That conversation about splits in never fun, but it’s really necessary. Splits are how you choose to split the ownership of your song between your co-writer(s). If you’re a professional songwriter or working with someone who is—if you’re releasing your song, you fall into this category—you need to talk about splits.
And if you’re like most of us, you probably find it a little awkward. Here are a few ways to get this conversation going that doesn’t feel so uncomfortable.
1. Let Session.id (formerly Auddly) do the talking
If you know your co-writer pretty well, this might be a good idea. It might also be optimal if it’s just two of you working together and you’re splitting things down the middle. If you use Session.id to write your songs together and keep all your files, there is an option to suggest the percentage to split the song, and the other songwriter just has to click accept (or suggest a change). No conversation required.
2. Ask outside the actual writing session
Ideally, you will do this before the writing session to keep things straight, and this is more professional anyway. By asking beforehand, it keeps the awkwardness outside the session so that when you get to actually writing, you can just focus on that. Tip: Ask in an email to keep everything in writing.
3. Ask them how they usually split songs
With a new co-writer, try asking, “How do you usually split songs?” and go from there. By doing this, you’ll avoid the sheepish smile and uneasiness of the alternative, which usually goes, “Sooo… how should we split the songs?” Try not to do that, even though that gets the job done, too. By asking directly how they normally split songs, or suggesting how you normally do it, you’ll get straight to the answer.
4. If they’re an artist, ask them about their releases
If you’re a songwriter or lyricist working with an artist who releases songs, ask them how they decide to release music. Chances are, it will start up a discussion of how they split things with a producer, if they plan to pitch the song to another artist, etc. If you’re also an artist, you can discuss how to decide who releases the song and what the splits are in each case.
5. Ask if they’re on SongSplits
Another easy way to get the conversation going is to ask if they use SongSplits.com, which is a free service for songwriters to register their splits. It’s an easy alternative to contracts that might get lost or for those who are fans of pages and pages of legal jargon (and don’t need to include that in their contracts, anyway). Much like Session.id, SongSplits will email updates and ask for confirmation when it comes to changes in the contract.
Splits often change when producers and artists enter the picture and this awkward conversation might have to happen again. But the great thing? The more you rip off the band aid and just go for it, the less difficult it becomes. It begins to just feel like a professional conversation that is completely normal to have, which it is. Don’t let splits stop you from co-writing!