Advice needed re: producing a song for someone and the business thereof

A singer has asked me to produce a song she has written (lyrics, melody, chord progression)

That being said, the song is already copyrighted by her and another songwriter and they both own 50% of the publishing thereof

My questions are:

  1. Is it true that if I am composing the music based upon the supplied melody and chord progression, then am I merely a producer, not a songwriter?

  2. What are my options to getting paid royalties? I assume I need to draft a producer/artist contract

  3. Do I need to get both songwriters/publishers to sign off on my producing and getting royalties?

Thank you and be well

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Hey Douglas, sounds like a complicated situation. I’d guess a couple of things; if you are writing the music, you are therefore one of the songwriters and should be entitled to 1/3 of the royalties with the other two. You’d need to become a member of a PRO, if you’re not already and/or they’d need to add you to the songwriting credits on their PROs as well. Not 100% sure how that works since I’m a lone artist. I’d recommend looking at ASCP as a PRO. I think they should have a good explanation of what to do in this situation.


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I told the artist that I only wanted to work on original songs that we co-write as I do not want to get involved in the rigmarole of dealing with all of the nonsense

I did register myself on ASCAP as both a writer and publisher

Get it all down in writing. ASCAP has some nice contract examples for you to use. However, to me this appears to be a “work for hire” gig, in which they keep all the copyrights. They pay you to arrange and produce a finished copy of the music for a set fee. I don’t think you could expect royalties in this situation. You’re more like the orchestrator, the orchestra, and the mix engineer. If she has already submitted her work to a PRO like ASCAP, and not listed you as a co-contributor, I don’t think royalties are an option. That being said, I would recommend that you get paid half up front and the rest upon completion.

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