What Co-Writers Need to Know About Songwriting Splits

Pictured above is a scene from the Splitsville, USA panel at the 2018 ASCAP "I Create Music" EXPO.

At the 2018 ASCAP "I Create Music" EXPO, ASCAP Writer Board members Desmond Child, Alex Shapiro and Michelle Lewis, along with songwriter and artist Deputy, presented a panel on songwriting splits and why it is so important that co-writers prioritize the exchange of accurate writer and publisher information at the point of creation.

The panel, playfully called "Splitsville, USA," explored the idea that songwriting splits are like people: some live alone (100%), some live together as couples (50%-50%), some are in a threesome (33.33%, 33.33%, 33.34%), while others live happily together in groups of four, five or more.

The Splitsville panelists illuminated the key steps all songwriters need to take when co-writing if they want to be compensated effectively when their music is publicly performed on digital music services. Here are the most important ones:

The Top Three Steps All Songwriters Need to Take When Co-Writing

  1. At the point of creation, amicably agree on splits - ideally in writing - that add up to exactly 100% (View a sample of songwriter Desmond Child's "split sheet" here).

  2. Share correct publishing and performing rights organization (PRO) info with each other.

  3. Accurately register all of your works in detail with your PRO, ideally before they are uploaded online anywhere.

If you don't work these issues out early in the creative process, bad title registrations and disputes can end important creative relationships and result in inaccurate royalty payments or royalties going to the wrong person.

However, by making some simple, positive changes to your creative business practices, you and your fellow songwriters can create a world of good – for yourselves, your families, your community, your industry and billions of music lovers.

Watch the animated "Splitsville, USA" video below for a humorous but educational look at songwriting splits. You can also watch a video of the slideshow presented at the panel, and narrated by ASCAP writer Board member Alex Shapiro, which explains the importance of keeping your song data clean. 

Visit Splitsville, USA

See how songwriters can create a world of good by making some positive changes to their business practices at the point of creation.

Why Accurate Data is Important to Songwriters

Learn the importance of accurately splitting songwriting shares and registering your music with ASCAP.

Frequently asked questions

  • Online Work Registration
How do I log on to the Title Registration system for the first time?
To start using ASCAP's Title Registration system, sign in to Member Access and click "Register a Work" on the "My Catalog" tab.
Can you walk me through a registration?
Please visit the Work Registration FAQ for help on how to register your work or use the tooltips found throughout the form.
I want to register more titles, but I have forgotten my password. Should I start another account?
There is no need to start another account. Simply click the "Forgot Password?" link on the Member Access page and you can recover your password.
How do I revise the writers, publishers or shares on a title that I have already submitted?
You may only revise a work that you originally registered online yourself. To revise the entitled party or share information for a work, click "View/Edit an Existing Title" on the navigation bar. If the change(s) you submit instruct(s) ASCAP to delete an entitled party other than yourself or reduce the share of another entitled party, ASCAP may require signed correspondence from that party confirming the change.
I need specific changes made to a work in my catalog that I didn't register. How do I edit this work?
Changes to a work you did not register can be done through Member Access. Click “Messages,” and create a "New Message." Select the category “My Catalog” and the topic “Work Record Update.” You will be assigned an inquiry number and notified when the work has been updated.
I have both an ASCAP writer and publisher membership. Do I have to register titles twice?

No. Titles should only be registered once, and will automatically appear in the catalogs of each entitled party listed on the initial registration.

Please note: If your work is not self-published, we prefer that the work be registered only by the publisher representing your interest.

I co-wrote a piece of music, and my co-writer already registered it. Do I need to register it as well?

If your co-writer registered the work with ASCAP, there is no need to register the song again – though it is a good idea to check with your co-writer to ensure that he/she registered it properly.

If your co-writer belongs to a different PRO, you will also need to register your work with ASCAP before we can track it and get you paid.

I forgot my member number. Can you please send me my number?
Because of our privacy policy, we cannot provide your member code by e-mail. However, you can find your Member ID in your Member Access account, on an ASCAP royalty statement, or by calling Member Services at 1-800-95-ASCAP.