How Does Songwriting Split Work?

Posted by Mike Schumacher

A song that is well written and features lyrics that stick with you are what makes for an engaging musical piece. It is not only the vocals, or even the bass line or guitar licks – it is the writing of the song that really matters.

The music industry has a term for this: the bridge. The bridge is typically a short section of lyric or melody that carries over from one part to the next. Some examples include “And I’ll be watching you” at the end of a verse, or the chorus of a song, like in songs where they chant “Happy birthday!”

A lot of artists use bridges as a way to connect different parts of their songs. This helps make the song flow more naturally and gives your audience time to process the information being presented.

There are several types of bridges in music, but our topic today will focus exclusively on what is known as a songwriting split. These can occur anywhere within a song, but most often happen at the beginning or middle-beginning, mid-way through, or half-way through a new section (like a refrain). They also are usually focused on creating a transition between two separate ideas or segments of a song.

At this stage, the writer must come up with something self-contained that relates back to the idea it is merging into and/or comment on the current concept.

Who gets what when there’s a songwriting split

how do songwriting splits work

When you write a song, you probably don’t give credit to yourself for all of the work. There are always other people involved in the process — producers, mixers, musicians, recording engineers, etc.

If you do decide to offer writing credits to others, however, make sure that your definitions match up with theirs. For example, if someone claims authorship for a drum part, ensure that you included the same drum break in your writing process.

Likewise, if someone else takes ownership of an instrumental or vocal hook, check to see that they wrote their own lyrics attached to it. This is especially important if those lyrics are not credited in the final product.

Negotiate a songwriting split

how do songwriting splits work

A more common way to structure a music collaboration is what’s known as a “song writing partnership.” This is when one person (the writer) comes up with the idea for the song, and then they work together with another individual (the artist) to turn their concept into a fully-produced piece of art.

As artists are usually paid per album sold, this can sometimes lead to unequal compensation in terms of who gets paid how much.

This isn’t necessarily bad, but it does mean that the writers may not get the same pay as the artists!

Luckily, there are ways to mitigate this problem. One option is what’s called a “parallel payout.” This means that each party receives an equal share of the songs from the collaborations, and each party chooses which songs they want to release under their own artistic name.

Calculate the value of your songs

how do songwriting splits work

A common songwriter’s trick is to calculate the average cost per note of all the music in your library, then divide that number by the total number of notes you wrote in your most recent song. This way, you get an estimate of how much it would have cost to write a new version of one of your songs!

This can be tricky if you don’t include every single instrument and part in your writing process. But you should! Including non-musical parts of the song like the chorus or main verse can sometimes make up for this.

If you want to take it even further, you could also factor in what percentage of the song each instrument represents when calculating its price. For example, if there are five guitars in a song, each guitar might only account for one percent of the lyrics, so we’d need to multiply their cost by 0.1 (one tenth) to determine the overall price of the guitar.

Compile a list of your best songs

how do songwriting splits work

In the case of song writing splits, you will need to have enough material to make up at least half of the song. This can be done by either making or buying an album that contains one of your good songs!

Alternatively, you can take some time to listen to all of your songs and pick out bits that you like and feel are strong. These pieces can then be used in place of parts in the other version of the song.

The second part can be trying to re-write it as if it was written by someone else. Use who, what, when, where and why questions to help with this process.

Why not try giving yourself a goal to write a new first verse every day? Or maybe aim for a short story a week? You get better at creating stories through practice so this is a nice way to hone your skills.

Calculate your potential success

how do songwriting splits work

A lot of people get stuck in this songwriter’s block when they are trying to develop their writing skills or work on new songs. They may feel that there isn’t anything left to write, but you have to believe in yourself more than others do if you want to succeed.

It can be hard to motivate yourself to create when you don’t see much promise for your craft. But it is important to not give up!

Thinking about all the artists who didn’t make it makes me wonder what I could have done differently with my career. So maybe instead of giving up and thinking “it’s just not my day,” why not look at the things you did right and learn from them?

You might also consider looking into how other writers developed their technique and made it part of their workflow. There’s no reason you can’t do the same!

By investing time into developing your writing talent, you will eventually reap the benefits and enjoy your artistry again.

Establish your brand

how do songwriting splits work

As we mentioned before, your song writing career will depend heavily on who you are as a person and what message you want to send to people about yourself and your music. This is particularly important if you want your songs to be recognized as quality material.

As you begin to develop your songwriting skills, make sure to establish yourself as an artist with solid products that show off your artistic talent. The more artists out there like your own style proof of your creative prowess can help boost your confidence as a writer.

Artists such as Taylor Swift have built up incredible fan bases due to their catchy melodies and lyrics along with their use of powerful vocals. It’s easy to pick up some of her tricks for making songs interesting!

Swift also doesn’t shy away from sharing her secrets in the form of free information via YouTube videos or blogs. By watching her work and studying how she writes her songs, you will surely learn something new.

There’s no need to spend lots of money on formal education courses either. Some of the best way to hone your craft is by listening to lots of music and reading various types of materials related to musicians and the music business. You don’t necessarily need much beyond the basics to get started.

Create a contract

how do songwriting splits work

As with any business relationship, you and I as writers will need to agree on some terms before we can both benefit from each other’s services. This is especially true when one of us earns more than the other because we pay for our own supplies and things like publishing fees and marketing expenses are expensive!

I will always want to be paid my fair share so that I get the chance to continue providing service for the rest of you. And you should feel the same way about me since I invested in this writing career thingy by offering it to you for free in the first place! 😉

So let’s talk money. What kind of payment structure do you think makes sense? For example, per hour or per project basis? Or what about a set fee up front with rewards along the way?

You see, I’m not just giving away my hard-earned cash as a writer, I’m also investing in your future success as an author. Which means I deserve a return on my investment! Haha. But yes, I am asking for a little bit now. You have been warned! 😉

What I ask for is commonly called a “songwriter split.” It was originally designed only for singers but has been adapted for all types of songwriters including myself. We call ours a “half-time agreement.

Record your songs

how do songwriting splits work

Once you have your song written, it’s time to record it! Recording music is a complicated process that includes recording equipment, engineers, producers, and mixers. Some of these people are more experienced than others, so it is important to know who all involved in the song including their contacts and credentials.

Your producer, mixer, or engineer can help get your song heard by creating an appropriate environment for creative expression. They may suggest different styles or genres of music, and could even facilitate collaborations or introductions to other artists.

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