract. It’s weird.

Even asking someone you only have a professional relationship with is weird sometimes!

Especially when it’s the first time and you’re not feeling too confident about it.

It’s hard, but it’s important.

To build healthy business relationships, you have to make sure the money-thing is clear right from the beginning.

And a career in music is business.

Money makes people do weird things…..

You could be friends, family, business partners…. money can break any relationship if you don’t clarify who owns what right from the start.

That’s where split sheets and music collaboration agreements come into play.

Worried About Getting Lost in a Sea of Paperwork?

Music contracts can get overwhelming. Even down right scary.

Because it feels like a costly mistake is just one poorly written contract away.

My advice: keep things simple.

Sure, you want to protect your interests but you also want to get your music out there!

Admin work is the easiest way to go down a rabbit hole and never get around to promoting your music.

Don’t make that mistake.

 

— Music Contracts Cheat Sheet —

Ask yourself…

Do I have a signed document stating how much of the songwriting copyright I own?

Do I have a signed document stating how much of the sound recording copyright I own?

Is it clear that I can use the sound recording and underlying composition however I want without getting into trouble?

Does everybody involved in the project know how they’ll be compensated for their work?

If you answered “YES” to the four questions above, you’re good to go.

If not, you’ve got TWO OPTIONS….

OPTION 1– spend a few weeks clearing your music, making sure you’ve got split sheets, licenses, work-for-hire agreement signed by all interested parties.

OPTION 2– forget about the music you’re not sure about, write new songs and work with those.

If you choose OPTION 1 and you’re still waiting on paperwork in 3 weeks time, I strongly recommend you move on to OPTION 2.

 

You’ve got new songs in you for sure. Don’t let yourself get caught up in an admin rabbit hole.

Make new music and get it out there. It’s way more fun anyway 😉

 

Additional resources you might find helpful:

— Get 2 months off Scribd with my referral link

— Get affordable legal advice from the Volunteer Lawyers and Accountants for the Arts (US) or the Musicians’ Union (UK)

— Learn more about Music Royalties (Who Gets Paid, Why, When and How)

— Learn more about How to Copyright Music (Application Forms, Fees and Free Options)

— Register for the challenge to Sort Out Your Music Admin in 30 Days